Major League Baseball today announced that Kevin Pillar was named the Toronto Blue Jays 2016 nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, the most prominent individual player award bestowed by MLB.
The Roberto Clemente Award is the annual recognition of a player from each MLB Club who best represents the game of Baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.
Each Club nominates one current player to be considered for the Roberto Clemente Award in tribute to Clemente's achievements and character. Wednesday, September 7th marks the fifteenth annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by Major League Baseball to honor Clemente's legacy and to officially acknowledge local Club nominees of the Roberto Clemente Award. As part of the league-wide celebration, the Roberto Clemente Day logo will appear on the bases and official dugout lineup cards and a special tribute video will be played in ballparks.
Kevin Pillar is one of the 30 Club finalists for the annual award and will be recognized by the Toronto Blue Jays for his efforts in an on-field ceremony pre-game on Monday, September 12th. Since becoming an everyday player for the Blue Jays in 2015, Kevin has participated in numerous events for both the Toronto Blue Jays and Jays Care Foundation. As an annual participant in the Blue Jays Winter Tour presented by TD, his devotion to making a difference off the field extends well beyond the local community. Kevin is actively involved in each of amateur baseball, educational and health & wellness initiatives having been fortunate enough to visit with children and youth - our real heroes - at each of Alberta Children's Hospital, Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.
Upon learning of his nomination, Kevin Pillar had the following to say, "It's incredibly humbling to be nominated for this award amidst a group of such talented players doing great things both on and off the baseball field. I'm fortunate to play for a team that plays for an entire country and I'm proud to be in a position to bring a smile to so many faces that cheer us on each and every day."
Beginning on Roberto Clemente Day (Sept. 7), fans can participate in the process of selecting the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award on social media for the first time by posting voting hashtags to Twitter and Facebook. Toronto Blue Jays fans can vote for Kevin Pillar by using #VotePillar. Voting ends on October 2.
To enhance Roberto Clemente Day and celebrate Clemente's enduring legacy in 2016, Major League Baseball worked with the 30 Clubs to establish SEAT 21. SEAT 21 will be a designated seat in each ballpark on Roberto Clemente Day (or alternate home game for Clubs on the road) dedicated to a well-known or local hero originally from the community who will be recognized in addition to the Club Clemente Award nominee. Recognizing individuals who embody the humanitarian spirit of Roberto Clemente is a natural extension of the current honor bestowed upon players each year and gives MLB and the Clubs the opportunity to further extend the message of service and commitment.
The Toronto Blue Jays will be recognizing the efforts of Darryl Harding as their SEAT 21 Award recipient. Darryl is the President, Wexford-Agincourt Baseball Association as well as an active volunteer with Jays Care Foundation's Rookie League program. He on average each year volunteers more than 1200 hours on the field for marginalized children and youth. Darryl has also championed a girl's only baseball division in Wexford that includes spots for female participants of the Rookie League program.
The concept of honoring Major League players for their philanthropic work was created in 1971 as the "Commissioner's Award," but was renamed to the "Roberto Clemente Award" in 1973 in honor of the Hall of Famer and 15-time All-Star who died in a plane crash on New Year's Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Each September since 2002, Major League Baseball has commemorated Roberto Clemente Day.