Prior to tomorrow's game, the Orioles will present Davis with the Roberto Clemente Award during an on-field ceremony. Davis earned the Orioles 2017 distinction due to his family's ongoing work with many charities in and around the Baltimore community, including the University of Maryland Children's Hospital, Casey Cares, Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, Inc. (BARCS), Christian Youth Athletics, and the OriolesREACH Gameday Experience Program. This is his first time earning the nomination.
Last winter, Davis and his wife, Jill, launched a new partnership with the University of Maryland Children's Hospital (UMCH) at the University of Maryland Medical Center, helping to raise awareness for childhood illnesses and UMCH's role as a leader in patient care, pediatric disease research, and teaching future generations of health care providers.
In support of the ongoing partnership, the Davis family hosted "Crush's Homers for Hearts," a charity Home Run Derby event at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in July, which raised more than $100,000 for UMCH's Pediatric Heart Program. Participants enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in a Home Run Derby challenge in foursomes on the field, enjoyed a private Orioles team workout prior to the event, warmed up on the field with Orioles strength and conditioning coaches, enjoyed complimentary food and beverages, and took pictures with Chris and Jill Davis. Additionally, the Davis family hosted patients from UMCH for a longest ball T-ball challenge during which the children had an opportunity to hit off a tee and enjoy several family-friendly entertainment options including a moon bounce, face painters, balloon twisters, and an appearance by the Oriole Bird. In conjunction with the event, Davis also announced that he will be donating $1,000 to the UMCH Pediatric Heart Program for each home run he hits during the 2017 regular season.
Last offseason, the Davis family donated toys for the hospital's annual holiday Snow Pile event, which provides families of hospitalized children with an opportunity to experience holiday cheer free of the financial burden and time constraints of holiday shopping. They also hosted 80 UMCH patients for the Orioles annual Kids Holiday Party at Dave & Busters, where he helped to distribute backpacks, board games, and Orioles-themed gifts to the children.
Additionally, Chris and Jill Davis donated nearly two dozen MamaRoos to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at UMCH, completing an ongoing project to secure one for each room within the unit. MamaRoos are infant seats that mimic the rocking movement parents makes while comforting their baby. They also started the "Crush's Kids Club" program where they donate promotional items to Pediatric Oncology Patients as they make steps in their recovery.
For the past two years, Chris and Jill Davis have served as honorary "Race Ambassadors" for the Casey Cares 5K Run/Walk at Oriole Park benefitting critically-ill children and their families. On the day of the race, they joined runners at the starting line to kick off the race and participated in an on-field ceremony honoring the winners of the 5K. The race has raised over $240,000 for the Casey Cares Foundation over the past two years. Davis has also participated in the Casey Cares Extra Innings event, which through the Caring Connections Program encourages families to meet, share, and support each other while taking part in themed, group parties.
Davis has been an advocate for animals in need, participating in the Orioles Annual Pet Calendar with his bulldog, Samson, to benefit BARCS each of the past six seasons. Over that time, the Orioles have helped to raise more than $237,000 for the shelter, including nearly $77,000 through Orioles pet calendar sales in 2016-17. The largest companion animal shelter in Maryland, BARCS takes in more than 11,000 dogs and cats and 1,000 wildlife and other small mammals annually. On any given day, BARCS cares for 250 or more dogs and cats in the shelter, and an additional 2,000 animals in foster care annually.
Each year since arriving in Baltimore, Davis has contributed to the OriolesREACH Gameday Experience Program, which hosts thousands of underprivileged youth. Group members receive game tickets, concessions vouchers, an Orioles t-shirt, a cap, and transportation to and from the game. Davis has also supported the Orioles' Military Appreciation Program, sponsored by GEICO, with a donation each year for the past five seasons. Through the program, the Orioles and OriolesREACH donate a catered, private suite to servicemen and women for each Sunday home game and several Orioles players, including Davis, meet with the various military groups, and distribute Oriole t-shirts to them prior to the game. Davis also supports the Christian Youth Athletics organization by hosting participants for games and pregame meet-and-greets at batting practice.
The Roberto Clemente Award winner will be selected among the group of nominees via MLB's blue ribbon panel. From October 2 until October 6, fans can cast their vote for the winner via a dedicated website. The fan vote will count as one vote among those cast by the blue ribbon panel.
In conjunction with Roberto Clemente Day, the Orioles will also recognize September as Hispanic Heritage Month. Orioles uniformed personnel will wear "Ponle Acento" t-shirts during batting practice on Wednesday in support of MLB's ongoing campaign, which highlights the many ways in which Hispanic players "put an accent" on the game.
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.