On Tuesday, Major League Baseball announced that Curtis Granderson was named the New York Mets 2016 nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, the most prominent individual player award bestowed by MLB.
Granderson will be recognized on the field prior to the Mets’ home game on Tuesday, September 20
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 7 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.
Granderson is one of the 30 Club finalists for the annual award. Over his 13-year career, he has established himself as one of the sport’s great ambassadors both on and off the field. He created the Grand Kids Foundation in 2007 and serves as Chairman of the Board to improve educational experiences for youth nationwide and also helped to re-establish baseball opportunities for inner city youths. The outfielder holds multiple baseball clinics throughout the year that go beyond hitting, fielding and throwing drills, and teaches kids about the importance of dedication, hard work and leadership. Curtis’ biggest impact stems from his personal $5 million donation for the $10 million-plus state-of-the-art baseball complex called the Curtis Granderson Stadium at the University of Illinois at Chicago, his alma mater, and home to 38 area Little Leagues and nearly 10,000 inner city youth.
Granderson also served as the ambassador for the Citi Home Runs for Communities program, which raised more than $328,000 over two seasons for New York’s City Harvest, United Neighborhood Houses, the USO of Metropolitan New York and the YMCA. Curtis has also been active with the Mets’ commitment to the military, cheering on soldiers participating in the Mets Military Softball Classic at Citi Field and engaging with families at the organization’s annual visit to Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. In addition, Curtis acts as the official MLB Spokesperson for The White House’s Let’s Move anti-obesity campaign and Drink Up water initiative and is also a Major League Baseball International Ambassador and member of the MLB On-Field Diversity Task Force.
Beginning on Roberto Clemente Day, 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. Mets fans can vote for Curtis by using #VoteGrandy.
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.
Swami Durga Da, born and raised in Queens, New York began his professional career as a volunteer case-manager and coordinator for various city AIDS organizations, including ACQC (AIDS Center of Queens County). From this starting point, Swami eventually launched the RIVER FUND in 1991, which has since grown from a one-person expression of service to a 120-volunteer operation that helps others move beyond the lines of poverty. Together, Swami and his team have built a support system that is now the life-line for 14,000 families facing material hardship and have been deprived of any meaningful access to the economy.
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.