Roberto Clemente Day is celebrated in baseball each September to honor the Pirates Hall of Fame outfielder who was tragically killed in a plane crash trying to bring relief supplies to Nicaragua on December 31, 1972. Every Major League Baseball team nominates a player whose generosity and charity work embodies the spirit of Clemente’s legacy. All 30 clubs will honor their nominees before games this week, the Cubs honored theirs Tuesday night. For the second year in a row the Cubs nominee is Jon Lester.
Lester has a bit of a surly presence on the mound, but he does an incredible amount of charity work and outreach off the field to support pediatric cancer patients and their families. The Chicago Cubs put together this brief video capturing Lester’s reaction to being nominated along with stories from some of the people his work has touched:
Similar to the All-Star Game, this is an award where MLB wants fan input, so between now and September 29 you can read about the work all 30 nominees have done and vote for the player whose story touched you the most. It was a bit humbling and inspiring to read about the work players are doing all over the league, from Carlos Carrasco’s work in Venezuela to Tim Anderson’s work on the South Side of Chicago, I encourage you to read them all.
The last Cub to win the Roberto Clemente Award was Anthony Rizzo who won in 2017. In 2018 the Cardinals Yadier Molina was the winner, and even I had to cheer for Yadi that day. You can vote for Jon Lester, or any of the other 29 nominees at this link through September 29.