Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto has a heart as persistent as his swing. Now, fans can help honor him for it.
Votto is one of the candidates up for Major League Baseball's 2022 Roberto Clemente Award. Clemente, who hailed from Puerto Rico, played for the Pittsburgh Pirates for all 18 seasons of his career in the majors and was known for consistent, outstanding humanitarian acts. The MLB's honor originally was called the Commissioner's Award but was renamed for Clemente in 1973 after the outfielder died in a plane crash while delivering supplies to Nicaraguan earthquake victims.
Today, the award is "bestowed annually to the player who best represents the game of Baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field," according to MLB materials.
Votto, who is sitting out the rest of the 2022 season after having rotator cuff and bicep surgery, is one of 30 players nominated for the Clemente Award. In the nomination information, MLB notes Votto's work with the Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy, the Freestone Foodbank and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
MLB says Votto has been part of the fabric of Cincinnati since coming to the majors in the 2002 draft:
When you spend 20 years with the same organization, you are no longer just a player representing a team. You are a part of the city and its community. Such is the case for Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds. Selected 44th overall in the 2002 MLB Draft, Joey has been a member of the Reds family ever since. He made his debut in 2007, immediately ingratiating himself in the Greater Cincinnati community with his play on the field and generosity away from it. Nothing has changed in the 15 years since; Joey continues to stand out as a player and a person, carving out a Hall of Fame-worthy career while touching the lives of many people along the way.MLB also remarks upon Votto's new use of social media and the first baseman's ability to mine for gold:
What stands out about Joey’s charitable efforts is that he chooses to do most of it behind the scenes out of respect for the people with which he interacts. It would be impossible to keep track of all the families Joey has met with on his own time, and that’s the way he wants it. Whether it’s a private hospital visit, ballpark meet and greet, phone call or other interaction, Joey prioritizes others above baseball and himself.
This season, the most notable change about Joey Votto is one that anyone who follows baseball is aware of—his venture into social media. Joey’s posts are something of a breaking news story each time they happen. While the humor in his videos, photos and captions stand out on the surface, it’s also a candid look at a 38-year-old superstar who maintains an unabashed love and passion for the game and its fans.Votto has been nominated for the award before, including in 2021.
Cincinnati Reds fans can vote for Votto to receive the Roberto Clemente Award through Oct. 5 on MLB's website. Collectively, fans will count as one vote, as will individual votes from the MLB commissioner, MLB-affiliated networks, Clemente's children and others. See all 30 Clemente Award nominees.
In press materials, MLB notes that 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of Clemente's death. All 30 MLB clubs will celebrate Roberto Clemente Day on Sept. 15.
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