Rays

Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier has long been a fan favorite.

Tampa Bay Times

ARLINGTON, Texas — Kevin Kiermaier is the Rays nominee for MLB’s prestigious Roberto Clemente award.

The honor is bestowed annually on a player who “best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.’’

Kiermaier is involved most visibly with the Children’s Dream Fund, the St. Petersburg-based foundation that helps children with life-threatening illnesses by fulfilling requests to take trips, attend events, meet celebrities and the like. Kiermaier this year, with his wife, Marisa, donated $25,000 to establish the Kiermaier’s Kids program, funding the dreams for five children, and hosting some at the Trop. He is a regular participant in the annual Rays on the Runway fashion show which benefits the Dream Fund.

Kiermaier is also a participant in the Rays’ Tuesday’s Champion program in which the team hosts a child from the Dream Fund or Make-a-Wish Foundation and provides an on-field opportunity to meet players, pose for photos and other interactions.

“This award means the world to me,” Kiermaier said in a statement from the team. “I love seeing all the smiles and faces of people who I have helped and I plan on continuing to do my part off the field and in the community.”

Kiermaier will be recognized in a pregame ceremony at the Trop on Sept. 20. There is a $7,500 charitable donation that comes with the nomination, and he will give that to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay.

“Roberto Clemente was a true humanitarian. He left an eternal legacy, because of both his performance on the field and as an advocate for Latin people around the world,” said team president Matt Silverman in a statement. “Kevin consistently impresses us both on and off the field with his uplifting, hard-working and giving character. Our organization is extremely proud of his contributions to the Tampa Bay community, and we’re thrilled for him to be our nominee.”

The overall Clemente award winner is chosen by a panel that includes MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, Vera Clemente (wife of Roberto) and others. There is also one vote as the result of fan voting, which started Thursday at MLB.com/clemente21.

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