ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball has announced that Ryan Yarbrough was named the Tampa Bay Rays 2021 nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, one of the most prestigious individual awards for major league players.
The Roberto Clemente Award is the annual recognition of a major league player who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.
Yarbrough is one of the 30 club nominees for the annual award. Throughout his major league career, Ryan has established himself as a leader on the field and throughout the community.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ryan continued his work with Reading with the Rays by recording videos from home, encouraging kids to participate in the program and read for 24 hours over the summer. At the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, Ryan and his wife, Nicole, made a generous donation to a local elementary school with 96 percent of the student body living at or below the poverty line.
Ryan and Nicole donated school supplies, clothes, sanitizing items, and food, fulfilling all the items on the school’s wish list.
Along with his dedication to education, Ryan and Nicole routinely seek out ways to give back to the community. Ryan and Nicole also showed their gratitude for doctors, nurses, and staff that were on the frontline fighting the COVID-19 pandemic by providing their coffee and breakfast from a local Tampa restaurant.
Ryan has matched Major League Baseball’s $7,500 donation to a charity of his choice and selected two organizations as the recipients of his Roberto Clemente Award donation: Boys & Girls Club of Suncoast and Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay.
He will also provide 25 backpacks to each Boys & Girls Club, with school supplies and Rays items included. Due to the team being on the road during the league-wide celebration on Wednesday, the Rays will celebrate Roberto Clemente Day and recognize Ryan and his philanthropic efforts in a pregame ceremony on the field prior to the game on Friday, September 17.
The league-wide winner of the Roberto Clemente Award will be selected via a blue-ribbon panel, including Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr., representatives from MLB-affiliated networks (MLB Network, FOX Sports, ESPN, and TBS), MLB.com, as well as Roberto’s children, Enrique, Luis, and Roberto Clemente Jr. Beginning today, fans can vote for the Roberto Clemente Award HERE.
The site will feature bios of each nominee and will allow fans to vote until the end of the season on Sunday, October 3. The winner of the fan vote will count as one vote among those cast by the blue-ribbon panel.
The concept of honoring players for their philanthropic work was created in 1971 as the “Commissioner’s Award.” The recognition was renamed 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.
Ray's designated hitter Nelson Cruz is technically the Twins nominee for the award. He's taken the lead on massive community-building efforts in his native Dominican Republic.
Fans can vote for the Clemente Award winner through October 3 by clicking HERE. The winner will be announced during the World Series.