Jason Heyward selected as Cubs 2021 Roberto Clemente Award nominee
When Jason Heyward gives back, he’s not doing it for recognition.
“I never had my mind on an award or anything,” Heyward said last month. “It’s just hey, you’re in an opportunity to help a lot of people in a lot of different communities in a lot of different ways.”
Well, that generosity was once again recognized on Tuesday. He was selected as the Cubs’ Roberto Clemente Award nominee. Each team nominated one player for the award and the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award winner will be named during this year’s World Series. The announcement comes as MLB also announced that September 15 will be celebrated as Roberto Clemente day in perpetuity.
The finalists are “deemed as the players who best represent the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field,” according to the league.
“I think it’s really cool to be nominated,” Heyward said. “Just Roberto Clemente, his story, his history, his career on the field and his life off the field is very special.”
Clemente — in addition to having a Hall of Fame career on the field — was known for his selflessness off the field. He died in a plane crash in 1972, when he was attempting to deliver supplies to victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua.
Heyward, who also was the Cubs’ nominee in 2020, gave back in many ways this year. As part of the Players Alliance, Heyward was involved in the Pull Up Neighbor Tour that provided PPE equipment in addition to baseball gear to underserved communities in Chicago. Last season, on Jackie Robinson Day, he was one of over 100 players that donated their salary from that day to the Jackie Robinson Foundation and the Players Alliance.
Then, in August, he announced a partnership with By The Hand Club to open the Jason Heyward Baseball Academy, which was part of an over 150,000 square-foot sport, wellness and education facility in the North Austin neighborhood.
“A lot of people in my position get asked questions on what can we do different for baseball,” Heyward said at the time. “What can we do to help the city grow or change or help violence die down? I think it’s to take action, come together with people and build facilities like this.”
In addition, MLB announced that nominees and former Roberto Clemente Award winners will have the option to wear “21” on their jerseys to commemorate Roberto Clemente Day. Puerto Rican players and the Pittsburgh Pirates also have the option to wear the number. Heyward wore 21 last season. Then-Cubs Victor Caratini and Javy Báez — both Puerto Ricans — wore “21” and were joined by teammates Yu Darvish and Heyward in doing so.
“They’re very supportive in my life and my career on the field, but also, we’re friends off the field and I know they have my support and I have their support and I wanna give that right back,” Heyward said. “For them, they were humbled by it, they really appreciated it and having both signed it, that’s definitely my favorite jersey. It was still a part of them and not let them go alone.”