Jason Heyward takes great pride and honor in Roberto Clemente Award nomination
In many ways, there was no other member of the Cubs more perfect for the Roberto Clemente Award nomination this year than Jason Heyward.
On the field, Heyward plays the same right field position, has a cannon of an arm that can pick off would-be baserunners like Clemente and a smooth glove that would compare admirably with him. Heyward is hitting .300 this season, a number the Puerto Rican great, who hit .317 over his career, would surely admire.
And like the Great One, Heyward has been more than generous in his community outreach and willingness to help out in any way he can.
Earlier this year, Heyward contributed $300,000 to organizations that were helping low-income communities in Chicago as the COVID-19 pandemic struck those communities especially hard. He’s been vocal and taken action to address racial inequalities, helping bring together Black youth and police officers together.
“We’re not seeking the spotlight, but it is great to bring some awareness and to kinda reward some people that are doing a lot of hard work behind the scenes,” Heyward said.
Heyward is well aware of the situation he’s in, as a multimillion-dollar baseball player and a role model to many across Chicago. He knows the voice that comes with that. But he also knows that actions speak volumes more than any words that come from his mouth.
“It’s not right for us to complain and talk about how many deaths there are and then not go do something,” Heyward said. “So, it’s huge for me personally to go give back to this city immediately, but also, as athletes, baseball players, it’s huge for us to be able to do our part and it’s nice to see our names up there for a lot of positivity in giving back.”
One of those impactful moments that meant a little more to Heyward was bringing together Chicago Police officers and children from the West Side of Chicago. The ability to open up a line of dialogue between the two sides was important and something very personal.
“That was huge for myself to personally be able to ask questions, to hear their stories, to be able to relate to them as human beings,” Heyward said. “For me that was huge, for everyone to be able to come together. The kids be able to talk about their lives, their families, their struggles, their fears and same with the cops.”
What Heyward has done hasn’t been lost on anyone inside the clubhouse, either.
Heyward has been generous in helping his teammates’ causes, too, donating over $95,000 to teammates’ initiatives since he joined the Cubs in 2016. He’s long been lauded for his leadership in his clubhouse and first-year manager David Ross has seen that and grown to appreciate it.
“Before I texted him [last night], it made me think about all that’s gone on and how he’s led our group in so many areas this year,” Ross said. “It’s such a unique season and what we’ve been going through; the COVID and the racial issues, and him to continue to stay true to himself and to be a leader in those areas has been really remarkable.
“The way he spoke out and helped the community and continues to help this city just shows to [us] what we all know and hear about the type of human being that we have on our team.”