09/13/2011 3:09 PM ET
Joe Saunders named D-backs' nominee for the 2011 Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet
Beginning on Roberto Clemente Day, Fans Can Vote for the National Award Recipient on ChevyBaseball.com/Clemente
And Register for a Chance to Win a Trip to 2011 World Series
Major League Baseball and Chevrolet, the official vehicle of Major League Baseball, today announced that Joe Saunders was named the Arizona Diamondbacks' 2011 nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet. Saunders is one of the 30 Club finalists for the annual award, which recognizes a Major League Baseball player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement. Tomorrow will mark the tenth annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by Major League Baseball to honor Clemente's legacy and to officially recognize local Club nominees of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet.
The Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet pays tribute to Clemente's achievements and character by recognizing current players who truly understand the value of helping others. It is named for the 12-time MLB All-Star and Hall of Famer who died in a plane crash on New Year's Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
Saunders demonstrates his passion for serving the community by creating innovative programs implemented through his "Team Saundo" charitable program. "Team Saundo" was founded in 2009 by Joe and his wife, Shanel, while the "Team Saundo Backpack Program" was created in 2011 to prepare underserved children in Phoenix for the upcoming school year. Saunders purchased 2,000 backpacks and hosted a school supply drive at Chase Field on June 5 and with overwhelming support from the community, the program collected donations valued at over $3,500. Saunders hosted 1,000 underprivileged children and their families at the D-backs game on July 24 where they received their backpacks filled with school supplies. Saunders then visited the Children First Academy, a Phoenix-area school with a 95% homeless rate among students, to distribute the remaining backpacks. Through the "Team Saundo" initiative, Joe purchases 10 All-You-Can-Eat Suites during the baseball season and invites patients with life-threatening illnesses from various Phoenix-area hospitals to the ballpark for a pre-game meet-and-greet before enjoying the game. Saunders has also contributed over $10,000 to the Baseball Assistance Team since he joined Major League Baseball in 2006. He also contributed $5,000 to the East Valley Women's League, an organization designed to inspire women and children in the community to lead promising lives.
"We are extremely proud of the efforts Joe and his wife have made in making our community a better place for children," D-backs' President & CEO Derrick Hall said. "The time and effort they have spent to provide the necessary supplies for underprivileged children will inevitably leave a lasting impact. His commitment on and off the baseball field has made a tremendous effect around the community and we are delighted that Joe represents our organization as a nominee for this prestigious award."
"I am extremely honored to be among a fine group of nominees for this prestigious award," Saunders said. "My wife, Shanel, and I are committed to giving back to the community through Team Saundo and are fortunate to be in the position to make a significant impact on very deserving individuals. This nomination further strengthens our desire to be active in the community and serve those in need, and inspires us to follow in the footsteps of a great humanitarian like Mr. Clemente."
Beginning on Roberto Clemente Day, fans are encouraged to participate in the process of selecting the national award recipient by visiting ChevyBaseball.com/Clemente, a site powered by MLB.com and created specifically for the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet platform, to vote for one of the 30 Club nominees. Voting ends on October 9, and participating fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the 2011 World Series, where the national winner of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet will be announced.
The winner of the fan poll will receive one vote among those cast by the selection panel, which includes Commissioner Selig; Vera Clemente, MLB Goodwill Ambassador and wife of the late Hall of Famer; Baseball Hall of Famer, TBS analyst and former Roberto Clemente Award winner Cal Ripken Jr.; MLB Network analyst, TBS broadcaster and former Roberto Clemente Award winner John Smoltz; MLB Network analysts and former Roberto Clemente Award winners Al Leiter and Harold Reynolds; and MLB.com senior correspondent Hal Bodley.
All Clubs playing at home on September 14 will acknowledge their local nominees as part of Roberto Clemente Day ceremonies, while visiting Clubs will honor their nominees before another September home game.
As part of the league-wide celebration, the Roberto Clemente Day logo will appear on the bases and the official dugout lineup cards.