Catcher Kurt Suzuki is the Braves’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award.
Each of the 30 nominees from major league teams will be honored by their respective clubs, including many on Wednesday as part of Roberto Clemente Day ceremonies, a league-wide initiative that has been in place since 2002. The Roberto Clemente Award is the annual recognition of a player who best represents baseball through “extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.”
“It’s pretty cool,” Suzuki said Tuesday before the Braves hosted the Red Sox. “It’s humbling to be recognized with this type of award. I try to carry myself professionally on the field and off the field be a good role model.”
The Clemente Award was renamed in 1973 to honor the 15-time All-Star shortly after his death during a plane crash while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. The award was previously called the Commissioner's Award and was established in 1971.
Suzuki, known for his competitive nature on the field and good nature off it, said it’s easy to switch between the two arenas.
“You have a job to do when you come here,” Suzuki said. “When you are between the lines, you want to win. I’ve always said to myself and to kids I’ve talked to, if you don’t have that desire to win and go out there and compete you are probably not in the right gig. Once I’m off the field, I’m a family guy.”
Suzuki established The Kurt Suzuki Family Foundation. According to his website, it is a “non-profit agency that is dedicated to supporting the scientific research of chronic illnesses as well as encouraging healthy lifestyle choices.”