Cubs star Rizzo wins Roberto Clemente Award
Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo was named the 2017 recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award, the MLB announced on Friday.
The Roberto Clemente Award is the annual recognition of a player from each MLB club who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.
One of the biggest reasons Rizzo was recognised was because of the efforts he has made in helping children with cancer through the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation (ARFF).
Rizzo, a survivor of cancer himself, founded ARFF to support children and families battling the disease and fund cancer research. Through the foundation the "Hope 44 Fund" was also launched "to connect social workers and families affected by cancer in their journey against the disease."
"Anthony and his foundation have had a positive impact on a cause that is all too familiar to our society," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said. "Anthony’s status as one of baseball's young stars combined with his own inspiring fight against cancer has given children and their families the hope and support they need. Major League Baseball is proud to present this prestigious honour to Anthony, who is a great representative of our game and the humanitarian legacy of Roberto Clemente."
Clemente is a baseball Hall of Famer who died in a plane crash on New Years' Eve 1972 when he was trying to deliver supplies to victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua. Since the tragedy, MLB takes a day in September to honour the Pittsburgh Pirates legend.
"Mr. Clemente was a true hero who dedicated his time to helping others," Rizzo said. "He set the bar high for what an athlete should be both on and off the field. To be named the Roberto Clemente Award recipient is truly an honour and means more to me and my family than I could ever express. As a cancer survivor, I know the challenges families face, watching loved ones fight this disease. I want to give them hope there is life after cancer. I encourage families to continue to 'Stay Strong and Dream Big.'"
Rizzo follows Curtis Granderson who won the award in 2016. He is the third Cubs representative to win the award after Rick Sutcliffe won in 1987 and Sammy Sosa in 1998.