KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Major League Baseball announced today that infielder Nicky Lopez was named the Kansas City Royals 2022 nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, baseball’s most prestigious individual honor.
The Roberto Clemente Award presented by Capital One is the annual recognition by a Major League player who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions both on and off the field.
As part of the annual program, each club nominates one player to be considered for the league-wide Award in tribute to Clemente’s achievements and character.
“I am proud to be nominated for an award named after such an amazing man who did so much for the game of baseball,” Lopez said. “I’m extremely fortunate to give back and help those who are looking for positive light in their lives, and to work with these amazing organizations. I am so excited to continue working in the Kansas City community for many years to come.”
Nicky has been involved in the Kansas City community since he debuted with the Royals in 2019, dedicating his time to Dream Factory visits at Kauffman Stadium with children struggling with critical or chronic illness. He also makes regular visits to the University of Kansas Health System Hospital to spend time with patients and caregivers.
In the challenging year of 2020, Lopez started his own community initiative which took the name of ‘Nicky’s #1’s’. Working with Royals community partners at Operation Breakthrough and YMCA Challenger, Nicky initially hosted a series of Zoom meetings with Kansas City area youth to get face time with children in challenging circumstances in an effort to inspire confidence, positivity and healthy lifestyle choices during those trying times. The program continued during the 2021 season with monthly Zoom meetings, in hopes to grow even bigger once safety allowed. In the summer of 2022, Nicky hosted the first ‘Nicky’s #1’s Day at The K” which brought in dozens of Operation Breakthrough and YMCA Challenger children to Kauffman Stadium, where he spent the day with them on the field playing ball, interacting and providing inspiration. Nicky looks forward to building long lasting relationships with ‘Nicky’s #1’s’ kids and has plans for more “Day at The K” events later this summer and into the future.
Nicky has also partnered with BRGR Restaurants in Kansas City to create a new hot dog menu item called ‘The Nicky’ with proceeds going to the ‘Nicky’s #1’s’ program. Nicky Lopez was born and raised a mere 25 miles from Chicago, so ‘The Nicky’ is very much a Chicago-inspired hot dog. It’s a Vienna dog with chili relish, mustard, onions, banana peppers and cherry tomatoes – no ketchup, of course.
Nicky has also recently partnered with Kansas City Credit Union to start the “Catch Success” program to promote and teach financial literacy to Kansas City area kids as part of the Launch Pad program at the Linwood YMCA. Nicky is much more than the face of the program, as he makes appearances at the YMCA to engage with and assist kids in helping them start mock businesses with full business plans. He will take part in evaluating the ideas and plans to select the project award winners.
Thursday, Sept. 15 marks the 21st annual Roberto Clemente Day, presented by Capital One, which was established by Major League Baseball to honor Clemente’s legacy as a humanitarian and to formally acknowledge club nominees of the Roberto Clemente Award. As part of the league-wide celebration, the Roberto Clemente Day logo will appear on the bases and official dugout lineup cards and a special tribute video will be played in ballparks.
The league-wide winner of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Capital One will be selected via a blue ribbon panel, including Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr., representatives from MLB-affiliated networks (MLB Network, FOX Sports, ESPN and TBS) and MLB.com, as well as Roberto’s children, Enrique, Luis and Roberto Clemente Jr. Beginning today, fans can vote for the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Capital One via www.mlb.com/clemente21. The site will feature bios for each of the nominees and will allow fans to vote until Wednesday, Oct. 5. The winner of the fan vote will count as one vote among those cast by the blue-ribbon panel.
The concept of honoring Major League players for their philanthropic work was created in 1971 as the “Commissioner’s Award.” The recognition was renamed to the “Roberto Clemente Award” in 1973 in honor of the Hall of Famer and 15-time All-Star who died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.