Closer Jim Johnson has been named the Orioles' nominee for the 2012 Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes a player "who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement."
The award is named for the 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.
“I don’t really do things for name recognition,” said Johnson, who will be recognized as the club’s award recipient at a ceremony Monday at Camden Yards. “Obviously, there’s 29 other guys [in the majors] who are very well deserving, I’m sure, and there’s probably people who were left out of it as well. It’s part of the job description and I think it’s something worthwhile that’s part of our job.”
Johnson, an All-Star this year, works with the Miracle League of Manasota, an affiliate of the National Miracle League Association, which joins more than 200 communities around the world to provide opportunities for disabled children to play baseball. The Manasota chapter is located in the Sarasota, Fla., area, the Orioles’ spring training home and Johnson’s off-season residence.
In 2011, Johnson started the Birdland Golf Classic event, which over the last two years has raised a total of $50,000 that went directly to the Miracle League of Manasota.
In large part due to the success of the Classic (along with additional donations from the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates), the Miracle League opened the first Miracle League Field in the Sarasota-Bradenton area last December. Johnson also appeared at an Orioles-hosted clinic for children in the Miracle League as part of the new field dedication ceremony.
Johnson’s work with children with disabilities continues in the Baltimore community as well. Johnson is involved with the Challenger League in Maryland and Virginia. Earlier this season, he taught baseball to more than 40 players from the Orioles Advocates Challenger League at Lake Waterford Park in Pasadena in a fantasy camp for Kids.
Johnson’s efforts over the year have stretched beyond just children. For the second consecutive year the Orioles have hosted a group of wounded soldiers and other active military groups and their families in a catered private suite for each Orioles home Sunday game. Johnson got involved personally by contributing $1,000 to the program for the second consecutive year, in addition to meeting with the soldiers on the field pre-game.
In addition to the Roberto Clemente Award, this year Johnson will also receive The Baltimore Sun’s Tim Wheatley award, recognizing local professional athletes who give back to the community. The award is named after the late Tim Wheatley, the former sports editor for The Sun who died three years ago in a car accident.