Big League Impact Founder Adam Wainwright has been honored with the prestigious 2020 Roberto Clemente Award, MLB announced today.

The award is given annually to the player who best exemplifies Roberto Clemente’s humanitarian dedication to his community. Wainwright, who founded Big League Impact in 2013, was nominated by the St. Louis Cardinals because of his extensive charity work this year and throughout his career. While Wainwright earned the Roberto Clemente Award because of his many charitable efforts in 2020, he has built a legacy of helping those in need and inspiring fellow athletes to give back.

“This is the crown jewel of any award I have ever received,” Wainwright said. “But, to me, it’s more than just an award. What Mr. Clemente stood for, and the way he lived his life on and off the field, goes beyond what any award could fully embody. Even being mentioned in the same sentence with him is an incredible honor. I feel very blessed to receive the Clemente award, and I will continue to try and live up to his standards as long as I live. Thank you so much to everyone who helped make this happen. It is truly a dream come true.”

Throughout his career, Wainwright has inspired many other MLB players to become more involved in charitable pursuits in their local communities and internationally. 

Last year, Wainwright — along with Big League Impact VP Kyle Gibson — gathered support from players in all 30 MLB cities to form the Home Plate Project, a partnership with MLB and Garth Brooks’ Teammates for Kids foundation that fights food insecurity in schools. In 2019, the Home Plate Project provided more than 3.6 million meals for over 25,000 students across the country.

This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic closing schools, Wainwright and the Home Plate Project moved up its schedule in order to quickly provide more than 4 million meals to students, many of whom rely on school meals for food. More than 50 MLB players — including Nolan Arenado, Justin Verlander, Albert Pujols, Clayton Kershaw and Paul Goldschmidt — joined the cause, helping to provide critical support to students through organizations in their local communities.

“On behalf of the Big League Impact team, I congratulate Adam on being the 2020 recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award,” Executive Director Keith Brooks said. “We are incredibly excited for Adam to receive this prestigious honor and are proud to have the privilege to assist in the work he is doing to save lives, restore dignity and instill hope around the globe. This is a fitting recognition for the tireless work Adam has done and inspired over many years, and more importantly, a tribute to the man he is. We celebrate with and for this tremendous man of faith.”

In 2020, Wainwright also was the driving force behind expanding Big League Impact Fantasy Football to do even more for charities. Earlier this year, he launched the Players Only League — a fantasy football tournament where 32 MLB players compete to win donated funds on behalf of charities they have personally chosen.

As of Dec. 7, $238,000 has been raised for 30 charities. Wainwright, as well as Cincinnati Reds pitcher Sonny Gray, Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed and 7-time All-Star Matt Holliday are still playing for the grand prize of a $50,000 donation to their chosen organization.

Earlier this year, Wainwright and his wife, Jenny, provided vital aid to those left in the wake of earthquakes in Puerto Rico — both directly and through Big League Impact’s partnerships with The Happy Givers and Yadier Molina’s Fundación4.

Throughout his career, Wainwright has empowered his fellow baseball players and teammates on the work they’re passionate about, and has been instrumental in guiding them in their charitable efforts. Previously, Wainwright helped provide water and healthcare in Haiti, and has also supported the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation. In 2013, he founded Big League Impact as a way to blend two of his biggest passions: charity and fantasy football. Since then, he has worked to support numerous charities such as Water Mission, Help One Now, Striking Out Poverty, Crisis Aid International, Pittsburgh Kids Foundation, Operation Food Search and many more.

With this honor, Wainwright joins a storied history of MLB players who have gone above and beyond to give back, honoring Clemente’s impact on the game and the world around him. In 2018, Wainwright’s longtime batterymate Yadier Molina earned the recognition. 

However, this is just the beginning!
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