The Nicest Guys in the NL Central

By Christina Lorey

September 23, 2022

Meet the nominees for the 2022 Roberto Clemente Award from the Brewers’ division.

When you think of the most prestigious award a baseball player can win in the majors, you probably think of the MVP, Cy Young, or Silver Slugger.

But did you know the MLB also has an honor for athletes who make the biggest impact off the field?

The Roberto Clemente Award is given to the player who best represents the game of baseball “through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy, and positive contributions.”

Click here to vote today.

Each year, every major league team nominates one athlete for the award. Nelson Cruz (who now plays for the Nationals) won the 2021 prize.

But he faced stiff competition across the league from players tackling everything from supporting children battling cancer, fighting food insecurity, and countering climate change.

These are the nominees up for the 2022 award from the Brewers and the rest of the NL Central.

Brent Suter (Milwaukee Brewers)

Did you know the Brewers’ pitcher not only has a college degree, but one from HARVARD?!

Known as the team’s resident environmentalist (that’s what Suter studied at the Ivy League school), he understands the urgency of taking serious action to reduce our carbon footprint and uses his platform to bring attention to the effects of climate change and the global crisis of plastic waste.

Suter is an ambassador for ‘Players for the Planet’ and participates in cleanup projects around the world.

During the 2021 season, Suter launched a community-wide effort to plant 100 trees in the Milwaukee area for every Brewers win after the All-Star break. (Spoiler alert: There were a lot! The Brewers won the National League Central division for the first time since 2018.)

Most recently, the Brewers, SC Johnson, Players for the Planet, and Suter hosted an exclusive program for faculty and college students studying environmental and sustainable studies at the UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee.

Jason Heyward (Chicago Cubs)

The centerfielder started his career in both baseball and service at the age of 17, when he was drafted out of high school by the Braves and began giving back to the church and the young men of Atlanta through LEAD (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct.)

Since then, Heyward has continued to use his voice to speak out against racial injustice and his money to fight against food insecurity, domestic violence, and healthcare inequities.

Some of the biggest donations he’s made include $100,000 to MASK (Mothers/Men Against Senseless Killings), $100,000 to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and $100,000 to the University of Chicago Medical Center to support health care workers and their families during the pandemic.

In 2020, Heyward teamed up with other Chicago sports figures to participate in a healing circle with African American kids and police officers.

Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds)

One of the biggest charitable organizations in Cincinnati is the Reds Youth Academy, which gives kids of all ages, abilities, and income levels the chance to become part of a team.

Not only is the academy’s indoor training center named after Votto, it’s where he spends a lot of his time, year-round.

In addition to donating thousands of dollars worth of equipment behind the scenes, Votto often participates in hands-on baseball and softball drills with the young athletes.

While on the injured list last season, Votto adopted a 13-and-under RBI team and worked out with them several times a week. THEN–even when he returned to the Reds’ active roster–Votto CONTINUED coaching. (It paid off: his team earned a trip to the 13U World Series.)

He also frequently visits the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and fulfills many Make-A-Wish requests.

David Bednar (Pittsburgh Pirates)

Roberto Clemente himself is known as “The Great One” for the 18 seasons he played with the Pirates, so Bednar called his nomination while wearing the same uniform “humbling.”

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Bednar has embedded himself in the community, and has participated in a variety of Pirates Charity efforts–from donating equipment to his old elementary school to participating in the Miracle League Fantasy Camp to show Kayden, a 3-year-old boy battling Leukemia, around PNC Park. 

Bednar and his father worked with the Pirates Youth Baseball team to host camps for more than 100 kids over the summer, donating the money raised to Mars High School.

During the off-season, Bednar worked at a Thanksgiving Dinner service alongside members of the Steelers and Penguins, for those in need.   

Paul Goldschmidt (St. Louis Cardinals)

Goldschmidt has been nominated for the Clemente Award more than any other player on this list (five times with the Diamondbacks!), and there are many reasons why.

He and his wife, Amy, are dedicated supporters of the Arizona Cancer Foundation for Children, where they are working on a capital campaign to start Ava’s Treehouse, a place where pediatric cancer patients and their families can play, explore, and relax in an environment that is suited directly to their needs.

In 2020, he donated a full tractor-trailer of food and supplies to Churches on the Street, a mobile food truck that provides hot meals for people facing food insecurity in St. Louis.

This year, Goldschmidt is committing $500 per win and $5,000 per postseason win to build a community center in the Dominican Republic.

Baseball fans can vote for their favorite player to receive the 2022 Roberto Clemente Award through Oct. 5 on the MLB’s website. 

Click here to vote today.

Collectively, fans will count as one vote, alongside individual votes from the MLB commissioner, MLB-affiliated networks, Clemente’s children, and others. See all 30 nominees here.


  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.



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