The award recognizes the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team. It is named in honor of the former Pirates outfielder, whose spirit and goodwill will always be remembered. Clemente died in a plane crash while attempting to transport relief supplies to earthquake-stricken Nicaragua on Dec. 31, 1972.
Fans can participate in the selection process of the overall winner of the award now through Oct. 4. The fan ballot winner will be tallied as one vote among those cast by a special selection panel of baseball dignitaries and media members. The panel includes MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and Vera Clemente, widow of the Pirates' Hall of Fame right fielder whose spirit and goodwill always will be remembered. The winner will be announced during the World Series.
Voting fans also will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the 2009 World Series, when the national winner of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevy will be announced.
"Eric is definitely worthy of this nomination," D-backs team president and CEO Derrick Hall said. "He cares deeply for the community and wants to be an active and contributing member of it. His efforts are genuine, as the majority of his giving is rarely noticed, which is what he prefers."
A majority of Byrnes' community work benefits the Pat Tillman Foundation, named in honor of former NFL star Pat Tillman, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in April 2004.
Byrnes contributes funds directly to the foundation through Team Tillman. Members of Team Tillman make individual pledges based on game performance. Byrnes has recruited more than 20 of his teammates to join him.
Each year, Byrnes partners with the Arizona Fall League to host the annual Pat Tillman Foundation Benefit Night. The event has raised more than $10,000.
Byrnes and his wife, Tarah, organized a Spring Training Soiree to benefit the foundation. The fashion show helped launch Byrnes' new clothing line "Byrnt" and the event raised significant funds.
In 2009, Byrnes contributed $50,000 to the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation's "Diamonds Back" Field Building Program. The money was used to construct a first-class Little Field complete with lights, sod, dugouts, bullpens and an electronic scoreboard. Byrnes dedicated the field to Saulo Morris, a Phoenix-area high school student who had recently lost his battle with leukemia.
In addition, Byrnes serves as the D-backs player spokesperson for the Prostate Cancer Foundation and has made appearances on behalf of Make-A-Wish, Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center and Augie's Quest, a division of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.