Liam Hendriks glued “Roberto Clemente Award nominee” patches to his game cleats before the White Sox’ contest against the Angels on Wednesday. He donned a name-less No. 21 jersey.
Fittingly, Hendriks hoped to pitch Wednesday so he could auction off the game-worn gear for charity.
As the White Sox’ nominee for this year’s Roberto Clemente Award, Hendriks is one of the players eligible to wear No. 21 Wednesday in honor of Roberto Clemente Day. Others include players and uniformed personnel of Puerto Rican decent, past Roberto Clemente Award recipients, and the Pirates.
“It's definitely a huge honor knowing that what we're doing in the community's been taking notice of,” Hendriks said. “But you don't do the stuff in the community for an award like this.”
Major League Baseball describes the Roberto Clemente award as “baseball’s most prestigious recognition” and describes each year’s winner as the player “who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.”
Each team puts forth a nominee, and Hendriks got the nod from the White Sox in his first season in Chicago.
“Our big thing was, we just wanted to make sure that our footprint was felt,” Hendriks said of himself and his wife, Kristi. “We didn't want to just come in and be one of those people that's just sitting there, taking a paycheck and not doing anything with it.
“And it's something that we've both been very passionate about, whether it be through animal rights, whether it be through feeding the frontlines this year, whether it be through the LGBTQ community. It's something that we're really focused on and make sure we give back to the community as much as we can.”
Hendriks had already been the A’s Roberto Clemente Award nominee twice and won the Dave Stewart Community Service Award. Hendriks also crossed paths with Roberto Clemente Jr., who is the global ambassador for ‘Food for the Hungry.’ They worked together on the ‘Striking Out Poverty’ initiative, which is focused on bringing water, education, community centers and baseball fields vulnerable communities in the Dominican Republic.
As a free agent this past offseason, Hendriks made community involvement a priority in his introductory conversations with potential landing spots.
“And that was something the White Sox really stood out on,” Hendriks said.
Since signing, Hendriks has added to an already long list of community projects and donations. Notably, the Hendrikses created the South Slydah Society and donated nearly 1,000 meals to Chicagoland frontline workers. They worked with local POC- and family-owned small businesses to do so.
“If I can even just be a speck of sand on the Clemente legacy, of what he was able to do for a long time, I mean, that's a win in my books,” Hendriks said. “Because from what I understand, everything he did philanthropically was unbelievable. And he really was a trendsetter in that realm.”