We’ve mentioned in this space before that being the face of a franchise means more than just showing up every day and hitting third in the lineup. For Ryan Zimmerman, who holds that title for the Nationals, the team’s rise in prominence has coincided with increased recognition of the off-the-field work in which he has invested so much of his time and energy over the years. Already the first ever Expo/National to win the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, Zimmerman officially accepted his bid as the Nationals nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award before tonight’s doubleheader.
Previously the Nationals nominee once before back in 2007, Zimmerman’s commitment to the community is best illustrated through his work with the ziMS Foundation, which he founded in 2006, his first full season in the Major Leagues. His annual Golf and Gala fundraiser celebrates its seventh year in 2012, while the Night at the Park took place for the third year in a row this summer, helping raise more than $200,000 through ticket sales, donations and both live and silent auctions.
“You always get recognized for what you do on the field,” explained Zimmerman Wednesday afternoon before accepting the award. “Nowadays, a majority of athletes are doing things off the field. It’s important, not so much for us to get recognition, but for things that we’re supporting to get recognition. We’re in this good position to promote or help out a cause that means a lot to us.”
As the Nationals have performed better on the field in 2012, those efforts have gained more notoriety. Zimmerman understands that this is the natural ebb and flow of the game and the attention given to winning teams, and he is taking it all in stride.
“A lot of times those things go hand-in-hand,” he said. “The better you do on the field, the better things are.”
However, the added attention from the media regarding his exploits on the field has not taken Zimmerman’s focus away from his efforts in the community. He has still spent time during the everyday grind of the season helping both his Foundation and other causes, including a visit to Children’s National Medical Center a few weeks ago. Congratulations to Ryan – this is a well-deserved thanks for everything he does off the field.