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Trey Mancini selected as Orioles’ nominee for Roberto Clemente Award: ‘One of the greatest honors that I’ve received in my entire career’

For Orioles star Trey Mancini, there are near daily reminders of what he’s endured over the past 18 months. Fans in the stands, sharing how much he’s encouraged them or their loved ones amid their cancer battles. Photo reminders on his phone, showing where he was a year ago as he neared the end of his chemotherapy treatments for stage 3 colon cancer.

But days such as Tuesday also serve as reminders of how far he has come since then. Mancini was selected as the Orioles’ nominee for the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award, the club and Major League Baseball announced Tuesday. The award recognizes the player who “best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, sportsmanship, community involvement, philanthropy, and positive contributions.”

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“It means everything in the world,” Mancini said. “It’s one of the greatest honors that I’ve received in my entire career. I don’t even know where to begin with Roberto Clemente. Obviously, I wasn’t alive to watch him play. But I learned a lot about him growing up and he’s one of my favorite players, so to be the Orioles’ nominee for this award is a dream come true. It really is.”

The league will celebrate the 20th annual Roberto Clemente Day on Wednesday. As part of Mancini’s nomination, MLB will make a $7,500 donation to The Food Project, which provides skills training, job opportunities and mentorship to Southwest Baltimore youth.

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“We’re all super proud of him and pulling for him to win it,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “It’s a very, very special award, and to just been nominated is an amazing accomplishment. We’re pulling for him.”

Mancini, 29, missed the 2020 season while undergoing treatment for colon cancer, with his surgery to remove a malignant tumor coming the same day the coronavirus shut down spring training. An assumed lock for American League Comeback Player of the Year once he took the field on this season’s Opening Day, Mancini entered Tuesday having played in 132 games at first base and designated hitter, batting .261/.333/.451 with 21 home runs and 66 RBIs. He finished as the runner-up in the All-Star Home Run Derby, an event he saw as a way to show viewers what can be accomplished after a cancer diagnosis.

“It’s astounding,” the Orioles’ major league field coordinator and catching instructor Tim Cossins said recently. “To see Trey doing what he’s doing now and what he had gone through last year and how he handles his business, you can’t say enough about it.”

Since his diagnosis in March 2020, Mancini has been an advocate for colon cancer awareness, quickly becoming a member of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance’s “Never Too Young” advisory board. T-shirt sales as part of the Orioles’ #F16HT campaign, a play on the word “fight” and Mancini’s jersey number, raised $80,000 in support of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance Patient and Family Support Services.

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“I know what it’s like to go through an incredibly difficult time like that,” Mancini said. “Sometimes you can’t really put into words how difficult it is, but to kind of be there to go through it, you want to come out the other side and help everybody out who’s going through similar situations. It’s what I try to do every day.”

Alongside his sisters, Mancini also started The Trey Mancini Foundation, which supports those facing illnesses, emotional trauma and hardship. The foundation has partnered with the CCA and Blessings in a Backpack, which provides meals to children nationwide facing food insecurity. A July food drive at Camden Yards led by Mancini’s foundation, Blessings in a Backpack and the Orioles raised nearly $3,000 and collected more than 1,000 pounds of food for Baltimore area children.

Mancini joins Hanser Alberto (2020), Chris Davis (2017-19) and Adam Jones (2016) as the Orioles’ recent nominees. Like Jones, Mancini was heavily involved in the “Purple Tailgate,” which raised about $20,000 to support young Orioles superfan Mo Gaba, who spent most of his life battling cancer. Gaba served as an inspiration to Mancini during his own cancer battle. This July, on the one-year anniversary of Gaba’s death at 14 years old, Mancini caught a ceremonial first pitch from Gaba’s mother, Sonsy, then called out to her in the stands after homering in that night’s game.

Beginning Wednesday, fans can vote for the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award through the end of the regular season at mlb.com/clemente21. The fan vote will count as one vote on a panel that also includes MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and Clemente’s three children, among others.

“When I was going through everything last year, talking to other colon cancer survivors was probably the biggest thing for me to get through it, hearing people who had gone through the same thing as me and are still living,” Mancini said. “They helped encourage me a lot because there are a lot of bad days that go along with chemotherapy treatments, cancer diagnosis. It’s not easy, as you all know, so having other people to lean on and talk to helps a lot, so I want to be there for everybody else going through something like I did.”

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