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Oakland A’s infielder Tony Kemp visited the Clemente Museum in Pittsburgh last year before this week becoming a 2020 nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award.

The Clemente award recognizes “major leaguers with extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy, and positive contributions both on the field and in the community.” It is the most prestigious character award a player can receive, and Kemp has been putting in non-stop work which is finally being rewarded.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the A’s clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum.

Wednesday is the 19th annual Roberto Clemente Day, and many Latin players will be honoring Clemente by wearing the No. 21. Even though Kemp has been honored with a Clemente nomination, he will not be wearing No. 21 and said he will let his Latin teammates and friends in the league make the call for how they honor him on Wednesday:

“You know what, I honestly feel like I would not wear it. I think, that the Latin culture, I would kind of leave that to them with being, I know Carlos Correra and I talked to [Vimael] Machin a little bit about it, I think I will leave it up to those guys.”

You could tell he was at a loss for words when asked how he feels to be nominated, he could barely put together a sentence:

“Honestly, I was telling my wife when she dropped me off at the field today, I need to post on my Instagram. I haven’t even posted on my Instagram. I recently put together a video, I cant even, I don’t even know where to start.”

Kemp has been very vocal about his ideas and desire to create real change. He said he was truly humbled and blessed to just have his name even in the same sentence as Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker, who played 18 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates and was inducted posthumously into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, when he became the first Latino to reach Cooperstown.

Kemp explained what Clemente means to him:

“It means more than words and he was a guy, I have seen a bunch of clips of him, what he meant to the game and I actually went to the museum last year when I was with the Cubs … we went and had a great time there. Probably spent two or three hours up at the museum in Pittsburgh and to be able to be now nominated for his award with everything that he did during his life is… I’m pretty much speechless honestly. I don’t even know what to say ya know, pretty happy about it.”

Scot Tucker / SFBay.ca) Oakland Athletics’ Tony Kemp (5) congratulates Oakland Athletics’ Mark Canha (20) after a home run as the Oakland Athletics face the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park in San Francisco, CA., on Saturday, August 15, 2020. (Scot Tucker / SFBay.ca)

Kemp created the “+1 Effect,” a non-profit organization that helps bring awareness and open up a dialogue about the racial injustices in America, both past and present, specially bringing attention to police brutality. It all started after the murder of George Floyd, which caused most of America to wake up and really strive for change. Kemp said he doesn’t see himself as an activist but after everything that has gone on, he had enough and has decided to try to do something with his platform. 

Kemp and his wife Michelle have been very busy trying to create change. He tweeted to his 43,300 Twitter followers basically asking if anyone wanted to talk about what was going on. Fans didn’t need to hesitate to ask Kemp anything. He made it known he will be using social media as a way to have a conversation to help others stay informed or become educated on certain issues.

After the Floyd murder, Kemp went on a Zoom call with his family members, all educated black men. After 4-1/2 of powerful conversation, with tears shed, they realized they just need to be able to change one person at a time and it will become a domino effect, “a +1 Effect”.

The entire month of June, Kemp donated his funds to CampaignZero, which helps defund police violence. Fans can order +1 Effect t-shirts online at breakingT.com for a chance to make it on Kemp’s Instagram story. Proceeds from the shirts are donated to campaigns that can create change.

Kemp has taken his demand for change even deeper, tweeting about the Tulsa Massacre of 1921 where white racists killed many black citizens and pretty nearly all black establishments in the thriving community were destroyed. There was also a bombing in the area which no one talks about.

Kemp said he was probably the busiest person without a job prior to the 2020 season, trying to get the campaign started. And now that the season has arrived, and games are played almost everyday, if not twice a day, he has been busy but tries to keep up as often as he can:

“It is still thriving. This is a campaign I didn’t want it to be just a hot spot topic. I want it to continue on months and years down the road so been trying to have a fine balance between it, trying to answer people when I get off the field or whether its 11 or midnight, I try to at least do one a day … trying to let people understand kinda what is going on right now and go into each conversation obviously level headed, level minded and just try to help people.”

Fans have until Sept. 27 to vote for Kemp at: mlb.com/clemente21 

Up Next

Tony Kemp will start at second for the A’s Wednesday when they celebrate Roberto Clemente Day. LHP Jesus Luzardo, born in Peru, will start against Venezuela-born Luis Garcia, who will make his MLB debut as a starter. Vimael Machin and Ramon Laureano will also be some of the A’s starting Latino players on the special day.

Notes

The sky is yellow and the field is green, but air quality is not an issue for Wednesday night. … The entire Pittsburg Pirates team will be wearing No. 21 on Wednesday. Vimael Machin has been the only Oakland player to publicly announce he will wear No. 21 leading up to the game on Wednesday. … Stephen Piscotty received cortisone shot in his left wrist and will be out a couple days. … Matt Chapman still has left-side soreness and did not take grounders in Wednesday’s pregame.


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