The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association announced its 30 team winners of the 2016 Heart and Hustle Award on Tuesday. Cleveland first baseman and designated hitter Mike Napoli has been selected as the winner for the Indians.
The award, in its 12th year, recognizes “active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game”. Voting for the yearly honor is done solely by former players and is completed each season before the All-Star break. Committees assigned to each team select one player based on “their passion, desire and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field”.
Napoli’s contribution to the Indians and the community will be recognized prior to an upcoming home game.
Napoli’s off-the-field work has gotten plenty of attention this season, thanks to the “Party at Napoli’s” t-shirts and signs seen following the Cleveland Indians ball club around Major League Baseball stadiums this season. The movement, started by a catchy phrase later placed on poster board and seen from The Corner area of Progressive Field, later caught air time on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio broadcasts and became popularized by the broadcasters and later the players. Napoli liked the slogan and a sample t-shirt that he was provided by local Indians fan Nate Crowe so much so that he backed a movement to make the t-shirts available to the public with a portion of the proceeds set to benefit The Cleveland Clinic’s Children’s Hospital.
The shirts can be found, when in stock, at the Progressive Field team shop or from online merchant 108stitches.com, MLB licensed and the preferred seller of the t-shirts.
If you have yet to pick up a shirt, Napoli is matching all sales from July 18 to July 25 from the online sales of the t-shirt. To attend the Party at Napoli’s, click here.
On the field, Napoli has done plenty to hustle and provide in his first year in Cleveland, already surpassing several major offensive statistics from a season ago and is well on pace to challenge career highs in several others. He is tied for the team lead with 20 home runs and leads the club with 63 RBI this year while hitting .249. His average for the season has jumped significantly over the last two months after hitting .258 in June and .302 in July.
All alumni and active players will select one overall winner from the pool of 30 team winners. The player selected will be announced on November 15, 2016, at the 17th annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York, a fundraising event for the free Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics that benefit more than 15,000 children at over 150 clinics.
Jason Kipnis was selected as the Indians’ winner in 2012, 2013, and 2015 and Michael Brantley in 2014. Grady Sizemore is the only Indians player to win the overall award, doing so in 2008 in the award’s fourth year.
Photo: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
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