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Elephant Rumblings: Tony Kemp earns Dave Stewart award, Bill Rigney award

MLB news roundup

Houston Astros v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Good morning, Athletics Nation!

Tony Kemp has made his presence known this year, not only on the Oakland A’s roster but around the community as well. Earlier this month he was named as the A’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes extraordinary character and philanthropy, and over the last week he’s garnered two more honors.

On Sunday, when the A’s were playing the San Francisco Giants at the Coliseum, Kemp received the annual Bill Rigney Good Guy Award. This award is given out by local baseball writers “to players whose interactions with the media have been exceptional,” reports John Hickey of Sports Illustrated. The Giants winner was Mike Yastrzemski — coincidentally, Kemp and Yaz were college roommates at Vanderbilt.

Not even a week later, Kemp is being recognized again. On Friday (that’s today!) he will receive the Dave Stewart Community Service Award, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle.

Founded in 1996 in honor of Stewart, the award is “given annually to an A’s player in recognition of charitable contributions throughout Northern California and across the nation,” per a team press release. Kemp founded the +1Effect campaign this summer, promoting respectful and constructive dialogue regarding race among people with differing views on sensitive topics, and he has also helped raise money for coronavirus relief efforts.

Recent recipients of the Stewart Award include Liam Hendriks (2017 and ‘19) and Chad Pinder (2018). The full list: Ernie Young (1996), Scott Spiezio (1997), Tom Candiotti (1998), Art Howe (1999), Jason Giambi (2000), Terrence Long (2001), Tim Hudson (2002), Scott Hatteberg (2003), Eric Chavez (2004), Barry Zito (2005), Mark Kotsay (2006), Mark Ellis (2007), Dana Eveland (2008), Dallas Braden and Kurt Suzuki (2009), Craig Breslow (2010), Josh Willingham (2011), Jonny Gomes (2012), Sean Doolittle (2013), Jed Lowrie (2014), Stephen Vogt (2015, 2016).

Baseball fans talk a lot about intangibles, all the little things and human traits that a player can bring to the table beyond just the numbers in the box score. On the field, Kemp supplements his OBP skills with some incredible, acrobatic plays at opportune moments, which might only be plainly recorded as a putout or a run scored. Off the field, this collection of awards speaks volumes about the kind of person he is, displaying leadership, generosity, compassion, professionalism, and friendliness, and all while rarely ever being seen without a smile on his face. Congrats to Kemp on his well-earned honors!

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