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Last Thursday provided a rare home off-day for the first-place Washington Nationals. But Ryan Zimmerman, the team's All-Star third baseman, still spent his night at the ballpark. Zimmerman had important business at his third annual "Night at the Park" fund-raiser at Nationals Park to raise money to fight multiple sclerosis -- the chronic disease which has crippled his mother, Cheryl, since her diagnosis in 1995.
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“We’ve gotten better and better each year. That’s the goal," stated Ryan Zimmerman. "We obviously started and really had no idea what we were getting into and just wanted to do stuff to help. Over the last five years it’s grown more than we could ever think we could imagine. And this (a Washington, D.C. venue) is a big stepping stone for us. We think from here, it could take off. The sky’s the limit from here.”
Zimmerman, 23, is entering his third season as a starter for the Nationals. In 2006, he hit .287 with 47 doubles, 20 home runs and 110 RBI in 2006, finishing second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. Last season he batted .266 with 43 doubles, 24 home runs and 91 RBI. Zimmerman established the ziMS foundation in 2006, to support research and awareness of multiple sclerosis, a condition his mother Cheryl was diagnosed with in 1995.
Zimmerman's work with the foundation is the reason he is a candidate for the Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team. It is named in honor of the former Pirates outfielder whose spirit and goodwill will always be remembered. Clemente died in a plane crash while attempting to transport relief supplies to earthquake-stricken Nicaragua on Dec. 31, 1972. The winner will be announced during the World Series.
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