ST. LOUIS -- Carlos Beltran has accrued many accolades throughout his playing career, but on Monday, the 36-year-old outfielder was recognized for his off-the-field contributions when he was named as the Cardinals' nominee for the Robert Clemente Award.
Tuesday is Roberto Clemente Day throughout Major League Baseball, a day instituted on the 30th anniversary of his passing in 1972 to keep alive Clemente's spirit of giving. Voting runs from Tuesday through Oct. 6 at chevybaseball.com as fans help decide which of those 30 club winners will receive this prestigious recognition. The nominees were chosen based on their dedication to giving back to the community, as well as their outstanding ability on the field.
"I never had the chance to see [Clemente] play, but as a Puerto Rican, I was able to grow up listening to stories about him, and that's something you get to have instilled in your mind, soul and your character," Beltran said of his baseball hero. "Clemente lives in our hearts every day. As a Puerto Rican baseball player, I'm very proud to pay tribute to his legacy and follow his footsteps."
Beltran has dedicated much of his career to off-the-field charity work and giving back to the community. He opened the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in August 2011 to allow young athletes education opportunities they otherwise wouldn't have access to. He established the school with an initial $3 million donation out of his own pocket, and maintains it through annual fundraising events.
This past June, Beltran traveled to the Academy on a team off-day so that he could be present for the school's first graduation ceremony. There were 44 boys who received their high school diploma that day.
"God is blessing me with the opportunity to play baseball for so many years and make plenty of money with it," Beltran said. "So it was something I wanted to do, not just so I could make a one-time donation, but I wanted the chance of making something that would be of permanent impact, year after year."
Last month, Beltran and his wife, Jessica, hosted the second annual Night in Old San Juan Gala at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis. The event drew over 300 celebrities and guests and raised more than $160,000 for the Carlos Beltran Foundation. His foundation hosts charity events each year to help support the local community and subsidize the Academy.
A new community event to begin this year was the Beltran's Buddies program, through which Beltran hosts groups of underprivileged youth at Busch Stadium. On July 5, he also donated his suite to 45 underprivileged Hispanic students; he purchased another 30 tickets for Hispanic Heritage Day on May 11.
He has a pair of charity events planned for the offseason, as well. The Carlos Beltran Fashion Show will be held on Nov. 16, at the Dorado Resort and Spa in Puerto Rico. It will feature athletes and entertainers posing as models and wearing clothes designed by Gustavo Arango. Money raised will benefit Beltran's foundation. Also in the planning stages is the Academy's Christmas toy drive. Beltran plans to host 200 underprivileged Puerto Rican at his Academy and will pass out toys and refreshments.
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com.