Soler's commitment to community earns Clemente nom

September 17th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Christina De Nicola’s Marlins Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Though All-Star slugger Jorge Soler is in just his second season with the Marlins, he has been active in the South Florida community since 2017.

Soler, who has called the area home since defecting from Cuba in 2011, has supported Miami’s Nicklaus Children’s Hospital for the past six years. That commitment has carried into the season, as he has hosted patients from the hospital and their families for a VIP experience at loanDepot park to cap off a milestone celebration -- either the end of treatment, graduation, surgery or discharges. Soler also makes additional financial contributions and visits to the hospital on his own time throughout the offseason.

"Nothing personal, it's something since I got here to this country, I was watching some of the people on TV helping the kids battling their situation, and I noticed that I had the opportunity to give back," Soler said via interpreter Luis Dorante Jr. "Why not if I have the chance?"

Pair that with his involvement with the Miami Marlins Foundation's programming, and Soler was an easy choice to be named the Marlins' 2023 nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Capital One. The annual award recognizes a Major League player who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field. Each MLB club nominates one player to be considered for the league-wide award in tribute to Clemente’s achievements and character.

Over the past year, Soler's community service has involved a wide range of activities. He joined the Miami Marlins Foundation at its annual Holiday Wishes event, where he handed out gifts for the holiday season and took photos with children from the Little Havana community. He attended the opening day of the Miami Marlins Youth Academy Spring Tee Ball Initiative presented by Joe DiMaggio’s Children’s Hospital, which provides jerseys and hats to more than 12,500 little leaguers. In May during Mental Health Awareness Month, Soler participated in the Marlins’ Great Minds -- Great Athletes Panel at John A. Ferguson High School to discuss the importance of mental health in the game of baseball.

Hours before the Marlins recognized Soler, who got to wear Clemente's No. 21 during a pregame ceremony on Friday at loanDepot park, he visited Kensington Park Elementary for a history lesson on Clemente. He also caught the first pitch from Cuban-born Hall of Famer Tony Perez.

Fans can vote for theRoberto Clemente Award presented by Capital One at in both English and Spanish.

"It means a lot, mostly for all the Latin players," said Soler, who was both an All-Star and Roberto Clemente Award nominee for the first time in 2023. "It means a lot what he did, how he represented -- the beginning of that time in baseball, all the things he did -- actually means a lot for all of us. Greatness, and just opening those doors for all the rest of us."