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Wright's giving spirit earns Clemente nomination

Mets captain annually ranks as one of baseball's most philanthropic players

NEW YORK -- Before straining his right hamstring in early August, David Wright was a worthy National League MVP Award candidate, enjoying one of the best offensive seasons of his career.

Though Wright's injury robbed him of the ability to compete for that award, it will not prevent him from vying for some off-the-field hardware. Wright is once again the Mets' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, Major League Baseball's premier community service recognition.

Tuesday is Roberto Clemente Day throughout Major League Baseball, which was instituted on the 30th anniversary of Clemente's passing in 1972 to keep alive his spirit of giving. Voting runs from Sept. 17 through Oct. 6 at 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.

Wright was previously nominated for the Clemente Award in 2008, losing to then-Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols. Last year's Clemente winner, Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, beat out Mets nominee Johan Santana and 28 others.

"Any time you get mentioned for anything about the Roberto Clemente Award is a tremendous honor," said Hall of Famer Al Kaline, who won the award in 1973, the third such presentation but the first after it was dedicated to the memory of Clemente.

Over Wright's first 10 big league seasons, he has become as well-known for his community service endeavors as anyone in baseball. He long ago established the David Wright Foundation to provide aid and assistance toward the health, emotional development and education for children in need, both around New York City and Norfolk, Va.

At his third annual Vegas night in January, Wright raised $144,000 for the Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk.

"I learned at a pretty young age that you can have an impact -- a positive impact -- on our community by wearing this jersey," Wright said last year. "And we've done some great things for local children's hospitals here in New York and back home in Virginia. Hopefully that just keeps on getting better and better, and we continue to raise money for some great causes."

Aside from his personal foundation work, Wright often aids the Mets with their community efforts, most recently, in the days leading up to Sept. 11, visiting a firehouse for the ninth straight year -- a trip that he said "just makes you appreciate even more what these men and women do every day."

Though Wright moved his offseason home from Manhattan back to Virginia several years ago, he regularly travels to New York City during the winter months, in part to participate in charitable events.

If he wins the Clemente Award, Wright will become the first Mets player to do so since Carlos Delgado in 2006. Other Mets winners include Gary Carter in 1989 and Al Leiter in 2000.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo.

New York Mets, David Wright