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Granderson recognized as Clemente nominee

Selfless Mets right fielder nominated for second time

NEW YORK -- As often is the case when they are at Citi Field, the Mets had a visitor. It was the middle of August and Justin Horton, 9, and his family walked through the right-field gate wanting to meet one player.

Horton suffers from cystic fibrosis, and on nights where he's not playing Little League, he watches the Mets to smile along with his favorite player, Curtis Granderson.

"His energy is infectious," Justin's mother, Emily, said. "That's why Justin is so drawn to Curtis."

Granderson spent most of the afternoon with Horton, giving him his own locker in the Mets' clubhouse, hitting tips in the cage and an outfield's worth of high-fives. Granderson is often the point man when it comes to hosting guests of Citi, even those who don't specifically request him, because of a willingness and demeanor that makes him as much the Mets' quintessential off-the-field representative as he is their leadoff hitter.

Major League Baseball recognized Granderson for this Monday by pinning him as the club's nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet. Named after Hall of Fame right fielder and renowned philanthropist Roberto Clemente, the award recognizes players that best represent the game through positive contributions both on and off the field, where sportsmanship and community involvement rank paramount.

Each of the 30 MLB teams nominate one player to be considered for the Roberto Clemente Award in an effort to pay tribute to Clemente's achievements and character by recognizing current players who truly understand the value of helping others.

Wednesday marks the 14th annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by Major League Baseball to honor Clemente's legacy and to officially acknowledge the local club.

On Wednesday, fans are encouraged to participate in the process of selecting the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award on Voting ends Oct. 9, and participating fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the 2015 World Series, where the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award will be announced.

The concept of honoring players for their philanthropic work was created in 1971 as the "Commissioner's Award," but was renamed to the "Roberto Clemente Award" in 1973 in honor of the Hall of Famer and 15-time All-Star who died in a plane crash on New Year's Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Each September since 2002, Major League Baseball has commemorated Roberto Clemente Day.

The Mets' nomination falls with little surprise to Granderson, long considered one of the most philanthropic players in the Majors for his work with various organizations including his own, the Grand Kids Foundation.

Granderson's personal charity strives to "provide tools and resources" to "aid positive youth development via education, physical fitness and nutrition," according to its website. In the offseason, he speaks to children about the value of education and helps raise money for food depositories in his native Chicago.

This marks Granderson's second nomination for the award. He was also nominated in 2007, when he was a member of the Tigers. In between, Granderson won the 2009 Marvin Miller Award with the Yankees, which recognizes off-the-field achievements, served as an international ambassador for Major League Baseball, and acted as official spokesman for the White House's 2010 anti-obesity campaign.

He would be the third Mets player to win and first since Carlos Delgado in 2006.

Joe Trezza is an associate reporter for
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