In May, when the COVID-19 pandemic was ravaging both Baltimore and Hanser Alberto’s Dominican Republic hometown, the Orioles second baseman appeared on video where he feels most comfortable: a baseball field. On a dusty diamond outside his home, Alberto looked into a camera and urged people to take safety precautions
In May, when the COVID-19 pandemic was ravaging both Baltimore and Hanser Alberto’s Dominican Republic hometown, the Orioles second baseman appeared on video where he feels most comfortable: a baseball field. On a dusty diamond outside his home, Alberto looked into a camera and urged people to take safety precautions seriously: to practice social distancing, to wear masks, etc.
Recorded in both English and Spanish, the messages were broadcast to millions in Maryland and the D.R.
“That was very important,” Alberto said recently. “I like to help the community. I wanted to show them we were with them through the pandemic. Besides being a baseball player, we also are human and have feelings. All we want is what’s best for the people, in my country, around the world and in Baltimore.”
Alberto’s upbeat personality makes him a natural spokesman. And that spirit is what made Alberto the Orioles’ nominee for the 2020 Roberto Clemente Award, given annually across baseball to the player who best represents the game through character, community involvement and philanthropy. If selected, Alberto would be the fifth Oriole to win the award, and the first since Eric Davis in 1997.
• Vote for the 2020 Roberto Clemente Award
Working through his Fe Malta foundation since 2015, Alberto has often looked to serve the less fortunate in his hometown and beyond. This spring, those efforts centered on San Francisco De Macoris, the center of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Dominican. There, Alberto worked with former teammates Elvis Andrus, Robinson Chirinos and Adrián Beltré to distribute food, medicine and other essential items to more than 500 families in his hometown affected by the virus.
“It means a lot. I appreciate the Orioles for choosing me for this award and I feel pretty grateful,” Alberto said. “I try to do good on the field and off the field, too.”
He continues to excel at both. A revelation of the Orioles' rebuild in 2019, Alberto was claimed off waivers and, given everyday MLB at-bats for the first time, hit .305 and challenged for the American League batting title. He is right in the thick of that race again this year, hitting .318 with 48 hits and 12 doubles. He ranks among the AL’s leaders in both batting and hits since the start of 2019.
Along the way, Alberto has grown into a fan favorite in Baltimore for his infectious attitude and upbeat style of play -- and a community presence both back home and in Baltimore.
During the 2019 offseason, Alberto participated in the "Game of Legends" in the Dominican Republic, which benefits children fighting cancer and the St. Jude Foundation. He also visited the Hospital Infantil Regional Universitario to donate holiday gifts to patients, and visited Fort Meade -- Maryland’s largest military base -- with Orioles executive vice president and GM Mike Elias to boost morale for service members who are on the base without their families. Alberto has also recorded an instructional training video on hitting for average to engage with young athletes.
“He’s such a special guy and is loved in our clubhouse,” manager Brandon Hyde said. ”He’s such a character, just an awesome character with great personality. He loves to play the game, and it shows. That’s why fans love him -- because he plays the game like a kid. He’s an easy coach’s favorite and an easy guy to love.”
Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.