Major League Baseball today announced that Nelson Cruz is the Seattle Mariners 2018 nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, the most prominent individual player award bestowed by MLB.
The Roberto Clemente Award is the annual recognition of a player from each MLB club who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.
Each team nominates one current player to be considered for the award in tribute to Clemente's achievements and character. Wednesday, September 5, marks the 17th Annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by Major League Baseball to honor Clemente's legacy and to officially acknowledge the 30 team nominees. As part of the league-wide celebration, the Roberto Clemente Day logo will appear on the bases and official dugout lineup cards and a special tribute video will be played in ballparks.
Nelson Cruz is a six-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger, 2017 Edgar Martinez Award Winner, and Major League Baseball's active Home Run Leader since 2009. Since joining the Mariners in 2015, his impact off the field and in community has been equally impressive.
In September 2016, Nelson launched his Boomstick23 Foundation with the goal of creating social impact by empowering at-risk children and young people to develop leadership skills and abilities through education and sports.
The Boomstick23 Foundation partnered with Chief Sealth International High School in Seattle in honor Nelson's parents, who were both teachers, and their commitment to ensure that all students graduate from high school. At the Foundation's 2016 kickoff event in Seattle, Nelson presented a $10,000 check to the school's principal along with equipment for the school's baseball team. In 2018, Nelson provided 10 scholarships for Chief Sealth students.
During Spring Training this year, Nelson and the Boomstick23 Foundation teamed up with Billy Hamilton, of the Cincinnati Reds, and Amyloidosis Support Groups to help raise funds and awareness at the 8th Annual Celebrity Bartender Night in Scottsdale, AZ. The event raised $22,000 for to support those living with amyloidosis, a rare disease caused by a buildup of protein that can affect the heart, liver, spleen, nervous system and digestive tract. Severe cases can lead to life-threatening organ failure.
Nelson is also committed to the health and safety of the people of his native Dominican Republic. In 2012, he donated a fire truck to the Las Matas de Santa Cruz Fire Department, which provides services to tens of thousands of people. In 2015, his first season in Seattle, Nelson partnered with the Seattle Fire Department to collect surplus equipment, including boots, pants, jackets, gloves, and helmets to donate to firefighters in his hometown.
Nelson also serves as a spokesman for AID FOR AIDS International and the "Un Batazo Contra El VIH," (A Hit Against HIV) initiative. AID FOR AIDS is a non-profit organization committed to empowering communities at risk of HIV, and the population at large, through prevention, access to treatment, advocacy and education. Nelson also served as an awards presenter at the AID FOR AIDS annual "My Hero" Gala in New York.
Nelson has participated in numerous PLAY BALL events, a collaborative initiative between MLB, USA Baseball, and USA Softball that aims to give kids an opportunity to play baseball and softball. He also takes part each year in various Mariners Care activities including DREAM Team assemblies, Mariners Education Day and Home Runs for Education.
The league-wide winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, who will be announced during the 2018 World Series, will be selected among the group of nominees via a blue ribbon panel that includes individuals connected to the game. The blue ribbon panel includes Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr., representatives from MLB-affiliated networks (MLB Network, FOX Sports, ESPN and TBS) and MLB.com, as well as Vera Clemente (the late Roberto's wife & MLB Goodwill Ambassador). Beginning tomorrow, fans can vote for nominees at mlb.com/clemente21. The site will feature bios of each of the nominees. Voting will close on September 18. The winner of the fan vote will count as one vote among those cast by the blue ribbon panel.
Mariners players have received the Clemente Award three times: Harold Reynolds in 1991; Jamie Moyer in 2003; Edgar Martinez in 2004.