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Helton nominated for Roberto Clemente Award

Days away from retirement, first baseman can be voted for by fans

DENVER -- In his final days as a player with the Rockies, veteran first baseman Todd Helton is being recognized for his longtime humanitarian contributions.

Helton is the Rockies' winner and a nominee for Major League Baseball's Roberto Clemente Award, which is given annually to the player who "best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to the team."

The was established in 1971 as the Commissioner's Award, but renamed in 1973 to honor Clemente, a Hall of Fame outfielder who was killed in a plane crash while attempting to deliver supplies to victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua.

The nominees from each club are chosen during the regular season by a panel of baseball dignitaries. Now fans can help determine the award's winner.

Tuesday is Roberto Clemente Day throughout Major League Baseball, a day instituted on the 30th anniversary of his passing in 1972 to keep alive Clemente's spirit of giving. Voting runs from Tuesday 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.

Helton was the Rockies' nominee for the award in 2000 and 2002. In 2005, he established a foundation to invest in improving the health of children. He also has long been active with Children's Hospital Colorado, and visits and supports the Army's Fort Carson base in Colorado Springs and the Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo.

Helton, who was drafted by the Rockies in 1995 and made his Major League debut in 1997, will retire at season's end.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb.

Colorado Rockies, Todd Helton