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Miggy named Tigers' Clemente Award nominee

DETROIT -- Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown took him from one of the game's great hitters to a superstar. He has stepped into a big presence in the community as well.

With his own foundation dedicated to helping spread baseball by renovating fields, plus multiple fund-raising efforts for worthy causes during the season, Cabrera has become arguably the Tigers' biggest community presence. His work earned him a second consecutive honor as the club's nominee for Major League Baseball's prestigious Roberto Clemente Award.

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. Clemente perished in a plane crash on New Year's Eve while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

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.

Cabrera established his foundation a couple years ago to help renovate youth baseball fields. Cabrera's foundation just helped renovate a field in his native Maracay, Venezuela, but also has targeted places to help in Detroit as well as Miami, his offseason home.

Among the goals this year, both with his foundation and the Detroit Tigers Foundation, is to repair a baseball diamond at Clark Park in southwest Detroit.

"We're trying to save fields, to have a chance for kids to go out there and have fun, try to give them the opportunity to go out there and stay off the street," Cabrera said at a fundraiser earlier this season. "I'm trying to give them a chance to play baseball for fun. When you're a kid, you play to have fun."

Cabrera also has become the annual host of Keeping Kids in the Game, an August fundraiser to help support children's health and youth baseball programs facilitated by the Children's Hospital of Michigan Foundation, the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and the Detroit Tigers Foundation.

Cabrera didn't grow up anywhere near Detroit and didn't come into the big leagues as a Tiger. However, he's carrying forward the work that other Tigers stars did before him.

Magglio Ordonez made an impact on southwest Detroit during his time as a Tiger, establishing a scholarship fund for deserving high school graduates and making a major donation to renovate two baseball diamonds and build another at St. Hedwig Park.

Carlos Guillen did his part to welcome deserving kids to Tigers games and took part in clinics. He also made a major impact in his hometown of Maracay, Venezuela, helping fix ballfields and donating money and equipment to hospitals.

Ordonez and Guillen were Cabrera's mentors when he joined the Tigers. Now he's carrying on the effort in his own way.

"When you have time, you need to give something back," Cabrera said. "It's not only about playing baseball. It's about interacting with the fans and trying to do something for the kids."

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.

Detroit Tigers, Miguel Cabrera