Community focus nets Miggy Clemente nod

September 9th, 2020

DETROIT -- Long before stepped to the plate at Comerica Park in this delayed season, he and his wife, Rosangel, stepped up to bat for the city of Detroit in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We always feel like Detroit is a part of our family,” Cabrera said earlier this year. “When a city has done so much for me and my family, when we have a chance to give back to the community, especially during this hard event, we try to do that. It's not just about playing baseball and making money. It’s about being part of the community.”

When the pandemic hit Michigan particularly hard in the spring, Cabrera donated $250,000 to help children and families in Detroit, from helping Detroit Public Schools provide meals for children while school buildings were closed to providing grants for technology for remote learning and affordable daycare for families as parents return to work. Another donation helped provide face masks in a Detroit neighborhood that needed them.

“Many remember plays made on the field, but there is nothing more important in life than investing in children,” said Detroit PAL CEO Robert Jamerson, whose organization received a donation from Cabrera through the Detroit Tigers Foundation, an affiliate of Ilitch Charities.

This year’s donation was the latest example of Cabrera’s generosity, a big reason why the big man in the Tigers lineup has been the team’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award in each of the last six seasons.

Beyond Cabrera’s financial support, Cabrera this year lent his image and likeness to support a bilingual campaign by the United States Census towards Latino and Hispanic families in Michigan to encourage Census completion in traditionally low-participating communities.

For years, the Miguel Cabrera Foundation has worked with the Detroit Tigers Foundation and others to help promote academics and athletics among kids in Detroit as well as Cabrera’s native Venezuela, his offseason home in South Florida and the Tigers’ Spring Training home in Lakeland. A big part of that was through revitalizing ballparks like Clark Park in Detroit. It’s a fitting cause for someone who plays the game with a kid’s enthusiasm.

In recent years, Cabrera has branched out with his foundation with the Cabrera Family Scholarship endowment, awarding two college scholarships every year to first-generation college students in Michigan and South Florida.

The pandemic has created a range of needs worldwide. The Cabreras are trying to step up to the plate.

“If we have something to help, we're always open to do that,” Cabrera said. “Thank God we can do that in Detroit. Thank God we can do that in Venezuela.”

The original "Commissioner's Award" for philanthropic service was renamed in 1973 in honor of Clemente, 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. Tigers Hall of Famer Al Kaline, who passed away earlier this year, won the first Roberto Clemente Award in 1973 and remains the only Tiger to win.