Nelson Cruz wins Roberto Clemente Award

Field Level Media

October 27, 2021 at 4:23 pm.

Nelson Cruz was selected as the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award winner on Wednesday.

The award is given annually to the player who “best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.”

Cruz receives the award Wednesday night before Game 2 of the World Series in Houston.

Cruz has worked tirelessly to improve lives in his hometown, Las Matas de Santa Cruz, in a remote area of the Dominican Republic.

He has given them access to dentists and optometrists, and he also provided medical supplies, food and financial aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also paid for a police station and clinic and donated an ambulance and fire truck.

Each team nominates a player for the award based on community service. Although the Minnesota Twins traded Cruz, 41, to the Tampa Bay Rays in July, the Twins made him their nominee for the second straight season.

“I never was doing what I was doing to be recognized or win awards, but it’s always nice when people recognize the work that you put on to help others,” the designated hitter said, per MLB.com. “I know all 29 other players that were nominated really deserved to win it.”

He becomes the fourth Twins player to win the award, following Hall of Fame members Kirby Puckett (1996), Dave Winfield (1994) and Rod Carew (1977).

“There is no one more deserving of this tremendous honor than Nelson Cruz,” Twins president Dave St. Peter said in a statement. “His dedication to uplifting those around him is unmatched, and we are in awe of all he has accomplished on and off the field. From Twins Territory to the Dominican Republic, Nelson’s commitment to community continues to have a significant impact across the globe.”

Clemente, the Pittsburgh Pirates great, died on Dec. 31, 1972, at age 38 when a plane he was traveling in on a humanitarian mission to Nicaragua crashed. His family members are among those who vote for winner.