Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday that Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Nelson Cruz had won this year's Roberto Clemente Award, or an annual recognition of 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, a 41-year-old impending free agent, split the season between the Rays and the Minnesota Twins. It was the Twins who nominated him for a second consecutive year, meaning his win technically counts toward their franchise tally. Cruz, then, is the fourth member of the Twins to win the award, joining Rod Carew, Dave Winfield, and Kirby Puckett.
"There is no one more deserving of this tremendous honor than Nelson Cruz," Twins president and CEO Dave St. Peter said as part of the team's release. "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 make a significant impact across the globe."
MLB's press release notes that, among other charitable endeavors, Cruz provided "food and financial support to nearly 1,200 families in Las Matas De Santa Cruz, Dominican Republic during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing the resources necessary for them to comply with stay-at-home orders."
The Clemente Award is, of course, named after the Hall of Fame outfielder who died in a plane crash on New Year's Eve 1972 while partaking in a humanitarian effort to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. (The award itself had existed prior to Clemente's death, but was later named after him in a tribute.)