Seven-time All-Star Nelson Cruz has been named recipient of the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award, Major League Baseball’s most prestigious individual player honor, and is being recognized for his generosity and humanitarian efforts in his home Club markets and his hometown in the Dominican Republic.
Cruz is the 50th winner of this prestigious honor, and will officially receive the Roberto Clemente Award from Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. and the Clemente family at a pregame press conference before tonight’s Game Two of the World Series.
He has made meaningful contributions to his hometown (Las Matas de Santa Cruz) in the following ways:
- Helped feed more than 700 families and provided financial support to individuals not able to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, nearly 1,200 families received direct support from Nelson due to COVID-related hardships.
- After a childhood friend lost his home to a fire, Nelson provided his town with a fire engine, 80 firefighter uniforms and an ambulance to help treat and transport people to the nearest hospital (nearly an hour away).
- Each year, Nelson brings dentists and optometrists to his town’s clinic to provide checkups, medicine and eyewear. In 2020, 500 patients received a variety of much-needed dental services.
- In an effort to break the cycle of poverty in communities of need, Nelson commissioned studies to understand what resources are needed most in his hometown. This summer, Nelson’s Boomstick23 Foundation began construction on an education and technical center, a place to host training for technical skills and how to better use farmland to produce crops. The training is aimed to provide skills and a path toward employment and income stability.
- Nelson will equip the center with computers to help young athletes who are pursuing their MLB dreams complete their high school education and give an opportunity to go to college.
- Nelson was a leader in generating support from MLB, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) and the MLBPA Players Trust resulting in a $400,000 donation to the Dominican Republic to provide medical equipment and address food insecurity during the pandemic.
Cruz was previously nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award by the Twins in 2020 and the Seattle Mariners in 2018, and was nominated this year by the Minnesota Twins during the Regular Season. He is the fourth Twins player to win the Award, joining Hall of Famers Rod Carew (1977), Dave Winfield (1994) and Kirby Puckett (1997).
Minnesota Twins President & CEO Dave St. Peter had the following to say about his nominee:
“There is no one more deserving of this tremendous honor than Nelson Cruz. 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.”
Cruz was previously recognized as a Roberto Clemente Award nominee while a member of the Tampa Bay Rays following Roberto Clemente Day, which was held on September 15th. Each September since 2002, Major League Baseball has commemorated Roberto Clemente Day to recognize Roberto Clemente Award nominees and celebrate the Hall of Famer’s indelible legacy.
The Roberto Clemente Award is the annual recognition of a Major League player who best represents the game of Baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy, and positive contributions, both on and off the field.
The concept of honoring Major League players for their philanthropic work was created in 1971 as the “Commissioner’s Award.” It was renamed to the “Roberto Clemente Award” in 1973 to honor 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.
Cruz is the first recipient in Rays franchise history.