Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz was chosen as the winner of the 2011 Roberto Clemente Award, given to the Major League Baseball player who displays humanitarian efforts.
Ortiz, 35, was selected from a list of 30 nominees for the award, named for the 12-time All-Star and Hall of Famer. Clemente died in a plane crash while trying to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua in 1972.
“David’s remarkable commitment to helping children receive essential pediatric care in the United States and the Dominican Republic makes him a wonderful choice for this honor,” MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement last night before Game 2 of the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers. “The legacy of the great Roberto Clemente lives on through the selfless actions of players like David and so many of his peers.”
In 2005, Ortiz founded the David Ortiz Children’s Fund that raises money to help give children access to critical pediatric care in his native Dominican Republic and the U.S. The fund formed a partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital for Children and last year raised more than $1.5 million to pay for more than 200 life-saving heart operations in New England.
Last year, Ortiz also donated food and medical supplies to help the relief effort after the earthquake in Haiti.
“It’s humbling to be associated with all the tremendous names that have won this award in the past, and I look forward to continuing to do my part to maintain Roberto Clemente’s legacy,” Ortiz said in a statement.
Vera Clemente, the widow of Roberto Clemente, called Ortiz “a great choice” and a “deserving candidate.”
“The hands-on work he has done over the years and the money he has donated in Boston, Haiti and the Dominican Republic is a wonderful example for all players, and I know Roberto would have been very proud of his selection,” she said.
In his 15-year career with the Minnesota Twins and the Red Sox, Ortiz owns a .283 batting average with 378 home runs and 1,266 runs batted in, a .378 on-base percentage and a .544 slugging percentage. Ortiz, who has the most home runs and RBIs of any designated hitter in MLB history, contributed to Boston’s World Series championship clubs in 2004 and 2007.