By Cam Roper
David “Big Papi” Ortiz has tallied 378 homeruns, seven All-Star game appearances, and two World Series Championships in his career.
Last month, Ortiz added another accomplishment to that list: the 2011 Roberto Clemente Award.
It seems as though the third time’s the charm; Ortiz had been nominated for this award twice before.
The Roberto Clemente Award is awarded to one Major League Baseball player who shows the greatest ability to help others off of the field in need. Clemente was a 12-time MLB All-Star who spent his entire career manning the outfield for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Clemente passed away on Dec. 31, 1972 in a plane crash, while attempting to bring supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, as well as MLB Goodwill Ambassador Vera Clemente, widow of Clemente, presented Ortiz with the award.
“David Ortiz is a great choice among an outstanding group of candidates for the 2011 Roberto Clemente Award,” said Vera Clemente. “He has been a deserving candidate for many years and I am very happy to see him win. 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.”
“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,” Selig said. “The legacy of the great Roberto Clemente lives on through the selfless actions of players like David and so many of his peers.”
The Red Sox designated hitter was elected the American League Home Run Derby captain. During this event, he was able to raise nearly $150,000 from the home runs hit by his team. Half of this money was donated to Ortiz’s Children’s Fund.
“I have kids. I have a family. I have children,” Ortiz said. “You have to put yourself in that situation and look in the mirror and talk to yourself about how sad it is to see children have problems.”
“Kids, man,” he continued, “You can never go wrong when it comes to kids, you know what I’m saying? Kids are like the future of life. You need to try to teach them how to do the right thing, even though they might not have what everybody would like as a kid. Any time you can bring happiness to kids, you have to.”
This is the second consecutive year that the Roberto Clemente Award was given to a member of the Boston Red Sox; knuckle-baller Tim Wakefield took it home last season. It is also the first time two teammates have received the award in consecutive years since Seattle’s Jamie Moyer and Edgar Martinez won in 2003 and 2004, respectively.