We all know Miguel Cabrera is one of the greatest hitters to ever play baseball. He continues to rack up impressive numbers in his 14th season in the big leagues. The Tiger slugger has won nearly every award and honor imaginable: Silver Slugger awards, All-Star selections, Player of the Month and Player of the Week honors (a total of 21 times as of this writing) MVP awards (two times), the triple crown, and even Tiger of the Year.
Now he’s been nominated for an award that may be more important to him than all of the others: the Roberto Clemente Award. The honor is given to s given annually to the Major League Baseball player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team,” as voted on by baseball fans and members of the media.
For players from Latin America it’s one of the most cherished honors they can receive. In the eyes of many from that baseball-crazy part of the world, Clemente is a mythic hero. The Hall of Fame outfielder had a standout career with the Pirates before it was ended prematurely when he died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve in 1972 while on a mission to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Clemente’s body was never found in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of his native Puerto Rico, but his legacy has lived on as a reminder of how one man can impact a community.
When Carlos Beltran, who like Clemente is a Puerto Rican, an All-Star, and a Gold Glove winner, won the award in 2013 he called it “the crowning achievement of my life.” For Beltran and many other Latin stars, Clemente is their Babe Ruth. Other latin stars to win the award are David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, and Carlos Delgado, all currently active, as well as Edgar Martinez and Sammy Sosa. Should he win the award, Cabrera would be the first player from Venezuela to receive the honor.
Cabrera has always played the game like a little kid, showing playful antics on the field, like the time he mocked Adrian Beltre’s displeasure at having his head touched, or the many times he’s poked and irritated enemy base runners from his position at first base.
Through his Miguel Cabrera Foundation, which was founded jointly by Miggy and his wife, he has assisted thousands of children in Detroit through scholarships, grants, and donations of athletic equipment, playgrounds, and more.
The Roberto Clemente is voted on by media members and players, and in 2016 for the first time, fans can vote via social media.