At the conclusion of every season, MLB presents the Roberto Clemente Award to a player whose on and off the field conduct and contributions live up to the humanitarian reputation of the Hall of Fame individual who the award is named for. The most recent and very well-deserved recipient of the award last season was Carlos Beltrán. The honor was especially meaningful to Beltrán as he like Clemente is a native of Puerto Rico.
Beltrán’s decency and caring for others did not recently begin. His recognition by MLB in 2013 reflects efforts he has made in the past. He was a strong supporter of the Harlem RBI program during his years with the Mets. He was one of the winners of the Thurman Munson Award in 2009 and the Joan Payson Award from the BBWAA in the following year.
Although injuries have interfered with Carlos Beltrán making as a big a contribution to the success of the Yankees this year as he wished, he always plays hard for his team and teammates and the veteran is a positive factor in the clubhouse. The eight-time All-Star still has two years remaining on the contract he signed with the Yankees last winter to help them reach a championship level.
Beltrán is one athlete who tries to use his celebrity to help others. Although the work he does to benefit other does not get the attention that he gets when he is on the baseball field, it is really far more important.
Last week, Beltrán and his wife Jessica hosted a fundraiser for the Carlos Beltrán Foundation at Gotham Hall in Manhattan. He and several of his teammates, David Robertson, Brian McCann, CC Sabathia, Dillon Betances, and Jacoby Ellsbury prepared for a late night in mid-town after having played an afternoon game at Yankee Stadium. He explained the effort to reporters before the function started, “For us, we’ve been blessed through baseball.”
As the festivities were about to begin, the star player remarked of the night, “Tonight is a fun night to raise funds.” The charity gala, “A Night in Old San Juan”, offered contributors a dinner of Puerto Rican cuisine and lively entertainment with an orchestra and dancers. The prime task of the foundation is to “provide students with a dynamic learning experience while also developing and enhancing their athletic abilities.”
The site for those accomplishments is the Carlos Beltrán Academy in Florida, Puerto Rico. The big leaguer since 1998 commented, “Helping kids and people who really need it is something I’m passionate about.”
His wife told the media of her husband’s dedication to the project in the off-season, “He goes out there and is great with the kids when he finishes work here.”
Now that Beltrán is playing in Yankee Stadium, where he wished to be before he signed with the Mets in 2005, he is working in an area with a large Latino population and many natives of Puerto Rico. He joked, “Bing here in New York, I really don’t miss Puerto Rico.”
New York is exactly where he desires to spend the fall and winter, “This off-season I intend to spend in New York getting involved with the community. I’m looking forward to getting to know the fans.” He has already gotten to know some Bronx students at Hostos Community College as six received scholarships through the Beltrán Foundation earlier in the month to continue their education.
This week, the Yankees announced that CC Sabathia will be the Roberto Clemente Award nominee from the Yankees. Sabathia, like Beltrán, is heavily involved in charitable activities, and, thus, is an appropriate selection.