DETROIT — Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera has had no shortage of career feats to celebrate lately. Add a seventh consecutive nomination for Major League Baseball’s Roberto Clemente Award to the list.
In this case, it’s a reflection of the impact Cabrera has made in Detroit off the field as well as on it.
Considered baseball’s most prestigious individual honor, the Clemente Award annually recognizes the MLB player who best represents the game through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.
Beginning Tuesday, fans can vote for the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award via mlb.com/clemente21 (English) and LasMayores.com/clemente21 (Spanish), through the end of the regular season on Oct. 3. The winner of the fan vote will count as one vote among those cast by a blue ribbon panel that will select the league-wide winner of the award.
“Since joining our Detroit community in 2008, Miguel has been a constant positive force both on and off the field,” Tigers general manager Al Avila said in a statement. “Miguel’s support of those in need during some very challenging times over the past year was heroic, but at the same time not at all surprising to anyone that knows him. He continues to make an impact in the community, both in Detroit and across the state of Michigan, and all of us with the Tigers are proud of his nomination.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Michigan particularly hard last year, Cabrera donated $250,000 to help children and families in Detroit, from helping Detroit Public Schools provide meals for children while school buildings were closed to providing technology grants for remote learning and affordable day care for families as parents returned to work. Another donation helped provide face masks in a Detroit neighborhood that needed them.
This year, Cabrera stepped up to serve as co-chair of the Protect Michigan Commission to promote the state’s COVID-19 vaccination and education efforts, including public service announcements in English and Spanish. The Tigers, meanwhile, were the first team to cross the threshold MLB set to be considered fully vaccinated, and later had 100 percent of players take part in vaccinations.
“Being nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award is a great honor,” Cabrera said in a statement. “It’s one of the most prestigious awards in the game, and I am appreciative to be mentioned for it. Getting through the pandemic has been challenging for so many people across the world, but my family and I are so proud to play a small role in helping the Detroit and Michigan communities battle through some very hard times. It’s also great to see the progress we’re making with vaccinations, and like everyone, I am looking forward to a full return to normal life soon.”
For years, the Miguel Cabrera Foundation has worked with the Detroit Tigers Foundation and others to help promote academics and athletics among kids in Detroit, as well as Cabrera’s native country of Venezuela, his offseason home in South Florida and the Tigers’ Spring Training home in Lakeland, Fla. A big part of that was through revitalizing ballparks like Clark Park in Detroit. It’s a fitting cause for someone who plays the game with a childlike enthusiasm.
In recent years, Cabrera has branched out with his foundation with the Cabrera Family Scholarship endowment, awarding two scholarships every year to first-generation college students in Michigan and South Florida.
“Miggy certainly demonstrates so much leadership to be able to impact the community off the field,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He puts his money where his mouth is. He gives money to so many charities in and around the Detroit community to help families.
“It’s a great award, and Miggy is a perfect example of why that award is so special.”
The original “Commissioner’s Award” for philanthropic service was renamed in 1973 in honor of Clemente, the Hall of Famer and 15-time All-Star, who died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve in ’72 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Hall of Famer Al Kaline won the first Roberto Clemente Award, and he remains the only Tiger to win.