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Rays' Nelson Cruz Wins MLB's 2021 Roberto Clemente Award

Adam WellsOctober 27, 2021

Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Lauded for his charitable efforts in the Dominican Republic, Tampa Bay Rays star Nelson Cruz has won the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award. 

Major League Baseball bestowed the honor on Cruz on Wednesday:

MLB @MLB

Nelson Cruz is the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award winner!<br><br>Thanks to his charitable work in his native Dominican Republic, Cruz is the 50th winner of the prestigious honor. <a href="https://t.co/8yRsLW9Ehr">pic.twitter.com/8yRsLW9Ehr</a>

"I never was doing what I was doing to be recognized or win awards, but it's always nice when people recognize the work that you put on to help others," Cruz said, via MLB.com's Do-Hyoung Park. "I know all 29 other players that were nominated really deserved to win it. I just thank God that I was the one."

MLB established the Roberto Clemente Award in 1971 to honor the player "who best represents the game of Baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field."

It was named after the Pittsburgh Pirates icon, who died in 1972 in a plane crash en route to Managua, Nicaragua. He was on that trip to deliver supplies after a massive earthquake caused extensive damage, killing at least 18,000 people and leaving 200,000 people homeless.

Cruz, who started the season with the Minnesota Twins before being traded to the Rays in July, also received the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award at the 2020 ESPYs.

The seven-time All-Star launched the Boomstick23 Foundation in 2016. The organization was established in the Dominican Republic's Las Matas de Santa Cruz municipality. Its mission is to support youth in the Dominican Republic and the United States with education and athletic resources.

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