St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran was named the 2013 winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, given to the player who combines outstanding play on the field with devoted work in the community.
Beltran and his wife, Jessica, founded the Carlos Beltran Foundation, which strives to provide a dynamic learning experience where young people can develop and enhance their athletic gifts and excel academically. The couple opened the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico, which gives young athletes a chance at a first-rate education and also specializes in training students with discipline toward their academic goals.
"It is an honor to recognize one of our game's most accomplished players and his wife, Jessica, for their extraordinary work through the Carlos Beltran Foundation and the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy," MLB commissioner Bud Selig said. "Their family's commitment to making a difference in the lives of young people in St. Louis and their home of Puerto Rico is a powerful example for others and a testament to the philanthropic spirit of Roberto Clemente."
The academy began on Aug. 24, 2011, and this year there were 43 seniors who either moved into college baseball programs or were selected into the MLB draft. The Beltrans are also actively involved in various charitable initiatives in the St. Louis area.
"I've said many times throughout my career, the impact Roberto Clemente has had on me, not only as a baseball player, but also as a humanitarian and Puerto Rican," said Beltran. "I am so humbled and blessed that God has given me the opportunity to help others and make an impact on the lives of children, just as Roberto did for many years. I have had many people support me throughout my career and I am just proud to share this honor with them."
Beltran is the fourth member of the Cardinals to receive the award, joining nine-time All-Star Albert Pujols and Hall of Famers Lou Brock and Ozzie Smith.
The 36-year-old Beltran hit .296 with 24 homers and 84 RBI over 145 regular season games this season and helped the Cardinals into the World Series against Boston. This year he was elected to his eighth All-Star Game.
The Commissioner's Award was renamed in 1973 in honor of Clemente, who was killed in a plane crash Dec. 31, 1972, while helping transport relief supplies to Nicaragua after an earthquake on Dec. 23 that killed more than 6,000 people.