Cleveland Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco has won the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, Major League Baseball announced Friday.
The 32-year-old Carrasco, who has born in Venezuela, has engaged in numerous charitable acts in his home country as well as other nations. He wins the award following a season in which he battled leukemia but later returned to pitch.
“We are proud to welcome Carlos Carrasco to the prestigious fraternity of Roberto Clemente Award winners,” commissioner Rob Manfred said in a news release. “The Roberto Clemente Award is the most important individual player award due to the genuine impact that Major League Players have on those who are most in need. Carlos, through his global philanthropic efforts, is an excellent example of someone who selflessly acts on behalf of the less fortunate and embodies the spirit of our game’s most celebrated humanitarian.”
The award is given to someone who “best represents the game of baseball, through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.”
Carrasco will receive the award prior to Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night when the Washington Nationals host the Houston Astros.
“Winning the Roberto Clemente Award is one of the most prestigious honors,” Carrasco said in a news release. “This is something that I have dreamed of, and I am very excited to share this honor with the Cleveland Indians and my home country of Venezuela. I hope to continue giving back to others and inspire more players to help in the community.”
Carrasco traveled to Africa last November and distributed shoes, shirts and backpacks to underprivileged children. During the trip, he donated more than $70,000 to families in need.
Carrasco donated $25,000 worth of toys last Christmas for children in Venezuela and annually purchases two containers of medical supplies — at $33,000 per container — to be sent to Venezuela.
Every other Sunday during the offseason, Carrasco and wife Karelis distribute 500 lunches to the homeless from the front porch of their home in Tampa, Fla.
The Carrascos also donate money to single mothers and United States veterans.
Vera Clemente, the widow of Roberto, applauded the choice of Carrasco.
“My family and I are proud to join Major League Baseball in bestowing this year’s Roberto Clemente Award to Carlos, who has consistently represented Roberto’s humanitarian legacy over the course of his wonderful career,” Clemente said in the news release. “Despite facing his own personal challenges, Carlos has remained committed to improving the lives of others.”
Carrasco went more than three months without pitching for the Indians as he battled leukemia. He underwent chemotherapy and returned in September.
He finished 6-7 with a 5.29 ERA in 23 appearances (12 starts). Carrasco won a combined 35 games over the previous two seasons when he was healthy.
Carrasco is the third Indians player to win the award, joining Andre Thornton (1979) and Hall of Famer Jim Thome (2002).
Clemente, a 15-time All-Star with the Pittsburgh Pirates, died in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972, while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
The award was established in 1971 as the Commissioner’s Award but renamed in Clemente’s honor two years later.
—Field Level Media