By Larry Fine
ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran was honored by Major League Baseball as winner of the Roberto Clemente Award on Saturday for his positive contributions on and off the field.
Beltran was cited for his commitment to helping young people in St. Louis, especially those in the Latino community, through his foundation, and for making a difference in his native Puerto Rico through the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy.
The academy helps develop baseball skills while also stressing education for its student‑athletes, many of whom have gone on to attend and compete in college.
The award is named for the Hall of Famer and 15‑time All‑Star who died in a plane crash on New Year's Eve in 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
Presenting the award was the wife of the former Pittsburgh Pirates great, Vera Clemente, who has served as an official ambassador of Major League Baseball.
"I must say this year's recipient truly exemplifies Roberto's philosophy," she said. "Carlos Beltran, you are the pride of all Puerto Ricans, and a great representative around the world.
"We are witnesses of the impact your academy has on our youth, through my grandson Roberto Antonio, who is a senior at the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy."
Beltran, who received the award before heading out to play right field for the St. Louis Cardinals in Game Three of the World Series against the Boston Red Sox, said getting an honor named after fellow Puerto Rican Clemente was special.
"He has been a good role model for all Puerto Rican players, but not only Puerto Rican players," said Beltran.
"He is a guy that impacted baseball worldwide, by the way he played the game, by also how good he was outside the baseball lines, giving back to the community and giving back to the people."
(Editing by Gene Cherry)