Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award

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Seven-time MLB All-Star Nelson Cruz will be this year’s recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award for his work both on and off the baseball diamond. (h/t ESPN)

Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
© Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Nelson Cruz

Cruz is the 50th recipient of the honor, which is given annually to a player who exudes a mix of both on-field sportsmanship and off-field philanthropy and community outreach. Each season, one player from each team is nominated, with Cruz being selected by the Minnesota Twins prior to being traded to the Tampa Bay Rays.

The 41-year-old veteran has been instrumental in giving back to his native Dominican Republic for many years and added to that this past year by sending financial aid to his home country during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nelson Cruz is the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award winner!

Thanks to his charitable work in his native Dominican Republic, Cruz is the 50th winner of the prestigious honor. pic.twitter.com/8yRsLW9Ehr

— MLB (@MLB) October 27, 2021

The 17-year veteran’s philanthropy goes way back, reaching to nearly a decade ago when he donated fire trucks and ambulances to the Dominican Republic to help with relief when a fire burned through his hometown. Cruz regularly sends dentists and optometrists to his hometown of Las Matas de Santa Cruz, while his Boomstick23 Foundation has broken ground to bring sports and educational resources to aspiring athletes — among other charitable endeavors.

“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. “I know all 29 other players that were nominated really deserved to win it. I just thank God that I was the one.”

Cruz is expected to receive the award ahead of Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday.

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Related slideshow: The greatest postseason moment for every MLB team (Provided by Yardbarker)

Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award
Rays slugger Nelson Cruz wins MLB's Roberto Clemente Award

The greatest postseason moment for every MLB team

Every fall brings the chance of a magical moment that will be forever associated with baseball lore. However, for every team, fanbase, and generation, there are a handful of postseason events that stand shoulders above the rest. Here is a look at the memorable or noteworthy moment for each MLB franchise in their playoff history.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Luis Gonzalez’ World Series Walk-off, 2001

With the Yankees at the peak of their turn of the century dynasty and a few outs away from a fourth-consecutive World Series title, upstart Diamondbacks –in just their fourth year of existence— didn’t seem like a truly credible foe to stop their run. But they came out fighting and pushed the series the distance. With the game tied up in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7, Gonzalez put an end to their run, when he connected for a single in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 against postseason immortal Mariano Rivera –causing the only blown save of his 43 playoff opportunities— and bring home Arizona’s lone World Series title.

Atlanta Braves: Cabrera and Bream Become Unlikely Heroes, 1992

In Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS, backup catcher Francisco Cabrera became one of the most unlikely heroes in postseason history. With two outs –and two strikes— in the bottom of the ninth inning vs the Pirates, Cabrera lined a single into left field which caught Pirates left fielder Barry Bonds in an awkward spot, that scored two runs (including a famously lumbering Sid Bream) to end the series and send Atlanta to the World Series. It remains the first and only time in postseason history a team was one out away from elimination in a winner-to-take-all game that was won on the last pitch.

Baltimore Orioles: Hoover’s Iconic Play, 1970

One of the most iconic defensive plays in history came during the 1970 World Series when Brooks Robinson further cemented his standing as the greatest defensive third baseman ever. While Robinson hit .429 in the series, he is best remembered for when he broke to his right to field a hit down the line by Lee May, backhanded the catch while leaping into foul territory, spun, and made a leaping one-hop throw to beat May in Game 1.

Boston Red Sox: Carlton Fisk Waves One Fair, 1975

The Red Sox entered Game 6 of the 1975 World Series on the brink of elimination and found themselves down three runs heading into the 8th inning, before a three-run homer by Bernie Carbo sent things into extra innings. In the bottom of the 12th inning, Carlton Fisk launched a high drive down the left-field line towards the Green Monster. Meanwhile, Fisk famously seemed to will the ball to stay fair, waving his arms while hopping down the first baseline until the ball bounced off the foul pole and extended the series to Game 7.

Chicago Cubs: Cubs get the Goat off their back, 2016

A World Series run that was 108 years the making was capped in a tense fashion, that included an unlikely game-tying homer from Rajai Davis in the bottom of the ninth for the Indians, which was compounded by a rain delay before extra innings could start in Game 7. But when play resumed, Ben Zobrist doubled to put the Cubs up by one, followed by a Miguel Montero single that brought in the difference-making run (as the Indians scored again in the bottom of the 10th). But the Cubs endured to finally get the Billy Goat’s curse off theirs –and four generations of their fans— collective backs.

Chicago White Sox: Scott Podsednik’s World Series Walk-off, 2005

The most notable event in the postseason history of the White Sox came via the Black Sox scandal of 1919. However, the most triumphant one came via the unlikely bat of Scott Podsednik, who connected for a walk-off homer in Game 2, to put the Sox up two games to none over the Houston Astros. The home run was especially rare, as Podsednik had not homered in 591 plate appearances on the year until this moment.

Cincinnati Reds: Tony Perez Clears ‘The Monster’, 1975

In the decisive Game 7 of the 1975 World Series, the Reds found themselves down 3-0 in the sixth inning. This was until Perez connected for a two-run homer against Bill Lee, who tried to sneak his famous eephus pitch past Perez. Perez’s game-tying blast cleared Fenway’s Green Monster, landing on Landsdown Street behind it. While hits from Pete Rose and Joe Morgan clinched the comeback, it was the seismic blast from Perez that changed the tide –and ultimately the outcome— of the series.

Cleveland Indians: Eddie Murray’s World Series Walk-off, 1995

Game 3 of the 1995 World Series was the first such game hosted in Cleveland in 41 years, and it did not disappoint. Although Murray had only two hits in 19 at-bats in the series, he made his second one count. In the bottom of the 11th inning, the veteran DH singled against Braves closer Alejandro Pena to give the Indians their first World Series win since Game 6 of the 1948 Fall Classic.

Colorado Rockies: A truly wild, Wild Card Play-in game, 2007

While not truly a postseason moment in the true sense of it, the winner-takes-all showdown between the Padres and Rockies was one of the tensest –and controversial— ends to a high stakes game in history. In the 13th inning, Matt Holliday connected for a game-tying triple, before being brought home on a sacrifice fly. However, a collision at the plate between Holliday and Padres catcher Michael Barrett left it unclear if Holliday actually touched the plate. A delayed call from the umpire ultimately called Holliday safe and sent the Rockies to their first postseason appearance, which ultimately reached the World Series.

Detroit Tigers: Magglio Ordonez seals the sweep, 2006

The 2006 Tigers wasted little time in disposing of the Oakland Athletics, defeating them in a clean sweep to move on to the World Series to face the St. Louis Cardinals. Yet in the ninth inning of Game 4 in Detroit, Ordonez brought the series to a definitive end, crushing a three-run, walk-off homer against A’s closer Huston Street. It was the eighth, series-ending homer in postseason history at the time.

Houston Astros: Alex Bregman ends a wild Game 5, 2017

One of the wildest, back-and-forth World Series games in history, the Astros and Dodgers combined for a World Series record seven home runs and had six game-tying home runs during the 13-12 slugfest. Over the course of the five-hour affair, the Astros became the only team in World Series history to twice come back from two, three-run deficits in one game. But despite the light show that proceeded it, it was a single by Alex Bregman in the bottom of the 10th inning that ended the final game of the season hosted at Minute Maid Park.

Kansas City Royals: Salvador Perez sends KC back to the postseason, 2014

KC’s consecutive trips to the World Series began with one of the great Wild Card play-in games of all time between the Royals and A’s. Oakland had a lead of 7-3, before the Royals roared back to tie it in the bottom of the 9th. There were no more runs until Oakland scored again in the top of the 12th inning. However, the Royals fought back once again, with a Christian Colon infield single tying the game before Perez connected for a walk-off single that sent KC back into the postseason for the first time since 1985 and solidified them as a true team of destiny.

Los Ángeles Angels: Scott Spezio cues a World Series ‘rally’, 2002

It was only right in the year of the Rally Monkey, an unlikely hero would provide an all-time series-shifting moment. Facing elimination in Game 6 of the 2002 World Series, the Angels were down 5-0 entering the bottom of the seventh inning. The tide changed quickly in the Halos favor, however, starting with a three-run homer from Spiezio. The Angels would score three more runs in the eighth to seal a 6-5 victory, before taking Game 7 and capturing their first and only World Series title.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Kirk Gibson’s heroic homer, 1988

One of the most iconic images in MLB history is that of a hobbled Gibson, fist-pumping his way around the bases after delivering a pinch-hit, walk-off home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. With the game on the line against the game’s top closer in Dennis Eckersley, Gibson fought back from an 0-2 count to hit a game-winning slider over the right-field wall. It proved to be the only at-bat for Gibson, who had won NL MVP on the year but was hobbled with injuries in both legs.

Miami Marlins: Edgar Renteria’s World Series walk-off, 1997

In a World Series that alternated wins throughout, it is fitting that it came down to the very last moment to sort out. With two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning, the 21-year-old Renteria slapped a bases-loaded single that barely made it through the infield to score Craig Counsell and capture the World Series to the upstart Marlins. At the time, the Marlins were the youngest franchise –four seasons— to capture a World Series in MLB history.

Milwaukee Brewers: Nyjer Morgan’s NLDS dramatics, 2011

Morgan, who was better known by his eccentric alter ego of “Tony Plush”, was a sparkplug for the Brewers as they mounted their first postseason run since 1982. On the heels of a base hit and subsequent stolen base by Carlos Gomez, he was the right man in the right spot, as they looked to take down the Arizona Diamondbacks. Accordingly, Morgan laced a single into centerfield, scoring Gomez and sending the Brewers to their first NLCS in franchise history.

Minnesota Twins: Kirby Puckett’s homer forces Game 7, 1991

Down 3-2 and in extra innings against the Atlanta Braves, Puckett led off the 11th inning with a screaming line drive into left-center that cleared the plexiglass outfield wall of the Metrodome to keep the Twins alive and force a Game 7. Making the moment all the more memorable, Puckett’s jubilant dash around the bases was joined by the original “We’ll see you tomorrow night” call from the legendary Jack Buck, completing one of the most exciting walk-offs in World Series history.

Oakland Athletics: Eckersley Seals a seismic Sweep, 1989

The “Battle by the Bay” series between the Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants is best remembered for the 7.1 level earthquake that interrupted the series of 10 days as the area rallied. Once able to move past that harrowing incident, the A’s made short work of their area rivals, sweeping the Giants in four games. The final out of the series was a particularly exciting one, as a Brett Butler drive bounded past a diving Mark McGwire, but was fielded by Tony Phillips and tossed a covering Dennis Eckersley, who barely beat Butler to the bag.

New York Mets: The Miracle Mets pull of the unthinkable, 1969

Due respects to the Bill Buckner mishap that helped turn Mookie Wilson into a legend in 1986, but the ‘Amazins’ remain just that. The 1969 Mets remain not only the biggest underdog champions in MLB history but in all of sports. In their eighth season and one year removed from an 89-loss campaign, the Mets were the breakout sensation of the year, winning 102 games, capturing their first playoff birth, and stunningly and soundly defeating the Baltimore Orioles in five games.

New York Yankees: Don Larsen’s perfect game, 1956

There had been 53 World Series that proceeded it, and there have been 65 years since, but Larsen’s perfect day on the mound in Game 2 of the 1956 World Series remains one of a kind. Not even a full-time starter with the Yankees during the season, Larsen’s perfect day against the Brooklyn Dodgers saw him shut down a lineup with five future Hall of Famers in the process. It remains one of two postseason no-hitters in history and the only postseason perfect game.

Philadelphia Phillies: Roy Halladay’s no-hit playoff debut, 2010

After failing to reach the postseason in the first 12 years of his career with the Toronto Blue Jays, Halladay had the greatest postseason debut of all time. On the heels of a 21-win, Cy Young Award-winning National League debut with the Phillies, Doc threw a 104-pitch, no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the NLDS, and finished one walk shy of a perfect game. It was the first postseason no-hitter in 54 years.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Bill Mazeroski’s ends the World Series with a bang, 1960

In what could be argued as the greatest postseason moment of all time, Mazeroski’s big moment remains as amazing for its outcome as it is for who was responsible for it. A light-hitting second baseman who was more renowned for his amazing glovework, Mazeroski’s connected for a solo home run to lead off the ninth inning for the first –and only— Game 7 walk-off homer in MLB history. It capped a comeback win for the Pirates that saw the club score six runs over the final two innings to capture the pennant against the Yankees.

San Diego Padres: Tony Gwynn’s ‘Bad Hop’ double, 1984

Of the many, many line drives that Gwynn connected for, over a brilliant career that saw him collect 3,141 hits, it was a freak outcome that provided this memorable moment. The Padres had erased a two-game deficit in the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs, entering a decisive Game 5. In the seventh inning, Gwynn hit a drive towards that suddenly bounded over the head of Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, scoring Tim Flannery to tie the game. Gwynn would be brought around to score on the next at-bat, sealing the comeback for the Padres –and continuing the long-term misery for the Cubs.

San Francisco Giants: Willie Mays and ‘The Catch’, 1954

Mays’ legendary catch in the depths of the endless centerfield confines of the Polo Grounds in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series remains has ascended to mythical status. In the eighth inning of a 2-2 game and the Cleveland Indians had runners on first and second base, Vic Wertz smashed a drive into deep centerfield. Amazingly, Mays –who was playing shallow centerfield to protect against the runner scoring from second— broke into a dead sprint and caught the ball over his shoulder, on the warning track of wall with a distance of 483 feet away. What makes the legend of the snag grow even further is there is no continuous footage of it in existence.

Seattle Mariners: Edgar Martinez, Ken Griffey Jr and ‘The Double’, 1995

Better known simply as ‘The Double’ in Seattle circles, the greatest play in Mariners history came at the peak of the rise of the franchise. Down by one run in the winner-take-all Game 5 of the ALCS, Edgar Martinez came to the plate with Joey Cora on third and Ken Griffey Jr on first. Martinez laced a hit down the left-field line, easily scoring Cora, but on a dead sprint, Griffey scored from first as well, ending the series and clinching the first playoff series win in franchise history.

St. Louis Cardinals: David Freese’s hometown heroics, 2006

In a storyline better fit for Hollywood than Missouri, St. Louis-native Freese provided not one, but two of the greatest postseason moments in history – in a span of three innings. With the Cardinals down to their last out, Freese connected for a game-tying triple off the right-field wall. Two innings later, after both teams had again swapped comebacks, Freese ended the game with a solo home run into centerfield, instantly etching himself at the forefront of Cardinals postseason lore.

Tampa Bay Rays: Randy Arozarena takes over October, 2020

Although he wasn’t called up to the Majors until over halfway through the season, Arozarena had become the most dangerous hitter in the league by October. He stunningly connected for 10 home runs –with at least three in each series – setting a new single-season record for homers in one postseason. Along the way, he hit .358 and set five all-time postseason records. To close out a thrilling Game 4, he rallied to score the winning run, after falling coming around third base.

Texas Rangers: Neftali Feliz closes out first AL Pennant, 2010

In 2010, the Rangers were yet to reach their first World Series in their 38th-year of existence. However, with the eventual Rookie of the Year on the mound in Feliz to close things out, they finally got over the hump. Feliz froze former Ranger Alex Rodriguez with a knee-buckling curve in Game 6 of the ALCS, to send home the Yankees and send Texas to the Series. It would be the first of two consecutive trips to the Fall Classic for this oft-overlooked incarnation of the Rangers.

Toronto Blue Jays: Joe Carter’s World Series walk-off, 1993

Up 3-2 in the series and ahead 5-1 in the seventh inning of Game 6, the Jays seemed to be cruising towards a World Series title. That was until the Phillies exploded for a five-run seventh inning and carried a 6-5 lead into the bottom of the ninth. But following a Paul Molitor single, Carter stepped to the plate and lined a shot that barely cleared the left-field wall, but closed out the comeback and delivered the first international championship in major North American pro sports history. It also was the first series-ending walk-off home run in 32 years.

Washington Nationals: Howie Kendrick NLDS Grand Slam, 2019

For years, the Nationals had been tortured by the NLDS, having made four unsuccessful trips to entry-level of the postseason in a span of eight years. But in the top of the 10th inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kendrick finally freed the Nationals from their playoff prison. Following a walk to Adam Eaton and a ground-rule double by Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto was intentionally walked to get to Kendrick. The veteran utility man responded by sending the second pitch of the at-bat into the stands for a game-clinching grand slam and sent the Nats to in motion on a run that ended in them raising a World Series title.

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