MINNEAPOLIS -- While Miguel Cabrera tries to hold on at the plate for a historic fourth batting title in five years, his chances at a first Roberto Clemente Award are going to be up to the click of a button. The Tigers' All-Star is the team's nominee for the third time in four years for the prestigious honor, which recognizes players who best represent the sport through contributions on and off the field.
The award honors the legacy of Clemente, the Hall of Famer who passed away in 1972 while trying to deliver relief packages for earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Al Kaline won the award in 1973, the first year it was named in Clemente's honor. No Tiger has won it since.
Cabrera was also honored Monday as an American League Central division nominee for the MLB Players Association's Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award.
Cabrera established a foundation five years ago to help renovate youth baseball fields in his native Venezuela, as well as his baseball home in Detroit and his offseason home in Miami. His contributions have helped Detroit's Police Athletic League for the Detroit RBI program, the Clark Park Coalition and the Miracle League of Michigan, as well as the Tigers' Play Baseball Detroit initiative, which has served more than 80,000 children since 2008.
"We're trying to save fields, to have a chance for kids to go out there and have fun, try to give them the opportunity to go out there and stay off the street," Cabrera said at a fundraiser a couple of years ago. "I'm trying to give them a chance to play baseball for fun. When you're a kid, you play to have fun."
Cabrera also has become the annual host of the team's Keeping Kids in the Game fundraising event, which benefits youth baseball and children's health programs at local hospitals. The event has raised nearly $1.8 million since 2009.
Cabrera is following in the footsteps of fellow Venezuelans Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez, both of whom were Clemente Award nominees during their Tigers tenures.
Cabrera will be honored for his nomination next Monday night before the second game of the Tigers' day-night doubleheader against the White Sox.
As for the national Clemente Award, fans can vote for Cabrera or any other team's nominee at chevybaseball.com. Voting ends on Friday, Oct. 9. The winner will be announced and honored during the World Series.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.