Mauer dedicated to giving back in community

Twins first baseman among nominees for Roberto Clemente Award

Mauer dedicated to giving back in community

MINNEAPOLIS -- As a Minnesota native who has been with his hometown Twins since 2004 after being selected as the No. 1 overall Draft pick in the 2001 Draft, Joe Mauer has always made it his mission to give back to the community.

Mauer has won plenty of hardware, including the 2009 American League MVP Award, five Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves, but this year, he's the Twins' nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes a Major League Baseball player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement. Mauer is looking to join Hall of Famers Rod Carew (1977), Dave Winfield (1994) and Kirby Puckett ('96) as the only Twins to win the award.

The St. Paul native works with countless local and national charities such as the Highland Friendship Club, Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare Hospital, Friends of St. Paul Baseball and is an active member of the MLB Players Association's Action Team.

Beginning on Roberto Clemente Day, fans are encouraged to participate in the new process of selecting the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award by posting any nominee's voting hashtags to MLB's official social media accounts, @MLB on Twitter and Mauer's hashtag is #VoteMauer.

MLB announced the 30 club nominees on Tuesday for the annual recognition of a player who best represents the game of Baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field. Each club nominates one player to be considered for the Roberto Clemente Award in tribute to Clemente's achievements and character by recognizing current players who truly understand the value of helping others.

Wednesday marks the 15th annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by MLB to honor Clemente's legacy and to officially acknowledge local club nominees of the Roberto Clemente Award. Clubs playing at home on Wednesday will recognize their local nominees as part of Roberto Clemente Day ceremonies. Visiting clubs will honor their nominees before another September home game.

As part of the league-wide celebration, the Roberto Clemente Day logo will appear on the bases and official dugout lineup cards and a special tribute video will be played in ballparks.

The original "Commissioner's Award" for philanthropic service was renamed in 1973 in honor of Clemente, the Hall of Famer and 15-time All-Star, who died in a plane crash on New Year's Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

Mauer, along with his wife, Maddie, who previously worked at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, hosted the first annual "Mauer and Friends Kids Classic" luncheon event to benefit the hospital. The couple also donated funds to renovate a play room at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare hospital, which has a sports theme.

Mauer is also a spokesperson for the Highland Friendship Club (HFC), and annually hosts a bowling event to bring awareness and raise funds for the organization, which is dedicated to providing work and recreation opportunities to people with developmental disabilities.

The first baseman also has supported the Friends of St. Paul Baseball (FSPB) organization that helps build and maintain baseball fields in the local area. He's raised more than $30,000 a year for the organization through various events.

At Target Field, Mauer also created "Mauer's Minnies," which has provided free tickets to disadvantage youth. The program has allowed 25,000 youths and their families to attend Twins games for free.

Mauer, who has always made it a point to make time for autograph seekers, has also annually appeared at TwinsFest and on the Winter Caravan to meet with fans and raise money for the Twins Community Fund.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.