HOUSTON , Nelson Cruz received the Major League Baseball’s Roberto Clemente award for character, community involvement, and philanthropy.

Cruz was the 50th recipient of the honor. He received it before World Series Game 2 on Wednesday.

He said, “Growing as a Latin you always heard about Roberto Clemente.” I never got to see him play. He was a great player, I knew that. When I arrived in the States, I discovered that he is not only a great player but also a great person.

Cruz, 41, is a 17-year MLB veteran, and seven-time All Star. He provided financial support for 1,200 families in Las Matas de Santa Cruz (Dominican Republic) during the COVID-19 pandemic. This helped feed 700 families.

Cruz donated a fire engine, 80 uniforms for firefighters, and an ambulance to transport people to the nearest hospital. It was about an hour from Cruz’s childhood home.

His Boomstick23 Foundation started construction of an education- and technical center last spring. He will stock it with computers to aid athletes.

Cruz organizes optometrists and dentists to visit the town’s clinic to provide checkups, medicine, and eyewear. Last year, 500 people received dental services.

He helped organize for MLB, the Major League Baseball Players Association, and the union’s Players Trust donations of $400,000 to Dominican Republic to help with food and medical aid during the pandemic.

He said, “We started with the dental clinic and then the next year we began asking how we could do the mental (health and eye doctors).” “We began doing everything simultaneously. We went to schools and gave the kids all the books and other stuff they needed.

The Twins nominated Cruz and traded him to Tampa Bay in June. The award was won by Cruz, along with Hall of Famer Rod Carew (1977), Dave Winfield (94), and Kirby Puckett (2000).