St. Louis Cardinals All-Star catcher Yadier Molina has been named the recipient of the 2018 Roberto Clemente Award, the most prestigious individual player honor awarded by Major League Baseball. Molina is the fifth Cardinals player to win the Roberto Clemente Award, the most by any MLB Club, joining Lou Brock (1975), Ozzie Smith (1995), Albert Pujols (2008) and Carlos Beltrán (2013). Molina, 36, is the fourth Puerto Rican player to win the Award (Edgar Martínez-2004, Carlos Delgado-2006 and Beltrán-2013). Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. officially announced Molina’s selection at a press conference prior to Game Two of the 114th World Series at Fenway Park.
The Roberto Clemente Award is the annual recognition of a Major League player who best represents the game of Baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field. The concept of honoring Major League players for their philanthropic work was created in 1971 as the “Commissioner’s Award,” but was renamed the “Roberto Clemente Award” in 1973 in honor of 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.
An excerpt from Molina’s official Roberto Clemente Award nomination bio:
Molina has exuded strength and leadership as the anchor of the St. Louis Cardinals, with his work in the community speaking for itself. Molina established Foundation4 (Fundación4) in 2010 to “create happier lives and futures for the underprivileged children of Puerto Rico” by providing opportunities to those affected by poverty, abuse and cancer. Through the Foundation, the veteran catcher has helped fund the “Hogar Mis Primeros Pasos” safe house for battered children in Dorado, Puerto Rico, the purchase of an anesthesia machine for Puerto Rico Children’s Hospital of Bayamon’s pediatric oncology ward, and the growth of the Fundacion Go Gogo in Ponce facility that specializes in caring for pediatric cancer patients and more. Molina has also refurbished baseball fields and awarded scholarships to youth in Puerto Rico.
Molina’s efforts expanded after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and plunged the island’s 3.4 million residents into a humanitarian crisis in 2017. Forty-eight hours after the end of the Cardinals’ 2017 season, Molina, accompanied by friends and family, arrived on the Island with seven industrial-sized crates of supplies. For weeks, Molina worked from dawn until midnight, picking up debris, moving fallen trees, clearing roads, replacing roofs and handing out a week’s worth of provisions to thousands. In January 2018, Molina returned to distribute grocery vouchers to the community. In June 2018, he hosted the Flavors of Puerto Rico charity dinner with the support of his teammates in his adopted home of St. Louis. To date, over $800,000 has been raised to provide aid for Puerto Rico.
In St. Louis, Molina meets with the city’s Puerto Rican Society, attends teammates’ charitable events, and actively supports Cardinals Care by participating in the annual Winter Warm-up, signing memorabilia that raises funds to aid children throughout Cardinals Nation.
(*Molina’s official Roberto Clemente Award nomination bio can be found in the separate attachment*)
“Yadier has been one of Baseball’s greatest representatives as a perennial All-Star while also devoting himself, often without fanfare, to communities and families in St. Louis and Puerto Rico,” said Commissioner Manfred. “Most notably, the results of Yadier’s personal efforts this past year to support Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria have been both meaningful and inspiring. On behalf of Major League Baseball, we congratulate Yadier for adding this prestigious honor to his already exemplary Major League career.”
“One of the things closest to Roberto’s heart was his beloved island of Puerto Rico, and Yadi’s commitment to help the Puerto Rican community heal after such a catastrophic event embodies Roberto’s philanthropic spirts,” Vera Clemente said. “It is my honor to welcome Yadi to this wonderful family of Roberto Clemente Award winners.”
Yadier Molina said: “It’s a great honor to win this award and it’s even more special to me because I’m Puerto Rican. For us, Clemente is a hero and a legend and we highly respect and admire him not only as a one of the greatest players but as a humanitarian who lost his life helping those in need and to be associated with him is a true privilege.”
Molina was selected from a list of 30 Club nominees by a distinguished panel that included Commissioner Manfred; Vera Clemente; Hall of Fame Broadcaster and the “Spanish-Language Voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers” Jaime Jarrín; former Roberto Clemente Award recipients and MLB Network analysts Al Leiter, Harold Reynolds, Hall of Famer John Smoltz (also of FOX Sports) and Hall of Famer Jim Thome; FOX Sports analysts Nick Swisher and Hall of Famer Frank Thomas;ESPN broadcasters Jessica Mendoza and Karl Ravech; TBS analysts Ron Darling and Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez (both also of MLB Network); MLB.comExecutive Editor Carlton Thompson; MLB.com Reporter Jesse Sanchez; Baseball Writers’ Association of America President Clark Spencer; and MLB Executives. Additionally, Molina was the top choice of the fan vote, which was available via MLB.com/Clemente21. Each September since 2002, Major League Baseball has commemorated Roberto Clemente Day to recognize all 30 Roberto Clemente Award nominees and to honor the Hall of Famer’s indelible legacy.