Gonzalez nominated for Clemente Award

Gonzalez nominated for Clemente Award

SAN DIEGO -- Adrian Gonzalez, the Padres' All-Star first baseman, said that he would be involved in charitable endeavors even if his roots weren't firmly planted here in San Diego and the surrounding areas.

That Gonzalez is a San Diego native only makes giving back to the community a little more meaningful.

"It's the perfect place to be involved in; trying to raise funds for the community. I would be doing stuff like this regardless of whether I was in San Diego or not," Gonzalez said. "Because I'm in San Diego, I'm a little more apt to do things in the community. My wife and I both went from elementary school all the way up in the San Diego area.

"We're active as far as helping out and doing what we can."

For his work in the community, Gonzalez is the Padres nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award.

The award recognizes the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team. It is named in honor of the former Pirates outfielder, whose spirit and goodwill will always be remembered. Clemente died in a plane crash while attempting to transport relief supplies to earthquake-stricken Nicaragua on Dec. 31, 1972.

Fans can participate in the selection process of the overall winner of the award now through Oct. 4. The fan ballot winner will be tallied as one vote among those cast by a special selection panel of baseball dignitaries and media members. The panel includes MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and Vera Clemente, widow of the Pirates' Hall of Fame right fielder whose spirit and goodwill always will be remembered. The winner will be announced during the World Series.

Voting fans also will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the 2009 World Series, when the national winner of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevy will be announced.

Gonzalez has long been giving back to the community, especially young people. In 2008, he and his wife, Betsy, started the Adrian and Betsy Gonzalez Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to provide funds to help underprivileged children in the areas of athletics, education and health.

"We both love kids. We love youth. We want to help and we feel like that's where we can give the most help for the future. The three departments that we do it in I fell like are the three essentials for having a good life," Gonzalez said.

"Being healthy, academics and athletics are the most important. Academics are huge for the future and going to college and stuff like that. We want kids to go out and do the best that they can in both academics and athletics."

Gonzalez is the team spokesperson for Kids Gear for Baseball & Baseball Tomorrow Fund Equipment Drive in conjunction with Little League Day at PETCO Park. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund made a $5,000 donation to Kids Gear for Baseball in Adrian's honor, in recognition of his ongoing support of youth baseball and softball in San Diego.

Gonzalez also hosted a Celebrity Bowling Tournament in early April with his teammates to benefit the Athletic Department at San Pasqual Academy which is a residential education campus, designed specifically for foster teens. The event helped raise more than $37,000.

Since 2007 Gonzalez has hosted an annual golf tournament with local TV personality Jim Stone to benefit the South Bay Family YMCA, which has raised nearly $200,000.

"I wouldn't say it's my responsibility. It's something I think we decide to take upon. It's something that the Bible specifically says to go out and be a servant and try to do everything you can to help out," Gonzalez said. "It's not a responsibility, but it's something we definitely take seriously."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.