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Batista nominated for Clemente Award

Batista nominated for Clemente Award

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SEATTLE --- Mariners right-hander Miguel Batista has put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces in a lot of places the past several years, and he says there are few things as satisfying as seeing a young child surrounded by poverty wearing an eye-to-ear grin.

"I have been to so many countries and seen the reactions of so many kids when you do something for them," he said. "I think it's the most gratifying thing we can do."

Batista has used his offseasons for community service by traveling throughout the United States and Latin America to deliver baseball equipment, medical supplies, and speak to kids of all ages to stress the importance of education and determination.

The charitable work performed by the 38-year-old pitcher is being recognized in a big way this year. Batista is the Mariners nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, which will be presented during the World Series.

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.

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

Batista has been active in the communities he has played in and in his native country, the Dominican Republic. In 2003, he was named the No. 1 Good Guy in Major League Baseball by The Sporting News for his contributions off the field.

He said just being nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award "is a great honor" and to actually win it would be one of the best things that ever happened to him.

"It would be a great honor for anything," he said, "but especially satisfying for a Latino player. I remember talking to [Albert] Pujols about it. He won it last year and we agreed that it probably means more to us than other people because of who Roberto Clemente was.

"There have been a lot of great Latin players, but no one did what he did."

In 2007, Batista's first season with the Mariners, he partnered with the Page Ahead Children's Literacy Program, a non-profit organization that puts new books in the hands of at-risk children throughout Washington State, to promote the Mariners Care Book Drives at Safeco Field. He also filmed a public service announcement to help encourage fans to bring new books to the ballpark. With Batista's help, $36,750 in books and cash donations was collected for Page Ahead.

He partnered with the Washington State Library last year to help promote reading for all Washington residents through the "Washington Reads" program. As part of the program, Batista was featured in a series of celebrity posters that were distributed to various venues across the state including schools, libraries, stores, and Washington State parks, ferries, and driver's licensing offices.

He is also involved with Mariners Care, the Seattle Mariners' non-profit foundation, and its programs including the Mariners D.R.E.A.M. Team school assembly program -- an elementary school assembly program that stresses the importance of education to help achieve your dreams.

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

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