Ray Negron's Playball Weekly Blog

Muhammad Ali, Roberto Clemente Humanitarian Awards… Nelson Cruz just a nice guy!

If you ask me what a complete Major League Baseball player is, I would have to open up the baseball digest and see a picture of Nelson Cruz.

The reason I say that is because this is a guy who’s done some incredible things on the field. He hits homers, hits for average, and naturally drives in runs. He is a designated hitter however if you ask him, he would prefer to play the field and was no slouch when put in the outfield.

One of his best attributes is that he has always been a natural leader. In the clubhouse he has led by example however if he has to have a conversation with a teammate in order to protect him from himself or just simple advice, he is always there for them. I have been fortunate to meet his parents and I can see how they have influenced him. Mr. and Mrs. Cruz are both educators in the Dominican Republic and I understand why Nelson has so much respect for them.
Through the years I always run into Nelson at one charity event after another. People say that I’m tireless in my community work, no my friend, Nelson Cruz is.

The event that really touched my heart was when he found out that children in Venezuela didn’t have enough milk. He put together a program so that no child was without milk. What really hit me was that he comes from a poor country, yet needed to also help another. This reminded me of a saying that George Steinbrenner use to say to me… Forget about Labels, If we can help anyone just do it!

Last year Nelson won the biggest humanitarian award that a professional athlete can win, The Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award. When it was announced he cried. I cried for his happiness. He doesn’t do this for awards, he does it because it comes from his heart however when you think of Muhammad Ali and Ali’s efforts to make the world better and to be put in the same plateau as Ali is truly incredible. Now to be honored by your peers with the Roberto Clemente Award is a wonderful thing. When I mentioned this to my wife Theresa, who knows nothing about baseball but knows of Nelson’s humanitarian efforts she responded by saying, doesn’t he win that award every year? I thought that was a cute question however I have to agree with her.

Nelson Is 41 years old now yet he is still a productive hitter who hit 30 plus homers this year.

Major League Baseball still needs the player Nelson Cruz but more importantly, baseball and the world needs the man. Do you hear me Cooperstown?

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