Baseball's award season is rapidly closing upon us. Case in point, fan voting for the 2010 Roberto Clemente Award recently opened online. This annual award is given to a player who "best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team," according to MLB's official website.
Who is the Astros nominee? None other than Geoff Blum. The venerable utility infielder is very respected around the clubhouse and helped out quite a bit with the Astros Go Green efforts earlier in the season and is associated with the Houston chapter of the March of Dimes. Blum would be only the second Astros to ever win the award, after Craig Biggio won it in 2007 for his work with the Sunshine Kids. Former Astros manager Cecil Cooper won the award in 1983 while playing with the Milwaukee Brewers.
The award began in 1972 when Major League Baseball annually presented The Commissioner's Award for outstanding service outside the game of baseball. Following the tragic death of Roberto Clemente as he flew to earthquake-ravaged Honduras, MLB renamed the award after him. The first ever winner was Willie Mays and Hall of Famers such as Brooks Robinson, Al Kaline, Willie Stargell, Lou Brock, Rod Carew, Phil Niekro, Gary Carter, Cal Ripken, Jr., Dave Winfield, Ozzie Smith, Kirby Puckett and Tony Gwynn have all been honored over the years.â†µ
Ironically, Pete Rose also won the award in 1976, 13 years before he was banned from baseball for "conduct detrimental to the game." So, I guess sportsmanship is always relative.â†µ