St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina was named winner of the 2018 Roberto Clemente Award, which his named after the Hall of Famer who also hails from Puerto Rico. Each club had a nominee, which for the Los Angeles Dodgers was Justin Turner a second consecutive year.
Molina’s wife, Wanda, received the award on his behalf before Game 2 of the World Series at Fenway Park. He’s the third Puerto Rican-born player to win the award and the fourth from Puerto Rico.
He joins former Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran (2013), and Edgar Martinez (2004) and Carlos Delgado (2006). Molina is the Cardinal’s fifth player to win the prestigious award, which is most among all teams.
In addition to Beltran and Molina, previous St. Louis winners are Lou Brock (1975), Ozzie Smith (1995) and Albert Pujols (2008).
The veteran backstop hoped to be on hand in Boston but remained with the Puerto Rican U-23 team he’s managing in Colombia. Molina and his wife founded the Foundation 4 (Fundación 4), and through that have provided aids to victims of Hurricane Maria, among other initiatives.
“He put a lot of effort, his foundation, they do an outstanding job,” Boston Red Sox manager and fellow Puerto Rican native Alex Cora said. “I’m very proud of him. Actually it’s kind of like ironic that he’s not going to be able to be here, but the reason is the right one: He’s managing our under-23 national team.
“So he gets the Roberto Clemente Award. And Clemente, he managed our national team at one point while he was playing in the Big Leagues. Because Yadi is not here because of that, it’s like, wow, it was meant to be. Very proud of him. Very proud of what he’s done throughout his career. But I think last year was the highlight of his career. What he did was amazing.”
While Turner was denied the award for a second consecutive year, his charitable efforts are no less important. He works closely with the Dream Center and in 2016 founded the Justin Turner Foundation.
Turner annually hosts the Justin Turner Golf Classic to further support the Dream Center’s Veterans Program, and he instrumental in the Dream Center opening a female veterans home on their campus in May.
Beyond his own initiatives, Turner makes regular appearances in conjunction with the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation. Moreover, along with his wife Kourtney, Turner attended Clayton Kershaw’s Back to School Bash and helped distribute backpacks to children.
Clayton Kershaw (2012) is the lone Dodgers player to win the Roberto Clemente Award since its inception in 1971.