Everyone knows that Albert Pujols produces prolifically and consistently on the field. What's becoming nearly as well known is that the slugger is also a prolific and consistent giver of time and money to worthwhile causes.
Just as Pujols is a perennial All-Star, he's also perennially the Cardinals' team nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, presented by Chevrolet. Pujols' nomination for the 2008 award marks the fifth time in six years that he's up for the award, one of baseball's most cherished and prestigious.
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. 5. 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. The winner will be announced during the World Series.
Pujols never has won the national award, which was brought home last year by Craig Biggio of the Astros. Two Cardinals Hall of Famers are on the list of past winners: Ozzie Smith in 1995 and Lou Brock in 1975.
Pujols keeps busy with the Pujols Family Foundation and works around St. Louis, and the foundation holds a couple of major events every year. The sixth annual Albert Pujols Celebrity Golf Tournament is set for Monday. The foundation was formed in May 2005.
The causes that benefit from Pujols' philanthropy are both local and global. One focus is to benefit kids with Down Syndrome, because Pujols' daughter Isabella has Down Syndrome. But the foundation also works in Pujols' native Dominican Republic, and that seems to be the work that captures Pujols more than any other.
This offseason, he will lead a third annual trip to the Dominican to help provide health care and education for children in poor areas of the country. The 2007 trip focused on dental care, while the early 2008 trip emphasized vision care.
"It was blessed," Pujols said upon his return from the 2008 trip. "We touched a lot of lives over there. ... The doctors, they were awesome. We saw a lot of kids, and a lot of kids, gave a lot of treatment to a lot of kids. It was a exciting. It was exciting every day, from 6 o'clock to 6 o'clock working, just nonstop."
Beides Pujols' work with the foundation and in the Dominican, he's been involved in plenty of other causes in greater St. Louis as well. He has also supported the Ronald McDonald House, Autism Speaks, the Boys & Girls Club and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.