SEATTLE -- Angels outfielder Torii Hunter's glove has been judged solid gold for nine consecutive seasons by Major League managers and coaches assigned to select the Rawlings Gold Glove winners. Those around the game also know that the great outfielder's heart also is the gold standard. Once again, the Angels' driving force on and off the field is the organization's nominee for the 2010 Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet.
All 30 nominees have immersed themselves in the type of humanitarian and community efforts that distinguished the life of Clemente, a life that ended at age 38 on New Year's Eve 1972, with the crash of a plane aboard which he was personally delivering aid to Nicaraguan earthquake victims. Fans will once again have the opportunity to participate in the selection of the national winner. They can cast votes for any of the 30 club nominees through Oct. 8. 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 Commissioner Bud Selig and Vera Clemente, widow of the Hall of Fame right fielder. Voting fans also will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip for four to the 2010 World Series to see the national winner presented with the Roberto Clemente Award. Determined to help others rise above difficult circumstances after growing up amid gang violence, drugs and poverty in Pine Bluff, Ark., Hunter has contributed enormously in every respect to various communities through the Torii Hunter Project. In partnership with the Heart of a Champion Foundation, and in conjunction with the Angels Baseball Foundation, he launched The Torii Hunter Project's Education Initiative, bringing character-building programs and college scholarships to students in Anaheim, his hometown of Pine Bluff, Las Vegas and Minneapolis. His ongoing work is a comprehensive, long-term effort to impact youth in need throughout the country. The project focuses on four areas related to youth: sports, community, education and wellness. Under the Education Initiative, he unveiled Hunter's Hundred, which provides a total of 100 scholarships to qualifying students from now through 2012. "I've never been around a guy like that," said Twins reliever Brian Fuentes, who spent 12 years in the Mariners' and Rockies' organizations before joining the Angels in 2009 and spending a season and a half alongside Hunter. "In Seattle and Colorado, we never had one guy who was that much of an impact as a leader. "He's a true professional in everything he does, the way he carries himself on and off the field. He earns a lot of respect from his peers, wherever he goes. It just seems like he does the right thing all the time -- and it's genuine. "He's involved in so many things. I could never do that. He has a pretty heavy workload, being a great player and a great spokesman for the team, the game. His personality is so infectious. You talk to him for 20 minutes, and you feel like you can open up to the guy, like you've known him for years." Added teammate Howard Kendrick: "He's a great teammate, one of the best people you'll ever meet. Torii is always there for you, especially in tough times when you need some advice and encouragement."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.