Charitable MLB Players The athletes playing in Major League Baseball (MLB) are utilizing their fame and athletic talents to help those in need around the world. Some of these players grew up in countries with extreme poverty. Baseball was used as a means to find a better life and return to help their home countries with charities and relief efforts. Others have visited poverty-stricken countries and chose to make a difference in unique ways to increase poverty awareness. Here are three charitable MLB players who are giving back.

Baseball Players Giving Back Around the World

Pedro Martinez – Dominican Republic

Considered one of the greatest pitchers of all time, Pedro Martinez was a dominant force on the mound throughout his 17-year Hall of Fame MLB career, which included a World Series win with the 2004 Boston Red Sox. Born in the Dominican Republic, Martinez saw first-hand the poverty that gripped his home country as he trained for life in baseball. When the coronavirus hit his home country, he took action and led the way with his organization, the Pedro Martinez Foundation, along with 40 other Dominican born MLB players. The group created a fund that has raised more than $550,000 for the relief efforts. This will pay for 5,000 food kits that last a total of two weeks each. It also will provide thirty-two thousand medical masks for doctors and nurses, 110,000 masks for citizens and 7,700 protective suits for medical personnel.

Dee Gordon- Rwanda

During a baseball game, Dee Gordon is best known for stealing bases. Throughout his decade-long career, he has stolen 330 bases, the most of any player in a 10-year period. The Seattle Mariners 2nd baseman has been using his talent for stealing bases to help increase poverty awareness to the hunger issues in the Ruhango district of Rwanda. Gordon has been associated with organizations such as Food for the Hungry, Strike Out Poverty and the Big League Impact Foundation for several years in order to help feed people in the Central African nation since 2019. As a charitable MLB player, every time he steals a base during a game there is a donation that he personally gives of $100 that goes toward one of these organizations to help feed the people of the Ruhango district. He has raised over $47,000 over the years to help impoverished nations all over the world including Rwanda. 

Carlos Carrasco- Venezuela

In 2019, Carlos Carrasco received the Roberto Clemente Award for his efforts in helping out his community in his home country of Venezuela and around the world. The Roberto Clemente Award is given out once a year to the MLB player that shows extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contribution, both on and off the field. Carrasco, a 33-year-old pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, has been donating money and supplies to help those in Venezuela suffering from the current economic crisis that has gripped the nation for years. In 2019 he donated $300,000 to Casa Venezuela Cucuta, an organization out of Columbia that helps recent Venezuelan migrants fleeing the crisis. Carrasco has also sent toys, medical supplies and baseball equipment to the children living in Venezuela. 

These three charitable MLB players show their dedication to increasing poverty awareness in countries that need it most. Through baseball, they have found fame and fortune. With that success, they have given back to communities all over the world by giving their time, money and efforts in creating a life for those without. 

Sam Bostwick
Photo: Flickr

The Dominican Republic is full of rich history, widely recognized for its tourism, beautiful beaches and elegant resorts. Most importantly, the Dominican Republic is known for baseball. Among a population exceeding 10 million, baseball has continued to flourish, responsible for the growth and development of many former and current professional baseball players, including David Ortiz, Robinson Cano and Sammy Sosa. Apart from this distinction, the Dominican Republic has experienced extreme poverty, and half of the population has no access to clean water.

In an effort to improve water quality in the Dominican Republic, the Major League Baseball Players Trust has taken the initiative to give back and make a difference in the lives of many families. As a charitable foundation allowing the opportunity for players to support important causes, it helps in alleviating global issues and encourages others to join the fight in making a difference around the world.

In partnership with the Players Trust, Esperanza International aims to free families from poverty through efforts of generating income, education and health, and restoring self-worth and dignity to those who have become hopeless. This nonprofit was founded by former MLB player Dave Valle, who witnessed first-hand the poverty-stricken regions of the country while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

From September through December 2016, 76 loans were distributed to first-time borrowers through the grants provided by the Players Trust. Esperanza estimates that these loans will impact at least 380 lives in several neglected areas, including North Santo Domingo, West Santo Domingo and San Pedro de Macoris.

In addition, Esperanza operates two water purification projects with funding from the Players Trust: 7 Veces de Vida and Agua Life. Together, these two projects will provide area residents with close to 25,000 gallons of clean and affordable drinking water every month.

Many other organizations have made efforts to enhance water quality in the Dominican Republic. The Nature Conservancy is introducing water funds, which provide a way for the cities, industries and individuals to invest in sustainable fresh water sources.

In 2013, two important funds were established in the Dominican Republic. The first fund supports the watersheds, which include rivers, streams and lakes that supply fresh water. The other fund focuses on the largest river system in the country, the Yacque del Norte. According to The Nature Conservancy, both funds provide water to more than 60 percent of people living in the Dominican Republic.

Through these philanthropic efforts, the future looks promising for further improving water quality in the Dominican Republic. Alongside these endeavors, Major League Baseball continues to innovate new ways to enhance the living conditions for many families across this hopeful country.

Brandon Johnson

Photo: Flickr

Roberto Clemente Sports Most Charitable Legend
He amassed 3,000 hits and four batting titles in his seventeen-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  He was the NL MVP in 1966, and helped guide the Pirates to a World Series crown in 1971.  Add twelve consecutive Gold Glove Awards for defensive excellence in right field and Roberto Clemente’s resume as one of the greatest players in the history of Major League Baseball is impressive.  Clemente’s legacy, however, goes far beyond key hits and defensive web gems.

Roberto Clemente was MLB’s most beloved humanitarian.  Born in Puerto Rico in 1934, Clemente worked tirelessly to promote greater accessibility and equality for Latino Americans, both within baseball and outside of it.  Clemente was famous for hosting baseball clinics for underprivileged youth free of charge.  He also delivered significant financial aid to people in his native Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and other countries in Latin America.

Clemente made a reported annual salary of $125,000, which amounts to less than $1 million in today’s terms.  Yet Clemente still made charity a focal point of his professional life.  Clemente once famously said, “There is nothing wrong with our homes, our country, that a little more care, a little more concern, a little more love, won’t cure.”  Clemente’s vision of humanitarianism is one that contemporary athletes should take to heart.

And many have.  Since 1971, MLB has given the Roberto Clemente Award to the player who exemplifies Clemente’s commitment to community involvement.  This year’s winner is St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran.  Beltran created the Carlos Beltran Foundation to support academic achievement for underprivileged youth.  This culminated in the opening of the Beltran Academy in Puerto Rico, which will house a state-of-the-art learning facility for young students and athletes.

A few months after reaching the exclusive 3,000 hit club, Roberto Clemente flew to Nicaragua.  The country was reeling after a devastating earthquake in 1972.  Clemente was traveling to Nicaragua to deliver relief and aid supplies, a further example of his devotion to humanitarianism.  His plane crashed en route to Nicaragua on New Year’s Eve in 1972.  Roberto Clemente died at the age of 38, fighting to help those in need.

Taylor Diamond

Sources: Pro Baseball Hall of Fame, Total Pro Sports, Smithsonian Institute, MLB

David Ortiz could take a shot at running for Massachusetts governor, and he would probably make the race a close one. Ortiz is the most popular baseball player in the New England area, and the most accomplished designated hitter (DH) in baseball history. Ortiz is known for his flair for the dramatic, pulling victory from the jaws of defeat with his mammoth home run power. However, Ortiz is not just another egotistic human with a knack for hitting baseballs. David Ortiz is a man driven by nature to help others less fortunate than him, in any way he possibly can. The David Ortiz Children’s Fund (DOCF) was founded to aid less fortunate children around the world to obtain the best supplies and circumstances they can.

The DOCF was founded in 2006 after Ortiz visited a local hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Ortiz was shocked by the resilience of the children who had just gone through heart surgery, and he vowed to help children throughout the world that could not have access to the facilities New England children could. Therefore, DOCF was founded to assist the other children worldwide.

Since its founding, DOCF has been making a difference through its partnership with two other charities, Heart Care Dominicana and World Pediatric Project. By joining forces with these programs that have similar goals, Ortiz is fulfilling his goal of benefiting children that would otherwise be faced to fend for problems on their own.

Heart Care Dominicana is a non-profit organization that provides cardiovascular care for families that cannot afford it in the Dominican Republic. Heart Care Dominicana has two main goals: providing the care needed and training personnel in communities to solve problems internally. The program began its first operation in 2006 and has been working hard to accomplish its goals. DOCF is one of the major financial backing forces behind the program, and with continued support the cardiovascular care program will continue to thrive.

World Pediatric Project (WPP) is focused on improving the quality of life and providing healthcare services to children in the Caribbean and Central America areas. WPP has four main goals: to send surgical and diagnostic teams to communities to provide care, to develop illness prevention programs, to provide transportation for children who need treatment in American facilities, and to build up the local healthcare workforce.

By aligning with these programs, DOCF is achieving its starting goals. Ortiz is helping the world’s children through the programs with which he has partnered, impacting lives in droves. The health programs have been successful for many years. With continued support from DOCF and other charities, WPP and Heart Care Dominicana can continue to change lives. Ortiz is living up to the vow he made in 2006, and he proves it every time a child receives healthcare that was previously unattainable.

– Zachary Wright

Sources: World Pediatric Project, Heart Care Dominicana
Photo: Boston Sports