09/07/10 10:00 AM ET
Clemente nominee Gonzalez devoted to giving
By Gina Mizell / MLB.com
The shirts were for the annual "Celebrity Staff Night," held later that evening. It was an event put on by the foundation Gonzalez founded with his wife, Betsy, that allowed members of the Padres to spend an evening working as chefs, waiters and bartenders at a local Italian restaurant. More than $90,000 was raised for the Rady Children's Hospital/MRSA fund.
That event was just the latest example of his numerous charitable endeavors, which is why Gonzalez is the Padres' nominee for the 2010 Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevy.
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.
"Our responsibility as ballplayers is to be out in the community," Gonzalez said. "I understand a lot of people don't play for the city they grew up in, so it makes it a little bit tougher, but for me, in my situation, it's a no-brainer. I always want to give back and do whatever I can to help the community."
Gonzalez, who hails from San Diego, will be honored as the club's nominee before Wednesday night's contest against the Dodgers.
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.
The Adrian & Betsy Gonzalez Foundation, founded in 2008, focuses on helping underprivileged youth in the areas of athletics, education and health.
"We both love kids. We love youth," Gonzalez said. "We want to help, and we feel like that's where we can give the most help for the future. The three departments that we do it in, I feel like are the three essentials for having a good life."
Gonzalez is also involved with the San Diego Foundation, through which he awarded six college scholarships in June to local students who maintained a 3.0 GPA or higher and exemplified good citizenship.
Additional charities that the All-Star first baseman has supported throughout his career include the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the South Bay YMCA, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the San Diego Blood Bank.
"The most rewarding part is seeing the kids when they're given something, or the charities are given this money and are able to do some good deeds with it," Gonzalez said. "Basically, that's what it boils down to."
Gina Mizell is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.