Hector Santiago is the White Sox nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, Major League Baseball announced Monday.
The award, first presented in 1971 to Giants outfielder Willie Mays, is given to a "player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement," according to a press release.
Santiago created "Santiago's Soldiers" in 2012, a program that lends support to children with illnesses and their families by inviting them to games. The left-hander traveled to Newtown, Conn., over the winter to visit with students affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy, and sent money to a family affected by the Oklahoma tornadoes in May to allow their daughter to go to college.
"He's doing it from his heart," Nate Jones, Santiago's best friend on the White Sox, said in May. "He doesn't care who finds out or whatever. He just knows someone needs help, he wants to try to help them. He's doing it from his heart."
Santiago's also donated equipment and uniforms to little league teams in his native New Jersey.
Manager Robin Ventura said Santiago's penchant for giving back is in his DNA.
"He does (fit organization’s culture). He does a lot of stuff on his own. It’s not anything that people have had to push him to be able to go nice things," Ventura said Monday. "Even last year he was doing a lot of that stuff on his own. That’s just the kind of kid he is. Some people are able to do that right from the get-go and have that about them that they can do two things at once. It’s part of his upbringing and I think his parents did a good job. He’s aware of a lot of different things. He’s compassionate and competitive, those things go together. But he’s a giver."
Santiago said he was humbled to be nominated for the award.
“As a member of this organization, you have a responsibility to give back to the community, so awards are not why we do what we do. Yet to receive an award named for Roberto Clemente is a tremendous honor.”