MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL, MN – In recognition of his long-standing efforts to transform the safety and welfare of his hometown, along with his many other off-field and community endeavors, Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz has been named the recipient of the 2020 Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award during the 2020 ESPYS tonight.
“Over our sixty years in Minnesota, the Twins have been incredibly blessed to have had so many great players who happen to be even better people—Nelson Cruz is a shining example,” said club President & CEO Dave St. Peter. “Through his work in the Dominican Republic, Twins Territory and beyond, Nellie continues to touch countless lives. He lives our organizational pillars of passion, hustle, heart and fun each and every day, and we are incredibly proud to have Nelson Cruz as part of our Minnesota Twins family.”
The Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award is given to an athlete whose continuous, demonstrated leadership has created a measured positive impact on their community through sports. The candidate must embrace the core principles that Muhammad Ali embodied so well, including confidence, conviction, dedication, giving and respect. Cruz, who also received the 2019 Carl R. Pohlad Award for Twins Outstanding Community Service, has long worked to better lives in his native Dominican Republic, elsewhere in Latin America and in the communities in which he has played during his 15-year major league career. These efforts include:
• Assisting his hometown of Las Matas De Santa Cruz by donating a fire engine and an ambulance to treat and transport people to the closest hospital, which is nearly one hour away. He also built a new police station and donated a motorcycle for the city’s police officers, who previously had to walk.
• Annually bringing dentists and optometrists, along with donated equipment and medicine, to his hometown clinic, providing checkups, medicine and eyewear. His health event enabled more than 1,200 people to be evaluated and treated by volunteer doctors.
• Purchasing wheelchairs, crutches, walkers and canes for elderly and disabled residents of his hometown.
• Leading his Boomstick23 Foundation in establishing a new education and technical center to help the youth of Las Matas De Santa Cruz advance their employability by learning different trades such as carpentry/electrical, and how to better use farmland to produce crops.
• Beginning the Healing Venezuela initiative, which helps 2,000 Venezuelan newborns annually receive life-sustaining nourishment during their first year (a 400% increase since Cruz’s involvement).
• Raising funds through the Big League Impact ALL WIN campaign in 2019, impacting the Education Center in the Monte Cristi province, Dominican Republic.
• Engaging with Twin Cities area youth, including hosting a vitilla clinic with Twins RBI All-Stars in 2019.
As the winner of the 2020 Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award, Cruz will be able to direct a $100,000 grant from ESPN to his Boomstick23 Foundation. Cruz, a six-time All-Star on the field, is the first MLB player to win the award and joins such past winners as the NFL’s Chris Long (2019), the NBA’s Kevin Durant (2018) and Chris Paul (2016), the NHL’s Mark Giordano (2017) and the WNBA’s Tamika Catchings (2015).
Cruz was honored tonight as part of The Sports Humanitarian Awards Presented by Bristol Myers Squibb, which was combined with The 2020 ESPYS Presented by Capitol One on ESPN. Fellow finalists for the 2020 Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award Presented by Dove Men+Care were Kevin Love of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, Devin and Jason McCourty of the NFL’s New England Patriots, Maya Moore of the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx and WWE fighter Titus O’Neil.