DENVER -- Reds reliever Francisco Cordero has made a career of closing the door on opponents in the ninth inning. Since coming to Cincinnati in 2008, he's tried to open doors of opportunity for local children. Cordero is the Reds' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet. A community service honor, the Clemente Award draws one nominee from each of the 30 Major League clubs. The Reds will honor Cordero on the field at Great American Ball Park on Sept. 12.
"When God gives you something, you have to give something back and try to find ways to help people," Cordero said. "I'm glad that I'm able to do it. I've been given a lot. It makes me feel better. It makes my whole family feel better." 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 Dec. 31, 1972. He died in a plane crash while trying to deliver 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 former Pirates star and Hall of Fame outfielder. Voting fans also will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip for four to the 2010 World Series. Reds greats Barry Larkin (1993) and Pete Rose (1976) are past Clemente Award winners. During each season of the four-year, $46 million contract he signed with the Reds, Cordero has contributed a percentage to the Reds Community Fund. That already makes him one of the leading donors in the non-profit group's history. "He has been extraordinarily generous, lending financial support to help us sustain some of our key programs," said Charley Frank, the executive director of the Reds Community Fund. "In the first two years of the contract, we utilized his contribution to expand our efforts." In part because of Cordero, the Reds began a Rookie Success League franchise in Dayton last year and he helps sustain their youth baseball funding network, which reaches more than 300 inner-city baseball and softball teams in the region. Cordero also invests in the Greater Cincinnati RBI program. During the remainder of this year and in the future, Cordero's investments will also be focused on the RCF's Urban Youth Academy in Winton Place. The academy provides free programs to inner-city kids and a coaching academy. "None of this would be possible without Coco's commitment," Frank said. If there is an opportunity to help children, especially in Cincinnati and his native Dominican Republic, Cordero is all for it. "I love being around kids. I have two kids of my own," Cordero said. "When I'm back in the Dominican, the kids want to be close to you, shake your hand and take your picture. I would be happy if someone tried to help my two children if I wasn't making enough -- someone that could come over and help them out and support them. When you can put a smile on kids' faces, it makes me feel great."