Phillips now a Reds ambassador

Phillips now a Reds ambassador

CINCINNATI -- Since Brandon Phillips' arrival in an April 2006 trade from the Indians to the Reds, Cincinnati has taken an immediate liking to the second baseman.

For Phillips, the feeling has been mutual. When it comes to helping Cincinnati and its surrounding areas, the 27-year-old always is willing to get into the community and do what he can.

Clemente

"His endless enthusiasm to meet and engage Reds fans is as refreshing as it is exciting," said Charley Frank, the executive director of the Reds Community Fund. "It's rare that a 'go-to' guy in the community also happens to be one of the team's best players, but that's what we have with Brandon."

No wonder the Reds made Phillips the club's nominee for the 2008 Roberto Clemente Award for community service.

The award, sponsored by Chevrolet, recognizes the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team. It is named in honor of the former Pirates outfielder whose spirit and goodwill will always be remembered. Clemente died in a plane crash while attempting to transport relief supplies to earthquake-stricken Nicaragua on Dec. 31, 1972.

Fans can participate in the selection process of the overall winner of the award now through Oct. 5. 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 MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and Vera Clemente, widow of the Pirates' Hall of Fame right fielder. The winner will be announced during the World Series.

Reds greats Barry Larkin (1993) and Pete Rose (1976) are past Clemente Award winners. The Astros' Craig Biggio was the 2007 recipient.

Phillips, who signed a new four-year contract with the Reds in February, has participated in several efforts spearheaded by the team's non-profit charitable arm -- the Reds Community Fund.

In 2008, Phillips committed $25,000 to the baseball field renovation program at Clark Montessori School in Winton Place and became dedicated to helping inner-city children discover baseball and keep it in the urban core.

Phillips has taken part in the past two Reds Winter Caravan events, which meets with fans and assists communities across four regional states. In 2007, he remained on the field after the final home game to give high-fives to more than 500 members of the Reds Heads Kids Club as they "Ran the Bases" at the ballpark.

For the past two seasons, Phillips participated in the Rubber Duck Regatta Auction -- a public event at Newport on the Levee that raises tens of thousands of dollars for the FreeStore/Foodbank of Cincinnati. During 2008 Spring Training, he telephoned and befriended a local 16-year-old girl who was undergoing treatment for cancer. In April, he hosted the child and her family at Great American Ball Park and met the girl before the game.

"Brandon is always willing to attend sponsor and community events and has been one of our more active clinic participants," Frank said. "He has emerged as one of the team's all-time ambassadors."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.