Presented by Chevrolet, the Clemente award 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.
The 2007 recipient of the Clemente Award was Craig Biggio of the Houston Astros. Oakland's nominee in 2008 was Nick Swisher.
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.
Beginning with the 2006 season, Ellis started the Putouts for Diabetes Program; for each putout he records, he makes a charitable donation to the American Diabetes Association. Ellis has donated $10,000 of his own money to the association. Additionally, Ellis in August 2007 visited and spoke with 50 children from the Fremont/Newark YMCA to promote healthy eating and increased activity in the hopes of preventing diabetes.
Ellis also shared his personal story about how diabetes affected two of his grandparents and a childhood friend, and emphasized the importance of staying active by teaching the children a few of his pregame stretches. For the 2008 season, Ellis has continued with his Putouts for Diabetes program.
Ellis also participates in the player ticket purchase program where he buys tickets for the Boys and Girls Clubs to attend Oakland A's games. Mark also attends the A's Dinner on the Diamond, which is a fundraiser for the Oakland A's Community Fund and also plays golf in the A's Community Fund Golf Classic.
Ellis' local charity for the 2008 Roberto Clemente Award is the Black Hills Children's Home, which is located in Rapid City, S.D., which is his birthplace and where he was raised. The children's home works with underprivileged and abused children along with their families. Ellis has donated his time and money to this charity, as well as hosting a baseball clinic for the children at the school.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.