Karstens' kindness earns Clemente Award nod

Karstens' kindness earns Clemente Award nod

Karstens' kindness earns Clemente Award nod
PITTSBURGH -- For all the attention that Jeff Karstens garnered during his run of first-half success, the right-hander's biggest impact in Pittsburgh was done much less conspicuously.

His biggest victories of the 2011 season, Karstens will tell you, came during the time he spent off the field, working with children and raising money for various charitable organization.

"There are 25 guys in here that are very fortunate to do the job that we do every day," Karstens said. "So just to give a little bit of time and energy back to the community to help kids out, I think it's the biggest thing we can do."

Karstens has been nominated for Major League Baseball's Roberto Clemente Award. The annual award recognizes the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team.

"We cite a quotation of Clemente's often: 'Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and don't, then you are wasting your time on earth,'" Pirates chairman Bob Nutting said. "Since becoming a Pirate, Jeff Karstens has embraced Clemente's words to the fullest, and [he has] continued to demonstrate his commitment to the Pittsburgh community through his great work this season."

All 30 nominees -- one from each club -- 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 New Year's Eve 1972, when a plane the Pirates legend was using to deliver aid to Nicaraguan earthquake victims crashed.

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. 9.

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 Hall of Fame right fielder.

Voting fans also will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip for four to the 2011 World Series to see the national winner presented with the Roberto Clemente Award.

Karstens' largest event this year was a Pirates celebrity chef event called Karstens Kares. Karstens enlisted teammates, front-office personnel, coaches and broadcasters to join him at a Pittsburgh-area Japanese steakhouse to help raise money for a local Cystic Fibrosis chapter. The group worked at Hibachi tables, bartended, served food and signed autographs.

Karstens said the event raised more than $20,000.

"I've had some family members go through some tough times," Karstens said. "I have a cousin who is younger than me who has Multiple Sclerosis. Just seeing what he's gone through -- if I can help some people out by just giving my time, I think it's beneficial. This is going to benefit a lot of people, hopefully."

In addition to planning his own event, Karstens is involved in numerous other community endeavors. He is a regular visitor to the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and has brought more than just encouragement during the season. He has also stocked the facility's playrooms with puzzles, games, coloring books and video game consoles.

This year, Karstens has joined Paul Maholm, Matt Diaz and Charlie Morton for each of their personal charity events. His efforts also extend to community programs and charity activities at the ballpark, and Karstens has become the new face for the "65 Roses Club," which benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

"Any time guys are having something, I think it's really important for you to show up," Karstens said. "You do the charity work voluntarily. It's not to get an award or anything. You do it out of the kindness of your heart."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.