LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers All-Star second baseman Orlando Hudson doesn't stop making a difference when he steps off the diamond. Among other charitable foundations in which he participates, Hudson is committed to autism awareness nationwide. Hudson created the C.A.T.C.H. (Curing Autism through Change and Hope) Foundation, to provide resources and a support system for youths coping with autism.
Because of his work with C.A.T.C.H., as well as several other charities in the Los Angeles area, Hudson is the Dodgers' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award. The 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. Fans can participate in the selection process of the overall winner of the award now through Oct. 4. 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 Famer. The winner of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevy will be announced during the World Series. Voting fans also will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the 2009 Fall Classic. "It is an honor," Hudson said. "Mr. Roberto Clemente is the Jackie Robinson of the Latins. He's just like Mr. Jackie Robinson. The numbers he put up, the charisma he had, the awards he won -- everything he's done. "God blessed us by putting these two great men on earth. They are unbelievable icons. And to be part of that, it goes without saying, I'm honored." Through C.A.T.C.H., Hudson has helped children via the group's annual Autism Walk, Strike Out! Bowling Fundraiser, Home Run Holiday Christmas Gifting Ceremony and providing local organizations and schools with financial assistance for youths coping with autism. Apart from his work with autistic children, Hudson also has visited the MLB Urban Youth Academy and Van Ness Recreation Center through his Around The Mound tour. Hudson partnered with some of his big league colleagues to reach out to the African American youth community and keep children interested in playing baseball. Hudson has worked with Juan Pierre, Torii Hunter, Jermaine Dye, Ken Griffey Jr. and many others at the Urban Youth Academy.
David Ely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.