CLEVELAND -- Reliever Jensen Lewis is one of the few Indians who calls Cleveland his home year-round. And as a member of the community, Lewis has made sure to lend his hand to the club's community-outreach efforts. "I've had a lot of opportunities to get out and do some things," Lewis said. "It's a great honor. It's been a great community to be a part of." Lewis has been active with Cleveland Indians Charities since first coming up to the Tribe in 2007, which is why the Indians made Lewis their 2010 nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet.
All 30 nominees have dedicated themselves to the type of humanitarian and community efforts that distinguished the life of Clemente, who passed away at the age of 38 on New Year's Eve 1972, in the crash of a plane on which he was personally delivering 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 Hall of Fame right fielder. Voting fans also will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip for four to the 2010 World Series to see the national winner presented with the Roberto Clemente Award. Lewis said he is humbled to be mentioned in the same breath as Clemente. "He was a humanitarian for his time," Lewis said. "And especially where he came from and the personality he had, how people gravitated toward him. You could see it in how he played. It was very unselfish, but nonetheless, it was 100 percent every play. If you can pattern yourself after what he did with his life on and off the field, that's something you should definitely aspire to." Lewis has donated his time to CIC fundraisers, including the annual Celebrity Golf Classic. He has worked with Cleveland's RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) teams and spent time with members of the Boys & Girls Clubs during group visits to Progressive Field. He has participated in postgame "Kick-It" kickball games at the ballpark, which raise money for pediatric cancer and adolescent and young-adult cancer. Last winter, he took part in the Tribe's annual Tyson food distribution before Thanksgiving, when 30,000 pounds of turkey and other protein products were distributed to needy organization. Between those events and various school visits, Lewis has done his part to reach out to the community that supports the Indians. He said he was most touched by a visit with little Luke Holko, who, at the age of 4, was hit in the head by a foul ball at a Class A Mahoning Valley game last September and has made a remarkable recovery. "I went to visit him a couple times when he was in the hospital," Lewis said. "I got to see him on the field when he came out for batting practice, and it was just amazing, the recovery. Just what he persevered through was just so motivating. You kind of forget about the struggles of your everyday life when you see a kid who they said may never walk or talk again doing the things he's doing now. So it was an incredible blessing to be able to meet him and his family." Though he spent the 2010 season bouncing up and down between the big leagues and Triple-A Columbus, Lewis never lost sight of what's important. "This is one of the greatest jobs in the world, if not the best," he said, "and to be able to give back is something that I really appreciate."