BALTIMORE -- It's an ambitious responsibility that transcends anything he does on the field.
Nick Markakis was chosen as Baltimore's nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award in recognition of his charitable endeavors. Markakis started The Right Side Foundation last winter in order to assist Maryland children in distress, and along with his wife, Christina, he personally plans and administers the organization's goals and directives.
This year, the foundation crafted the 5K and One Mile Fun Run and Walk. It's that event -- and the promise of more like it -- that makes Markakis Baltimore's nominee. The Orioles nominated Jamie Walker last year for his work with Army veterans and Brian Roberts in 2007 for his fund-raising for a local hospital.
The award recognizes the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and individual contribution to the 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 through Oct. 4. The winner of the fan ballot will be tallied as one vote among those cast by a selection panel of baseball dignitaries and media members. The panel includes MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and Vera Clemente, the widow of the Hall of Famer. The winner will be announced during the 2009 World Series.
Voting fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the World Series.
Markakis, a first-round draftee in 2003, is in his fourth season with the Orioles. He signed a lucrative six-year contract extension last winter, a pact that will delay his first shot at free agency. As such, he is poised to be an Oriole -- and a member of the community around him -- for some time to come.
Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals won the Clemente Award last season. The Orioles have had four winners of the award, and they are among the most familiar to wear the uniform. Brooks Robinson won it before it was renamed for Clemente, and Ken Singleton, Cal Ripken Jr. and Eric Davis also received the honor.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.