Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz was honored for his philanthropic work during the recent trip to New York for the Yankees series.
At the event on April 14, called Boomstick & Friends, Cruz was presented with a proclamation by Adriano Espaillat, a fellow Dominican, who is a member of the New York state senate.
Also in attendance were Cruz’s teammates Robinson Canó, Leonys Martin, Joel Peralta and third base coach Manny Acta.
Cruz established the Boomstick Foundation, and has made it a priority to give back to those in need not only in his native Dominican Republic, but in Seattle and other communities in the U.S.
At the event, the first-ever Boomstick Scholarship was awarded to Diana Antigua, a student from the Bronx, who “represents the ideals and values needed to succeed in life.”
Earlier this year, Cruz in conjunction with the MLB Players Association, donated wheelchairs as well as other orthopedic necessities to his hometown of Las Matas de Santa Cruz in the Dominican Republic. He has also held baseball clinics for youth, and has donated baseball and softball equipment to leagues back home. Last year, Cruz became a spokesman for Aid for AIDS and its “Un Batazo Contra El VIH,” (A Hit Against HIV).
Cruz has also donated a fire truck and ambulances to his hometown fire department, and over the winter, he worked with the Seattle Fire Department to collect used equipment to outfit the community’s firefighters.
Cruz credits his parents as his inspiration for teaching him the value of education, and setting an example of giving back to the community. Both of Cruz’s parents were teachers, and his father was instrumental in establishing his community’s first fire station.
Senator Adriano Espaillat, member of the New York state senate, and a native of the Dominican Republic, presented Cruz with a Proclamation from the New York State Senate, for his great contributions to society & the youth.
Last September, Nelson Cruz had an idea about helping the fire department back home in the Dominican Republic.
Back in 2012, while he was with the Texas Rangers, Nelson bought a fire truck and donated it to the Las Matas de Santa Cruz Fire Department, which provides service to tens of thousands of people in the surrounding area.
The fire truck was important, but the community is very poor, and the firefighters didn’t have the equipment they needed to safely and properly do their jobs.
Nelson wondered if there was any surplus equipment that the Seattle Fire Department no longer needed. So, he took a meeting with Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins. Turns out, this is just the kind of thing Scoggins used to encourage when he was Chief of the Glendale, California Fire Department.
Over the next few months, as equipment aged out of its useful life for SFD purposes, it was set aside. Before long, Chief Scoggins says a U-Haul-sized truck of “bunking gear” had been collected – boots, pants, jackets, gloves – all equipment that is necessary to safely fight fires.
Recently, Nelson Tweeted out a photo of himself and members of the Las Matas de Santa Cruz Fire Department wearing the boots, coats and helmets.
Last September, Cruz told 710 ESPN’s Shannon Drayer why this project is so close to his heart and so important to his community.
“It made me realize how bad we needed a fire truck when one of my good friends lost his house because we didn’t have any vehicle to provide water to extinguish the fire. Since that day I was committed to find a fire truck and buy it and make sure we have what we need,” said Nelson.
Chief Scoggins has offered to host firefighters from Cruz’s hometown in Seattle so they can train and learn from Seattle firefighters.
“We did this with our sister cities in Mexico while I was in California. It’s a great cross-cultural experience for us and for them. Maybe we’re building to that here,” said Chief Scoggins.
It has been a busy time for the Mariners baseball operations department during the last few weeks, as the group has been putting its team together not just on the field, but in the front office. As ESPN’s Jayson Stark noted on twitter, “Jerry Dipoto is the early leader for most hyperactive GM. Already two trades involving nine players, one signing (Gutierrez) and two waiver claims!”
General Manager Jerry Dipoto, VP & Assistant G.M. Jeff Kingston, VP of Player Personnel Tom Allison & Special Assistant to the G.M. Joe Bohringer were in Boca Raton, FL for the G.M. meetings during the early part of this week and at the conclusion of those sessions, they made a trip to the Dominican Republic.
Dipoto, Kingston, Allison and Bohringer were joined at the Mariners Dominican Baseball Academy by Manager Scott Servais and Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz. The group will be there through the weekend checking in with the staff and players and watching games during the instructional league at the academy before they return home to Seattle.
After a highly productive first season with the Mariners, Nelson Cruz continues to receive some recognition for his efforts. Today it was announced that he was named to the Sporting News A.L. All-Star team as the designated hitter. It is his first career selection to the SN All-Star team. The 2015 team was chosen by a panel of 22 American League executives before the postseason began.
Here’s a recap of his 2015 accomplishments:
- Totals – Hit .302 (178×590) with 90 runs, 22 doubles, 1 triple, 44 home runs, 93 RBI, a .369 on-base percentage & .566 slugging percentage in 152 games.
- AL Leader – Amongst AL leaders in several offensive categories: 2nd in AL in HR (44), 3rd in SLG (.566), 4th in OPS (.936), T11th in multi-hit games (49), T8th in batting average (.302), T12th in RBI (93), T10th in extra-base hits (67).
- Clutch – T5th in A.L. with 27 go-ahead RBI and T7th with 14 game-winning RBI…hit .291 (43×148) with runners in scoring position.
- Team Leader – Led the team in runs (90), home runs (44), RBI (93), walks (59), average (.302), on-base percentage (.369) & slugging percentage (.566).
- Career Bests – Set career highs in runs (90), hits (178), home runs (44) and walks (59).
- 40 HR – 69th player in MLB history to log multiple 40-HR seasons in a career.
- Mariners with 40+ HR – 4th player in Mariners history to record a 40-HR season, first since Alex Rodriguez (41) in 2000: Ken Griffey Jr. (6), Jay Buhner (3), Alex Rodriguez (3)…2nd player to record a 40-HR season during the Safeco Field era (opened July 1999).
- Back-to-Back – First player since Miguel Cabrera (2012-2013) to record consecutive 40-homer seasons…53rd player with consecutive 40-HR seasons.
- Safeco Slugger – Hit 17 home runs at Safeco Field this season, T4th-most in ballpark history…club record is 21 by Richie Sexson in 2005.
- All-Star – Voted as the starting designated hitter for the American League…4th All-Star game selection (2009, 2013-2015) and second start (also: 2014).
- All-Star Game – Went 0-for-2, hitting cleanup as the designated hitter during the All-Star game.
- Small Setback – Missed 6 games Sept. 4-9 with a strained right quad…hit just .247 (20×81) after his return.
- The Streak – Reached base safely in a career-high 37 consecutive games July 18-Aug. 27 (previous personal best was 25 G in 2010 with Texas)…active on-base streak was the 3rd-longest in American League in 2015 and 6th-longest in Majors…during streak hit .355 (54×152) with 32 runs, 9 doubles, 18 home runs and a 1.200 OPS (.430 OBP/.770 SLG)…streak was extended via hit 34 times, walk 2 times, hit-by-pitch 1 time…streak is 12th-longest in franchise history, and longest since 43-game streak by Ichiro in 2009 (record is 47 by Alvin Davis in 1984).
- Extra Base Streak – Recorded an extra-base hit in 9 consecutive games July 31-Aug. 9, the 2nd-longest streak in club history…trails only a club-record 10-game streak by Ken Griffey Jr. July 19-29, 1993 (including his 8-game HR streak).
- Right Side Pop – Hit 44 home runs, tying the Mariners record for most home runs by a right-handed hitter (Jay Buhner, 44 in 1996).
- Crushed Lefties – Ranked 3rd in A.L. & 4th in Majors hitting .357 (60×168) with 9 doubles, 1 triple, 14 home runs, 27 RBI & a .683 slugging percentage against left-handed pitchers…his .673 slugging percentage and 14 home runs led American League (tied in HR with Todd Frazier).
- Road Warrior – Hit a Major League leading 27 home runs on the road in 2015, which were T3rd-most in club history behind Ken Griffey Jr. (29 in 1997), Alex Rodriguez (28 in 2000) & tied with Jay Buhner (27 in 1997).
- OF vs. DH – As outfielder hit .337 (105×312) with 55 runs, 11 doubles, 31 home runs, 59 RBI and a 1.072 OPS in 80 games; as the designated hitter, hit .263 (73×278) with 35 runs, 11 doubles, 1 triple, 13 home runs, 34 RBI and a .783 OPS in 72 games.
- Home Runs Before Break – 8th Mariner with 20 or more home runs prior to the All-Star break (18th time).
- Walk Off – Recorded 8th career walk-off RBI with 1B off Junichi Tazawa in the 9th 5/15 vs. BOS (last: 4/19/15 against TEX Neftali Feliz, 1B).
- Player of the Month – Named AL Player of the Month for April…first career POM Award and the first Mariners position player to earn a monthly award since Ichiro in August 2004…in 22 G in April batted .322 (28×87) w/10 HR, 3 2B, 3B, 22 RBI.
- Player of the Week – Named American League Player of the Week for April 13-19…hit .500 (12×24), 7 R, 6 HR, 10 RBI, 1.806 OPS.
- #200 – Hit 200th career home run April 13 at Los Angeles (NL), a first-inning 2-run homer.
- 20 HR – Hit at least 20 home runs in 7 consecutive seasons…one of three players with active streak of 7 consecutive 20-HR seasons.
- 5 Straight…Twice – Homered in 5 consecutive games July 31-Aug. 4, his second home run streak of 5 games in 2015…is 5th player in MLB history to homer in at least 5 consecutive games twice in the same season: Harmon Killebrew (1970 Twins), Frank Thomas (1994 White Sox), Barry Bonds (2001 Giants), Chase Utley (2008 Phillies)…also homered in 5 consecutive games April 11-15 (6 HR during streak)…tied for 2nd-longest home run streak in club history: Griffey Jr., 8; Cruz, Buhner (2x), Zisk, A. Rodriguez all 5 games.
- April Showers – 10 HR in April were 3rd-most in club history (Ken Griffey Jr. – 13 in ‘97, 11 in ‘98)…10 HR were most in any April in his career (had 7 in ‘11 and ‘10) and 2nd-most in a single month (13 in May 2014).
Fresh off a 44-home run season, Mariners All-Star Nelson Cruz raised the 12th Man Flag prior to last night’s Monday Night Football game vs. the Detroit Tigers. Nelson fired up the crowd of 69,005 prior to the thrilling 13-10 Seahawks win.
Cruz had a banner first season in a Mariners uniform, batting .302 with 44 home runs and 93 RBI.
Here are a few videos from the 12th Man Flag-raising event last night at Century Link Field:
Cruz raising the 12th Man Flag is the latest of a string of Mariners to take part in the tradition…
- October 5, 2015 – Nelson Cruz
- Dec. 14, 2014 – John Olerud
- Dec. 29, 2013 – Jay Buhner
- Jan. 14, 2011 – Niehaus Family (at the Space Needle)
- Oct. 30, 2011 – Felix Hernandez
- January 3, 2009 – Ken Griffey Jr.
- January 5, 2007 – Jamie Moyer
- October 21, 2007 – Ichiro
- October 22, 2006 – Dave Niehaus
- December 6, 2004 – Edgar Martinez
The Mariners answered a challenge (by the Orioles) and are now challenging the Rays in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Nelson Cruz, Brad Miller and Mike Zunino were showered with ice cold water to help raise awareness for Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
A special guest joined the Mariners players for the Ice Bucket Challenge, as Spokane native John Oakley helped count them down to the ice bath. Oakley is a middle school coach and has been diagnosed with ALS. He is on a mission to to visit every Major League Baseball stadium with his kids.
The Mariners and Major League Baseball are participating in the second year of the #ALSIceBucketChallenge. Throughout the month of August, each club will host its own challenge and will then challenge another franchise, along with two other local personalities or organizations, to partake.
As a part of the initiative, MLB is donating $100,000 to The ALS Association. The funds will be used to further collaborative efforts between several organizations. Fans can join MLB by donating at ALSIceBucketChallenge.org and to make donations to an ALS organization of their choosing.
Nelson Cruz heads into today’s series and road trip finale vs. the Rockies (12:10 pm PT/ROOT Sports) having homered in each of his last 5 games (oh, and a current 15-game hitting streak). This is his second 5-game homer streak of the season (April 11-15), joining Harmon Killebrew (1970 Twins), Frank Thomas (1994 White Sox), Barry Bonds (2001 Giants) and Chase Utley (2008 Phillies) as the only other players in MLB history to homer in 5 consecutive games twice in one season [Elias Sports Bureau]. The last player to homer in 6 consecutive games was Chris Davis (Baltimore) in 2012.
Cruz’s home run streak is now tied for 2nd-longest in Mariners history, trailing only the MLB-tying record by Ken Griffey Jr. in 1993.
Here is a video look at each of the home runs during his current 5-game home run streak:
Cruz HR Streak:
7/31 at Minnesota (9th inning, off J.R. Graham)
8/1 at Minnesota (6th inning, off Kyle Gibson)
8/2 at Minnesota (9th inning, off Glen Perkins)
8/3 at Colorado (2nd inning, off Eddie Butler)
8/4 at Colorado (7th inning, off Scott Oberg)
Mariners players provide insights into the lessons learned, advantages gained and lasting value from playing multiple sports while growing up.
By Kieran O’Dwyer
The following article is from the August issue of Mariners Magazine. Pick up yours today at any Mariners Team Store, or subscribe to receive all six issues (April-September), plus a free 2015 Mariners Yearbook, delivered to your home or office. Each issue is filled with great action photography, up to date news, player stats and feature interviews.
When Seth Smith was a teenager attending Hillcrest Christian High School in Jackson, Mississippi, he kept busy during the springtime by leading the baseball team to back-to-back Class 4A state championships in 1997 and 1998, all while earning multiple honors at the local and state level. As for the rest of the school year? Well, during autumn he was firing the pigskin all over the gridiron – in his high school career he threw more than 50 touchdowns and accumulated nearly 6,000 passing yards at quarterback – while also earning state honors. As if that weren’t enough, he earned three letters in basketball as an all-conference player and five letters in soccer. Having conquered the high school sports landscape, Smith moved on to the University of Mississippi, where he starred on the baseball team and was a member of the football team that included future two-time Super Bowl winning QB Eli Manning.
When Austin Jackson was a teenager attending Billy Ryan High School in Denton, Texas, he helped lead the baseball team to the class AAAA Texas State championship game. Moreover, Baseball America named him the best 15-year-old baseball player in the nation. Pretty heady stuff. Much like Smith, however, Jackson wasn’t the type to rest on his baseball accomplishments. So when he wasn’t tearing it up on the diamond, he could be found schooling opponents on the hardwood. Ranked by some media outlets as one of the top point guards in the country, Jackson looked like he was headed to Georgia Tech – a member of the mighty Atlantic Coast Conference – to play baseball and basketball. Ultimately, his desire to pursue a baseball career won out and he decided to turn pro out of high school.
Each year, only a select handful of youngsters achieve the level of successes across various sports that Smith and Jackson enjoyed. Yet, even though the championships and honors are fun to reminisce about, both Mariners, as well as their teammates interviewed for this feature, focused instead on how participating in a diversity of sports from elementary school through high school proved invaluable toward their development into well-rounded individuals and athletes.
“I truly believe I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the different sports I played coming up,” said Smith. “Not only that, but [also] the different coaches and people that I was around that were part of my life. People I was able to learn from along the way who can kind of help propel you forward. As well as the different lessons that different sports teach you – whether it’s time management, working as a team, picking each other up, whatever it may be. All of that definitely came from playing a lot of different sports and I’m thankful for the opportunity.”
Developing Well-Rounded Athletes
It’s no secret that one of the hottest issues related to youth sports in recent years is the debate over whether youngsters should specialize in playing one sport year-round from an early age or play multiple sports while
The vast majority of literature available on this topic suggests that the latter approach may provide a healthier long-term path, both physiologically and psychologically, for kids. Still, there are those who believe focusing on one sport and consistently fine-tuning the skill sets and mechanics needed to excel can give a kid a big advantage on the field or court over “seasonal players.”
That said, and without diving head-first into this debate now (including its related factors such as medical issues and financial costs), at least one thing is certain among those Mariners who played multiple sports: there is no debate.
“Growing up in Maine you’re forced to play two or three sports [because of the weather],” said reliever Charlie Furbush, who also excelled on the soccer pitch and basketball court through his high school years. “I was fortunate and think it was a blessing in disguise to get to play more than one sport instead of trying to be all-in in one. I think it broadens your physical and mental ability athletically.
“I’m not saying that [specialization] doesn’t work, but I certainly learned from playing soccer and basketball [about] the competitiveness and what it takes in each sport to do well. I took those things and translated them to baseball.”
Like Furbush, Jackson is quick to give a nod for his overall success as a baseball player today to having played more than one sport as a kid. Mariners fans enjoy watching the athletic center fielder fly around the bases, lay out for line drives in the gap and leap into the night sky to haul in deep fly balls. He believes the countless hours of work he put in dribbling and driving, and dishing and swishing on blacktops all around the Dallas-Ft Worth area proved beneficial to his overall athleticism.
“For me, being a point guard and having to focus on footwork and being quick was big,” he said. “Those things transition easily to baseball – the first step you take [on defense when the ball comes] off the bat, that first step after your secondary [lead] on the basepaths. That was pretty similar to the first step in basketball, making that move to beat the guy defending you. All those things helped, especially when I was going from basketball season straight to baseball. I knew I wouldn’t have to get back as much of my speed and quickness because basketball had already pretty much helped. With those things the fast-twitch muscles, the explosiveness, were pretty much already trained and ready to go.”
“Being a point guard and having to focus on footwork and being quick was big. Those things transition easily to baseball.”
Fellow former hoopster Nelson Cruz agreed. As a youngster growing up in the Dominican Republic where baseball reigns supreme, Cruz wanted to “Be Like Mike.” Not Trout, of course. Michael Jordan. He even played basketball for his country’s Junior National Team.
“With basketball I think you have to have quick feet, quick hands,” the All-Star slugger pointed out. “You’re running and jumping, always moving. It all transfers to baseball – hitting, defense. I think it helped me become a good athlete.”
Transferring Skills Among Sports
Smith believes his time on the football field provided vital transferable lessons that still apply to his approach as a baseball player.
“As a quarterback, you have to prepare yourself in a certain way to be successful,” he explained. “You have to know what everybody is supposed to be doing, where they’re going on any given play. You have to be able to take charge in the huddle. Also, you can’t get too high or too low no matter what’s going on. You have to be the calming, steady influence for the offense. Things like that kind of mold your personality.
“Certainly, as you get into professional baseball, there is a lot of failure and a little bit of success and you have to find a way to stay on an even keel. You learn to understand that the hard times won’t last forever and, at the same time, neither will the good times.”
Should Smith ever want to talk football, he could easily bond with Pat Kivlehan. Like Smith, the 25-year-old infielder currently playing for Triple-A Tacoma starred in both baseball and football through high school and played both sports at the collegiate level.
“I truly believe I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the different sports I played coming up.”
“I think playing different sports helped keep me a more well-rounded athlete,” said Kivlehan, who played safety and linebacker for Rutgers University for four seasons, and baseball in his senior year. Amazingly, after a three-year absence from competitive baseball, he returned to the diamond as a senior and thrived – so much so that he earned the first Triple Crown in Conference history and was named the Big EAST Player of the Year.
“Concentrating on just one sport, let’s say baseball year-round, you kind of get specific and geared into that sport and can lose your overall general athleticism,” he added. “Things you don’t do a lot in baseball, like running and jumping in a football or basketball way, you kind of lose that and the sense of ‘burst’ that you’d get playing those other sports. When you bring that over into your baseball season, you’re ahead of those guys who are just concentrating on a few baseball motions throughout the year, while guys who played basketball and football maintain that more athletic body frame.”
Kivlehan said the physicality and mentality of football also proved advantageous when it was time to move into the baseball season.
“I felt like I was physically stronger, and wouldn’t wear down as easy,” he noted. “Baseball workouts are obviously different than football where you’re looking to lift as much weight as possible. I learned the mentality of knowing there’s a guy over there trying to knock you over and you’ve got to knock him over first. It’s not really that kind of a mentality in baseball; it’s a more laid back approach. Still, when I took the mentality and physicality that I learned in football over to baseball I felt like that confidence and athleticism gave me an advantage.”
Beyond developing into well-rounded athletes, getting the opportunity to learn from various coaches and bond with other players, Furbush emphasized that there is another valuable – if less talked about – benefit to playing multiple sports when growing up. Indeed, it’s something that he said he and his Mariners teammates continue to seek comfort in as professional athletes: the opportunity to step away and catch your breath.
“It’s nice to talk to kids and tell them, ‘Hey, don’t be afraid to take a break. It’s ok if you want to let your mind and body recover from baseball. Play another sport or do something else for a while.’ As Big Leaguers, we play almost every day, so sometimes when we have those days off, they’re really valuable, not just physically, but [also] especially mentally. Just to be able to get away and shut it off. Then to come back fresh and ready to go.”
Kieran O’Dwyer is a freelance sportswriter based in New York.
The 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be played tonight at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. Live coverage of the game starts at 4 pm PT and will be televised on FOX (channel 13/113 in Seattle market). Fans can also listen to the game in the Seattle area on ESPN 710 Seattle (ESPN Radio/check local listings).
The Mariners are represented by starting designated hitter Nelson Cruz (batting 4th) and RHP Felix Hernandez (scheduled to pitch in relief). This is Felix’s 6th All-Star selection and Cruz’s 4th (second straight year starting at DH).
Nelson Cruz of the Seattle Mariners has been voted as the starting designated hitter for the American League squad in the 86th Major League Baseball All-Star Game to be played Tuesday, July 14 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
The 2015 American League and National League All-Star starters were unveiled earlier this evening during the “Esurance All-Star Starters Selection Show” on ESPN. Reserves, pitchers and Esurance MLB Final Vote candidates for the 2015 Midsummer Classic will be announced tomorrow night on the “Esurance All-Star Selection Show” on ESPN at 4 pm PT/7 pm ET.
In the AL’s tightest race, Nelson Cruz (10,632,184) claimed his fourth All-Star selection (2009, 2013-14) as he held off Kendrys Morales (10,320,500) of the Royals. It marks the second consecutive fan-elected start for Cruz, who claimed the starting assignment last year at Target Field while with Baltimore. Cruz, who joins Edgar Martinez (1997, 2001, 2003) as fan-elected designated hitters in Mariners history, is tied for third in the AL with 21 home runs and ranks fourth with a .555 slugging percentage. Overall, the 35-year-old native of the Dominican Republic is batting .304 with 11 doubles, a triple and 41 runs scored. Cruz ranks first in the Majors with 12 game-winning RBI and is tied with fellow All-Stars Harper and Frazier for first in the Majors with 20 go-ahead RBI on the season.
The 2015 All-Star Game will be played at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday, July 14th at 7 pm ET/4 pm PT. The 86th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Here are the All-Star Game starters for the American and National League: