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Carlos Delgado, left, accepts the Roberto Clemente Award on Tuesday. ((Charles Krupa/Associated Press))

New York Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado was awarded the Roberto Clemente Award on Tuesday.

Delgado, 34, was deemed the major leaguer who best combined community service with excellence on the field this season.

The winner is chosen annually from a list of 30 nominees, one from each ball club, by a panel which includes commissioner Bud Selig and Clemente's widow, Vera.

"This is a great honour for me," said Delgado, a native Puerto Rican who idolized Clemente and wears No. 21 in tribute to the late Hall of Famer and noted humanitarian.

"This is something really special, just because I'm Puerto Rican. Thirty-four years after Roberto has passed, his legacy is still very much alive."

Clemente was named an all-star in 12 of his 18 MLB seasons, all with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Hall of Fame right-fielder also won 12 Gold Glove Awards and four batting titles as well as the 1966 National League Most Valuable Player Award and 1971 World Series MVP.

Clemente collected his 3,000th hit on Sept. 30, 1972, but died in a plane crash three months later at age 38.

He was trying to deliver relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua on New Year's Eve.

Clemente was inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame in 1973.

"He is an icon," Delgado said. "I'm a fan before anything.

"When they talk about Clemente, I'm a fan. I [recall saying], 'When I grow up, I want to be like that.'"

Delgado hit .265 with 38 home runs, 114 runs batted in and 89 runs scored in 144 games this season as the Mets reached the NL Championship Series, only to lose in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals.

The two-time all-star is a .281 hitter overall with 445 HRs, 1,401 RBIs and 1,148 runs in 1,855 games over 14 MLB seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays, Florida Marlins and Mets.

Delgado and Edgar Martinez, formerly of the Seattle Mariners, are the only Puerto Ricans to win the Clemente Award.

With files from the Associated Press