Branch Rickey Award Winner Selected as Major League Baseball's 11th Annual Outstanding Community Citizen.
DENVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 9, 2002
The Winner of the 2002 Branch Rickey Award is New York Mets
Manager Bobby Valentine
Bobby Valentine has been voted this year's Branch Rickey Award winner for community service work from a slate of nominees, one submitted from each Major League club. Bobby's community service accomplishments since September 11, 2001, are quite remarkable and obviously, the national panel of voters thought so as well. A sampling of the accomplishments that inspired the voters include:
-- In the aftermath of the September 11 tragedy, Bobby personally donated nearly $500,000 to various 9/11 funds, including fire, police and civilian charities. -- He adopted two families who lost a father in the tragedy and flew them to sporting events across the country, including the American League Championship Series and the World Series. -- He donated the first $20,000 from his newly opened Bobby V's restaurant in Queens, and hosted numerous fund-raisers and dinners for relief there. -- Bobby worked two straight days organizing and assembling supplies destined for relief workers at Ground Zero, and made visits to police, fire houses and Ground Zero to lift the spirits of the rescue workers. -- Additionally, he played Santa at the Mets holiday party for 500 children of victims and dressed up as St. Nick for many other police holiday functions.
"For me to win an award with Branch Rickey's name on it is a tremendous thrill," said Bobby Valentine upon hearing he won the Award. "Growing up in the Dodgers' organization, I know what Mr. Rickey did for the game of baseball and the nation. For me, this is a tremendous honor."
In 1991, the Branch Rickey Award was created by the Rotary Club of Denver to be presented to an individual who is currently active in Major League Baseball. The Award is designed to honor outstanding individuals whose actions off the field demonstrate high standards and social concern through contributions to their community.
All 30 Major League teams have considered outstanding individuals in their clubs and selected one nominee. The final selection was made by national sports media, former Branch Rickey Award winners and District Governors of Rotary in Major League cities in the United States.
Bobby joins an elite list of previous Branch Rickey Award winners that includes Curt Schilling, Todd Stottlemyre, Al Leiter, Paul Molitor, Craig Biggio, Brett Butler, Tony Gwynn, Ozzie Smith, Kirby Puckett, and Dave Winfield.
The criteria for selection are simple. Nominees must be:
-- Involved in Major League Baseball as an owner, manager,
front-office staff or player.
-- A role model for others, continually displaying high ethical
-- An unselfish contributor to the community, whose volunteer
efforts personify "Service Above Self."
Bobby Valentine will be honored at the 11th Annual Award Dinner and Presentation at Coors Field in Denver on Friday, November 15, 2002. Bobby, other Mets, sports celebrities, Jackie Robinson's daughter Sharon, and approximately 700 business leaders will be in Denver to honor the Branch Rickey Award winner.
Bobby's baseball career highlights include having the second most wins of any manager in Mets history, with nearly 500 victories, being the 48th manager in Major League history to reach the 1,000 win plateau, and was the Manager of the Year in 1986 with the Texas Rangers. As a player, he played every position except pitcher in a career that spanned 10 years with the Dodgers, Padres, Mariners, Angels, and Mets.
Branch Rickey was known as "Mr. Baseball" to millions because of his many contributions to the game and his ethical standards. Foremost among Branch Rickey's accomplishments were breaking the modern-day color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson, development of the farm club system and the stimulation of baseball's expansion process.
Branch Rickey, during his long and varied career, served as Major League manager of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Brooklyn Dodgers. But more importantly, Branch Rickey was one of the bravest and most elegant of thinkers. The Award recognizes his courage and ethics as much as his sports prowess.
The Branch Rickey Award is presented annually by the Rotary Club of Denver, Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, and WB2 Charities, a fund of the McCormick Tribune Foundation. Funds raised benefit Denver Kids, Inc., which provides mentoring and counseling services to help at-risk kids.