For baseball and community, thanks
Great games, great charity go hand in hand in 2009
Thanks to the 73,367,659 fans who attended Major League Baseball games in 2009.
Thanks to the ballplayers who keep us coming back for every pitch and every year.
Thanks to Nationals right-hander Craig Stammen, Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis, Marlins club representatives and anyone else who was spotted this past week delivering turkeys and meals to families in need. There is only one word.
Thanks to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys for performing "Empire State of Mind" on a stage behind second base before Game 2 of the World Series. It's still the best version and proof that "there's nothing you can't do."
Thanks is heard often through the baseball year and yet never often enough. Yankees fans thanked their 27-time champs with a classic parade this month. How many times did we thank a slugger with a curtain call or for signing a baseball? How many times did fans and MLB join forces to donate time and money to help important causes?
Thanks to Mark Buehrle for your perfect game.
Thanks to Dewayne Wise for helping him do it.
Thanks to Tigers outfielder Magglio Ordonez for allowing your famously flowing locks to be cut and auctioned for charity. The proceeds provided about $6,000 to Imerman Angels, a Chicago-based nonprofit group that connects those battling cancer with those who have survived it to provide inspiration.
Thanks to Albert Pujols of the Cardinals and Joe Mauer of the Twins for your MVP seasons. Thanks to Tim Lincecum of the Giants and Zack Greinke of the Royals for your Cy Young seasons. Thanks to A's closer Andrew Bailey and Marlins left fielder Chris Coghlan for your rookie seasons. Thanks to Jim Tracy of the Rockies and Mike Scioscia of the Angels for managing clubs through challenges and into the playoffs.
"Thank you fans, players, teams and all of Baseball's partners for Going Beyond in the community year round," said Tom Brasuell, MLB's vice president of community affairs.
Thanks to Stand Up To Cancer for events like the Sheryl Crow All-Star Concert in St. Louis and for the starring role in World Series Game 3. Thanks also to MasterCard and all the fans who contributed for that unprecedented live crowd event at Citizens Bank Park -- resulting in this "Priceless" widget that is still being passed around the Internet to help raise money to fight cancer.
Thanks to 2009 Roberto Clemente Award winner Derek Jeter of the Yankees and your Turn 2 Foundation for pointing so many kids in the right direction. While we're at it, thanks for taking us along for that joy ride resulting in hit No. 2,722 to pass Lou Gehrig for No. 1 on the Yankees' all-time list.
Thanks to the fans who decided so many important things. You cast 223.5 million votes and 17.8 million ballots for the 105th All-Star Game, the largest figures recorded in the nine years of online balloting at MLB.com. You smashed Final Vote records by casting 68.6 million votes at MLB.com, deciding on Shane Victorino of the Phillies and Brandon Inge of the Tigers for those last two roster spots. As we speak, fans are on course to smash another record with This Year In Baseball Awards balloting.
Thanks to Josh Beckett -- not just for your 17-6 season, not just for your work with Children's Hospital Boston, but also for saying this:
"I just think as you get older, you become a part of other people's events and start realizing how much of a difference you can make just with basically being the face of something. I think it was probably when I got to Boston, probably about halfway through my first year in Boston is when I really realized that, 'Hey man, I can make a difference. I can help make a difference.'"
Thanks to Chase Utley for your five World Series home runs, tying Reggie Jackson's 1977 record. CC Sabathia might not agree, but that was fun to watch.
Thanks to the groundskeepers who kept the field dry enough when it was wet and wet enough when it was dry. Standing O for the crews and their tarp magic.
Thanks to returning military veterans and their families, including all those who were at the Bronx VA Center that was visited by MLB, Michelle Obama and Jill Biden the day of the World Series opener. That was an inspiring day capped with Welcome Back Veterans as the focus initiative for Game 1 between the Phillies and Yankees.
Thanks to everyone involved with the youth initiative that was the focus of Game 4 of the World Series. Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities presented by KPMG, along with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, continued to overcome inherent challenges in making baseball available for all kids.
Thanks to Hank Aaron, Muhammad Ali and Bill Cosby -- who won Beacon Awards at the Civil Rights Game and shined a light for others to follow.
Thanks to two beautiful new ballparks that opened in New York this season. One of them, Yankee Stadium, was christened with the 27th world championship in franchise history. Even though the Mets' season did not go as planned, it was a success in other ways.
"The facility makes it a lot easier to fundraise here," Mets director of community outreach Jill Knee said of Citi Field, where they even had a Habitat for Humanity frame-building event in the parking lot. "The facilities are so wonderful."
Thanks to Ichiro for a Major League-record nine consecutive 200-hit seasons. You played in fewer than 157 games (146) for the first time, and yet you still finished with 225 hits. Unbelievable.
Thanks to the 30 All-Stars Among Us who were celebrated before the 105th All-Star Game at Busch Stadium. Each living U.S. president participated in a video tribute, and President Obama then threw out the first pitch. Major League Baseball and the Cardinals All-Star Week donations totaled more than $7 million to charitable organizations and celebrated the importance of community service as part of MLB All-Star Week. The charity and community service initiatives as part of the "Going Beyond" theme were the most extensive in MLB All-Star history.
"They're really focusing on community," said Michael Hall, the Cardinals' vice president in charge of community outreach and Cardinals Care. "Most teams, if not all, have a foundation. And [MLB is concentrating on] how the foundations interact with the community and how the teams give back, as well as the players and some of the top-line folks in the organizations."
Thanks to Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. On Aug. 10, you not only hit for the cycle, but you also went 5-for-5 with seven RBIs. Watching it again, it still blows the mind how you finished it off with a triple.
Thanks to the mascots. It's hot in those funny and often-fuzzy suits. (Memo to kids: We're just kidding. They aren't really suits.)
Thanks for the everyday work by all 30 clubs, and just consider the Giants as another example. Thanks for the more than 300 events they staged this year to benefit their fans or draw them closer to the team. Some went relatively unnoticed, like when a group would receive the opportunity to watch batting practice on the field. Other endeavors were high-profile, such as the now-familiar Until There's a Cure Night and Strike Out Violence Day.
"We definitely made a more concerted effort to make sure we had a community group in the ballpark every game," said Shana Daum, the Giants' director of public affairs and community relations.
Thanks to Giants lefty Jonathan Sanchez for that no-hitter out of nowhere right before the All-Star break: 11 strikeouts, no walks, something only you could have seen coming.
Thanks to the legends who remind us of baseball's tradition. One glimpse of guys like Willie Mays, Yogi Berra, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax or Tom Seaver during the course of a baseball year and you are just thankful to be a fan like your ancestors were.
Thanks to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation and to those who worked tirelessly to help it in its efforts to beat breast cancer. The annual Mother's Day events at every ballpark brought us those pink bats again -- like one from Detroit's Placido Polanco that is up for bidding right now -- and more importantly brought major funding for ongoing efforts to find a cure and help with prevention.
There were many club-level Komen events as well, like the one on Sept. 5 at Oakland, where the A's raised $75,690 on Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Proceeds benefited the American Cancer Society, Northern California Cancer Center and Komen. Those events are so common and worth highlighting as an example here.
Thanks for everyone who helped with the Prostate Cancer Foundation efforts on the annual Father's Day events at the ballparks. And thanks to the late Michael Goldsmith, whose plea as a fan with Lou Gehrig's disease inspired the initiative that led to 4♦ALS Awareness.
Thanks to the Twins and Tigers for giving all of us one last 2009 regular-season game that we won't forget. And thanks to the Metrodome and the nearly 50 million (48,924,984) regular season fans who attended games there, for some wonderful memories -- but a thanks also to the construction workers who have Target Field ready to replace it, at least judging by these cool webcams.
Thanks to the D-backs for their unique Season Ticket Scholarship Program, which grants full-season tickets including parking and, in some cases, food vouchers, for fans who can no longer afford their tickets. The program is the first of its kind in pro sports, and, in 2009, 18 families received 41 lower-bowl season tickets valued at nearly $100,000. In the program's first two years, approximately $150,000 worth of tickets have been given out to 42 families.
"We anticipate giving away nearly twice as many scholarships this year as we did last year," D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall said. "It's a great program, and we want to do everything we possibly can for our fans who are struggling. It's truly made a difference in people's lives."
Thanks in advance for the 100 or so Christmas trees that Marlins officials are planning to hand out on Dec. 4 to preselected families near the Orange Bowl.
Thanks to Justin Verlander for your 269 strikeouts for Detroit, to Felix Hernandez for your 19 wins with Seattle, and to Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter for a dynamic-duo season in St. Louis. Thanks to the Brewers' Prince Fielder and the Phillies' Ryan Howard for your 141 RBIs apiece. Thanks to the Rangers for making a strong run deep into the summer, and for those bids by Florida and Atlanta that just came up short.
Thanks for the MLB & Players GIVE BACK program, which launched on Sept. 11 and distributed up to one million free tickets to veterans, public servants and under-served youth.
Thanks to Ken Griffey Jr. for going back to Seattle -- and then for re-signing again as a reminder that baseball goes on, gloriously.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.