The 85th annual New York BBWAA dinner was this evening at the Hilton in Manhattan. It was a great evening.
The head table included Denny McLain, Ryan Braun, Bob Melvin, Jake Peavy, Jimmy Rollins, Johnny Damon, Joe Girardi, Joba Chamberlain, Omar Minaya, Brian Cashman, Bobby Murcer, Alex Rodriguez, Yogi Berra, Craig Biggio, Goose Gossage, Billy Wagner, Jeff Wilpon, Dick Williams, Willie Randolph, Dustin Pedroia, C.C. Sabathia and Luis Tiant.
Damon received the Joan Payson award for community service, specifically his work with the Wounded Warrior Project.
A wounded Iraq veteran who now attends NYU, U.S. Army Captain Tony Odierno, was on hand to present Damon the award and the young man, who lost an arm, made a terrific speech about Damon’s generosity. When Damon reached the podium, he was nearly in tears then spoke eloquently about how important it is to support our troops. Damon’s father served in Vietnam and his emotions about the subject are genuine.
It was a great moment.
Ryan Braun and Jimmy Rollins handled themselves very well when they received their awards. Willie Randolph was actually funny, a big departure for him. Bobby Murcer received an award for his courage from Joe Girardi. The new manager of the Yanks made a nice speech and the crowd gave Murcer a standing ovation. Bobby looks great 13 months after being diagnosed with brain cancer.
Yogi was amusing (as always) when he presented A-Rod with his MVP award. “You’re gonna win some more of these,” he said. “You’re pretty good.”
Denny McClain was hilarious and Goose Gossage seems so thrilled about the Hall of Fame. McLain and Tiant were given an award in memory of their great 1968 seasons.
Joba received a big hand from the crowd. Brian Cashman gave him the “Toast of the Town” award and Cash was fired up talking about Joba his potential. During a brief speech,Joba told Eric Wedge to keep the bugs away next time the Yankees go to Cleveland.
Hal Steinbrenner was supposed to be there but canceled at the last second. Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal was there to represent Yankee ownership.
Along with Cashman and Girardi, the Yankees had several people there including Jean Afterman, Stick Michael, Lonn Trost, Jason Zillo, Mike Margolis and Jason Latimer. It was nice of them to support our dinner. Chapter chairman Dan Graziano of the Star-Ledger did a fine job as the master of ceremonies and kept the program moving.
I had a chance to meet several readers who were on hand. Tickets for the dinner are expensive but it’s a memorable evening if you’re a baseball fan.