Congratulations to Nick Swisher, who was chosen as a winner of the Thurman Munson Award and will be honored on February 1. Here’s the announcement, including Diana Munson calling Swisher “cute.” You don’t see that in every press release.
A trio of popular New York baseball stars will receive the prestigious Thurman Munson Award at the 31st annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner on Tuesday night, February 1, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City, it was announced today. New York Yankees All-Star outfielder Nick Swisher, New York Mets outstanding outfielder Angel Pagan, and former Mets All-Star catcher Mike Piazza will be honored by the AHRC-New York City Foundation in memory of late, great Yankees catcher and captain.
The formidable baseball threesome will be joined by the Nets all-star guard Devin Harris and Olympic gold medal-winning figure skater Evan Lysacek as the “Class of 2011.” For tickets and information on the Munson Awards Dinner contact 212-249-6188.
Diana Munson, Thurman’s widow, will attend the gala, and has been involved in the benefit since its inception, raising nearly $10 million to assist children and adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“I love the way he plays, I love his enthusiasm,” said Diana Munson of Swisher. “Most importantly, he respects the history of baseball and the Yankees. On Old Timers Day, he was out there getting autographs and taking pictures. He’s not embarrassed by his love of the game, and respects the players. Plus, he’s cute.”
The AHRC New York City Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that supports programs enabling children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to lead richer, more productive lives, including programs of AHRC New York City. AHRC New York City is one of the largest organizations of its kind, serving 11,000 children and adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries and other disabilities.
Swisher, 30, who helped lead the Yankees to the 2009 World Series title, enjoyed his first All-Star season in 2010, hitting .288 with 29 home runs and 89 RBI as the club’s primary right fielder. Among his many charitable endeavors, he established the Nick Swisher Foundation “Swish’s Wishes” in 2007 to assist children with life-threatening illnesses and to help lift the spirits of kids going through difficult times. In 2009, Swisher provided Christmas dinner for the families of children battling cancer at the Ronald McDonald House in New York and was the co-Ambassador to the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Lee Denim Day to help raise money for breast cancer research.
Piazza, 42, may have been the top offensive catcher of all time. A .308 career hitter with 427 home runs and 1,335 RBIs, Piazza played for 16 seasons, including an eight-year stretch with the New York Mets following a three-team trade from the Dodgers via the Marlins. The 1993 Rookie of the Year, and a 12-time National League All Star selection, Piazza was peerless amongst catchers with the bat during his career, and the Norristown, Pennsylvania native is the all-time leader in homers for a backstop. In a career filled with big home runs, Piazza’s most memorable long-ball was a go-ahead two-run shot off of Atlanta Braves’ reliever Steve Karsay in the first game back in New York following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The popular Met also contributed to the team’s 2000 World Series appearance by hitting 2 key homers in wins over the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. Piazza participates in Michael Jordan’s Make-A-Wish charity golf and softball events, and has worked closely with Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.)
Pagan, 29, is a rising star with the New York Mets, with the 2010 season rating as his strongest to date during a five-year career. An outstanding fielder, Pagan made strides with the bat last season, setting career highs in hits (168), runs scored (80), home runs (11), RBI (69),and stolen bases (37). The native of Puerto Rico was originally drafted by the Mets in 1999, but reached the majors for the first time in 2006 with the Chicago Cubs. Pagan made an impact off the field for the Mets in 2010, and was the Mets nominee for the 2010 Roberto Clemente Award. He was one of the first Mets to participate in the June “Teammates in the Community Week,” planting new trees in community gardens in Spanish Harlem. Pagan also proudly supports City Harvest, food and rescue organization dedicated to feeding New York City’s hungry men, women and children. He hit the streets of Manhattan this year to raise awareness for City Harvest’s Skip Lunch Fight Hunger campaign and has visited Hour Children Food Pantry in Long Island City to help distribute more than 1,000 pounds of food to needy families during the busy holiday season.
The list of notable athletes to previously receive the Munson Award reads like a sports “Who’s Who,” and includes: Yankees – Yogi Berra, Don Mattingly, Mariano Rivera, Willie Randolph, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Robby Cano, Bernie Williams, Bobby Murcer, Joe Torre and Joe Girardi; Mets – Tom Seaver, John Franco, Darryl Strawberry, Ron Darling, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Keith Hernandez, Rusty Staub and Gary Carter; Basketball – Willis Reed, Oscar Robertson, Jason Kidd, Dave DeBusschere, Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Mark Jackson, Charles Oakley, Allan Houston and John Starks; Olympians – Donna de Varona (swimming), Dorothy Hamill (figure-skating), Paul Hamm (gymnast), Kristi Yamaguchi (figure skating), Nancy Kerrigan (figure skating), Carl Lewis (track and field), Carly Patterson (gymnast), and Dwight Stones (men’s high jump).
Associated Press photo