11/14/2002 4:17 pm ET
Valentine recipient of Rickey Award
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
Bobby Valentine has had better seasons in the dugout. But the former Mets manager had a typically giving year in the heart and, for that, he is being honored as the 2002 recipient of the Branch Rickey Award.
Valentine will be recognized as the 11th winner of the award at a tribute dinner Friday night in Denver's Coors Field.
Dedicated in memory of the legendary Mahatma, credited with designing baseball's farm system and integrating the big leagues, the Branch Rickey Award salutes outstanding community service.
Each of the 30 Major League clubs makes one nomination for the award, which is chosen by a vote of media and of nationwide representatives of the Rotary Club, co-presenter of the event along with the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association.
Valentine's efforts in the wake of 9-11 added up to a compelling argument for his selection.
From donating a half-million dollars to various relief organizations, to personally reaching out to families impacted by the tragedy, Valentine demonstrated a strong ongoing sense of caring about the people around him.
"For me, to win an award with Branch Rickey's name on it is a tremendous thrill," said Valentine, who surfaced as a young prospect in the same Dodgers organization that hosted Rickey's greatest triumphs.
"I know what Mr. Rickey did for the game of baseball and for the nation," Valentine added. "This is a tremendous honor for me."
Valentine joins a distinguished list of former honorees, including Curt Schilling, the 2001 recipient, Todd Stottlemyre, Al Leiter, Paul Molitor, Craig Biggio, Brett Butler, Tony Gwynn, Ozzie Smith, Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield.
Friday night's function is expected to be attended by a wide variety of baseball and sports personalities, as well as Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson, and 700 leaders of the Denver business community.
In addition to MLBPAA and the Rotary Club, the Branch Rickey Award program is presented by WB2 Charities, a fund of the McCormick Tribune Foundation. All raised proceeds benefit Denver Kids, Inc., provider of mentoring and counseling for at-risk children.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.