Each year, the Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity presents the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award to the Major League Baseball Player who best exemplifies the spirit and character of Brother Lou Gehrig, both on and off the field. This award is the first and only “officially” sanctioned Major League Baseball award given to ballplayers by a fraternity. Lou Gehrig was a distinguished member of Phi Delta Theta and a man of integrity. The award was created to acknowledge an individual player’s outstanding commitment to both his community and philanthropy. Since the award’s inception in 1955, the name of each recipient has been placed on the permanent Gehrig Award plaque, located at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.
Meet this year’s nominees!
JOSH HAMILTON – Outfielder – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Nominated by Texas Rangers – 2011
Age: 32 – MLB Service: 7 Years – Born: Raleigh, North Carolina
Off the Field: Hamilton’s story of triumph over drug addiction has been well-documented. After overcoming addiction issues, Hamilton has used his story, faith, and fame to support others. After the first overall selection in the 1999 June amateur draft, Hamilton emerged at the MLB level with the Cincinnati Reds in 2007 and, during a pre-game meeting at Great American Ball Park in 2007, shared his experiences with residents of Talbert House and with members of the Coalition for a Drug Free Greater Cincinnati. After the 2007 campaign, he was nominated for the Hutch Award, given annually to a major league player who exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire of the late Reds Manager Fred Hutchinson, and was nominated in 2007 and 2008 for the Tony Conigliaro Award, given to the player who best overcomes adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination and courage.
Hamilton was a guest of President George W. Bush at the White House on Dec. 11, 2008, along with his wife, Katie, to participate in the Meeting on Drug Use Reduction. Since his arrival in Texas in 2008, through his Foundation, “Triple Play Ministries,” Josh and Katie have worked to provide sports ministry, community outreach, and mission projects in a variety of endeavors. In 2009, Triple Play has directed funds to Arise Africa in Uganda to build and orphanage for homeless children, and donated funds to relief efforts in Haiti following the earthquake in that country prior to the 2010 season. On the same day he was named 2010 AL MVP, Josh and Katie distributed turkeys and fixings for Thanksgiving dinners to families in the Rangers clubhouse through the Mission Arlington program. Hamilton also conducts baseball camps at the Rangers ballparks where part of the proceeds are donated to the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, the All Church Home of Fort Worth and the Presbyterian Church Ministry for a new basketball goal, sports equipment, and presents for single mothers, as well as pack and plays and strollers. Hamilton is an active member of the Rangers Baseball Chapel program, and Katie participates in club’s Wives Chapel.
On the Field: After making his MLB debut with a promising season with the Cincinnati Reds in 2007 and Texas Rangers (2008–2012). He is a five-time MLB All-Star and won the AL Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) in 2010. He was the first overall pick in the 1999 MLB draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He was considered a blue chip prospect until injuries and a drug addiction derailed his career, beginning in 2001. Prior to the 2007 season, Hamilton was selected by the Chicago Cubs (picking for the Reds) in the Rule 5 Draft. During the off-season he was traded to the Rangers.
During the 2008 season, Hamilton was named to the AL All-Star team and was named Silver Slugger (OF) award winner. He also participated in the Home Run Derby, where he hit a record 28 home runs in the opening round and finished with 35 home runs, which was second-most all-time in derby history. He made the All-Star team the next four seasons as well. Hamilton won the AL batting title in 2010. On October 22, 2010, Hamilton was selected as MVP of the 2010 ALCS. On November 23, 2010, Hamilton was named the 2010 AL MVP, earning 22 of 28 first-place votes. Also named Silver Slugger award for outfield. On May 8, 2012 Hamilton became the 16th player in MLB history to hit four home runs in a game, all 4 home runs were 2 run home runs, and he set an AL record for total bases in a game with 18.
In 2012, Hamilton received more votes than any other player on the All-Star Game ballot, besting by approximately 3.5 million votes the vote count set in 2011 by Jose Bautista. Also in 2012 Hamilton received the ESPY Award–Best Major League Baseball Player and was named Silver Slugger for OF. After signing with the Angels in 2013, he had a batting average of .250, played in 151 games, and had 79 RBIs.
Jay Bruce – Outfielder – Cincinnati Reds
Nominated by Cincinnati Reds – 2014
Age: 26 – MLB Service: 7 Years – Born: Beaumont, Texas
Off the Field: Since 2011, Jay has funded two ticket programs-one for local military families and the other for children with special needs. Bruce’s Battalion hosts local military and their families at each Sunday home game. Bruce’s Buddies, welcomes families to one Saturday home game each month. These recipients receive complimentary lower level game tickets, concession vouchers, ball caps and a scoreboard recognition.
In 2013, Jay partnered with the Reds Community Fund to build Brian Wilson Field, in honor of the scout that discovered and signed him. Brian died of a heart attack in 2006 at the age of 33, leaving behind a wife and three daughters. Brian Wilson Field, underwritten by Bruce, is now the home of the University of Cincinnati Clermont College Cougars baseball team and the Reds Community Fund’s Reds Rookie Success League Clermont program. Jay also supports Make-A-Wish Foundation by welcoming a child as a special guest each Friday home game. Without fail, Jay makes an effort to visit with the child, taking time for photos and autographs.
Jay also served as Honorary Captain of Reds heads, the official kids club of the Reds in 2009 and 2010. He participated in kids-only press conferences, meet and greets and other special events for club members. From 2009-2010, the club grew from 4,700 members to 6,300 members. In the off season, Jay hosts a golf outing in his home state of Texas with the proceeds benefiting local charities.
On the Field: Jay Allen Bruce is a right-fielder for the Cincinnati Reds. He has been named an NL All-Star twice during his career (2011–2012). He has received the Silver Slugger Award 2 times (2012, 2013) and was named Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award (2013). He is the first player in Major League history to hit at least 20 home runs as a rookie and then increase that total in each of his next four seasons.
Last year Bruce’s batting average was .257, had 780 hits, 164 home runs, and 485 RBIs. On September 17, Bruce hit his second career grand slam, this one against the Houston Astros. The home run, his 30th, meant he reached that mark for the third season in his career, and his five RBI gave him 100 for the first time. He finished the season with 109 RBI’s, his highest year-end total to date. In post-season, Bruce was a finalist nominee for the Gold Glove Award. For the second year in the row, Bruce finished tenth in NL MVP voting.
DAVID PRICE – Pitcher – Tampa Bay Rays
Nominated by Tampa Bay Rays – 2013
Age: 28 – MLB Service: 7 Years – Born: Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Off the Field: In 2008 Price founded Project One Four to support programs and charities in the local Tampa Bay and hometown Nashville, Tennessee that provide opportunities for youth to learn life skills in a safe and supportive environment. David holds an annual golf tournament, bowling event, and banquet to raise funds for local organizations. Last year Project One Four donated backpacks, school supplies, and laptops to local children in need. He also made monetary donations Boys and Girls Club locations totaling more than $26,000. The recent bowling tournament benefited Big Brothers Big Sisters. Through his Twitter account, David recruited bowlers, met with each, and raised $10,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters. David also participated in a PSA for the BBBS Sports Buddies Program (an activity-based mentoring program aimed to increase male involvement in BBBS programming).
The Rays launched the South St. Petersburg Neighborhood Initiative in response to the tragic 2009 shooting of 8-year-old Paris Whitehead in South St. Petersburg. As a part of this program Price helped create the Dugout Club program in 2010 and has since recruited several other players to expand the program. He sponsors two recreation centers in South St. Petersburg each summer and serves as a role model, teaching the kids about staying healthy, positive, involved and smart. David visits his clubs twice throughout the summer to address the youngsters about making positive choices and working hard. He also provides t-shirts to the centers and presents them with a $2,000 check, the “angel fund” to help with additional expenses. Price and the other players recently hosted the 1,000-plus Dugout Club children at a Rays game. David has volunteered with the Miracle League (which arranges “buddies for kids with disabilities the opportunity to play baseball outdoors in a safe, fun-filled environment) and has donated approximately $10,000 in funding.
On February 3, 2012 David partnered with the Ted Williams Museum to host “An Evening with David Price” at Tropicana Field. The event was attended by approximately 400 people and as a result more than $20,000 was raised for the City of Largo’s Youth Sports Participation Scholar Fund, Burg Baseball, a youth baseball program in St. Petersburg and the Miracle League of St. Petersburg.
On the Field: Price became a full-time starter in 2009. He is a 3x MLB All Star (2010-2012) most ever by a Rays’ pitcher. He finished second in the voting for the 2010 Cy Young Award. In 2012 David Price was awarded the prestigious Cy Young award, finished season tied for first in the American League in wins and led the AL with a 2.56 ERA, became the Rays’ first 20-game winner as well.
His career record of 71-39 (.645) represents the greatest winning pct. in team history. In 2013 his regular season ERA was 3.33 and was first in the AL for Completed Games.
BILLY BUTLER – Designated Hitter and First Base – Kansas City Royals
Nominated by Kansas City Royals – 2010
Age: 27 – MLB Service: 10 Years – Born: Orange Park, Florida
Off the Field: Butler and his wife, Katie, have volunteered at the Bishop Sullivan Center, Kansas City’s largest single-site provider of emergency assistance since 2007. In 2008, the Butlers introduced the “Hit a Ton” campaign to feed the hungry every time Butler hit a home run. In 2009, Butler and sponsoring companies donated two tons of food and raised $10,000. Butler has also actively encouraged fans to get involved by offering autographed memorabilia and attendance at a pre-game tailgate party. In this effort, fans have given over $200,000 in the first three years of the program. In addition to their work with the “Hit a Ton” campaign, Billy and his wife lead the charge each year for the annual Royals Wives Food Drive, hosting silent auction events, selling grab bags, and by appearing at autograph sessions at local Hy-Vee grocery stores. For the collection of his efforts in the community, he received the Hutch Award in 2012. This award is given to a Major League Baseball player who best exemplifies the honor, courage and dedication of baseball great Fred Hutchinson, both on and off the field.
On the Field: After showing great potential in 2007, being named the American League Rookie of the Month in July, Butler, in 2009, was named the American League Player of the Week twice, and the American League Player of the Month in the month of September. He was rewarded as the Les Milgram Royals Player of the Year in 2009, 2010 and again in 2012. He is the only player to receive such an honor since the 1986 Gehrig Winner, George Brett. In 2010 he led the team batting average, RBIs, walks and on base and slugging percentage. In 2011 he became a DH. In 2012 he demonstrated that the move to make him exclusively an offensive player was a smart decision as he became the 2012 Edgar Martinez Outstanding DH Award and won a Silver Slugger Award. In 2012, Butler had his best season yet with career highs in RBIs (107), HRs (29), hits (192), batting average (.313) and slugging average (.501). 2012 American League All-Star and in May 2013 Butler got his 1,000th hit in the first inning scoring Alex Gordon against the St. Louis Cardinals and rookie pitcher Tyler Lyons. In 2013 he played in 162 games, had 82 RBIs, and a batting average of .289.
Who Would Receive Your Vote?