Brandon Crawford of the San Francisco Giants has won this year’s Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, sponsored by the Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity, headquartered in Oxford, Ohio. Phi Delta Theta presents the award annually to a Major League Baseball player who best exemplifies the giving character of Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig, who was a member of the Fraternity’s Columbia University chapter. The award was first presented in 1955 and is permanently maintained at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.
Crawford is the third member of the San Francisco Giants to win the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award following Barry Zito in 2012 and Buster Posey in 2019. He will receive the award on Lou Gehrig Day, Friday, June 2, prior to the Giants’ game against the Baltimore Orioles.
Past recipients of the award include Stan Musial, Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Harmon Killebrew, Willie Stargell, Lou Brock, George Brett, Ozzie Smith, Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn, Albert Pujols, Derek Jeter, and many more.
Photo by San Francisco Giants
Off the Field
For Brandon Crawford, raised in Pleasanton, California, giving back to the Bay Area comes naturally. He grew up a Giants fan attending games at both Candlestick Park and Oracle Park. He knows first-hand the impact the players and team can have on the community. Throughout his twelve-season career in San Francisco, the humble and soft-spoken shortstop has found ways to give back in meaningful and impactful ways to the people and community who helped to shape his life.
After learning about fellow Pleasanton native Stephen Piscotty’s mom succumbing to ALS, Crawford, with the help of his father, Mike, stepped up to support the mission to find a cure for ALS. Each year the Crawfords host the Crawford Family Golf Tournament, which, since 2019, has raised over $650,000 toward research for a cure. A 2022 Lou Gehrig Award finalist, Crawford joined the Lou Gehrig Award team to present a custom, state-of-the-art Giants-themed wheelchair to someone living with ALS in honor of Lou Gehrig Day. Crawford has built personal relationships with dozens of people living with ALS and understands the importance of finding a cure and providing support to those living with this horrible disease.
Photo by San Francisco Giants
Crawford is incredibly thankful for his health and the health of his family, which makes him acutely sympathetic to those who aren’t as fortunate. Realizing that the children he was meeting through regular Make-A-Wish visits at Oracle Park were the same age as his kids, he developed a new perspective on the struggles those families face on a daily basis. Brandon and his wife, Jalynne, teamed up with Tiny Turnip to provide special t-shirts for kids battling cancer who attended Childhood Cancer Awareness Day at the ballpark in 2022. The Crawfords create initiatives each season that support children and their families who are experiencing a fight against cancer.
During the 2021 season, Crawford teamed up with the Giants Community Fund, the Good Tidings Foundation, and the San Francisco Recreation & Park Department to renovate Gilman Field, located in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco—just blocks from Candlestick Park where Crawford fell in love with baseball. The field renovation included new dugouts, benches, and grass for the infield and outfield. It is used by Junior Giants, the free, non-competitive youth baseball and softball program run by the Giants Community Fund, of which Crawford is a loyal supporter, as well as the neighborhood kids and families.
Photo by San Francisco Giants
As the son of a teacher, Crawford has prioritized supporting educational initiatives like the NBC Sports Bay Area All-Star Teacher Awards, the Step Up to the Plate for Education grant program, and the Junior Giants education curriculum by lending his name and celebrating those who keep education at the forefront of our society.
The two-time World Series Champion and three-time National League All-Star, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glover’s skills on the field speak volumes of his ability and athleticism. Still, the accolades that embody who he is as a person are his five MLBPAA Heart and Hustle Awards and the Giants Willie Mac Award, which is bestowed upon a Giants player by his teammates for best exemplifying the spirit and leadership consistently shown by Hall of Famer Willie McCovey.
At his annual youth baseball camps, Crawford tells campers that one of the main rules of camp is to perform at least one random act of kindness every day. He explains to the kids that it causes a ripple effect of good, and you’ll never know just how far that good will travel. In the case of Crawford, his kindness has traveled further than he could have ever imagined.
Photo by San Francisco Giants
On the Field
Brandon Crawford finished his twelfth season with the Giants in 2022, appearing in 118 games for San Francisco, and was the only player on the roster to start at least one hundred games at one single position. Crawford made his eleventh career opening day start for San Francisco, tying Robby Thompson for fourth-most in the San Francisco era, and in doing so, he also became one of four Giants in the San Francisco era to make at least ten consecutive opening day starts with the others being Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, and Thompson. Later in the year, Crawford helped lift San Francisco to victory in walk-off fashion twice (a ninth inning, walk-off single on May 24) and a walk-off homer on August 16 vs. Arizona. The Bay Area native now ranks eighth in the San Francisco era (since 1958) in walk-off RBI in Giants history.
Photo by San Francisco Giants
Lou Gehrig Memorial Award Finalists
Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity, in partnership with the Permobil Foundation and the Live Like Lou Foundation, is proud to recognize the finalists for the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. The award’s recipient, second- and third-place vote-getters, and their respective teams will have the opportunity to surprise an individual battling ALS in their community with a custom, team-branded, Permobil wheelchair. Fourth- and fifth-place vote-getters and their respective teams will have the opportunity to surprise a college student from a family facing ALS in their community with a Lou Gehrig Memorial Scholarship.
Phi Delta Theta Fraternity is proud to is proud to partner with the Permobil Foundation and the Live Like Lou Foundation to help give these priceless gifts to those affected by ALS.
Photo by St. Louis Cardinals
Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals
National League Most Valuable Player in 2022, Paul Goldschmidt continues to prove that he is an athlete of extraordinary character both on and off the field. His philanthropic efforts are numerous and far-reaching. Rather than start his own charity, Paul has chosen to step in and assist a wide array of charitable causes behind the scenes without seeking recognition for his efforts.
Since signing with the Cardinals in 2018, Paul has joined teammate and 2020 Roberto Clemente Award winner Adam Wainwright in several charitable efforts through Wainwright’s charity, Big League Impact. In 2021, through his partnership with BLI, Paul raised $46,420 to help build a community center in the Dominican Republic with Food for the Hungry as part of the #ALLWIN campaign. In this effort, players pledge dollars and support for causes close to their hearts while asking fans to join them in their efforts to support those in need. The center will provide vocational training for youth and women and instruction to community residents on how to improve household sanitation, basic hygiene, and nutritional skills.
Photo by St. Louis Cardinals
As part of BLI’s 2022 #ALLWIN Campaign, Paul committed $50,000 to Habitat for Humanity St. Louis. This organization provides an opportunity for families living in substandard rental housing to help build and then purchase a home they can afford to maintain. Also, this season, Paul participated in BLI’s special events Swinging for Impact and Trivia Night, which collectively raised $97,000 to continue Big League Impact’s mission to help people meet basic human needs like food, clean water, medical care, shelter, and education to save lives, restore dignity, and instill hope.
On August 6, 2022, Paul held a free baseball clinic for kids, parents, and coaches at Busch Stadium. Paul’s mission for the clinic was to stress the importance of using sports, specifically baseball, to build life skills rather than solely focusing on winning. On August 14, 2022, Paul hosted Uncork for a Cause, a gala benefiting Water Mission. This nonprofit Christian engineering organization designs, builds and implements safe water, sanitation, and hygiene solutions for people in developing countries and disaster areas. The event raised $100,000.
Paul and his wife, Amy, are dedicated supporters of the Arizona Cancer Foundation for Children. The couple supported a capital campaign that funded Ava’s Treehouse. In this place, pediatric cancer patients and their families can go play, explore, and relax in an environment that is suited directly to their needs. The organization recently honored Paul with the inaugural Goldy Award for his support of the project. The award was presented to Paul by Garth Brooks, who also expressed gratitude for Paul’s participation in the Home Plate Project, a partnership between Brooks’ foundation Teammates for Kids, BLI, and MLB that provided food for children in need. Paul and Amy also enjoy spending time with pediatric patients in St. Louis. Both have participated in several hospital visits and Make-A-Wish events, including the Wives for Wishes event that raised funds to grant wishes to area children.
Paul is also a strong supporter of the St. Louis Cardinals team charity, Cardinals Care. His annual financial contributions and signing of memorabilia used for Silent Auctions help support the flagship Redbird Rookies program, a free baseball/softball program for children ages five to thirteen, and the charity’s Grant and Youth Ballfield programs. Paul’s Player Ticket Program, Goldy’s Golden Ticket, started in 2019 to bring deserving youth organizations to a game. He provides t-shirts, photo cards, tickets, and food vouchers and meets with the groups to answer questions, sign autographs, and take photos. Over the years, Paul has met with hundreds of children as part of the program.
Photo by Los Angeles Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Since its inception in 2011, Kershaw’s Challenge has sought to serve vulnerable and at-risk children living in Los Angeles, Dallas, the Dominican Republic, and several countries in Africa. The goal of Kershaw’s Challenge is to partner with organizations that are committed to this as well and work alongside them on specific projects to make life better for children. The 2022 beneficiaries included: Behind Every Door, Dallas, Texas; Shoes that Fit: Los Angeles, California; Dream Center: Los Angeles, California; Arise Africa: Zambia; For Oak Cliff: Dallas, Texas; BEB: Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, and Liberia; and International Justice Mission: Dominican Republic.
In March 2022, in partnership with Shoes That Fit, ninety-five pairs of brand-new shoes were donated and passed out to third and fourth graders at Obadiah Elementary School in Dallas. In April 2022, in partnership with the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, Clayton helped unveil the Gonzales Park project in Compton to build the Kershaw’s Challenge Fitness and Training Center for socioeconomically impacted youth of South Los Angeles. In July 2022, Clayton Kershaw, along with his wife Ellen and their children, as well as several of his Dodgers teammates, joined in with members of MLB, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, and Baby2Baby, to assemble basic essential kits as part of the 2022 MLB All-Star Legacy Project, which included more than 175,000 basic essential items for local youth and families living in poverty. The initiative impacted over 5,000 students and their families at Los Angeles schools.
Photo by Los Angeles Dodgers
In August 2022, Kershaw’s Challenge Ping Pong 4 Purpose event raised over $1 million for beneficiaries. In partnership with the Los Angeles Dodgers Community Relations team and the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, Clayton spent the day at the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex as part of the annual “Dodgers Love LA” community tour. The reopening of the renovated literacy area included a ceremonial red ribbon cutting, playing ping pong with the students, signing autographs, taking pictures, and donating a signed ping pong table. In partnership with the LA Dream Center, Kershaw’s Challenge hosted the Back to School Bash, which supported over 3,500 Los Angeles-based children with a day of activities and school supplies. In partnership with For Oak Cliff, the eighth annual Back 2 School Infinity Festival was held in South Dallas, in which 6,000 backpacks with supplies, a stage line-up, and over ten employers at the on-site job fair were available to provide ample opportunities for systematically oppressed youth.
In October 2022, Clayton participated and supported The SKECHERS Friendship Walk for its fourteenth annual event in Manhattan Beach. The event supported children with disabilities, along with public education on children with special needs. In November 2022, in partnership with Mercy Street Dallas, the Kershaw’s Challenge tenth annual baseball camp was hosted in Dallas to give youth the opportunity to hone their baseball skills with future MLB Hall of Famer, and hometown hero, Clayton Kershaw. Also in November, the eighth annual KC LIVE event raised over $1.8 million was raised for Kershaw’s Challenge beneficiaries.
Photo by Chicago White Sox
Liam Hendriks, Chicago White Sox
Three-time All-Star closer Liam Hendriks is an invaluable leader in the White Sox clubhouse, and his impact beyond baseball in 2022 has been even more remarkable. Dedicated to driving positive social change, Hendriks’ South Slydah Society focuses on serving those most in need and empowering underrepresented communities across Chicagoland. After donating nearly 1,400 meals from dozens of local, minority, and family-owned small businesses to essential workers during the public health crisis, the four-time MLB Roberto Clemente Award nominee looked to this season with even greater philanthropic aspirations. He planned and executed meet-and-greets and fundraising events, in-kind donations, and selfless financial contributions, totaling twenty-two community activations for 2022 to deliver on South Slydah Society’s key pillars.
Championing individuals facing extreme hardship, including children and families battling cancer and those seeking medical treatment: Hendriks held an Opening Day event at a local children’s hospital, providing three hundred patients, family members, and healthcare workers with treats, White Sox gifts, and special get-well messages. He supported a watch party at the Ronald McDonald House in celebration of the 2022 All-Star Game, ensuring more than thirty patients and families had their favorite ballpark food on-hand with ticket vouchers to see him pitch in person at an upcoming game. Then, after being named a finalist for the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award in 2021, Hendriks and the Lou Gehrig Award team helped surprise a local woman battling ALS with a custom Permobil wheelchair.
Photo by Chicago White Sox
Giving back to frontline workers, including first responders, active-duty military, Chicago police and fire departments, and emergency dispatchers: The Australian-born pitcher provided a fully catered lunch, White Sox hats, and ticket vouchers to more than 130 U.S. servicemen and women and their families from Jesse Brown VA Medical Hospital and the USO of Illinois. Notably, he ensured the USO donation came from a local, veteran-owned restaurant to further his support. The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and 9-1-1 Center received a similar sentiment as Hendriks provided hundreds of White Sox ticket vouchers and blankets to over five hundred call center workers before he and his wife Kristi greeted the staff in person. Near the end of the season, he helped welcome the All Secure Foundation to the ballpark, supporting the organization’s work to combat the military suicide epidemic.
Commitment to empowering underrepresented community groups and addressing social justice issues, including discrimination, violence, and animal rights: Hendriks celebrated his long-standing support of the LGBTQ+ community. He raised the Pride Flag at Guaranteed Rate Field for the second consecutive season and offered 1,500 South Slydah Society-branded Pride flags to fans attending White Sox Pride Night. On numerous occasions, he and his wife spoke about their allyship for the LGBTQ+ community and welcomed teens from Howard Brown Health and Center on Halsted to a ballpark suite. The group painted sneakers for the upcoming Pride Parade, while Hendriks took to the field to greet LGBTQ+ community leaders.
Hendriks spoke out about gun violence following the tragic mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois. He then planned two separate donations to Highland Park first responders, including personalizing messages and catering lunch to recognize the heroic work of three fire stations and a police station in the community. In August, Hendriks welcomed families from St. Nicholas Cathedral School, including several young students staying with these families as a result of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, to the ballpark for a Patio Party. The group of more than one hundred people enjoyed free transportation to the game, complimentary tickets, and branded South Slydah Society gifts. Hendriks also is an adamant supporter of organizations focused on animal welfare, including Fetching Tails Foundation, Mission K-9, One Tail at a Time, Players for Pits and the Rescue Me Thursday campaign.
Photo by Atlanta Braves
Sam Hilliard, Atlanta Braves
(Nominated by Colorado Rockies)
Family and baseball have been at the core of Sam Hilliard’s life. Drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2015, he was a young prospect in his second year of baseball when his father, Jim Hilliard, a longtime orthopedic and sports medicine surgeon, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Although hesitant to discuss such a personal family matter in public settings, Sam realized the importance of discussing ALS—and he quickly found his voice. He became committed to doing whatever he could to bring about more awareness of ALS. Sam began speaking publicly during the 2019 season—the year he made his Major League debut, and the baseball community embraced his efforts. Sam spoke of baseball being forever linked with ALS through the story of the Iron Horse himself, Lou Gehrig.
“I just don’t think people quite understand a lot of the details of the disease, how horrible it can be, and how it affects families. It’s essentially a death sentence when people get diagnosed with it. “I bet a lot of people don’t realize that there’s no cure, and there’s really no hope for a lot of people who get diagnosed with it,” he added. ”It’s an underfunded disease, and we’re trying to gain traction to get that funding—to get on the right track—to find a cure.”
After a courageous four-year battle, Sam’s father, Jim Hilliard, passed away in September 2021. On June 2, 2022, Sam Hilliard was in a Rockies uniform for the first time on Lou Gehrig Day (Sam was playing at Triple-A Albuquerque when the 2021 inaugural day took place.) Many of the Rockies players put their names out there for ALS awareness because of Sam, and he thanked his Colorado teammates for their support. “They don’t have to do it—and they do it all the time,” he said of his teammates wearing ALS-related clothing to show their backing of Hilliard’s foundation and his hopes of eventually finding a cure for the disease.
“ALS, for some reason—it chose baseball,” Sam said. “And Lou Gehrig had a tremendous impact on the game. A Lou Gehrig Day league-wide is long overdue. ALS needs more attention, and more funding. I’m really proud to see it come to fruition.”
Photo by Colorado Rockies
Sam, along with his mother Tamara Hilliard and other family members, founded Team Hilliard Foundation in honor of Jim Hilliard and to raise awareness and money for ALS research. Through their nonprofit foundation, Sam and his family use their resources to not only support research for a cure but also to assist select families facing ALS along with the financial hardships that it brings.
The 2022 inaugural Team Hilliard Foundation Charity Golf Tournament honoring Jim Hilliard and benefitting ALS charities was a huge success. The nonprofit was proud to donate $100,000 for ALS research and to support organizations helping families cope with ALS. They were thrilled to be able to impact the ALS community in such a big way with their first golf tournament. Besides a golf tournament (that features current and former Rockies players as well as other MLB players) and Team Hilliard merchandise sales, Sam said the foundation plans for other future fundraising projects that include a youth baseball camp.
Lou Gehrig Memorial Award Nominees
Phi Delta Theta is proud to share the names of all team nominees for this year’s award. Each nominee has done amazing things in his communities and for his team. (Listed alphabetically)
DAVID BEDNAR, PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Photo by Pittsburgh Pirates
JON GRAY, TEXAS RANGERS
Photo by Texas Rangers
HUNTER GREENE, CINCINNATI REDS
Photo by Cincinnati Reds
TRISTON MCKENZIE, CLEVELAND GUARDIANS
Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays
Photo by Tampa Bay Rays
Brent Sutter, Colorado Rockies
(Nominated by Milwaukee Brewers)
Photo by Milwaukee Brewers
Jose Trevino, New York Yankees
Photo by New York Yankees. All rights reserved.
Stephen Vogt, Oakland Athletics
Photo by Oakland Athletics