Seattle Mariners Outfielder Raul Ibañez has been nominated for the prestigious Branch Rickey Award which recognizes a Major League Baseball player, manager, coach or executive for their "contributions to the community or their status as a role model."
Ibañez, who is on his third tour with the Mariners, has always been active in community programs. He was one of the co-chairs of this year's annual Mariners Care Cystic Fibrosis Golf Tournament on June 24, which raised $220,000 this year. During his career with the Mariners, Raul has hosted the charity tournament six times. Over those years, the event has raised over $1.176 million for CF research.
Ibañez has also served as spokesman for the Mariners Refuse to Abuse® partnership with the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and is an active participant in Make-A-Wish®, which grants wishes to kids with life-threatening medical conditions.
Over his career, Raul has also supported a number of local charities and non-profits including Boys & Girls Clubs, Seattle Children's Hospital, Esperanza, Page Ahead Children's Literacy Program, Volunteers of America, Teammates For Kids Foundation, Olive Crest, Treehouse, Canine Companions For Independence, Covenant House Pennsylvania, and Project H.O.M.E.
Raul was the Mariners nominee and local winner for the Roberto Clemente Award for three consecutive seasons from 2006-2008. In 2006, Raul was named by the Sporting News as one of the "Good Guys" in sports and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball Players Association's "Heart & Hustle" Award. In 2011, as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, Ibañez received the Tug McGraw Good Guy Award from the Philadelphia chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Former Mariners pitcher Jamie Moyer won the Branch Rickey Award in 2004. R.A. Dickey, who pitched for the Mariners in 2008, received the honor in 2012.
Created by the Rotary Club of Denver in 1991, the Branch Rickey Award honors individuals in baseball who contribute unselfishly to their community and who are strong role models for others. Each year, Major League Baseball teams nominate a player, coach or executive for this nationally acclaimed award.
The annual Branch Rickey Award event is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Denver and the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA) to benefit Denver Kids, Inc., a program for at-risk students in the Denver Public Schools. Denver Kids matches youths with mentors, many of them Rotarians, who serve as role models.
The late Branch Rickey, known to millions as "Mr. Baseball," is credited with breaking the color barrier in the Major Leagues in 1945 by signing Jackie Robinson, the first modern day African American player. Rickey also helped develop the farm system in baseball and stimulated the sport's expansion into more cities. As an advocate for underprivileged children, he spearheaded the development of the famous "Knot Hole Gang," which allowed kids to attend big league games.
The 2013 Branch Rickey Award will be presented on November 16, in Denver.