WASHINGTON — Adam LaRoche is the steady, sure-handed first baseman for the Nationals. The soft spoken slugger is always sure to mention his teammates over his personal stats, as he did last night after slugging the first game-ending homer of his career. Tonight, LaRoche will be honored for what he does away from the ballpark.
LaRoche is one of six current MLB players who have been named as finalists for the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award by the Award Foundation, which was founded in 2013. The award was created with the support of Feller’s widow, Anne, the Cleveland Indians, The United States Navy, The Battleship USS Alabama and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. It honors three individuals who reflect the values of the Hall of Famer and former Indians pitcher.
The BFAOVA is presented to one U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer, one Baseball Hall of Famer and one active MLB player, with the winners in each category honored in a ceremony on November 5 in Washington, D.C., at the United States Navy Memorial.
LaRoche was nominated for his support of the Wounded Warrior Project at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, his support of USO tours to visit troops in overseas locations including Afghanistan, and his hosting of veterans at Nationals games.
Joining LaRoche as a nominee is Brad Ziegler of the Diamondbacks, who will be on field before the game tonight to be recognized as a finalist for the second-year award.
The other finalists are the Brewers’ Jonathan Lucroy, the Pirates’ Charlie Morton, the Red Sox’ Dustin Pedroia and the Indians’ Nick Swisher. The five Hall of Fame finalists include Johnny Bench, Tommy Lasorda, Monte Irvin, Whitey Ford and Willie Mays. The U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer will be named later.
Before Tuesday night’s game, The Quilts of Honor organization will present handmade quilts to LaRoche and Ziegler. The mission of Quilts of Honor is to present a universal symbol of thanks and remembrance to those who served, have served or supported those who serve or have served. Since 2010, 1,700 quilts have been presented to service members, veterans, and supporters. All of the nominees for the Bob Feller Award have been or will be presented a Quilt of Honor this season.
Peter Fertig, the creator of the award, believes that the example of Bob Feller can serve as an inspiration to today’s youth.
“Feller understood that the call of his country in a time of great national need outweighed any personal considerations,” says Fertig. “His immediate readiness to serve was a hallmark of ‘the greatest generation’ and provides lessons that can and should be taught to the youngest generation. We are excited that this year’s honorees will be just as exemplary as those from last year.”
Feller voluntarily enlisted in the Navy after the attacks at Pearl Harbor, at the age of 23. Missing nearly four prime years of his baseball career, he served as a gun captain aboard the USS Alabama where he was decorated with six campaign ribbons and eight battle stars.
Last year’s awardees were Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, Yankees Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, and U.S Navy Chief Petty Officer Garth Sinclair.