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Fan voting begins for 2013 Branch Rickey Award

Online fan voting has begun for the 2013 Branch Rickey award presented by the Rotary Club of Denver. This is the first year fans have been able to vote for their choice for the Branch Rickey award and enter a drawing for a trip to the 2013 World Series. Fans can access online voting through Facebook by visiting the Branch Rickey Award website at www.branchrickeyaward.org.

Fans may vote as many times as they would like during the Fan Voting period which ends Sunday, August 11, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. MST (Mountain Standard Time).

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Unlike the many baseball awards that are based on statistics, the Branch Rickey Award recognizes individuals who give unselfishly of themselves to their communities. These men are strong role models for today's young people. All of the honorees personify Rotary International's motto, "Service Above Self."

Each Major League team was asked to nominate a humanitarian from their team for the 2013 award. A National Selection Committee, comprised of 450 members of the sports media, past award winners, baseball executives and Rotary district governors, has been invited to vote on the nominees. The independent accounting firm of RubinBrown will verify the results. The Fan Vote will be taken into account in selecting the winner.

The Rotary Club of Denver plans to announce the 2013 Branch Rickey Award honoree in mid-September. This year's winner, along with all of the previous recipients, will be invited to attend the Branch Rickey Award banquet on Saturday, Nov. 16, at the Marriott City Center in downtown Denver. The winner will be inducted as the 22nd member of the Baseball Humanitarians Hall of Fame. Presenting sponsor is AMG National Trust Bank.

Proceeds from the dinner will benefit the Denver Rotary Club Foundation and the programs it sponsors, including Denver Kids, Inc., a preventive counseling and mentoring program for 1,000 at-risk students in Denver Public Schools.

Following is a complete listing of the 2013 Branch Rickey Award nominees:

The late Branch Rickey, known to millions as "Mr. Baseball," is credited with breaking the color barrier in the Major Leagues in 1945 when he signed Jackie Robinson, the first modern day African-American player. He also hired the first Hispanic player, Roberto Clemente.

Rickey helped develop the farm system in baseball and stimulated the sport's expansion into more cities. Always an advocate for underprivileged children, he spearheaded the development of the famous "Knot Hole Gang," to allow kids to attend big league games.

R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets was the most recent honoree in 2012. Dave Winfield, of the Toronto Blue Jays, was the first winner in 1992. Other recipients include: Kirby Puckett, Minnesota Twins; Ozzie Smith, St. Louis Cardinals; Tony Gwynn, San Diego Padres; Brett Butler, Los Angeles Dodgers; Craig Biggio, Houston Astros; Paul Molitor, Minnesota Twins; Al Leiter, New York Mets; Todd Stottlemyre, Arizona Diamondbacks; Curt Schilling, Arizona Diamondbacks; Bobby Valentine, New York Mets; Roland Hemond, Chicago White Sox; Jamie Moyer, Seattle Mariners; Luis Gonzalez, Arizona Diamondbacks; Tommy Lasorda, Los Angeles Dodgers; John Smoltz, Atlanta Braves; Trevor Hoffman of the San Diego Padres, Torii Hunter of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Vernon Wells of the Toronto Blue Jays and Shane Victorino of the Philadelphia Phillies. 

Winfield, Puckett, Smith, Molitor, Gwynn and Lasorda, as well as Branch Rickey, have also been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Branch Rickey Award is a 24-inch bronze sculpture, The Player, created by internationally prominent sculptor George Lundeen. A 13-foot tall bronze sculpture was dedicated at the entrance to Coors Field on June 2, 2005 in celebration of Rotary International's Centennial Year.

For more information about the Branch Rickey Award, visit www.branchrickeyaward.org.

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