Arizona Diamondbacks' Vice President & Special Assistant to the General Manager Bob Gebhard is the 2011 recipient of the Sheldon "Chief" Bender Award, as announced by Minor League Baseball. The award recognizes an individual with distinguished service who has been instrumental in player development, has established good relationships with their organization's affiliates and is well respected in the baseball community.
"I am very honored to be selected for the 'Chief' Bender Award because I had known Chief for years, and he represented so many wonderful things in our game," said Gebhard.
The Sheldon "Chief" Bender Award, created in 2008 and presented annually, is named after the long-time Cincinnati Reds executive whose 64-year career in baseball as a player, manager and executive included 22 years overseeing the organization's farm system and 39 years overall with the club. Bender passed away last February at age 88.
Gebhard will be honored at the Winter Meetings Banquet on December 8 at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas. The previous recipients include Oakland Athletics' Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman in 2009 and New York Yankees' Senior Vice President, Baseball Operations Mark Newman in 2010.
Gebhard recently finished his seventh season with the D-backs and 47th in baseball. Gebhard lends his expertise in scouting and player development and was instrumental in the construction of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the D-backs new Spring Training facility near Scottsdale.
Before joining the D-backs, Gebhard spent five seasons in a similar capacity with the St. Louis Cardinals from 2000-04. He served as the Colorado Rockies' first General Manager for nine seasons from 1991-99. During his five-year stint with the Minnesota Twins from 1987-1991, he was part of two World Championship teams in 1987 and 1991. His front office career began with the Montreal Expos from 1974-1986.
Gebhard had an 11-year playing career as a pitcher that included big league time with both the Twins and Expos. He was the Twins' 15th-round selection in the 1965 First-Year Player Draft.