Anthony Rizzo has been named the winner of the 2014 Branch Rickey Award. He is the youngest to receive the award. The announcement was made in Denver on Thursday.
Rizzo, 25, will be inducted as the 23rd member of the Baseball Humanitarians Hall of Fame on Nov. 14 at the McNichols Civic Center in Denver. Two days later, on Nov. 16 in Parkland, Fla., Rizzo and his foundation will host a third "Walk-Off for Cancer" 5K walk.
Created by the Rotary Club of Denver in 1991, the Branch Rickey Award honors individuals in baseball who contribute unselfishly to their communities and who are strong role models for young people. Each year, MLB teams are asked to nominate one team member for the award.
Rizzo was chosen by a national selection committee comprised of 400 members of the sports media, baseball executives, past award winners and Rotary district governors. Fans also were given a chance to vote online, and more than 30,000 votes were received. Rizzo won the fan voting by an impressive margin.
Rizzo has overcome Hodgkin's Lymphoma, which he was diagnosed with while a Minor Leaguer with the Red Sox in 2008. His foundation's goal is to help families affected by cancer. Besides his fundraising walk in his hometown, Rizzo has hosted two "Cook-offs for Cancer" in Chicago. So far, he's raised more than $500,000. The first baseman also is a regular visitor to pediatric cancer patients in Chicago and Hollywood, Fla.
Rickey was known to many as "Mr. Baseball" and is credited with breaking the color barrier in the Major Leagues in 1947 when Jackie Robinson, whom Rickey had signed two years earlier, debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Previous recipients of this award include Dave Winfield, Kirby Puckett, Ozzie Smith, Paul Molitor, Torii Hunter, Tommy Lasorda, Roland Hemond and Clayton Kershaw.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.