Like Bob Feller himself, Tommy Lasorda put his professional baseball career on hold to fulfill his duty to our country. He served in the US Army from 1945 to 1947, during which time he was stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland. Said Lasorda, "It is a privilege and an honor to receive the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award. I have the highest respect and admiration for the men and women who serve in the United States Navy, as well as the other branches of the military. I loved Bob Feller and am so grateful to receive an award that bears his name."
To date Lasorda has visited more than 40 US Military installations worldwide, and in 2009 he provided entertainment and motivation to US troops in Iraq as part of a USO Goodwill tour. In the last calendar year alone, he has taken part in Navy general retirement ceremonies and participated in the swearing-in ceremonies of over 1,500 new US troops.
Nick Swisher, first baseman and outfielder for Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians, continues to honor the legacy of his grandfather, who served in the US military during the Korean War, by supporting the Wounded Warriors Program and assisting Philips Norelco's charitable activities on Operation Homefront.
"The first thing that comes to mind is honor and pride. For me, just to be in the same breath as a man like Bob Feller, I could not be more honored to be in this position. I could not be more grateful to receive this award, something that is near and dear to my heart," said Swisher. Nick and his wife JoAnna Garcia Swisher have also participated in USO tours to Afghanistan to provide morale for our troops.
Leadership, peers, and shipmates of Senior Chief Thompson hold him in the highest regard and look up to him as an exceptional and valued leader. His Commanding Officer, Captain Fenton said, "The success Senior Chief Thompson has achieved throughout his career is indicative of his professionalism, technical expertise, and genuine concern for his Sailors."
Senior Chief Thompson stated, "This is a tremendous honor and such a humbling experience for me. I am overwhelmed and extremely excited at the same time. I would have never dreamed that I would receive an award for the way I live my life but I am extremely grateful for my parents and all those teachers, mentors, and community leaders along the way who instilled in me the morals and ethics that I live my life by." Senior Thompson is currently serving as the Calibration Laboratory Leading Chief Petty Officer supporting 18 departments, 71 Carrier Air Wing FIVE aircraft, and the USS George Washington Strike Group. He also voluntarily completed an Individual Augmentee/Operational Support Assignment to Djibouti, Africa, where he served as Command Security Manager for the Combined Joint Task Force, Horn of Africa.
While many know Bob Feller as one of the greatest pitchers to ever grace the baseball diamond, few remember that he also served our country when he made the selfless decision to enlist just days after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Feller served on missions in both the Pacific and North Atlantic and earned the rank of Chief Petty Officer along with six campaign ribbons and eight battle stars. When asked about the most important game he had won, Feller famously replied without hesitation, "World War II."
Including Nick Swisher, six Major League Baseball players were named finalists for the 2014 Bob Feller Act of Valor Award - Adam LaRoche of the Washington Nationals, Jonathan Lucroy of the Milwaukee Brewers, Charlie Morton of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox, and Brad Ziegler of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Several finalists and nominees were honored with on-field ceremonies and presented with commemorative quilts by Quilts of Honor. Swisher and nominee Billy Butler of the Kansas City Royals were honored at Progressive Field on July 4 and 5, with Mrs. Anne Feller present; LaRoche and Ziegler were both honored at Nationals Park on August 19; Lucroy and Morton were both honored at PNC Park on September 20, also with Mrs. Anne Feller present; and nominee Darren O'Day of the Baltimore Orioles was honored at Camden Yards on September 21.
Peter Fertig created The Bob Feller Act of Valor Award with the support of the US Navy, the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial, The Cleveland Indians, the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, and the gracious consent of Mrs. Anne Feller.
"It is truly inspiring to watch these players within major league baseball honor our US Military and those who serve proudly today," said Fertig. "Bob Feller led his generation onto the field of battle and away from the baseball diamond for a more significant reason. He was not alone; Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Warren Spahn, Yogi Berra, Hank Greenberg, Jackie Robinson, Tommy Lasorda and millions of other regular citizens joined him. These celebrated Americans from our past understood the importance of keeping our world safe from tyranny. The legacy of Bob Feller and the greatest generation are embodied throughout these players and their respective clubs for honoring those who serve this great nation, and for this we are forever grateful."
The winners of the inaugural 2013 Bob Feller Act of Valor Award were former New York Yankees great and Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers, and U.S. Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman Garth Sinclair.