About the Award

Branch Rickey (1881-1965)

Created by the Rotary Club of Denver, the Branch Rickey Award is a nationally prestigious and coveted honor that recognizes professionals in Major League Baseball for exceptional community service.

The award was named in honor of Branch Rickey, known to millions of fans as “Mr. Baseball” who was voted “Most Influential Person in Sports in the 20thCentury” by ESPN’s SportsCentury panel.  Perhaps foremost among his accomplishments, Rickey was credited with breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball. As President and General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945, he signed the first black player, Jackie Robinson. However, Rickey was also dedicated to community service, encouraging the expansion of the “Knothole Gang” program to offer underprivileged kids who could not afford a ticket a chance to attend Major League games.Rotary is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and helps build goodwill and peace in the world. Approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 32,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Rotarians believe that community service is everyone’s responsibility. Through the award, we celebrate the many humanitarians in baseball who, through their countless acts of unselfish involvement, personify Rotary International’s motto, “Service Above Self.”

Each of the 30 Major League Baseball clubs nominates one person from their team for the annual award. A National Selection Committee, comprised of members of the sports media, past Branch Rickey Award winners and Rotary District Governors in Major League cities vote on the nominees to choose the winner each year. This year, fans will also have the opportunity to help decide the winner by casting votes on Facebook. The independent accounting firm of RubinBrown LLP verifies the ballots.

As illustrated by the standards set by the late Branch Rickey, criteria for the award are:

  • An outstanding individual currently involved in Major League Baseball — a player, owner, manager, front office staff, scout, etc.
  • A role model for young people as evidenced by baseball accomplishments coupled with high ethical standards.
  • An unselfish contributor to the community whose volunteer activities exemplify Rotary International’s motto, “Service Above Self.”

The Rotary Club of Denver is dedicated to enriching the lives of young people through programs that contribute to education and create opportunities for success in life. Proceeds from the banquet and silent auction benefit the many projects of the Denver Rotary Club Foundation, including Denver Kids, Inc., a preventative counseling and mentoring program for at-risk students in Denver Public Schools. We believe that kids benefit greatly from exposure to positive role models. All of the Branch Rickey Award nominees are winners in their communities. We hope that these humanitarians will inspire young people to recognize the possibilities within themselves.

The Trophy

Created by the internationally-prominent sculptor George Lundeen, the Branch Rickey Award is an original bronze sculpture of a baseball player. The trophy stands 24″ tall. Lundeen, a resident of Loveland, Colorado, studied in Florence, Italy, on a Fulbright-Hayes scholarship. His sculptures can be found in museums and private collections throughout the world.