Who Is the Most Philanthropic Baseball Team? Not the Yankees!

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November 24, 2010; Source: MLB.com | It was a tough year for us born-and-bred Bostonians here at the Nonprofit Quarterly. Our beloved Red Sox sort of plooped out, playing with more aches and pains than 60-year-old writers. But during this holiday season, we still have much to be thankful for regarding the occupants of Fenway. They may have trailed the Yankees and the Rays in the American League East, but they led the league as measured by philanthropy. The Red Sox became the inaugural recipient of the commissioner’s Award for Philanthropic Excellence, partly because of the Red Sox Foundation’s support of the Red Sox Scholars program. Since the first class of Scholars in 2003, the Sox have worked with 200 kids from 6th through 12th grade, helping them attend games, participate in after-school programs, receive counseling from Sox staff, and work in summer camps or part-time jobs and even as Red Sox summer interns. Red Sox players (and fans) are wondrously charitable as well. Hero pitcher Curt Schilling, who many of us remember pitching the second game of the 2004 World Series with blood oozing into his sock due to sutures from surgery, is relocating his video game company (38 Studios LLC) from Maynard, Massachusetts to Providence, Rhode Island (within the sphere of Red Sox fandom) and announced plans to be closely involved with charity and philanthropy. Pitching as slow as NPQ’s two staff 60-year-olds, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield won this year’s Roberto Clemente award, given annually to the major leaguer who reflects the community dedication of Clemente and possesses solid baseball skills as well. Nominated for the award seven times before, Wakefield led the Sox in charity event appearances in 2010. Maybe next year, the Clemente winner will be the Red Sox version of Hank Greenberg, first baseman Kevin Youkilis, who unlike most ballplayers stays in Boston year round and engages in plenty of charity events, including a fundraiser for the Hits for Kids Foundation to be held at the dueling pianos bar, Howl at the Moon. It is the end-of-the-year giving season, so our hope is to find Cliff Lee pitching at Fenway and Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia healthy for a full season.—Rick Cohen