LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Louisville Bats have been selected as the International League's official nominee for the Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award. The award is presented annually to a team or individual in Minor League Baseball for outstanding support of the United States Armed Forces and veterans, both at the ballpark and in the community. Minor League Baseball has given the honor since 2016 and Louisville is the IL's nominee for the first time.
The Patriot Award is named after longtime Florida State League president Chuck Murphy, a former Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army who served as the Florida State League's top executive from 1990 until his passing in 2015.
"The Bats expression of thanks and appreciation to members of the military is highlighted during a couple of very special events on Memorial Day and Military Appreciation Day, but through ticket programs and other opportunities to recognize individual servicemen and women throughout the season, the club is continually paying tribute to those defending our freedoms," said International League President Randy Mobley. "The Bats were one of the first MiLB clubs to wear camouflage game jerseys as one way of expressing gratitude to members of the military."
The Bats are proud to support and recognize those who are actively serving or have served as part of our United States Armed Forces. The team is geographically located near the Ft. Knox ARMY Base, KY Air National Guard, KY ARMY National Guard, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Coast Guard, and multiple VA Medical Centers, providing numerous opportunities for collaboration and recognition.
For many seasons, the Bats, as well as their partners, have included these local military programs into their season-long schedule of events and promotions. Here are some highlights:
Military Ticket Donations
Throughout the 2019 season, the Louisville Bats donated over 4,000 tickets to active & retired military personnel and their families. Donation recipients included soldiers from Ft. Knox, airmen from the KY Air National Guard, the US Army Corp. of Engineers, Gold Star Families, and veterans through Vet Tix.
Nightly In-Game Military Recognition
Each game during the 2019 season, the Bats took an inning break to salute all veterans and active duty members of the Armed Forces. As part of the in-game recognition, all veterans and active duty military were asked by the PA announcer to stand and be recognized by all fans in attendance.
Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation & Gold Star Family Recognition
For the last two seasons, the Bats have collaborated with the Bluegrass World Series & the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation to host Gold Star Family members at a game. During the 2019 event, 500 Gold Star Family members & Marines were provided with free tickets and honored with special pregame recognition. As part of the pregame ceremonies, the Bats and their partners recognized three living World War II Medal of Honor recipients, including Hershel Woody Williams. In between innings, future Marines were sworn in by Williams himself.
Military Community Involvement & Charitable Contributions
Over the past few seasons, the Bats and their partners have donated over $25,000 in charitable contributions to local military organizations including a $15,000 donation to the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, a $5,000 jersey auction to the KY-IN Chapter Paralyzed Veterans of America, and various donations to other military organizations including: AMVETS Post 61, American Legion GI Joe Unit 244, Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, UP to Veterans, ECTC Military and Veteran Services, Department of Kentucky Amvets, Team Red White and Blue, Honor Flight & USA Cares.
In addition, the Bats were involved with numerous community events throughout the season, including participation in WWII Gratitude Week, mascot visits to the Active Heroes concert night and the VA Hospital.
Additional Activities, Recognitions & Events
• First pitches by military dignitaries including: Navy Vice Admiral Dean Peters (a Louisville native), Col. Antoinette Gant, commander of the Louisville region of the US Army Corps of Engineers, Major General John Evans from Ft. Knox, & WWII Gold Star recipient Hershel "Woody" Williams
• A dedicated POW/MIA seat located in the outfield that remains empty for each game in recognition of those military members who never returned home from their service
• Military ticket discount for all games
• Patriotic themed jerseys worn multiple games throughout the season
• Color Guard presentations throughout the season from local JROTC units and the Army
• Flyover of two C-130 Hercules aircraft prior to the Military Appreciation game on April 28, 2019
• Special performance by Ladies for Liberty musical group prior to the Military Appreciation game on April 28, 2019
• US Air Force Band performed the National Anthem prior to the game on July 3, 2019
• Members of the Sons of the American Revolution on field representation prior to the game on August 9, 2019
• Members of FastTrax parachuted in to the ballpark with American flag and Gold Star Families flag prior to the game on August 9, 2019
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.