ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Minor League Baseball announced today that the Charleston RiverDogs are the recipients of the first Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award. They will receive the award at the Baseball Winter Meetings Banquet on Sunday, Dec. 4, at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.
The Charles K. Murphy Patriot award is presented 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. The award was created this year in honor of the longtime Florida State League president and U.S. Army veteran who passed away Feb. 21, 2015, at the age of 83. A retired Lieutenant Colonel after 21 years in the U.S. Army, Murphy broke into professional baseball in 1975 and led the Florida State League from 1990 until his passing. He received the Warren Giles Award for outstanding service as a league president in both 2011 and 1991, and the Friends of Baseball Chapel Award in 1994.
"The Charleston RiverDogs do a tremendous job of supporting the various branches of the military and veterans in and around Charleston," said Minor League Baseball President & CEO Pat O'Conner. "Chuck Murphy would be proud to see the work the RiverDogs do to show their appreciation for the military, and it is my pleasure to present them with the first Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award."
"The Charleston RiverDogs are honored to receive the inaugural Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award from Minor League Baseball," said RiverDogs President and General Manager Dave Echols. "The Charleston community has always been deeply tied to the military, and the RiverDogs' efforts to show our support for the current and historical sacrifices made by our local and national military are not done to garner attention, but because it is the right thing to do."
Joint Base Charleston was formed in 2005 after the merger of the Naval Weapons Station and Charleston Air Force Base. Collectively, the missions of Joint Base Charleston support more than 80,000 Airmen, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, DOD civilians, dependents and retirees combined.
In 2016, the RiverDogs hired five homeless military veterans for their stadium clean-up crew in the wake of the dissolution of Charleston's Tent City, and hired a retired Airman and current Air Force reservist as a member of their sales staff. Additionally, the RiverDogs employ over 30 military veterans on their gameday staff.
The RiverDogs honored one outstanding active or retired military member and his or her family during every home game and offered $5 tickets to all active and retired military and their dependents for all 70 home games. For their three Military Appreciation Nights, the RiverDogs provided free tickets to all active and retired military members. RiverDogs home games saw military flyovers, military vendors on the concourse, and included giveaways and specialty jerseys being auctioned off to raise money throughout the season.
Every Friday home game at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park was designated as "Red Shirt Friday," a promotion that encouraged fans to wear red in support of the military. The RiverDogs players wore specialty red jerseys that were auctioned off in support of the Wounded Warrior Corps, a local not-for-profit organization in Charleston.
"The relationship between the RiverDogs and our Armed Forces has, and will continue to be, a focal point of our community outreach programs designed not with just words, but rather our actions to reinforce our community's appreciation to the men and women who put love of country first," added Echols.
The physical award to be presented to the RiverDogs is an encased American flag that flew atop the United States Capitol building earlier this year.