RICHMOND, Va. - Former MLB pitcher and co-founder of Center of the Universe Brewing Chris Ray has been named the recipient of the 2020 Paul Keyes RBI Award, the Richmond Flying Squirrels announced on Thursday.
Ray will be presented with the award during the Flying Squirrels' annual Hot Stove Banquet on Wed., Jan. 22 at the Siegel Center. Tickets, tables and sponsorship packages for the annual Charity Hot Stove Banquet are available now here.
The Paul Keyes RBI (Richmond Baseball Impact) Award is given annually in memory of the late VCU baseball coach Paul Keyes to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the game of baseball within the Richmond community or from the Richmond community.
"I am honored to be this year's recipient of the Paul Keyes RBI Award and to be part of such an amazing group of previous winners that can only aspire to be good representations of who Paul Keyes was and what he stood for," Ray said.
After playing collegiately at the College of William & Mary, Ray was selected in the third round of the 2003 MLB Draft by the Baltimore Orioles. He went on to play six seasons in the majors with the Orioles, Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners. Ray was part of the Giants' World Series title run in 2010.
Ray made 283 appearances in the majors, going 18-19 with a 4.10 ERA and 51 saves, including a career-high 33 saves as the Orioles' closer in 2006.
"Chris Ray is a success story all throughout his life, at William & Mary, as a professional baseball player, as a business owner and now in the Richmond region while he raises his family and is involved actively in many things," Flying Squirrels VP & COO Todd "Parney" Parnell said. "Chris is the total package and a perfect choice for this year's Paul Keyes Richmond Baseball Impact Award."
Following his playing career, Ray returned to Virginia and partnered with this brother, Phil, to open Center of the Universe Brewing Company (COTU) in Ashland in 2012. Since its founding, Center of the Universe has donated over $200,000 to various charitable organizations throughout Virginia.
Ray also co-founded Hops for Heroes, a nationwide craft brewery effort that raises money for Soldiers' Angels through the production and sale of Homefront IPA.
In the Ashland community, Ray is on the board of directors for the Ashland Theatre, serves on the board of directors for the Downtown Ashland Association, helps organize community events in Ashland and serves annually as a volunteer coach and sponsor with Ashland Little League.
Ray and his wife of 15 years, Alice, have two children, Virginia (9) and Thomas (7).
Paul Keyes RBI Award Recipients
2011 - Eddie Kasko
2012 - Johnny Grubb
2013 - Gene Alley
2014 - Tracy Woodson
2015 - Sam Ayoub
2016 - Cla Meredith
2017 - Shawn Stiffler
2018 - Tony Beasley
2019 - Ray Hedrick
2020 - Chris Ray
The Flying Squirrels' annual Hot Stove Banquet will be held on Wed., Jan. 22 at the Siegel Center. The event includes special guest Brian Jordan, a former two-sport star for the Richmond Spiders prior to his career in the National Football League and Major League Baseball. Tickets, tables and sponsorship packages are available now at SquirrelsBaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.