Major League players are often noted for their work on the field, but they are seldom noted for what they do in the community. The Bob Feller Act of Valor Award, however, was created to recognize players of integrity and character, who give back to their community and attempt to serve their country.
The award, which was distributed for the first time last season, will have a distinguished group of nominees in 2014. Six current Major League players and five Hall of Fame members have been selected as finalists and may be recognized for their work at a Veterans Day ceremony in Washington, D.C.
The six active players are first baseman Adam LaRoche of the Washington Nationals, reliever Brad Ziegler of the Arizona Diamondbacks, catcher Jonathan Lucroy of the Milwaukee Brewers, starter Charlie Morton of the Pittsburgh Pirates, second baseman Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox and outfielder Nick Swisher of the Cleveland Indians.
The five Hall of Fame nominees are: Johnny Bench, Tommy Lasorda, Monte Irvin, Whitey Ford and Willie Mays. Feller, the late Hall of Famer and former World War II veteran, remained dedicated to fellow veterans during his lifetime, and the Indians are happy to carry on his legacy after his passing.
"The Indians remain extremely grateful for Bob's contribution to our organization and this country, and are proud to share in the creation of this award, which focuses on three things Bob held most dear: the Cleveland Indians, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and the United States Navy," said Bob DiBiasio, the team's senior vice president of public affairs, in a release. "We look forward to honoring these nominees for their display of high character and dedication to servicemen and women."
LaRoche, who plays in the Washington area, supports the Wounded Warriors Project at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and participates in USO tours for troops in Afghanistan.
Lucroy supports veterans treated at the local Milwaukee VA hospital, hosts wounded heroes at monthly Brewers games and provides college scholarships to military families.
Morton founded Morton's Military Initiative and partners with the Pirates Charities, Operation Troop Appreciate and Wounded Warrior Project in several initiatives designed to aid soldiers.
Pedroia, the 2008 American League Most Valuable Player Award winner, founded Pedroia's Platoon and regularly visits hospitalized veterans.
Ziegler founded Pastime for Patriots, and he visits with troops in Africa, as well as on Arizona and San Diego road trips.
Swisher has participated in USO tours to Afghanistan and other forward-deployed troops, and he's active in the Wounded Warrior Project and in Operation Homefront.
The nominees will be honored by Mrs. Anne Feller -- Bob's widow -- and by representatives of the United States Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard on July 4 at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
Justin Verlander was the first active player to win the award in recognition of his contributions to Victory for Veterans and Wins for Warriors. Yogi Berra was the first Hall of Fame member honored, and was recognized for his military service in World War II. Last year's military honoree was Hospital Corpsman Chief Petty Officer Garth Sinclair of the United States Navy, who served for 27 years.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.