New York, January 25—The 43rd annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner will benefit AHRC New York City Foundation on Tuesday night, February 7th at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers (23rd Street at West Side Highway) in New York City, and the honorees have been announced today: New York Yankees catcher and ’21 Roberto Clemente Award nominee Kyle Higashioka; New York Mets centerfielder Brandon Nimmo; New York Mets manager and four-time Manager of the Year Buck Showalter; and LPGA champion & World Golf Hall of Famer Annika Sörenstam will all receive Thurman Munson Awards in the “Class of 2023.”
The “Thurmans” are presented to individuals for on-field excellence, community outreach, and betterment of their sport. The AHRC NYC benefit has helped to keep the memory of the legendary Yankees catcher and captain Thurman Munson alive since his untimely passing 43 years ago, while raising more than $19 million for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to lead richer, more productive lives.
Thurman's widow Diana Munson is an honorary chair who has supported AHRC NYC and its fund-raising efforts through the Thurman Munson Awards for four decades and will be in attendance.
The co-Masters of Ceremonies will be FOX 5 lead sports anchor and Sports Extra host Tina Cervasio and Michael Kay, the Voice of the Yankees on YES Network and host of the Michael Kay Show on ESPN NY Radio.
Special guests for the evening will include: previous Thurman Award honorees Radio Hall of Famer and WFAN Yankees analyst Suzyn Waldman (previous Media Hero recipient), Football Giants Super Bowl champions Harry Carson, Chris Canty and Karl Nelson, and Yankees World Series Champion Jeff Nelson, as well as YES Network personalities John Flaherty and Nancy Newman, former women’s featherweight boxing champion Heather Hardy, Yankees beat reporter on WFAN Radio and SNY TV Sweeny Murti, WFAN Radio golf and tennis reporter Ann Liguori, and former Mets pitcher Nelson Figueroa with others to be announced.
The list of previous Thurman Munson Award recipients reads like a “Who’s Who” of sports stars for the ages including: Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe, Yogi Berra, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Joe Torre, Bernie Williams, Tom Seaver, Mike Piazza, Gary Carter, David Wright, Willis Reed, Patrick Ewing, Julius Erving, Jim Brown, Harry Carson, Aly Raisman, Nancy Lieberman, Theresa Weatherspoon and Mark Messier, just to name a few.
Kyle Higashioka was a seventh-round selection by the Yankees in the 2008 MLB Draft. After battling a series of injuries early in his minor league career, Kyle made his major league debut for the Yankees in 2018 when Gary Sánchez was sidelined. After starting his major league career 0-for-22, the longest hitless streak to start a Yankee career of any position player ever, he had his first major league hit, a home run, on July 1 against the Boston Red Sox. His next two hits, on July 3 and July 4 against the Atlanta Braves, were also circuit blasts, making him the ninth MLB player since 1920 to have three home runs as his first three hits. On September 16, 2020, Higashioka hit three home runs in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays to became the 24th Yankee to hit three HR in a game. On May 19, 2021, Higashioka caught Corey Kluber's no-hitter against the Texas Rangers, the first Yankees to catch a no-hitter since Joe Girardi caught David Cone's perfect game in 1999.
Higashioka was the Yankees 2021 nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award which embodies representing the game of baseball through extraordinary character and community involvement, both on and off the field. In 2006, MLB opened its first Urban Youth Academy in Compton, CA. Among the athletes who attended the inaugural camp was Higashioka. He grew up roughly 25 miles away in Huntington Beach, looking for any and every opportunity to achieve his goal of playing professional baseball. He never forgot the impact the MLB Youth Academy had on him and the trajectory of his career. He spent numerous offseasons volunteering his time to support the social reach of the program. The academy focuses on Inner City youth and assists after-school programs, preparing kids for any type of life, whether it's professional baseball or getting in the workforce. Kyle has embraced the causes of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which ensures complete post-secondary educational support and additional educational opportunities for eligible surviving children of fallen Special Operations Personnel and children of all Medal of Honor Recipients; and provides immediate financial assistance to severely wounded, ill, and injured Special Operations Personnel.
Four-time Manager of the Year Buck Showalter, in his first season at the helm of the Mets last season, led the team to a 101-win campaign en route to the best skipper trophy. During a 30-year managerial career, Showalter has amassed 1,652 victories managing the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Orioles, and Mets. Like Thurman, Showalter was drafted by the Bronx Bombers and is a member of the Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame. (Thurman led the Chatham A's to their first league title with a .420 batting average, while Showalter, playing for the Hyannis Mets, won the league batting title with a .434 average). Showalter was an All-American and set the Mississippi State record for batting average in a season by hitting .459 during the 1977 season.
Showalter participated in the Amazin’ Mets Foundation’s second annual Homeruns & Highballs fundraiser last July, the team’s largest fundraising event of the season. AMF is committed to providing needed services and opportunities to children, families and underserved groups in neighborhoods and communities to inspire change and make a lasting impact on and off the field. On the 21st anniversary of 9/11, Showalter and the team paid tribute to the first responders during the game against the Marlins. While managing Baltimore, Buck supported the LUNGevity Foundation, a charity inspired by the Orioles late public relations director Monica Pence Barlow.
The homegrown smiling, starting centerfielder Brandon Nimmo was a first-round pick by New York in the 2011 MLB Draft, and made his big league debut for the Mets in 2016. The seven-year veteran enjoyed his finest season last year, recording 159 hits, 30 doubles, and 64 RBI with 580 at-bats in 151 games, all career highs. His 16 home runs fell one short of equaling his lifetime best of 17 circuit blasts. During the off-season, the Cheyanne, Wyoming native signed a nine-year contract with the Mets. Nimmo played for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic in 2017.
During the off-season, Nimmo dressed as an elf at the Mets annual holiday party. Last season, Nimmo held a special sandlot baseball game for local Little Leaguers at Flushing’s Hinton Park on July 8 with two dozen Little Leaguers taking part. Following a pre-game pep talk, Nimmo spent much of the game pitching to the kids, playing the outfield, and giving players fist bumps when they made a good play. Nimmo has also taken part in the fundraiser Call of Duty: Warzone Charity Royale to support veterans with teammate Pete Alonso.