Thanks to 73,061,781 fans who attended Major League Baseball games during the 2010 regular season, making it seven straight years over the 73-million mark and the seven best-attended seasons in the National Pastime's history.
Thanks to Most Valuable Players Josh Hamilton and Joey Votto, Cy Young Award winners Felix Hernandez and Roy Halladay, Rookies of the Year Neftali Feliz and Buster Posey, Managers of the Year Ron Gardenhire and Bud Black, Roberto Clemente Award winner Tim Wakefield and all the on-field personnel who fill our summers with memories of a lifetime.
Thanks to all 30 clubs for the tireless work they do off the field within their own communities, including the first recipient of the Commissioner's Award for Philanthropic Excellence, the Boston Red Sox. On this tradition-filled holiday, MLB.com pauses to thank those who have done so much on and off the field, and the fans who join in. Thirty club stories demonstrate what happens year-round.
"Once again we are thankful that our fans give us, baseball, the chance to serve their communities," said Tom Brasuell, MLB vice president of community affairs. "We are thankful for the opportunity to serve those less fortunate and those in times of need; thankful for the role we are allowed to play in making our communities better places to live, work and play."
Thanks to 30 All-Stars Among Us who got your votes at MLB.com and then were introduced on the field during pregame ceremonies at the All-Star Game. It was inspirational and moving to see them shaking hands with All-Stars, heroes meeting heroes. Their individual stories are worth looking at again now, and their causes worth helping this holiday season.
Thanks to every San Francisco Giants fan who unleashed the kind of unbridled joy that reminds you just what it means for a community to win the World Series -- the first for that city. Thanks to Brian Wilson, Cody Ross and others who brought the beard back into vogue; to Edgar Renteria for saving his best for last; and to Posey for reminding us that it is a kid's game at heart.
Thanks to Ubaldo Jimenez, Dallas Braden (perfect), Halladay (perfect), Edwin Jackson and Matt Garza for no-hitters during the regular season -- defining 2010 as the Year of the Pitcher. Thanks to Halladay for treating us to the second postseason no-hitter in history with Doctober -- his second no-no of the season, in his postseason debut.
Thanks to returning U.S. military and their families. Game 4 of the World Series was dedicated to them, and fans can help their transition back to civilian life by donating at http://WelcomeBackVeterans.org.
Thanks to Target Field for bringing outdoor ball to Minnesota in a glorious way. Thanks to Twins fans for a club home-attendance record of 3,223,640, and for a franchise-record 79 sellouts (including 78 in a row). They also drew crowds of 40,000 or more in 22 consecutive games from July 3rd to Aug. 31st, eclipsing the previous mark of seven consecutive games of 40,000 or more fans set from Aug. 10-20, 1988. They saw their team clinch a title before anyone else.
Thanks to Cubs fundraising events and donations that raised more than $1 million. Thanks to the Rays Baseball Foundation for its golf tournament in the spring, two broadcast auctions during the year, and the "shirts off our backs" fundraising event in which the jerseys of Rays players are sold off their backs at the end of the season -- among many other endeavors.
"One constant for our organization is community involvement," Rays president Matt Silverman said. "Wins and losses will wax and wane, but our involvement and service to our region does not waver. It's part of the glue that binds us to our fans, and that bond is so much stronger today than it was just a few years ago."
Thanks for that tailor-made 6-4-3 double play just when you needed it the most.
Thanks to Jose Bautista for 54 home runs, most of the screeching-rocket variety, to shatter the Blue Jays single-season record. He earned the prestigious Hank Aaron Award for outstanding offensive player in the AL, and Votto took the honor in the NL. Thanks as always to Hammerin' Hank himself for gracing that presentation and other events with his enormous presence.
Thanks to all those wonderful team foundations like the Oakland A's Community Fund, which donated approximately $600,000 to a diversified group of community programs this year in an effort to improve the quality of life for people throughout the Bay Area. The organization specifically aimed to improve education programs, aid the underprivileged, assist in crime and drug prevention, promote health awareness and support children and senior welfare.
"I'm proud of what we've done," said Detra Paige, the A's director of community relations. "We can always do more, but I'm pretty proud of what we've been able to do. It's important for us to be out in the community as much as we can. We may not be out there as much as people would like to see us, but we do our best. I feel great about the efforts we made this year."
Thanks to Mother Nature for the longest opening stretch of games without a rainout in 25 years -- 235 games before snow/rain finally crashed a Marlins at Rockies date. Thanks also for the dreamy World Series weather and for overall optimum postseason conditions.
For everyone involved with Stand Up To Cancer and the ongoing relentless drive to beat cancer, thank you. That includes the Padres for their club leadership and everyone associated with the Sept. 10 telethon across major TV networks. Please keep donating and help Dream Team scientists make real breakthroughs.
Thanks, Anaheim. Thanks, Disney. What an amazing All-Star Week we had there.
Thanks to Brian McCann for making us believe in fairy tales again. The NL really can win a Midsummer Classic. Go to Cooperstown and you will find the Braves catcher's bat right there in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for evidence.
Thanks for those dazzling debuts. Stephen Stasburg made us remember Mr. Precedent with 14 strikeouts one summer day. We saw Jason Heyward burst upon the scene with an Opening Day home run in his first at-bat for Atlanta. Daniel Nava hit a grand slam for Boston on his first Major League pitch. J.P. Arencibia hit a three-run homer on his first pitch, and added another three-run bomb and two doubles in that historic debut with Toronto.
On the other side, thanks to Stan "The Man" Musial for 90 years -- beloved by so many throughout RedBird Nation and across the game. A Congressional Medal of Freedom now comes his way.
Thanks to every concessionaire who served up millions of ballpark dogs.
Thanks to the umpires. No one ever really says that. It's not easy being very human arbiters, especially in an ever-more watchful world of technology, and it's not easy being the subject of traditional derision for more than a century now. They know it comes with the territory, and an occasional thanks should come with it as well -- for umps at any level.
Thanks to Armando Galarraga and umpire Jim Joyce, because even if they were part of an imperfect ending, they showed class and dignity as a world seemed to grapple over the issue of instant replay on that loud baseball night. Much could be learned in that aftermath.
Thanks to the Glass family, which, since purchasing the Royals 10 years ago, has continued to reach out to the Kansas City community and has overseen more than $4 million in contributions to area charities. And to the team's players like Billy Butler, whose "Hit It A Ton" program generated 400 tons of food for the St. James Place kitchen at the Bishop Sullivan Center in Kansas City in 2010 -- and 1.95 million pounds of food overall for the hungry.
"When it first started, we didn't know the economy was going to do what it did. It ended up being in a time when Kansas City desperately needed it," Butler said.
Thanks to the mascots for making us smile. Do you know which four clubs don't have one? Trivia fun: Angels, Cubs, Dodgers and Yankees. The Braves have one but don't use it. Follow @MLB/mascots on Twitter and you can see what many of them are up to.
Thanks to Big Papi for the power display in the State Farm Home Run Derby -- and to the players who raised $573,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for smashing one gold ball after another that night.
Thanks to Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner Troy Tulowitzki, who grew his hair into a mullet to encourage fans to donate to the "Wins for Kids" program. Fans were encouraged to donate for each Rockies victory. The program benefited the Children's Hospital of Denver and Special Olympics in Colorado.
"There are things he does that he keeps quiet," said Jim Kellogg, the Rockies' vice president of community and retail operations. "But Troy understands the importance of people seeing the Rockies as a whole getting involved."
Thanks for another fabulous baseball season, and for the opportunity to do it all again when the weather warms and the pitchers and catchers report to Arizona and Florida in February for Spring Training.