Thanks to 73,425,568 fans -- a top-five turnout in Major League Baseball history.
Thanks for a final month of baseball that made new fans and reaffirmed the love in others. It started with those survival games on the last night of the regular season, featured 38 of 41 possible postseason games played, included a World Series Game 6 for the ages and brought confetti onto the field and fans at Busch Stadium.
Thanks to everyone who selflessly joins forces year-round to help others through the common bond of baseball. It is seen in the faces of Little League players from tornado-ravaged South Joplin, who were flown to All-Star Week and the World Series; in the support of returning military personnel; in the gleam of a pink bat on Mother's Day to fight cancer; in countless causes that are championed by baseball fans without a second thought.
"From the first pitch of Spring Training to the last pitch of the seventh game of the World Series and all year round, Major League Baseball, through our players, clubs and fans, unites in the spirit of helping others, especially children and families," said Tom Brasuell, MLB vice president of community affairs. "Baseball serves as a model of community service, following both the charge and example of Commissioner [Bud] Selig, demonstrating selflessness, compassion and service, while making a difference in the lives of others."
On this Thanksgiving Day, there is one word that matters most in baseball.
Thanks to David Ortiz for his work to help children in the Dominican Republic and in the Northeast -- a reason he won the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet before Game 2 at the World Series. And thanks to Clemente's widow, Vera, for being there every year as MLB Goodwill Ambassador, doing so much to spread her late husband's giving spirit.
Thanks to the Cardinals for reminding us that anything is possible, even coming back from 10 1/2 games out late in the season to win a World Series.
Thanks to guys who dive for baseballs, run out grounders and sign autographs.
Thanks to players and management for a cooperative spirit that resulted this week in the announcement of a preliminary Collective Bargaining Agreement that means uninterrupted play through 2016, ensuring at least 21 consecutive years of labor peace.
Thanks to Tony La Russa for 2,728 wins over 33 seasons as manager. Only Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763) won more.
Thanks to Rachel and Sharon Robinson for being such active stewards of the movement led by their late husband and father, respectively. Every April 15 is Jackie Robinson Day, but the tireless work to carry on is a year-round effort, seen in programs like Breaking Barriers.
Thanks for 25,224,214 "likes" on MLB and club Facebook pages, and for 4,237,288 followers on MLB and club Twitter accounts. And a special thanks to fans and players for that unforgettable State Farm Home Run Derby shared over social media. It's a new era.
Thanks to Christina-Taylor Green, who loved baseball and remains an inspiration.
Thanks to returning military veterans and their families, including all those who were at the St. Louis V.A. Medical Center that was visited by MLB, Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden the day of the World Series opener. That was an inspiring day capped by Welcome Back Veterans as the focus initiative for Game 1.
Thanks for moments you can't possibly script yourself -- like Derek Jeter homering for his 3,000 hit and going 5-for-5 with the game-winning RBI on that dreamy day at Yankee Stadium.
Thanks for his teammate Mariano Rivera for having the class and dignity to match his cutter that brought a record 602nd save in 2011.
Thanks to Justin Verlander for another no-hitter and for a season so dominating, he won an MVP as a pitcher. But maybe even more, we are thankful for Verlander's Victory for Veterans program, which allowed servicemen and women with injuries from tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan to enjoy a game with their family from Verlander's private suite at the park on days he pitched. The suite holds about 18 people, which allowed up to three veterans and their families to use it for a game.
Thanks to David Freese for giving baseball a second chance.
Thanks to the hundreds of kids who turned out for the "Wanna Play?" clinic on the youth ballfield across from Rangers Ballpark the day of World Series Game 3, as MLB focused on youth. Thanks to former players like Ray Burris, who spoke to kids there about life skills and baseball skills. His words echo now:
"The one thing that touches my heart is that I was a youth at one time, too. So I go back in my thought process and wish I had the opportunities they had today. Being able to meet with former Major League players and come out here and play the game, get instruction. ... I didn't have that, but it didn't stop me from having the love of the game."
Thanks to RBI director David James and everyone associated with Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, which will enter its 24th year of play in 2012. From its inception in 1989 through the 2011 season, RBI has grown from a local program for boys in South Central Los Angeles to an international campaign encompassing more than 200 cities and as many as 200,000 male and female participants a year.
Thanks to Chris Carpenter and Roy Halladay for a memorable pitchers' duel.
Thanks to Stand Up To Cancer and to all those who heed the call year-round to help with funding and awareness. Thanks to the full house that stood as one at Rangers Ballpark during World Series Game 4, as MLB focused on cancer research.
Thanks for Ron Washington and his emotion in the dugout.
Thanks to the good folks at Majestic Athletic who stitch jerseys, and the good folks in Costa Rica who stitch baseballs.
Thanks to Ernie Banks, Morgan Freeman and Carlos Santana, who won Beacon Awards at the Beacon Awards at the Civil Rights Game and left a lasting legacy. Thanks to Atlanta for being host then and in 2012.
Thanks to Chris Daughtry for performing the last Star-Spangled Banner of the season -- before Game 7 of the World Series. "It's a good thing the Cardinals won Game 6," he said right after the performance. "We flew in from LA and got in toward the end of Game 6. If the Rangers won, we would have had to turn right around and go back to LA."
Thanks to a record-tying four members of the 30-30 Club: Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Jacoby Ellsbury and Ian Kinsler. And thanks to a real run at a Triple Crown by Kemp, who was showed plenty of thanks by the Dodgers after the season ended.
Thanks for another record voter turnout to help decide All-Star rosters.
Thanks to Albert Pujols for doing what only Babe Ruth (twice) and Reggie Jackson had done before -- homering three times in a World Series game. And don't forget Adrian Beltre's three-homer game in the AL Division Series against Tampa Bay.
Thanks to Ryan Braun for a glimpse of greatness over two rounds of the playoffs.
Thanks for ushers, ticket takers, vendors and all who add to the ballpark experience.
Thanks to the workers who have built a magnificent ballpark in the footprint of the old Orange Bowl. Yet another gorgeous MLB venue awaits next spring for the Miami Marlins.
There is so much to be thankful for on this day, like the beautiful weather in our mostly summertime outdoor sport -- and the groundskeepers who are there when it rains.