Piazza and Pagan to receive Munson Awards

METS OUTFIELDER ANGEL PAGAN AND FORMER METS GREAT MIKE PIAZZA JOIN YANKEES ALL-STAR NICK SWISHER, NETS ALL-STAR GUARD DEVIN HARRIS AND OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL-WINNING FIGURE SKATER EVAN LYSACEK AS HONOREES AT THURMAN MUNSON AWARDS DINNER ON TUESDAY NIGHT, FEBRUARY 1, AT GRAND HYATT HOTEL IN NYC
***AHRC-New York City Foundation to Present Honors***

New York, January 4—Popular New York Mets stars past and present will receive the prestigious Thurman Munson Award at the 31st annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner on Tuesday night, February 1, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City, it was announced today. Outstanding Mets outfielder Angel Pagan and former All-Star catcher Mike Piazza will be joined by New York Yankees All-Star outfielder Nick Swisher, Nets all-star point guard Devin Harris and Olympic gold medal-winning figure skater Evan Lysacek as this year’s Munson recipients. The “Class of 2011” will be honored by the AHRC-New York City Foundation in memory of late, great Yankees catcher and captain.

For tickets and information on the Munson Awards Dinner contact 212-249-6188.

Diana Munson, Thurman’s widow, will attend the gala, and has been involved in the benefit since its inception, raising nearly $10 million to assist children and adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The AHRC New York City Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that supports programs enabling children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to lead richer, more productive lives, including programs of AHRC New York City. AHRC New York City is one of the largest organizations of its kind, serving 11,000 children and adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries and other disabilities.

Pagan, 29, is a rising star with the New York Mets, with the 2010 season rating as his strongest to date during a five-year career. An outstanding fielder, Pagan made strides with the bat last season, setting career highs in hits (168), runs scored (80), home runs (11), RBI (69),and stolen bases (37). The native of Puerto Rico was originally drafted by the Mets in 1999, but reached the majors for the first time in 2006 with the Chicago Cubs. Pagan made an impact off the field for the Mets in 2010, and was the Mets nominee for the 2010 Roberto Clemente Award. He was one of the first Mets to participate in the June “Teammates in the Community Week,” planting new trees in community gardens in Spanish Harlem. Pagan also proudly supports City Harvest, food and rescue organization dedicated to feeding New York City’s hungry men, women and children. He hit the streets of Manhattan this year to raise awareness for City Harvest’s Skip Lunch Fight Hunger campaign and has visited Hour Children Food Pantry in Long Island City to help distribute more than 1,000 pounds of food to needy families during the busy holiday season.
Piazza, 42, may have been the top offensive catcher of all time. A .308 career hitter with 427 home runs and 1,335 RBIs, Piazza played for 16 seasons, including an eight-year stretch with the New York Mets following a three-team trade from the Dodgers via the Marlins. The 1993 Rookie of the Year, and a 12-time National League All Star selection, Piazza was peerless amongst catchers with the bat during his career, and the Norristown, Pennsylvania native is the all-time leader in homers for a backstop. In a career filled with big home runs, Piazza’s most memorable long-ball was a go-ahead two-run shot off of Atlanta Braves’ reliever Steve Karsay in the first game back in New York following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The popular Met also contributed to the team’s 2000 World Series appearance by hitting 2 key homers in wins over the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. Piazza participates in Michael Jordan’s Make-A-Wish charity golf and softball events, and has worked closely with Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.)
Swisher, 30, who helped lead the Yankees to the 2009 World Series title, enjoyed his first All-Star season in 2010, hitting .288 with 29 home runs and 89 RBI as the club’s primary right fielder. Among his many charitable endeavors, he established the Nick Swisher Foundation “Swish’s Wishes” in 2007 to assist children with life-threatening illnesses and to help lift the spirits of kids going through difficult times. In 2009, Swisher provided Christmas dinner for the families of children battling cancer at the Ronald McDonald House in New York and was the co-Ambassador to the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Lee Denim Day to help raise money for breast cancer research.
Harris, 27, has become the Nets’ on court and off the court leader since his arrival to New Jersey in a blockbuster trade during the 2007-08 season. During his first full year with the team, Harris established new career highs in points-per-game (21.3) and assists-per-game (6.9) en route to his first All Star selection. The former University of Wisconsin star was drafted in the 1st round by the Dallas Mavericks, and came to the Nets in the Jason Kidd trade. The 2009 NBA All-Star will be cited for his on court excellence and community service, which include his and the Nets donation to the “Eric LeGrand Believe Fund” in an effort to raise funds and awareness of the injured Rutgers football player’s injury, through Devin’s “34 Ways to Assist Foundation.”

Lysacek, 25, became the USA’s surprise star of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, winning a gold medal in the men’s singles figure skating competition, upending the favored Evgeni Plushenko of Russia. The Illinois native became the USA’s first man to win in this category since Brian Boitano in 1988. Also placing first in the 2008-09 World Championships, as well as winning back-to-back US World Titles in 2006-07 and 2008-09, Lysacek holds the #1 ranking in the world by the International Skating Union. He is a member of the board of Figure Skating in Harlem, which teaches girls academic and life skills through ice skating, and serves on the celebrity board of Ronald McDonald House Charities, which aims to improve the health and well-being of children.
The list of notable athletes to previously receive the Munson Award reads like a sports “Who’s Who,” and includes: Yankees – Yogi Berra, Don Mattingly, Mariano Rivera, Willie Randolph, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Robby Cano, Bernie Williams, Bobby Murcer, Joe Torre and Joe Girardi; Mets – Tom Seaver, John Franco, Darryl Strawberry, Ron Darling, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Keith Hernandez, Rusty Staub and Gary Carter; Basketball – Willis Reed, Oscar Robertson, Jason Kidd, Dave DeBusschere, Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Mark Jackson, Charles Oakley, Allan Houston and John Starks; Olympians – Donna de Varona (swimming), Dorothy Hamill (figure-skating), Paul Hamm (gymnast), Kristi Yamaguchi (figure skating), Nancy Kerrigan (figure skating), Carl Lewis (track and field), Carly Patterson (gymnast), and Dwight Stones (men’s high jump).

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