New York – The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA) is pleased to announce New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner as the overall winner of the 2017 Heart and Hustle Award. This esteemed award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit, and tradition of the game. The Heart and Hustle Award is also the only award in Major League Baseball that is voted on by former players.

A five-time winner of the New York Yankees team Heart and Hustle Award, Gardner had a fantastic 2017 campaign, posting career highs in hits (157), home runs (21) and slugging percentage (.428). Gardner has also continued to make a difference in his community, frequently spending time with children at the New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, and visits the Medical University of South Carolina every year with his wife, Jessica. A Roberto Clemente Award nominee the last two seasons, Gardner is a fixture in the Yankees annual “Hope Week” activities. Gardner also works with the Ronald McDonald House, Salvation Army, and is a charter member of the Taylor Hooton Advisory Board, which educates young people on the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs. In 2016, Gardner hosted a luncheon for 80 active duty members of the U.S. military and their families for Thanksgiving. During a game on September 1, 2017, Gardner wore two special pairs of cleats that were sold in an auction benefitting the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Pediatric Cancer Research Center.

“This is a big honor for me to receive an award voted on by the Alumni,” Gardner said. “I think that what the award embodies, it has to do with the way you play the game and I’ve always tried to play the game the right way. I’ve always tried to play the game hard. It’s such an honor to accept this award and it’s something that I’ll cherish forever.”

The MLBPAA formed 30 committees comprised of Alumni players with established relationships to each team. Fans, all alumni and active players vote to select the final winner from 30 team winners. The previous overall winners are David Eckstein (2005), Craig Biggio (2006, 2007), Grady Sizemore (2008), Albert Pujols (2009), Roy Halladay (2010), Torii Hunter (2011), Mike Trout (2012), Dustin Pedroia (2013), Josh Harrison (2014), Anthony Rizzo (2015) and Todd Frazier (2016).

The announcement was made on November 14,2017 at the 18thAnnual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York City. The event also honored Lifetime Achievement Award winners Bert Blyleven and Andre Dawson. This event is the primary fundraiser for the series of free Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics. These clinics impact more than 16,000 children each year, allowing them the unique opportunity to interact with and learn from players who have left a lasting impact on the game of baseball.

For more information regarding the Heart and Hustle Award, please contact Nikki Warner, Director of Communications by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (719) 477-1870, ext. 105.

To learn more about the MLBPAA, please visit www.baseballalumni.com and follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@MLBPAA).

About The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA)

MLBPAA was founded in 1982 with the mission of promoting baseball, raising money for charity and protecting the dignity of the game through its Alumni players.  The MLBPAA is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado with a membership of 7,800, of which approximately 6,100 are Alumni and current players. Alumni players find the MLBPAA to be a vital tool to become involved in charity and community philanthropy. Follow @MLBPAA on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for updates.

About The Legends for Youth Clinics

MLBPAA’s Legends for Youth clinics impact more than 16,000 children each year, allowing them the unique opportunity to interact with and learn from players who have left a lasting impact on the game of baseball. The MLBPAA has reached children across America and internationally in Australia, Canada, China, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, the United Kingdom and Venezuela, through the Legends for Youth clinic series. To donate to this program, visit baseballalumni.com/donate . The official hashtag of the Legends for Youth Clinic Series is #LFYClinic.

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