ST. LOUIS – October 18, 2023 – Of the 20,553 men who have ever played a Major League Baseball game, Adam Wainwright is among the 122 pitchers who have persevered to reach 200 career wins. Already in an elite class, Wainwright’s career and life outside of baseball can be summed up in one word: Extraordinary. With statistical accomplishments any player can only dream of, Wainwright has always used the power of his celebrity and stature in the game to do good in the world – a lot of good. He has proven to be a selfless teammate, an inspiring philanthropist, and a constant beacon of respect, consistency, and outstanding sportsmanship.
With a far-reaching impact through his charitable efforts equaling his prolific baseball career, and how he carried himself on and off the field, Wainwright has earned the 2023 Stan Musial Award for Extraordinary Character. The honor annually recognizes an individual who demonstrates remarkable class, perseverance, and overall sportsmanship. Wainwright will join NBA legend Bill Bradley as recipients of the two special honors bestowed at the event, on November 18 at Stifel Theatre in Downtown St. Louis. As recently announced, Bradley will be presented the 2023 Stan Musial Lifetime Achievement Award for Sportsmanship.
On the field, Wainwright’s remarkable durability and consistency as a player is highlighted by his 17 seasons on the mound for the St. Louis Cardinals and MLB-record 328 starts with the same catcher. Wainwright’s off-field mission turned into a one-of-a-kind charitable organization called Big League Impact. Started by Wainwright in 2013, Big League Impact “reflects the belief that we are citizens of a global community who ought to care for one another.” So inspiring was Wainwright’s dedication and vision, more than 140 fellow MLB players, many of whom played for teams other than Wainwright’s, decided to join Big League Impact’s efforts to recognize the needs of others and act instead of watching from the sidelines.
The Musial Awards presented by Maryville University celebrate the year’s greatest moments of sportsmanship and good sports from around the globe who embody class and character. This year’s show will be packaged into a one-hour special that airs throughout the country on CBS on December 24.
In addition to Wainwright, here are the recipients of the 2023 Musial Awards:
Noah Bjerke-Wieser: Showing wisdom and maturity beyond his years, Noah knew something was wrong even as he walked off the basketball court in his team’s winning effort in December 2022. A senior captain at La Crescent-Hokah High School in southeastern Minnesota, Noah was upset with how his school’s fans had mistreated the officials during the game, and he decided to do something about it. Noah wrote a Facebook post asking the La Crescent High School community to refrain from shouting at referees and implored his supporters and teammates to understand that referees are human, and they are trying their best to get calls right. He asked his Lancer teammates and fans to remember their roles, writing, “We need to let the players play, the officials officiate, and the fans cheer.” His words sparked a more positive conversation and noticeably improved the behavior of players and fans at La Crescent games the rest of the season.
Cody’s Wish and Team Godolphin: Cody Dorman was born with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, a rare genetic condition that affects many parts of his body. He cannot speak, he is confined to a wheelchair, suffers frequent seizures, and has other lifelong difficulties. Doctors told the Dormans that Cody might live for two years, but he is now 17. In 2018, Cody visited Godolphin Racing’s Gainsborough Farm as a participant in an annual Make-A-Wish Day. A six-month-old foal walked up to Cody’s wheelchair and laid his head in Cody’s lap, an instance which had never happened before in several previous Make-A-Wish visits to the farm. The moment tugged at the heart strings of the Godolphin staff, especially office manager Mary Bourne who suggested the then-unnamed foal be called Cody’s Wish. A couple years later, when Cody was going through a tough time, his family suggested he make a return visit. Even after two years, as soon as Cody returned to Gainsborough Farm, Cody’s Wish locked eyes with him, walked up to him and rubbed noses. From that point on, Team Godolphin made sure Cody was a part of their team – always welcome to visit the farm and take part in race day activities at the track. The result: horse and human have inspired and uplifted each other through a powerful, unbreakable bond. In 2021, Cody’s Wish began his racing career with three third place finishes, but a pre-race visit from Cody before the horse’s fourth race spurred him to his first career victory. And Cody’s Wish has continued to excel on the track – winning the Breeder’s Cup Dirt Mile and Churchill Down Stakes, with Cody in attendance.
Chapel Cunningham and Leah Gonzalez: The Grand View Vikings of Des Moines, Iowa were trailing Southeastern University of Lakeland, Fla., 4-1 in the top of the 5th inning when Vikings catcher Kaitlyn Moses hit a go-ahead grand slam. As she approached second base, Kaitlyn collapsed with an ankle injury, and was unable to get up to finish rounding the bases to give her team the 5-4 lead. If any of Kaitlyn’s teammates went out to help her, Kaitlyn would be ruled out and the home run would not count. Southeastern players Leah Gonzalez and Chapel Cunningham quickly came to Kaitlyn’s aid, picking her up and carrying her around the bases which allowed Kaitlyn to finish touching all the bases and the home run to count. Grand View went on to win the game 7-4 thanks to a classy act of sportsmanship from Southeastern’s Cunningham and Gonzalez.
Emilia Rossatti: Emilia was competing against Gaia Traditi in the Italian Under 23 Fencing Championship, with a spot in the European Championship on the line. Gaia was leading 12-9 with 17 seconds remaining in the match when she suffered an ankle injury and fell to the ground. According to the rules, she only had minutes to tend to her injury before continuing the match. When competition resumed, Gaia struggled to stay straight and keep her balance. Instead of taking advantage of her hobbled opponent, Emilia began to move back and forth in place to run out the clock believing Gaia had earned a victory and shouldn’t lose because of an injury. When the time ran out, the two hugged and Gaia secured a spot at the European Championship.
University of Dayton Flyer Pep Band: When Fairleigh Dickinson scored a historic upset win over No. 1 seed Purdue in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in March, the Knights celebrated with the sounds of the FDU fight song from the pep band blaring in the arena. Amazingly, a few days before the game, FDU didn’t have a fight song. It also didn’t have a pep band. Enter Dr. Willie Morris and the University of Dayton Flyer Pep Band, which had been asked by FDU to play in its First Four game in Dayton’s home arena. The Flyer Pep Band agreed to follow FDU to Columbus to be the Knights’ pep band for their first-round game against top-seed Purdue. Taking it a step further, when an old piece of sheet music was discovered containing the elements of a never-made FDU fight song, Dr. Morris gave it to one of his students, Jacob Slomko, to arrange for the instruments in the band. The Flyer Pep Band not only learned the newly discovered FDU fight song in time for the “David vs. Goliath” matchup, but it worked with FDU cheerleaders to choreograph routines and devise cheers to go along with the fight song. The above-and-beyond effort made the Knights’ special victory even more memorable. The Flyer Pep Band also made the trip for FDU’s second round game against FAU, and despite the loss, FDU held their heads high and had a lasting gift from Dr. Morris and the UD Flyer Pep Band – a fight song to carry forward into the future.
Bill Bradley: As a standout basketball player in college and the NBA, Bradley matched his elite skillset with a level of class and character few peers possessed. Upon his retirement from basketball, he carried those qualities into his next career in politics as a U.S. Senator from New Jersey from 1979 until 1997. Among his various impressive accomplishments – as a boy scout, student, basketball player, senator, and author – Bradley constantly used his influence, fame, and platform as a vehicle to achieve good for humanity.
MUSIAL AWARDS TICKETS:
Tickets for the 2023 Musial Awards, ranging from $10 to $35, are on sale through Ticketmaster. More information and a link to purchase tickets is available at MusialAwards.com/tickets. Groups of 10 or more can take advantage of special group pricing by calling 314-345-5113.
Additionally, all-inclusive packages and sponsorships are available and can be purchased at MusialAwards.com/tickets or by calling 314-345-5111.
Show time for the 2023 Musial Awards is 7 p.m.
MORE ON THE MUSIALS:
The Musial Awards presented by Maryville University is produced by the St. Louis Sports Commission and the National Sportsmanship Foundation, a charitable nonprofit organization. In addition to keeping Stan The Man’s legacy alive, the mission of the Musial Awards is to encourage kindness, selflessness, integrity and civility in sports and society – and to inspire people across the nation to be good sports. The event has occurred in St. Louis since 2005. Maryville University has served as the presenting sponsor since 2011. The school’s involvement, leadership and generosity have helped make the Musial Awards the most inspiring night in sports®.