CAL RIPKEN JR., JACK SOCK and Others: 2016’s Most Inspiring Sportsmanship Moments To Be Honored On Nov. 19

CAL RIPKEN JR., JACK SOCK and Others Involved In 2016’s Most Inspiring Sportsmanship Moments To Be Honored On Nov. 19

The stars of sportsmanship will be out at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis on Saturday, Nov. 19. That night, the Musial Awards will celebrate the class acts in sports. Honorees include baseball hall of famer Cal Ripken Jr., women’s basketball star Tamika Catchings, and American men’s tennis player Jack Sock. They will be recognized alongside a cast of selfless and humble individuals who, over the past year, displayed extraordinary kindness, compassion, integrity and civility in sports.

The Musial Awards – presented by Maryville University – celebrate the year’s greatest moments of sportsmanship and the biggest names in sports who exemplify class and character. Produced annually by the St. Louis Sports Commission and the National Sportsmanship Foundation, the event is named for Stan “The Man” Musial, a beloved baseball icon who embodied the virtues of sportsmanship.

Jack Sock, currently the 23rd-ranked men’s tennis player in the world, showed more than just great tennis during his third-round win over Richard Gasquet earlier this month at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris. Sock also displayed his typical high level of sportsmanship in conceding a point to his opponent. With Gasquet serving at 1-5, 40/40, the Frenchman hit an untouchable serve that was called out by a line judge. But rather than make Gasquet challenge the call, Sock acknowledged the ball was in and gave the point to Gasquet. The Parisian crowd appreciated Sock’s class and gave him a long round of applause. Sock went on to win the match over Gasquet, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.

In many sports fans minds, Sock had already locked up any 2016 sportsmanship awards back in January, in a match against Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt.

Sock led Lleyton Hewitt 5-4 in the first set of a match in Australia when a Hewitt serve was called out. Sock yelled to his opponent, “That was in if you want to challenge it!” Hewitt appeared incredulous. But Sock insisted, “Challenge it!” So Hewitt did and sure enough, the replay showed the ball hit the line in. Hewitt rallied for a two-set victory. That gesture in itself would be Musial Award worthy.

The humble manner in which Sock approached his Olympic experience in Rio makes him all the more deserving of recognition. When others pulled out of the Olympic tennis competition due to fears of Zika and other concerns, Sock said, “I would have come down here with anything but a broken bone.” In fact, he started the tournament battling walking pneumonia. But that did not keep him from participating in the opening ceremonies and treasuring the chance to represent his country. When all was said and done, Sock took home the gold medal in mixed doubles and bronze in men’s doubles.

Others who will be honored at the Musial Awards for sportsmanship:

Cal Ripken Jr.: In receiving the Stan Musial Lifetime Achievement Award for Sportsmanship, the pinnacle honor bestowed at the Musial Awards, Ripken is being honored for the way he played the game and the manner in which he carried himself on and off the field. A 19-time All-Star and holder of baseball’s record for consecutive games played, he is admired for his consistent, respectful and humble approach. Like Musial, Ripken spent his entire hall of fame career with one team – 21 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. He remains active in the game teaching “the Ripken Way,” particularly at the youth level, and has authored several books that use baseball as a theme to address issues faced every day by kids who play sports.

Amed Castro Chavez • Iowa prep wrestler declined forfeit win, walked into the bleachers and hugged mother of his would-be opponent, who had died a few weeks earlier.

Tamika Catchings • Award for extraordinary character over her career, including in the recent farewell season of the WNBA when she declined ceremonies in each city and instead made donations to local charities.

Joel Jensen • Little League World Series coach who told his son during a visit to the mound, “I just came out to tell you how much I love you, as a dad and a player. You’re doing awesome out here.”

Nic Nelson • Briar Cliff U. basketball coach whose team made Trevor Nelson, 10, whose father had died, a part of their team, first as a ball boy. When Briar Cliff won the conference title last year, Trevor cut down the net.

Judie Offerdahl, Shelby Baker, Sarah Myhre • Minnesota elementary teachers who had their kids write letters of inspiration to Vikings kicker Blair Walsh after he missed a short field goal that cost Minnesota a chance to win a playoff game.

Travis Rudolph • Florida State WR who during a team visit to a middle school spotted a boy eating alone, asked if he could join him and pulled up a chair. The boy has autism and often eats lunch alone.

Hayes and Ross Stripling • Parents of Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling, who was pulled from a no-hitter in his major league debut with five outs to go. The next morning in the hotel lobby, Ross thanked Dodgers manager Dave Roberts for protecting his son, who had undergone elbow surgery two years earlier.

Charlie Wilson • 11-year-old elite youth hockey player in Dallas who has gone to great lengths to support a friend who has kidney cancer.

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