In the pantheon of awards that have been bestowed up Annika Sorenstam - including induction into both the World Golf and LPGA Halls of Fame as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor - one of the most unexpected and rewarding comes on Tuesday night in New York, as Sorenstam becomes the first golfer ever to receive the Thurman Munson Award.
Held annually at Chelsea Piers on the West Side Highway in New York City, Sorenstam joins New York Yankees catcher and 2021 Roberto Clemente Award nominee Kyle Higashioka; New York Mets centerfielder Brandon Nimmo and New York Mets manager and four-time Manager of the Year Buck Showalter as the “Class of 2023” in the 43rd-annual Thurman Munson Awards.
The “Thurmans,” as they are colloquially known, honor those who represent on-field excellence, community outreach, and the betterment of their sport. In 43 years since the untimely passing of the New York Yankees captain, the awards have raised more than $19 million for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Munson’s widow Diana remains honorary chair and is in New York for the event.
“It’s an honor to receive the Thurman Munson Award along with Brandon, Kyle and Buck,” Sorenstam said. “Especially to be a female golfer, getting an award in a baseball player’s name, in a baseball town with others in baseball is pretty special. Anytime you are recognized for sportsmanship, betterment of your sport and integrity, it is an honor.
“To be honest, being from Sweden, I don’t know much about baseball history, but I read about Thurman Munson and his legacy. My husband, Mike, also played college baseball in Ohio and he catches my wedge shots with a baseball glove when I practice.”
Previous Thurman Munson Award recipients include Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe, Yogi Berra, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Joe Torre, Bernie Williams, Tom Seaver, Mike Piazza, Gary Carter, David Wright, Willis Reed, Patrick Ewing, Julius Erving, Jim Brown, Harry Carson, Aly Raisman, Nancy Lieberman, Theresa Weatherspoon, and Mark Messier among many others.
Sorenstam is not just the first golfer but also the first Swede to be honored with a Thurman. She might not know home runs. But she certainly knows grand slams.