2013 Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Honorees, from left: Chief Hospital Corpsman (DV/FMF) Garth Sinclair, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander and New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra. (Navy / AP)
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It’s not every day that a sailor and pitching ace share a stage, but that’s exactly what’s in store for Chief Hospital Corpsman (DV/FMF) Garth Sinclair when he accepts the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award on Nov. 6 in Washington, D.C.
The award honors a Navy chief petty officer, an active Major League Baseball player and an MLB Hall of Famer, and was inspired by a man who held all three titles: Cleveland Indians pitcher Bob Feller.
“This distinctly unique award will reward those who can measure up to Bob Feller’s courage and the strict standards by which he lived his life, every single day,” award creator Peter Fertig said in a statement earlier this year.
Feller inspired countless Americans when he put his baseball career on hold to serve four years in the Navy following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
Sinclair, 45, is joining Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander, 30, and iconic New York Yankees player and manager Yogi Berra, 88, as the inaugural recipients of the annual award.
Representatives from MLB, the Cleveland Indians, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and the USS Alabama Battleship Commission chose the recipients from a list of nominees submitted by MLB teams and Navy officials.
Sinclair hails from Wisconsin, where he watched the Milwaukee Brewers defeat the California Angels in the 1982 American League Championship Series before falling in the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals.
He has served 27 years, working as a diving and salvage medical technician. Though the Navy kept him moving around, he said he took his wife, Sandy, and their three kids to many a San Diego Padres game while he was stationed nearby.
Sinclair’s senior chief nominated him for the Feller Award. What made Sinclair stand out among the other nominees was his success as a “deckplate leader,” helping to qualify thousands of sailors throughout his career, Fertig told Navy Times. Sinclair also devoted “thousands of off duty hours” for volunteer work, efforts that helped earn the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal. He spent 21 years coaching football, basketball, Little League and gymnastics, and he has also volunteered as a lifeguard for an Iron Man competition in Florida.
Since 2010, he’s been passing his Navy knowledge onto the next generation as an instructor at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Fla.
Verlander’s Tigers reached the ALCS this season, falling in six games to the eventual world-champion Boston Red Sox. He started two games in the 2012 World Series and in 2011 earned the American League Cy Young Award, bestowed yearly to the league’s top pitcher by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Verlander’s Victory for Veterans Foundation hosts wounded warriors and their families in his personal luxury suite at Comerica Park whenever he’s pitching a home game.
Berra, unable to travel far from his Montclair, N.J., home, received his award in an Oct. 19 ceremony at the Yogi Berra museum in Little Falls, N.J. Sinclair and Verlander are scheduled to receive their awards Nov. 6 at the Navy Memorial in Washington.
“If I’m going to be sharing a stage with the likes of Justin Verlander, and if Yogi Berra were in better health, that’s pretty amazing,” Sinclair said. “I feel pretty humbled to even be considered in that company.”