Former Tiger Horton to receive military honorOutfielder named Abner Doubleday Patriot Player Award recipient
"Willie Horton is synonymous with the Detroit Tigers," Tigers owner Mike Ilitch said. (AP)
By Jason Beck / MLB.com | 11/14/11 5:00 PM EST
DETROIT -- Tigers great Willie Horton will be recognized on Friday with the inaugural Abner Doubleday Patriot Player Award for his contributions in support of the military and their families.
The award comes from the National Infantry Foundation and will be presented at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center's Heritage Walk, located near Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga. It's named after baseball pioneer Abner Doubleday, who served as a general in the Civil War.
"Willie Horton's special efforts to support the military in general and their families in particular make him an excellent selection for this award," said LTG Carmen J. Cavezza, U.S. Army (Retired), Chairman of the National Infantry Foundation.
Though Horton did not serve in the military, the Detroit native and hometown hero has recognized its efforts for much of his life. When he was an active player, he took part in USO tours, sometimes with legendary entertainer Bob Hope. He has helped hundreds of military families attend Spring Training over the years, and he has participated in clinics for military youth. He has also provided inspirational personal testimonies for trainees.
"Willie Horton is synonymous with the Detroit Tigers," Tigers owner Mike Ilitch said in a statement. "His storied career on the field and his continued dedication to the organization as Special Assistant to the President, coupled with his lifelong efforts to give back to others -- especially veterans and military families -- make us all very proud."
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig also praised Horton's recognition.
"You are truly a hometown hero who has used his considerable platform to benefit others -- the heroes of our armed forces, the people of Detroit, our future generations, and those who could use a helping hand," Selig said in a statement.
The ceremony will include the presentation of a granite piece with Horton's name to be placed under the Michigan flag pole on the Heritage Walk Founder Circle, to be presented by former Secretary of the Army Howard "Bo" Calloway.
Others scheduled to attend include Tigers assistant general manager Al Avila, player relations manager Sam Abrams, Lakeland (Fla.) operations director Ron Myers, and former Tigers Cecil Fielder and Edwin Jackson. Horton is scheduled to participate in Jackson's annual baseball mini-clinic the next day.Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.