Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
On Wednesday, November 16, 2016, United States President Barack Obama named the 21 recipients of the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nation’s highest civilian honor, which is presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. Among the 21 recipients were Little League® Hall of Excellence Enshrinees, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bruce Springsteen, as well as legendary baseball commentator, Vin Scully.
"The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation's highest civilian honor - it's a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better,” said President Obama in the White House’s official press release. “From scientists, philanthropists, and public servants to activists, athletes, and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way."
The 21 recipients of the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom will be honored with a presentation by President Obama at the White House on November 22. The event will also be streamed live.
“We are proud to see the impact that our Hall of Excellence members have made in communities around the world, and that they continue to be a positive example for all aspiring Little Leaguers,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “The contributions that these honored recipients have made to our Nation have been impactful to a diverse group of people, and Little League congratulates these two distinguished alumni on receiving the Nation’s highest civilian honor.”
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, most notably known as the all-time leading scorer in National Basketball Association (NBA) history and member of the NBA Hall of Fame, played Little League Baseball in the Inwood Little League in New York City where he was awarded his team's sportsmanship award. Mr. Abdul-Jabbar has been on six NBA championship teams, was a 19-time NBA All-Star, and was named NBA Most Valuable player six times. Before joining the NBA, he was a star player at UCLA, leading the Bruins to three consecutive championships. In addition to his legendary basketball career, Mr. Abdul-Jabbar has been an outspoken advocate for social justice.
Bruce Springsteen once commented that "Little League has a big, positive impact in my life." He often talks about his Little League days in Freehold, N.J. during concerts. His impact on other people's lives has been big and positive as well. Winner of seven Grammy awards and an Oscar, Bruce sets out to "make sure something is revealed at the end of a song, some knowledge is gained. That's when I figure I'm doing my job." His efforts to help others is demonstrated frequently by donating income from T-shirts and other merchandise sold at his concerts to selected soup kitchens, veteran's groups and homeless shelters. More than five decades ago, he bought a guitar and learned how to make it talk. Since then, the stories he has told, in lyrics and epic live concert performances, have helped shape American music and have challenged us to realize the American dream. Mr. Springsteen is a Kennedy Center honoree and he and the E Street Band he leads have each been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Most revered for his work as the play-by-play announcer with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Vin Scully has been a key influencer in the growth of baseball during his 67-year career and in 2014 served as the narrating voice for the documentary Little League: A History, created and produced by VIA Studios Global, a division of WVIA Public Media. With one of the most iconic voices in all of sports, Mr. Scully’s narration of this documentary was one of the highlights of Little League’s 75th Anniversary celebrations in 2014. Following 67 years of commentary that helped cultivate the game of baseball through his iconic voice, Mr. Scully officially retired from his seat behind the microphone at the conclusion of the 2016 season.
About the Little League® Hall of Excellence
Established in 1988, enshrinement in the Little League® Hall of Excellence is an annual honor bestowed on a Little League graduate (or graduates) who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in their chosen profession and exemplify the values learned as children in Little League Baseball or Softball. Enshrinement into the Hall of Excellence is the highest honor that Little League can bestow. Inside the World of Little League Museum, a full exhibit highlighting the 52 members of the Little League Hall of Excellence is available with features such as original rosters, letters from the President of the United States, historical artifacts, and an interactive display detailing each of Little League’s 52 enshrinees.