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Giving thanks to those who make a difference

Thanks to 74,026,895 fans who attended Major League Baseball games in 2013, making it the sixth-best single-season crowd total and ensuring that the 10 most-attended seasons have all come in the last decade. Here's to many more in 2014.

Thanks to the Red Sox for poetically bringing a World Series trophy to the Boylston Street finish line where such human suffering had occurred in April. Thanks to so many baseball fans who donated along the way in a "Boston Strong" campaign that raised large sums to help those most affected by the senseless Boston Marathon tragedy.

Thanks to 74,026,895 fans who attended Major League Baseball games in 2013, making it the sixth-best single-season crowd total and ensuring that the 10 most-attended seasons have all come in the last decade. Here's to many more in 2014.

Thanks to the Red Sox for poetically bringing a World Series trophy to the Boylston Street finish line where such human suffering had occurred in April. Thanks to so many baseball fans who donated along the way in a "Boston Strong" campaign that raised large sums to help those most affected by the senseless Boston Marathon tragedy.

Thanks for a collective community effort throughout the 109th World Series, where each of the first four games were dedicated to key causes. Fans collaborated with MLB for a tangible impact to support Welcome Back Veterans; through public service including Habitat for Humanity efforts; youth initiatives like Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI gives underserved boys and girls around the world the chance to play baseball and softball) and Breaking Barriers; and Stand Up To Cancer.

Thursday is a day to give thanks, and that includes so many around this game who go above and beyond in their communities to make a difference in the lives of others. It was a year when much help was needed. For example, MLB collaborated with its fans to help greatest needs following disasters from explosions in Boston and Texas, Superstorm Sandy and the Philippines typhoon.

"Major League Baseball is thankful for the opportunity to enrich and assist communities, children, and families year-round and in times of need," said Tom Brasuell, MLB vice president of community affairs. "Through the leadership and vision of Commissioner Selig, Baseball has become an industry leader in corporate and social responsibility, and thanks to the support of the most generous fans, players, teams, corporate and non-profit partners in all of sports, we are able to make a real difference in the lives of others."

Thanks to so many families that cope with autism. In 2013, MLB teamed up with Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization, in a league-wide initiative to recognize Autism Awareness Month in April. All 30 clubs raised awareness for the disorder during one home game in April, or on another date during the regular season. Many of the MLB Autism Awareness games provided special opportunities and a safe, friendly environment for families and individuals affected by autism.

Thanks to the Dodgers Foundation, in partnership with Ralphs, Food 4 Less and Golden State Water Company, for hosting the ninth annual Community Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway on Nov. 21 at Dodger Stadium. Dodger alumni "Sweet" Lou Johnson, Bobby Castillo, Matt Luke and Al Downing were on hand to help distribute complimentary turkeys, fixings and reusable canvas bags to 2,100 preselected not-for-profit community organizations who in turn are distributing them to families in need.

Thanks to Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish -- not just for your artistry on the mound but also for your $42,000 donation to the Jackie Robinson Foundation to help fund college scholarships.

Thanks to Rachel and Sharon Robinson for forever championing Jackie's legacy, as a wife and daughter who also have helped so many. The movie "42" brought that message home to so many in 2013, especially the younger generation that must always know No. 42's impact.

And while we're on the subject of No. 42 ... thanks one more time to Mariano Rivera . On top of everything else, he helped the ALS Association Greater New York chapter raise more than $1 million at its annual Lou Gehrig Sports Awards dinner this month in New York.

Thanks to Mariners Care and its corporate partners who helped provide $1,362,784 in 2013 for a variety of charitable programs throughout the Northwest. Since 2000, Mariners Care has helped raise $14.8 million to benefit primarily youth-oriented community service programs. Another $1.2 million was raised during the June 15 All-Star Celebrity Softball Classic staged by the Mariners and United Way of King County, helping homeless youth.

"We take our responsibility to the community very seriously at the Seattle Mariners," said Mariners chairman and CEO Howard Lincoln. "I'm proud that Mariners Care, our corporate partners and our fans have helped make such a positive and lasting impact on our community."

Thanks to the Mets, who hosted All-Star Week and together with MLB committed more than $5 million to local and national community and charitable initiatives, leaving a lasting community legacy.

"When you see the final result, it's worth it," Mets director of community outreach Jill Knee said.

Thanks to Jim "Mudcat" Grant for closing out last week's MLB Players Alumni Association annual dinner by singing an unforgettable rendition of his childhood song "'A' - You're Adorable." Remember when he sang "What A Wonderful World" at Harmon Killebrew's memorial in 2011? Mudcat is a national treasure.

Thanks to the Tigers for their Strike Out Bullying Program, which won the 2013 Commissioner's Award for Philanthropic Excellence (CAPE).

Thanks to Indians ace Justin Masterson, whose journey to Mathare Valley in Nairobi, Kenya -- one of the largest slums in the country -- was a part of the "Feed Their Future" campaign that he and wife Meryl became involved with through the Bright Hope organization.

The goal of the "Feed Their Future" program was to raise $140,000. Masterson was thrilled to learn that the campaign raised more than $200,000, providing additional money to support school enrollment, grant scholarships for vocational colleges and help parents have enough funds for various needs.

Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen won the National League Most Valuable Player Award and helped the Pirates to their first postseason appearance in two decades. He also makes a pretty good role model. "Cutch" has been Habitat for Humanity's Greater Pittsburgh spokesman for two years, and he recently hosted a fundraiser at the Roberto Clemente Museum in Lawrenceville, Pa., that netted $90,000. And he has tried to show African-American youths what they can gain by giving baseball a try.

Thanks to the Yankees, Legends Hospitality and the Supportive Children's Advocacy Network (SCAN) for teaming up Wednesday night to host a Thanksgiving feast for about 200 local residents at SCAN-NY's Mullaly Recreation Center in the Bronx. Since 1977, SCAN provides at-risk families in the area with integrated family-focused programming, which uses a positive approach to harness self-esteem, initiative and the development of life skills.

This year, Cardinals Care distributed more than $220,000 to 125 local non-profit groups through its grant program. We saw plenty of them during the World Series, as the foundation collaborated with MLB on local programs, such as donating a Starlight Fun Center to Mercy Hospital's children's unit, and we thank them for what they do year-round, like so many club foundations.

Carlos Beltran led those Cardinals to the World Series, and we thank him for the humanitarian efforts that led him to receive the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet. Thanks to all of the other 29 individual club Clemente Award winners, and as always, we thank the award's namesake for the inspiration he gave others to help.

Thanks to Anthony Bass, Brad Boxberger, Andrew Cashner, Robbie Erlin, Logan Forsythe, Luke Gregerson, Colt Hynes, Casey Kelly, Tommy Layne, Tyson Ross, Tim Stauffer, Will Venable, Nick Vincent and Joe Wieland -- Padres teammates who came out to help catcher Nick Hundley and his wife Amy host 90 members of a school for homeless kids go on a shopping spree at a local Target.

Thanks to Red Sox prospect Matt Barnes and other players and coaches who came Sunday to Newtown, Conn., for a free instructional clinic.

Thanks to the Twins for their upcoming eighth annual Holiday Week of Giving, on Dec. 17-21. Legends Rod Carew and Tony Oliva and 2013 All-Star Glen Perkins will join the front-office staff in events benefiting community causes.

"In these difficult times, and especially during the holiday season, what we do in the community has never been more important," said Bryan Donaldson, Twins senior director of community relations. "Throughout the past five years, the Week of Giving has connected volunteers from the Twins staff with many worthwhile organizations and thousands of families."

Thanks to more than 200 volunteers from the Rays, Citizens Alliance for Progress, organizers from KaBOOM! and residents of the Tarpon Springs, Fla., community, who joined forces Nov. 16 to build a new playground at Union Academy Family Center. The new playground's design was based on drawings created by children who participated in a Design Day event that took place two months earlier, and it will provide a safe place to play for more than 300 children in the Tarpon Springs community.

Thanks to all parties who are completing the latest Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy, in the Roselawn section of Cincinnati. It will enable kids in an underserved community to play the game. Fundraising for the project by the Reds Community Fund turned a corner in 2013, helped by a $1.5 million contribution from MLB and Commissioner Bud Selig in January. Overall costs are expected to reach $7 million.

"The building should resemble our Spring Training facility, which is another great stroke by our ownership group," Reds Community Fund executive director Charley Frank said. "They want this facility to be a beacon, not only to Roselawn and Bond Hill, but to all over Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky."

For the eighth consecutive year, Royals associates from all departments of the organization joined a player in serving Thanksgiving meals to men and families at the City Union Mission in Kansas City. Pitcher Jeremy Guthrie was this year's player to attend, and he said, "Just to be able to share some time with them, joke around with them and take their minds off the worries they have in their lives right now, I think that's the biggest benefit. To come down here and make them smile and share a few moments together."

Thanks to Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who hosted his first Chicago fundraiser in August, a "Cook Off for Cancer," featuring local chefs who presented their take on traditional ballpark food. It was a huge success as the Rizzo Family Foundation received more than $150,000 in donations.

Thanks to Rangers left-hander Derek Holland, who announced he is donating $10,000 each to the Children's Medical Center Dallas and Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth. The donations were made in conjunction with the Rangers Baseball Foundation.

Thanks to everyone throughout the MLB family and to those who fill the seats, for remembering those less fortunate and remembering Jackie Robinson's lasting words: "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of Read and join other baseball fans on his community blog.