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Kennedy's honors include being a Feller Award finalist

Act of Valor awards named for Feller, Coleman

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Everyone remotely interested in baseball has heard of the Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards. They annualy go to the best of the best in the game.

But there are other less heralded awards that have always touched me almost as much as the major awards have. 

Padres catcher Derek Norris was recently named the Padres nominee for the 2015 Heart and Hustle Award.

Never heard of it?

Well, it is presented annually by the Major Leagues Players Alumni Association. The winner is the player whom former players believe plays the game -- and represents the game -- the right way, on and off the field.

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In my mind, for Norris to be named one of the finalists is quite a tribute to the Padres' catcher. Men who have played the game are saying, "Derek, we see and appreciate how you go about your business."

Which brings me to the nominations of another award announced Monday, plus the creation of the Jerry Coleman Award. Both are presented by the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Foundation.

Of course, you know of Jerry Coleman. If you don't, you should at least know Bob Feller.

As a pitcher, Feller is in the Hall of Fame. He won 266 games in his career. He debuted in the Major Leagues with the Cleveland Indians. He won a career-high 27 games in 1940 after becoming the only pitcher in Major League history to throw a no-hitter on Opening Day. By the way, he was 22 when that happened.

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Feller was the first pitcher to throw three no-hitters in his career. Feller was the first pitcher to have 18 strikeouts in a game in the live-ball era. Early methods of tracking fastballs tabbed Feller's velocity between 99 and 104 mph. One reading clocked a Feller pitch at 105.7 mph.

Ted Williams once said of Feller: "He's the fastest and best pitcher I ever saw during my career."

Feller's numbers could have been much greater had he not lost seasons to military service in World War II. But that's not the real story. On Dec. 9, 1941, Feller became the first American professional athlete to enlist for military duty after Pearl Harbor. He served as a gun captain on the battleship USS Alabama.

The Bob Feller Act of Valor Foundation annually honors a current Major League player, a Hall of Famer and a non-commissioned Naval officer who displays the values, integrity and dedication to serving his country that Bob Feller demonstrated.

Padres pitcher Ian Kennedy is one of 15 finalists for the 2015 Bob Feller Act of Valor Award.

Kennedy and his wife, Allison, have long been involved in programs supporting military families and charities. Last season, Kennedy was named the recipient of the Padres Chairman's Award for community service.

Also, for the first time this year, the Jerry Coleman Award will honor a non-commissioned Marine Corps Officer displaying the same values. Coleman, a decorated Marine Corps pilot with 120 combined missions, was the only Major League player to see combat in two wars (World War II and the Korean War).

Read More: San Diego Padres, Ian Kennedy, Derek Norris