The Boston Globe has a feature on the non-profit foundations set up by athletes, and as one might expect, some do a better job of funneling money to their stated missions than others do.
One, though, stands apart and might even be considered a fraud:
A foundation started by New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez gave only 1 percent of proceeds to charity during its first year of operation in 2006, then stopped submitting mandatory financial reports to the IRS and was stripped of its tax-exempt status. Yet the group’s website still tells visitors the A-Rod Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization.
That website, hosted by MLB.com, remains active, though the latest news is from Sept. 5, 2007. It should be noted that while nothing suggests the Foundation has been shut down, there’s no apparent way to donate to it on the webpage. There’s also no link back to the foundation on Rodriguez’s official homepage. And given that Alex’s ex-wife, Cynthia, is featured prominently as part of the Foundation’s website, one assumes that if A-Rod does decide to jump back into the charity business, he’ll be coming up with something completely new.
The Boston Globe’s reporting also suggests that the foundations of Josh Beckett and ex-Patriots receiver Deion Branch weren’t very efficient, while those set up by Curt Schilling and 49ers quarterback Alex Smith did a better job of making sure what they took in got into the proper hands.
Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera deservingly became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously, receiving votes from all 425 writers who submitted ballots. Previously, the closest players to unanimous induction were Ken Griffey, Jr. (99.32% in 2016), Tom Seaver (98.84% in 1992), Nolan Ryan (98.79% in 1999), Cal Ripken, Jr. (98.53%), Ty Cobb (98.23% in 1936), and George Brett (98.19% in 1999).
Because so many greats were not enshrined in Cooperstown unanimously, many voters in the past argued against other players getting inducted unanimously, withholding their votes for otherwise deserving players. That Griffey — both one of the greatest outfielders of all time and one of the most popular players of all time — wasn’t voted in unanimously in 2016, for example, seemed to signal that no player ever would. Now that Rivera has been, this tired argument about voting unanimity can be laid to rest.
Derek Jeter will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time next year. He may become the second player ever to be elected unanimously. David Ortiz appears on the 2022 ballot and could be No. 3. Now that Rivera has broken through, these are possibilities whereas before they might not have been.
Another tired argument around Hall of Fame voting concerns whether or not a player is a “first ballot” Hall of Famer. Some voters think getting enshrined in a player’s first year of eligibility is a greater honor than getting in any subsequent year. I’m not sure what it will take to get rid of this argument — other than the electorate getting younger and more open-minded — but at least we have made progress on at least one bad Hall of Fame take.