MANATEE -- The idea emerged from a brainstorming session among staff members of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Bradenton Marauders.
"Wouldn't it be great," mused one staffer, "if at the 2014 Florida State League All-Star Game at McKechnie Field some local people, who aren't professional baseball players but are all-stars in what they do, could be honored?"
That's exactly how the "All-Stars Among Us" contest was born, said Rachelle Madrigal, manager of Florida operations for the Pirates and Marauders.
"We really wanted a strong community tie-in to the Florida State League All-Star Game, which is a first-time event locally," Madrigal said Monday. "For 'All-Stars Among Us,' we want people to write us or send a video about a Manatee County person they think should be set aside from the rest because of the impact he or she has made on the community."
Ed Dick, one of Manatee County's most respected leaders for his civic activism during integration in the 1960s, praised the idea of the Marauders recognizing those who go beyond the call of duty.
"I could give you two or three names right off the top of my head," Dick said. "I think it's a great idea. We are a county filled with people who give of themselves."
Nominees will be accepted from the public through April 30 in three separate categories: youth education and athletics, first-responders and nonprofit volunteers, with three winners selected in each category.
In addition to onfield recognition, all nine winners will receive a $500 cash prize and a $500 matching donation to the nonprofit of their choice. A Marauders staff member will notify all winners by May 16 and the Bradenton Herald will publish the names of the winners in early June, Madrigal said.
Video nominations, which can't exceed two minutes, should be submitted through the Herald website at Bradenton.com/all-stars.
Typed nominations, which can't exceed 400 words, should be mailed to: "All-Stars Among Us" c/o Bradenton Herald, 1111 Third Ave. W., Bradenton FL 34205.
All nominees must maintain a residence in Manatee County to be eligible.
"We haven't put an age limit on the nominees," Madrigal said. "We think most people will fit into one of the three categories. We are hoping to find diamonds in the rough. We hope we get a really good mix."
Madrigal advises nominators to give examples, not just praise.
"Tell us a story," Madrigal said. "We want some proof of why their person is terrific. Give clear-cut examples of how their work has created impact. If it is because of how long they have done something or how much they have done, be specific."
Each individual nomination can only be submitted in one format. Nominees cannot be listed in multiple categories.
For more information about "All-Stars Among Us" or the Florida State League All-Star Game call 941-747-3031, go to BradentonMarauders.com/All Star Game or email MaraudersInfo@Pirates.com.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @ RichardDymond.