McCourts receive Scopus Award

McCourts receive Scopus Award

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- In the nearly three years they have owned the Los Angeles Dodgers, Frank and Jamie McCourt have not only become one of the more high-profile owners in baseball, they have also gained a great deal of respect in Southern California for their philanthropic work through the Dodger Dream Foundation and other charitable organizations they support. On Sunday night, the American Friends of the Hebrew University honored the couple with its prestigious Scopus Award at a black tie affair in the Beverly Hilton Hotel's International Ballroom.

"It's something that we are deeply honored by," said Frank McCourt. "The award means a lot to us because of our strong passion for education. One of the four things we focus on with the Dodger Dream Foundation is education and literacy."

The award, which is named for The Hebrew University of Jerusalem's historic Mount Scopus campus, has a significant meaning to Jamie McCourt, who spent a semester at the campus as a law student in 1976.

"It really was an amazing experience for me," Jamie recalled. "What's incredible is the same issues that were issues then are many of the issues that exist today in terms of religious issues, so it just shows you how important it is to have a place that cares about humanity and cares about problem solving on a global level and cares about things that affect all people around the world, focused in a place where they can make a difference."

Frank, who is Catholic, and Jamie, who is Jewish, visited Israel, in 2001 with their four sons. Frank, who described the trip and receiving this award with Jamie as going "full circle," also takes pride in the fact that he and his wife have made their long marriage a very viable one, in spite of their divergent religious upbringing.

"Jamie and I are different people, from different religious backgrounds," said Frank. "What's worked for us is focusing in on not what differentiates us, but rather the values we share. I think all of us as individuals, communities and countries, can benefit from focusing on what we all have in common than what divides us."

The Scopus Award, the highest honor conferred by the American Friends of The Hebrew University, is awarded to outstanding community leaders who have maintained an active involvement in humanitarian causes of local, national and international scale. Past Scopus Laureates include Steven Spielberg, Kirk Douglas, Frank Sinatra, Elie Wiesel, Barbra Streisand and Billy Crystal. Many in attendance, not only from the Dodgers family but also the world of entertainment and politics, have a great respect for the honorees.

"It's very appropriate and a great honor to be here tonight," said Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti. "I find Frank and Jamie to be two of the most intelligent and driven people I have ever met in my life, and for them to be honored here tonight and the fashion in which they are being honored is very well deserved."

"It's quite a pleasure working for them, as well as anyone would expect," said Dodgers manager Grady Little. "To see firsthand what they do around the community in all areas is truly unbelievable."

"We jumped right on board when Jamie and Frank agreed to accept this award," said Entertainment Tonight host Mary Hart, who, with her husband, film and television producer Burt Sugarman, were two of the six dinner chairmen of the event. "They have become dear friends of ours and have become an incredibly wonderful addition to the Los Angeles community. We are so happy that L.A. realizes and welcomes the whole [McCourt] family, because we know how hard they work and how much they love Los Angeles."

"Frank and Jamie have made tremendous efforts, to make serious contributions, especially to the youth of Southern California," said legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, who served as master of ceremonies for the evening. "They are particularly interested in education, and that is the great tool, not just for the area, but for the people involved. Along with their Dream Foundation, Team 42, in honor of Jackie Robinson, you can understand that they are worthy recipients of the Scopus Award."

"It really is, to us, an incredibly noteworthy and deep, deep honor," said Frank McCourt about Scully emceeing the event. "Vin is an icon in this community, and he's become a very dear friend. Jamie and I both admire him and we really love him and the fact the he and his wife Sandi are here makes it incredibly special for us."

One of the highlights of the evening was an appearance by former vice president Al Gore.

"Jamie and Frank McCourt have quickly become stalwarts to this community," said Gore during his opening remarks. "Our friends here feel so great, Frank and Jamie, about how you have taken a role in trying to make this even a greater city."

Gore, whose earlier this year produced the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," which examines the threat of global warming, spoke for nearly 30 minutes about the need for stability in the Middle East and global warming's effects on the environment.

"One of our goals with the Dodger Dream Foundation is to focus on the environment and to bring education and awareness to that issue as well," said Frank. "I think Al Gore's speaking at our event brings that issue to light as well."

"Al Gore is so caring about the global issues and problems that are facing the world," said Jamie. "I'm a hybrid driver, and I'm touched that all these pieces are joining together in one night. Frank really does highlight how we can bring an awareness to all issues through our foundation: matters like the environment, like education and literacy, like the health issues."

On the baseball front, the Dodgers have been one of the busier teams during the offseason. With the McCourts' backing, Colletti has signed a group of veteran free agents including Jason Schmidt, Juan Pierre, Randy Wolf, Luis Gonzalez and Mike Lieberthal while keeping the organization's cadre of young talent intact.

"Ned and the entire baseball operations staff have done a great job in staying focused on the mission, which is to win now and win later," said Frank McCourt. "In order to do that, we can't give up on our future, which means trading off all of our fabulous prospects. Baseball America just named us organization of the year in large part because of the depth and breadth of our farm system. The offseason has been very, very productive. We've stayed focused, and I'm very proud what those guys have accomplished.

Frank and Jamie McCourt have also accomplished a lot of work both in and outside of Dodger Stadium. Their contributions in both the baseball and charitable fields have made a lot of people stand up and take notice.

Ben Platt is a national correspondent for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.