By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Negro League Museum Announces 2007 Legacy Award Winners
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez and Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins head an impressive list of 2007 Major League Baseball honorees who will receive Legacy Awards from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM). Rodriguez and Rollins were named winners of the Oscar Charleston Legacy Award as the museum’s choice for Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the National League (NL) and American League (AL) respectively. Rodriguez is also the NL recipient of the Josh Gibson Award for his league-leading 54 home runs.
The NLBM will honor Rodriguez, Rollins and other award recipients at the 8th Annual Legacy Awards, 7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 12, 2008 at the Gem Theater in Kansas City, Mo. Proceeds from the event support the NLBM and the building of the Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center.
The Legacy Awards, established by the NLBM in 2000, annually recognizes the best Major League baseball players, managers, and executives, with awards given in the name, and spirit, of Negro Leagues legends such as Charleston, Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, and the late Buck O’Neil. The awards event recognizes both on- and off-the-field achievement with baseball awards presented to both NL and AL honorees.
The NLBM named its MVP honors for Charleston because he is widely regarded by his contemporaries as the greatest baseball player ever. The late Buck O’Neil said that Charleston was ” Willie Mays before there was ever a Willie Mays.”
Charleston was heralded as a complete ball player who could beat you in every facet of the game. His aggressive play drew comparisons to Ty Cobb; his batting prowess was compared to Babe Ruth, and his defensive abilities likened to Tris Speaker.
Rodriguez was the only Major League recipient to earn multiple honors in 2007.
This year’s honor makes him a four-time recipient of the Charleston Award (2002, 2003, 2005 and 2007) and a five-time Gibson award winner (2001, 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2007). This season, the Yankees third baseman was the game’s most dominant offensive force hitting .314 while leading the Majors with 54 home runs and 156 RBI. His clutch play kept the Yankees in the pennant chase and secured the team’s Wild Card play-off spot.
Rollins was the spark that ignited a late-charging Phillies team and propelled them to a remarkable come-from-behind NL East title. The dynamic shortstop played stellar defense and became only the fourth player in baseball history to record at least 20 stolen bases, 20 homers, 20 triples and 20 doubles in a season. He led the NL with 139 runs scored and a league-leading 20 triples. Rollins is a two-time Legacy Award winner having earned the Cool Papa Bell award for leading the NL in stolen bases (46) in 2001.
“The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is proud to recognize the tremendous achievements of Alex Rodriguez, Jimmy Rollins and the other honorees chosen to receive Legacy Awards,” said museum Bob Kendrick, NLBM marketing director. “The Legacy Awards is the only baseball event of its kind that unites baseball’s past and present. We believe that by honoring Major League Baseball’s very best in the name of these legendary Negro Leaguers, that fans world-wide will gain a greater appreciation for just how talented the likes of Charleston and the other greats of the Negro Leagues were.”
Baseball legend Orestes “Minnie” Minoso will be honored as the recipient of the Jackie Robinson Lifetime Achievement Award. Minoso was a standout performer for the Negro League’s New York Cubans before signing with the Cleveland Indians in 1948. He would be traded to the Chicago White Sox and became the first Black player to play for the White Sox in 1951. Minoso was a seven-time All-Star and one three gold gloves during his illustrious career.
Other 2007 Legacy Award Categories and Recipients
Bullet Rogan Award-presented to the NL and AL ” Pitchers of the Year”
2007 Recipients: Jake Peavy, San Diego Padres and C.C. Sabathia, Cleveland Indians
Josh Gibson Award-presented to the NL and AL ” Home Run” leaders
2007 Recipients: Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers and Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
James “Cool Papa” Bell Award-presented to the NL and AL ” Stolen Base” leaders
2007 Recipients: Jose Reyes, New York Mets and Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Brian Roberts, Baltimore Orioles (Tie)
Walter “Buck” Leonard Award-presented to the NL and AL ” Batting Champions”
2007 Recipients: Matt Holliday, Colorado Rockies and Magglio Ordonez, Detroit Tigers
Andrew “Rube” Foster Award-presented to the NL and AL ” Executives of the Year”
2007 Recipients: Dan O’Dowd, Colorado Rockies and Mark Shapiro, Cleveland Indians
Charles Isham “C. I.” Taylor Award-presented to the NL and AL ” Managers of the Year”
2007 Recipients: Bob Melvin, Arizona Diamondbacks and Eric Wedge, Cleveland Indians
Larry Doby Award-presented to the NL and AL ” Rookies of the Year”
2007 Recipients: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies and Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
Hilton Smith Award-presented to the NL and AL ” Relievers of the Year”
2007 Recipients: Jose Valverde, Arizona Diamondbacks and Joe Borowski, Cleveland Indians
John Henry “Pop” Lloyd Award-presented in recognition of ” Baseball and Community Leadership”
2007 Recipients: Jimmy Lee Solomon, Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, Major League Baseball
Sam Lacy Award-presented to the ” Baseball Writer of the Year”
2007 Recipient: Larry Whiteside, Boston Globe (posthumously)
John “Buck” O’Neil Award-presented to a local or national corporate/private philanthropist for ” Outstanding Support of the NLBM”
Spence Heddens, Kansas City Market President, Bank of America
Jim Kenney, Agency Field Executive, State Farm Insurance Companies