Last week, David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox was named as the recipient of the 2013 Silver Slugger Award for the designated hitter position. It marked the sixth time in the past ten seasons that “Big Papi” has won the award, and the second time in the past three seasons. It extended his record for the most awards at that position, ahead of former players Paul Molitor and Edgar Martinez; his six awards also ties him with Red Sox legends Wade Boggs and Manny Ramirez for the most in team history.
Never was Big Papi’s offensive production more apparent and more valuable this season than in the Fall Classic, when he batted .688 (11-for-16) with two home runs, six RBI, seven runs scored, a .760 on-base percentage, and a 1.188 slugging percentage while making just five outs in six World Series games. He also tied a series record by reaching base in nine straight appearances, which helped him to easily walk away with the 2013 World Series MVP award.
Red Sox outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron will be honored by the Negro League Baseball Museum when the 10th annual Legacy Awards are presented at the Kansas City Convention Center on 30 January 2010. Ellsbury, who set a new single-season mark for the franchise last season with 70 stolen bases, will receive the Cool Papa Bell Award as the 2009 American League Stolen Bases leader and Cameron, a recent free-agent pickup by Boston, will receive the Pop Lloyd Award in recognition of baseball/community leadership. Tickets for the event are $150 each, which include a one-year membership to the museum, and can be obtained by calling 816.221.1920.
After overcoming a cancer diagnosis in 2006 to pitch for the Red Sox in 2007, southpaw Jon Lester was honored on Wednesday with the 2007 Tony Conigliaro Award. The honor is given to players who have overcome an obstacle and adversity and is named after the former Boston outfielder who was tragically struck by an errant pitch in 1967 but returned to earn Comeback Player of the Year honors in 1969. He played another full season for Boston before the effects of the pitch on his vision forced him to retire shortly into the 1971 season; however, he then made an abbreviated comeback with the Sox in 1975 and got a hit in his first at-bat on Opening Day at Fenway Park. Sadly, the East Boston native suffered a massive heart attack in early 1982 while interviewing for a broadcast position with the Sox and passed away eight years later at age 45 in 1990.
Lester, who was 4-0 in 12 starts this season and won the decisive Game Four of the World Series for the Sox, started 15 games in 2006 and posted a 7-2 record before doctors discovered a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in late August 2006 during a physical that followed a minor car crash nearly two weeks earlier that month. Following treatment, CT scans a few months later showed that the cancer was in remission, and the young pitcher joined his teammates in Fort Myers the following spring. Lester then started the season for the Greenville Drive, a Red Sox Single-A affiliate, before moving to Triple-A Pawtucket in late April. In mid-June, Boston removed Lester from the disabled list but kept him in Pawtucket to continue his rehabilitation. Nearly a month later, with his parents watching on from the stands at Jacobs Field, he made his first major league start of 2007 on July 23 against the Indians in Cleveland, going six full innings and allowing just two runs on five hits while striking out six and picking up his first win in nearly a year.
In the post-season, Lester made two relief appearances in the American League Championship Series versus Cleveland and pitched a total of 3-2/3 innings, giving up two runs on three hits. Lester was then given the ball to start Game Four of the World Series against Colorado in place of veteran Tim Wakefield, who had been left off the series roster due to back problems. He responded by keeping the Rockies off the board in 5-2/3 innings while yielding just three hits and three walks and striking out three; he eventually earned the series-clinching win for Boston as the team celebrated its second championship in four seasons.
Lester is the second Boston player to be honored; former pitcher Bret Saberhagen, who came back from serious shoulder injuries to win 15 games for the Red Sox in 1998, received the award that same season. The following year, current Boston third baseman and 2007 World Series MVP Mike Lowell was honored after being treated for testicular cancer in spring training and returning to average .258 while collecting 12 home runs and 47 RBI for the Florida Marlins over the final four months of the 1999 season.
Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis strung together 135 errorless games and 1,094 errorless innings at first base during the 2007 regular season for a fielding percentage of 1.000, a feat of perfection that has been duplicated only once before in major league history. He has also played 190 consecutive errorless games in the regular season at first base, three shy of Steve Garvey’s major league record, and has easily surpassed the old Red Sox record (120 games by Stuffy McInnis) and American League record (178 games by Mike Hegan). For his efforts, American League managers and coaches last week honored the four-year veteran his first Rawlings Gold Glove award, one year after making the full-time switch from the third base position where he was raised as a professional player. He is the first Red Sox player to earn the honor since teammate Jason Varitek won the honor at the catcher’s position in 2005 and only the second Red Sox first baseman to be recognized, the other being George Scott, who won it three times between 1967 and 1971.
Since the awards were first handed out in 1957, 16 Red Sox players have captured the honor a total of 36 times. The first year the awards were given, only one award was made for both leagues, and Frank Malzone won the inaugural honor at third base. Five Boston players have won the award multiple times, with former outfielder Dwight Evans holding the team record with eight Gold Gloves won between 1976 and 1985 and Carl Yastrzemski capturing seven in his 23 seasons with the club. Nine times, the Red Sox have had more than one honoree in the same season; twice they have had three. Yastrzemski, Scott, and outfielder Reggie Smith all won at their positions in 1968 and Evans, outfielder Fred Lynn, and shortstop Rick Burleson each capture the honor in 1979. The last time the Sox had more than one winner in a single season came in 1990, when pitcher Mike Boddicker, the only Boston player to ever win a Gold Glove as a pitcher, and outfielder Ellis Burks both won. Gold Gloves have been at a premium for Boston players since averaging better than one per season between 1957 and 1985; catcher Tony Pena in 1991 had been the last Red Sox player to capture the defensive honor before Varitek ended a 14-year drought in 2005, giving the team a total of just five awards in the last 22 seasons.