From Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame: www.baseballhalloffame.ca
Etobicoke, Ont., native Joey Votto will be awarded his 2010 Tip O’Neill Award in a brief pre-game ceremony prior to Saturday night’s game at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
This is the first Tip O’Neill Award for the reigning National League MVP, an honour presented annually by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame to the player judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to baseball’s highest ideals.
Larry Walker won the award a record nine times, while the pride of Trail B.C., Jason Bay, has received the honour three times. Justin Morneau (New Westminster, B.C) and Eric Gagné (Montreal, Que.) have captured the award twice each.
“Nobody at the Hall believes that this will be the only time we’ll be honouring Joey,” said president & CEO Tom Valcke, who will present the award along with director of operations, Scott Crawford.
“He’s a rare specimen, but yet a typical Canadian in his work ethic, wholesome values and pride in his nationality. He won’t be talking about this award after Saturday, because for Joey Votto, it’s all about the next game.”
With a terrific start to the 2011 campaign, the Canuck infielder is already en route to back-to-back Tip O’Neill awards. In 25 games this season, he has compiled a team-leading .379 batting average, five home runs and 16 RBIs. The left-handed hitting first baseman’s .509 on-base percentage and .655 slugging percentage are also among the league leaders.
Votto, who was a landslide winner of the 2010 Tip O’Neill Award, batted .324 and belted 37 homers last season while leading the Reds to a division title. In addition to a league-leading .424 on-base percentage and .600 slugging percentage in 2010, the 27-year-old all-star also racked up 31 of 32 first place votes in winning the National League’s MVP award.
In the Hall’s internet and Facebook poll, more than 80 per cent of respondents chose Votto.
The Tip O’Neill Award is named after Woodstock, Ont., native James “Tip” O’Neill, who was one of Major League Baseball’s first legitimate stars. With the St. Louis Browns in 1887, O’Neill set single season records in hits, doubles, slugging percentage and total bases, while recording an astounding .492 batting average. Walks were counted as hits in 1887, but if O’Neill’s average was calculated by today’s standards, it would be .435, the second highest in big league history to Hugh Duffy (.438).