Mike Soroka wins Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Tip O’Neill Award

Photo: Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves

December 4, 2019

Official Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame Press Release

St. Marys, Ont. – Calgary native Mike Soroka has been named the winner of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2019 Tip O’Neill Award.

Canada’s baseball shrine presents this honour annually to the Canadian player judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to baseball’s highest ideals.

Soroka, who finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting and sixth in the Cy Young Award voting, is a first-time winner of the award. He staved off strong competition from last year’s winner James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.) to secure the honour.

“Mike Soroka put together one of the best rookie seasons by a Canadian pitcher in major league history,” said Scott Crawford, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s director of operations. “He not only had an outstanding regular season with the Atlanta Braves, but he was also dominant in his first post-season start. He’s definitely a worthy recipient of the award.”

In his first full major league season, Soroka posted a 13-4 record and a 2.68 ERA, while striking out 142 batters in 174-2/3 innings in 29 starts for the Braves. His ERA ranked third in the National League, while his road ERA (1.35) was the best in the circuit and the fifth lowest in major leagues since 1913 (minimum 15 games started).

Among National League rookie hurlers, Soroka had the best ERA, was third in wins and fourth in games started, innings pitched and strikeouts. For his efforts, he was named to the National League All-Star team and a starting pitcher on Baseball America’s MLB All-Rookie team.

The Canuck right-hander was also masterful in his first post-season start, limiting the St. Louis Cardinals to one run on two hits, while striking out seven, in seven innings in Game 3 of the National League Division Series.

Selected in the first round of the 2015 MLB draft, the PBF Redbirds and Junior National Team alum made his big league debut on May 1, 2018. In five starts for the Braves last season, he registered a 2-1 record and a 3.51 ERA.

On top of his strong on-the-field performance in 2019 , Soroka has also been active in charitable and community endeavors. He worked with a number of charities that the Braves Foundation supports, including the Dave Krache Foundation and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He also worked with CHOA’s epilepsy unit during the season to host a number of children and their parents at a game. Back in his home province, he serves as an ambassador for KidSport Calgary.

“When I had been told I would be the recipient of the 2019 Tip O’Neill Award, it really did put me back in a sense of awe,” said Soroka. “Having had the opportunity to grow up through the Canadian Baseball Program (Junior National Team), I have always felt a sense of pride when there are Canadians excelling in this game. I am always sure to mention to anyone watching other games in the clubhouse when a Canadian is at the plate or on the mound. I am beyond humbled to have the honour of sharing this award with some of the greats of not just Canadian baseball, but Major League Baseball period. This sense of pride has stemmed from others who represented Canadian baseball so well before me, and is something I hope to carry on as well.

“I am extremely thankful to have been considered for the Tip O’Neill, as it will be something I carry with great pride.”

Details about the presentation of the 2019 Tip O’Neill Award will be announced in the coming months.

The Hall’s 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 American Association’s St. Louis Browns in 1887, O’Neill set big league records in hits, doubles, slugging percentage and total bases, while compiling a major league record .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 who hit .440 in 1894.

To determine the winner of the Tip O’Neill Award, the Hall takes into account a number of criteria, including each candidate’s on-the-field performance, contributions to their team, community and charitable endeavors and support in fan voting. Starting on November 15, the Hall had encouraged fans to vote for their top three candidates and they responded by casting their votes via e-mail and on the Hall’s website.

Past winners of the James “Tip” O’Neill Award:

1984 – Terry Puhl

1985 – Dave Shipanoff

1986 – Rob Ducey

1987 – Larry Walker

1988 – Kevin Reimer

1989 – Steve Wilson

1990 – Larry Walker

1991 – Daniel Brabant

1992 – Larry Walker

1993 – Rob Butler

1994 – Larry Walker

1995 – Larry Walker

1996 – Jason Dickson

1997 – Larry Walker

1998 – Larry Walker

1999 – Jeff Zimmerman

2000 – Ryan Dempster

2001 – Corey Koskie

2001 – Larry Walker

2002 – Eric Gagné

2002 – Larry Walker

2003 – Eric Gagné

2004 – Jason Bay

2005 – Jason Bay

2006 – Justin Morneau

2007 – Russell Martin

2008 – Justin Morneau

2009 – Jason Bay

2010 – Joey Votto

2011 – Joey Votto

2011 – John Axford

2012 – Joey Votto

2013 – Joey Votto

2014 – Justin Morneau

2015 – Joey Votto

2016 – Joey Votto

2017 – Joey Votto

2018 – James Paxton

2019 – Mike Soroka

Published by cooperstownersincanada

Kevin Glew is a professional writer based in London, Ontario. His work has been featured on CBC Sports, Sportsnet.ca, MLB.com and Sympatico.ca. He has also written articles for Baseball Digest, Baseball America, The Hockey News, Sports Market Report and the Canadian Baseball Network. He has been involved with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for more than 16 years, including a two-year stint as the museum's acting curator.

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