|Wednesday, January 15
Updated: March 13, 5:11 PM ET
Williams Award given to game's best hitter
Now, A-Rod's name will go next to the Splendid Splinter's on a new trophy.
The Texas Rangers shortstop is the first winner of the Ted Williams Award for being the best hitter in the game in the 2002 season. The award will be given annually by the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America to honor Williams, who died this summer at 83.
"To even be associated in any type of way, shape or form with Mr. Williams is tremendous," Rodriguez said this week before a groundbreaking at the Boys & Girls Club of Miami. "I've read his books, I'm an incredible fan of what he did. I'm just very flattered and honored to win the first. I think it's cool."
Rodriguez has had back-to-back 50-plus home run seasons for the Rangers, leading the majors last year with 57 homers, while driving in 142 runs and batting .300. Despite Texas' last-place finish in the AL West, Rodriguez finished third in the AL MVP voting.
A five-time All-Star, Rodriguez was not at the 1999 game when baseball honored the best players of the past on the field before the game. The star of the show was Williams, who was surrounded by the current and former stars on the pitcher's mound until they had to be told to leave the field.
"The only thing I really lament is I never had a chance to meet him," Rodriguez said. "I would have given anything."
Williams was a two-time MVP and a triple-crown winner who was the last man to bat better than .400 in a season.
"His legacy is that of the greatest hitter that ever lived," Rodriguez said. "I don't think I can add anything to his legacy."
The award will be presented at the Boston BBWAA's annual dinner Thursday night. Rodriguez will not be able to accept in person.
The award is not to be confused with the All-Star Most Valuable Player award, which baseball plans to name after Williams, but failed to find an MVP in this year's tie game.