Pitcher wins courage award

BOSTON -- Oakland Athletics reliever Jim Mecir, who has pitched nine seasons in the major leagues despite being born with two club feet, will receive the Tony Conigliaro Award for overcoming adversity through spirit, determination and courage.

The award is named for the promising Red Sox player whose career essentially ended when he was hit in the face by a pitch in 1967.

Mecir had two operations before the age of 10, leaving his right leg an inch shorter than his left and both of his calves severely
atrophied. Still, he has earned a reputation as one of baseball's
hardest-working and fiercest competitors.

A third-round draft pick by Seattle in 1991, Mecir has a 28-26
record and a 3.86 ERA in nine seasons with the Mariners, New York
Yankees, Tampa Bay and Oakland.

At 20, Conigliaro became the youngest player to lead a major
league in home runs when he hit 32 in 1965; he reached 100 homers
before his 23rd birthday. But he was hit in the face by a pitch at
Fenway Park on Aug. 18, 1967, missed the entire '68 season and his
career never recovered.

He died of a heart attack in 1990.

Indians catcher Tim Laker, Dodgers left-hander Tom Martin, Mets lefty John Franco and Anaheim pitcher R.A. Dickey also received votes from an 11-member panel. Past winners of the award include Jim Eisenreich, Jim Abbott, Bo Jackson, Eric Davis and Bret Saberhagen.

The award will be presented to Mecir by Conigliaro's brothers on Jan. 12 at the annual dinner of the Baseball Writers Association of
America's Boston chapter.