An hour before Wednesday’s first pitch of this World Series’ second game, Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve took a seat next to Hank Aaron in an underground conference room.
Altuve was receiving his first Hank Aaron Award, as the most outstanding offensive performer in the American League. Miami right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, a Los Angeles native, won the National League award and attended the news conference. Stanton also won the award in 2014, when Angels center fielder Mike Trout won the American League honor.
Major League Baseball created the award in 1999. The results are a combination of voting from fans and a panel of Hall of Famers convened by Aaron. The 83-year-old legend complimented both players’ performances and referenced Altuve’s 5-foot-6 frame in saying that he “stood tall” this season.
The traditional first pitch at World Series games is usually quite the spectacle. The one before Game 2 was the best ever.
The public-address announcer told the crowd it was time for the first pitch, and Vin Scully walked out to a reception unlike any other. He mentioned Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges and Duke Snider and how they must be laughing their heads off watching him throw.
He asked for a catcher, and out walked 1981 World Series co-MVP Steve Yeager.
The Dodgers have used Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez at a variety of positions this season, with Hernandez playing everywhere except pitcher and catcher while Taylor has started multiple games at five positions.
The Astros have their own super-utility player in Marwin Gonzalez, who has played all four infield positions and both corner outfield spots this season while hitting .303 with 23 home runs and 90 runs batted in.
“He’s carried us in a lot of different portions of the season, offensively and defensively,” said Houston manager A.J. Hinch, who called Gonzalez “the answer in one person.”