Orel Hershiser, a picture of perfection on and off the field, was named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year today, finishing far ahead of his Olympics competition.
The Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher became the first non-Olympian to win the honor in an Olympic year since Denny McLain in 1968. Hershiser, who set a record with 59 consecutive shutout innings, is the 22nd baseball player to win in the 58-year history of the award and the first since Dwight Gooden in 1985.
Hershiser got nearly twice as many votes as his World Series rival, Jose Canseco: 67 first-place ballots and 465 points. Canseco--the first player to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a season--garnered 30 first-place votes and 233 points.
Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders, who set all-time college records for rushing yards and touchdowns, was third with 207, followed by Olympic swimmer Matt Biondi with 152, NBA star Michael Jordan with 91 and Olympic diver Greg Louganis at 59.
Voting was done by sports writers and broadcasters on a 5-3-1 basis. The AP's Female Athlete of the Year will be announced Thursday.
A WINNING YEAR FOR BASEBALL'S BULLDOG Dodger pitcher Orel Hershiser--nicknamed 'The Bulldog'--spent the 1988 season tearing up the record books and collecting trophies. "From now on, my career will be divided into two parts," he said. "Before 1988 and after 1988."
Hershiser's 1989 is being taken up, so far, by difficult contract negotiations. He has asked for a record $2.425 million in salary arbitration and the Dodgers have offered $2 million, also the most ever.
Here are just some of the major awards Hershiser won in 1988:
Cy Young Award for best Major League Pitcher
Most Valuable Player--National League Playoffs
Most Valuable Player--World Series
Gold Glove Award--fewest errors by a National League player in his position.
Major League Pitcher of the Month for April and September.
Sporting News Player of the Year
Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year
Sport Magazine Player of the Year
Baseball America magazine Pitcher of the Year
Named to National League All-Star Teams by AP and UPI
Associated Press Athlete of the Year