DETROIT – The history-making accomplishment of Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera was made official here Saturday night as Commissioner Bud Selig presented him with his Triple Crown award, the first awarded by Major League Baseball since 1967.
Cabrera was given the gold crown adorned with a Tigers logo as the first part of ceremonies to hand out the annual Hank Aaron Awards. They are given to the top hitters in each league as part of a combined vote by fans and a Hall of Fame panel that includes Aaron, Tony Gwynn, Paul Molitor, Joe Morgan and Robin Yount.
The Aaron Awards went to Cabrera and San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, both of whom were in the lineups for Game Three of the World Series in Comerica Park. It’s the first time since the award was established in 1999 that both winners were playing in the Series.
Cabrera won his second straight batting title this year, becoming the first Tigers player to go back to back since Ty Cobb won three in a row from 1917-19. He batted .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBIs and also led the AL with 377 total bases, 84 extra-base hits and a .606 slugging percentage. He was second with 109 runs scored and 205 hits.
Aaron was at the March exhibition game in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., when Cabrera was struck near the eye by a bad-hop grounder.
“I was holding my breath, hoping that nothing happened because I know what a tremendous asset you were, not only to the Detroit Tigers but just being a baseball player,” Aaron said. “I want to congratulate on an outstanding season. Not too many people can have a Triple Crown. ... It’s something you’re blessed with. I look back on my career and that was one thing I didn’t do but you did it and you did it with grace.”
The 78-year-old Aaron, who missed last year’s presentation in Texas while rehabbing after a left knee-replacement surgery, then had a good joke at Cabrera’s expense. “I know from seeing you play they were not infield hits,” Aaron said. “They were legitimate hits.”
Posey batted .336 to become the first National League catcher to win a batting title since Ernie Lombardi did it for the Boston Braves in 1942. He also led the Giants in home runs, RBIs, doubles, walks and slugging percentage.
“Last year when you got hurt, everybody was saying, ‘Is he going to come back?’ And you came back, not only by winning the batting crown but by hitting .300 and leading your team to the World Series,” Aaron said. “... It’s not easy when you squat behind the plate for nine innings and then go out and hit .300.”
“I’m humbled that Hank Aaron knows who I am,” Posey said. “Growing up in Georgia, he’s a legend everywhere but really so there.”
The Aaron Awards were created in 1999 to honor the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Aaron’s 715th home run.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy was a backup catcher for the San Diego Padres in 1984, the last time the Tigers won the World Series. He got one at-bat in the series, a pinch single in the top of the ninth inning of the Tigers’ clinching Game Five.
“I have great memories of being in the World Series, not real good ones on how it came out,” Bochy said. “But what a thrill for any player, and of course myself, when you get to the World Series for the first time. We had split in San Diego, then came here and they beat us [three straight games]. I had a tough memory trying to leave here.
“But overall, great experience, good time here. And just a tough way to go out of it, after going 1-1 at home and getting swept here, and of course the big home run that Goose [Gossage] gave up [to Kirk Gibson], that’s getting a lot of attention. But great time for me, I got one at bat, and I was thrilled that [manager] Dick Williams put me in there.”
The weather continues to be an issue in the series, with temperatures likely to slip into the high 30s each night here.
“I haven’t worn sleeves the whole year fortunately but that’s going to change,” said Tigers Game Four starter Max Scherzer.
But it could be worse. If the Yankees or Baltimore had advanced to the Fall Classic, MLB officials likely would have been forced to plan a break in the series for several days starting Monday due to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.
There hasn’t been a multi-day delay due to weather since Game Five of the 2008 Tampa Bay-Philadelphia series was suspended on Oct. 27 and completed on Oct. 29.
• The Baseball Writers Association of America held its annual Series meeting prior to Game Three and Susan Slusser, a veteran Oakland A’s beat writer from the San Francisco Chronicle, was named the first female president in the history of an organization that dates to 1908. LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune was elected vice president, putting him in line to become the group’s first black president at next year’s Series.