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Honors for Rantz highlight annual Diamond Awards

MINNEAPOLIS -- Since announcing his plans to retire at the end of last season after 52 years with the Twins, Jim Rantz has received his fair share of accolades.

But Rantz, who officially retired as farm director on Jan. 1, was especially touched on Thursday, when he was honored at the Twins’ annual Diamond Awards at Target Field.

Rantz, who received the Herb Carneal Lifetime Achievement Award from general manager Terry Ryan, ranked the honor with being inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame in 2008.

“I’m deeply honored and humbled by the recognition,” Rantz said. “There was so much love in the audience with the standing ovation. That was really special. You have your mind set on what you want to say, but once you see this, it kind of backs you up a little bit. So it was just a beautiful night, especially with my family here.”

Ryan was proud to honor Rantz with the award and said that it is well deserved after Rantz worked with the Twins for more than half a century.

“This is the right venue, with so many people here, and for such a great cause,” Ryan said. “Jim has been honored a number of times over the last month or so. He’s been here so long, he could write an encyclopedia about what’s gone on. He’s humble, but our farm system has been a great strength for us, and he won’t admit it, but he’s a big reason why.”

Rantz's award was just one highlight of another successful Diamond Awards, with winners based on voting conducted by the Twin Cities Chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Several Twins were on hand for the annual ceremony, including Josh Willingham, Scott Diamond, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Glen Perkins.

Willingham was there to receive the Calvin R. Griffith Award, given to the Twins' Most Valuable Player.

Diamond was named both the Pitcher of the Year, receiving the Joseph W. Haynes Award, and the Most Outstanding Rookie, for which he was given the Bill Boni Award.

Mauer was named the winner of the Dick Siebert Award, given to the Upper Midwest Player of the Year. It is the fifth time the native of St. Paul has won the award.

For the second time in his career, Morneau won the Bob Allison Award, given to the player who exemplifies determination, hustle, tenacity, competitive spirit and leadership both on and off the field.

Perkins was named the winner of the Mike Augustin Award, given to the player who fosters healthy relations with the media.

Outfielder Ben Revere, who was not present after being traded to the Phillies, won the Charles O. Johnson Award, given to the Most Improved Player, and was the first recipient of the Jim Kaat Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Fellow outfielder and honoree Denard Span also couldn't make it, having been traded to the Nationals. Span taped an acceptance speech for winning the Carl R. Pohlad Award for Outstanding Community Service.

Other awards given out include the Sherry Robertson Award (Oswaldo Arcia, Minor League Player of the Year), the Jim Rantz Award (B.J. Hermsen, Minor League Pitcher of the Year) and the Kirby Puckett Award for alumni community service (Roy Smalley).

All proceeds from the sold-out event benefit the University of Minnesota's innovative research and patient care focused on ataxia, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).

“This is a tremendous cause,” Ryan said. “I’ve been to five or six of these things. Bob Allison’s family is great, and he was a great player with the Twins. So to sell this out and raise the money it generates, it’s just a great event.”

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger.
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