CINCINNATI -- It was a dream moment for any baseball-loving child. A 6-year-old boy, Walter Herbert, was sitting in the front row of a Mets-Reds game on Aug. 31, and his favorite player, Joey Votto, hit a home run in the seventh inning of a 7-2 Reds win.But Votto didn't
CINCINNATI -- It was a dream moment for any baseball-loving child. A 6-year-old boy, Walter Herbert, was sitting in the front row of a Mets-Reds game on Aug. 31, and his favorite player, Joey Votto, hit a home run in the seventh inning of a 7-2 Reds win.
But Votto didn't just hit a timely home run, he followed it up by giving Herbert a high-five and the jersey off his back.
:: 2017 MLB Awards winners coverage ::
• Esurance MLB Awards: Complete coverage
What made the moment all the more touching was that Herbert -- affectionately called "Superbubz" -- was battling cancer and had the hugest smile spread across his face. Fans around the world took notice and voted for Votto to be an Esurance MLB Award winner for Best Player-Fan Interaction.
The Reds later invited Herbert back to the ballpark for another game to be an honorary team captain.
• Votto gives bats, jersey to young fan
Herbert died on Oct. 6 after a two-year battle with neuroblastoma. Votto was among the hundreds of mourners who stood in line to pay his respects to Herbert and his family the following week.
"On that day game against the Mets, I had a fantastic opportunity to interact with one of the most special young people I've ever met in my life," Votto said upon winning the award. "It was a long exchange between him and I, and it finished off [with me hitting] a home run, and we got to high-five. Then he snagged my jersey and my bat. It was just a really great moment in my career.
"Sadly, the young boy passed away, and the Herbert family and friends lost someone special in their life. To just have even the smallest moments in his life is a gift to me. I accept this award on behalf of his family and his friends. Superbubz, I feel very, very grateful to have gotten to know him and spend a little time with him."
The Esurance MLB Awards annually honor MLB's greatest achievements as part of an industry-wide balloting process that includes five groups, each of which accounts for 20 percent of the overall vote: media, front-office personnel, retired MLB players, fans at MLB.com and Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) members.
The MLB Awards are an all-inclusive program, encompassing the top players and performances from both the American and National Leagues from Opening Day through the end of the postseason.
Voting led off with seven categories (Personality of the Year; Best Defensive Player; Best Play, Offense; Best Play, Defense; Best Performance; Best Fan Catch; Best Player-Fan Interaction) on Sept. 18 at mlb.com/awards, serving as the grand entrance of a program that unveiled the Best Call, TV/Radio; Best Major Leaguer, Postseason; and Best Postseason Moment categories following the Fall Classic's final out.
The ninth inning of voting began around BBWAA Awards week, giving fans the opportunity to help determine the Best Major Leaguer, Pitcher, Rookie, Manager and Executive. Winners were announced on MLB Network and MLB.com on Friday.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.