Betts honored with overall Heart & Hustle Award

Francona, Gibson also honored at Legends for Youth Dinner

November 9th, 2018

NEW YORK -- The awards keep coming for Red Sox outfielder . A few hours after winning an American League Silver Slugger Award, Betts was named the overall Heart & Hustle Award winner Thursday night at the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association's 19th annual Legends for Youth Dinner at Capitale in Manhattan. The last member of the Red Sox to win the award was , in 2013.

The award was created in 2005 as a way to honor active players who "demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game."

It was quite a year for Betts, who is an AL MVP candidate and Gold Glove Award winner. Besides guiding the Red Sox to their fourth World Series championship in 15 years, Betts led the Majors in runs scored (129), batting average (.346) and slugging percentage (.640).

Off the field, Betts was active in the community, and he brought hot meals to the homeless outside the Boston Library after the Red Sox defeated the Dodgers, 4-2, in Game 2 of the World Series.

Betts did not attend the dinner because of the birth of his daughter, but he left a video message, thanking the MLBPAA for the award.

"It means a lot to me, to my family. We take those things seriously. Thank you for noticing," Betts said. "I did want to say, thank you to the alumni association, the Red Sox, my teammates."

Outfielder , who was the Heart & Hustle recipient for the Mets, said Betts deserved the overall award.

"We all believe Mookie plays the game the right way. What an award to win, to add to his accolades," Nimmo said. "He will probably end up winning the AL MVP. Not only does he play the game extremely well, he plays it extremely hard. He plays it with a passion and joy that we really enjoy. He is definitely the winner. We are happy for him." 

Betts wasn't the only award winner at the MLBPAA dinner. Indians manager Terry Francona received the Brooks Robinson Community Service Award for his accomplishments on and off the field.

On the field, he won two World Series titles as the Red Sox manager, in 2004 and '07. He also led the Indians to the AL pennant in 2016. Off the field, Francona raised money for cancer research and created a pasta sauce to help fund inner-city participation in sports and education.

'I'm honored just to be here, to be a part of the night," Francona said. "Any time we do something for other people, regardless of what area it is, we're OK. To be honored tonight, especially [to receive] something with Brooks' name attached to it, is extremely meaningful."

Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson was given the Lifetime Achievement Award.

"When you are playing the game, you don't think about awards you receive after you get through," Gibson said. "But when somebody decides you are worthy [of the Lifetime Achievement Award], it's just wonderful."

And what a career he had. All of his 17 seasons were spent with the Cardinals, from 1959 to '75. During that period, Gibson won two Cy Young Awards and guided the Cardinals to three National League pennants and two World Series titles.

His best year was in 1968, and what a season to remember. He had an incredible 1.12 ERA, 28 complete games and 13 shutouts. Believe it or not, what Gibson accomplished in '68 is not what fills him with the most pride.

"The fact that I played Major League baseball for 17 years," Gibson said. "I gave it everything I had. Sometimes, I stunk a little bit. Every time I went out there, I tried to be the best that I could be and I'm proud of that."

Off the field, Gibson gave back. He hosted an annual golf classic in Omaha, Neb., for 12 years, raising millions of dollars for local and national charities, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Omaha and the Baseball Assistance Team.