INDIANAPOLIS—Most everyone left town as soon as the Rule 5 draft ended. But many minor league personnel, and some major league clubs, stayed behind for Thursday night’s banquet that officially closes the Winter Meetings.
Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year is one of several annual awards presented, including Topps’ organization of the year, the Giants (BA’s choice, awarded Monday, was the Phillies). The best part of the Giants’ presentation was seeing "The Ninja," Dick Tidrow, have to give a speech as he accepted the award. Tidrow isn’t known for his warm, fuzzy public persona, and having interviewed him several times for Giants’ Top 30 Prospects rankings, I can imagine that public speaking ranks just slightly above talking to Baseball America about his own players.
It was unfortunate for Tidrow that he was followed by an eloquent speaker and then an emotional one. His counterpart across the Bay, Athletics farm director Keith Lieppman, immediately followed him and won the Sheldon "Chief" Bender award, presented to an individual with distinguished service who has been instrumental in player development. Lieppman, whose speech included a dash of poetry, was honored as well by most of the A’s front office and big league manager Bob Geren sitting at two tables in the audience to support him.
Triple-A Durham manager Charlie Montoyo won the second Mike Coolbaugh award, presented to an individual who has shown an outstanding baseball work ethic, knowledge of the game and skill in mentoring young players on the field. Coolbaugh is the late former minor leaguer and Double-A Tulsa coach who was killed by a foul ball in 2008. Montoyo, who was BA’s 2009 Manager of the Year, dedicated the award to his wife, who couldn’t attend, and his son Alex.
Other award winners included New York-Penn League president Ben Hayes, who won the Warren Giles award for outstanding league president; the Chattanooga Lookouts, who won the Larry MacPhail tropy for the best promotional job during the year; and the San Jose Giants—BA’s Class A Freitas Award winner—who won the John H. Johnson president’s trophy for exemplifying the complete baseball franchise.
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