(Reuters) – Clint Hurdle was named National League Manager of the Year on Tuesday after leading Pittsburgh to their first postseason berth in 21 years, while Terry Francona of the Cleveland Indians took home the American League honors.
Hurdle steered the playoff-deprived Pirates to a 94-68 record in 2013, which also marked their first winning season since 1992, to claim a wild card playoff berth following a 79-83 mark in 2012.
The Pirates manager won the vote over Don Mattingly of the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers and NL East-winning manager Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves.
Hurdle received 25 of the 30 first-place votes and was named second on the other five ballots to win by a wide margin. Mattingly was runner-up and Gonzalez third in the balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
The Pirates faded after a strong first-half in 2012, but finished strong in the 56-year-old Hurdle’s third year at the helm of the Pirates.
“From an organizational standpoint, we are a competitive team and we have big dreams,” Hurdle said. “It’s not enough to just show up and play hard.
“It’s a bit overwhelming. It’s humbling,” added Hurdle. “All I tried to do every day was to be positive.”
Francona, who led the Boston Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007, won his first Manager of the Year award after taking Cleveland into the postseason with a wild card berth in his first season in charge of the Indians.
In a tight American League race, Francona, whose Indians went from 68-94 to 92-70, collected 16 first-place votes to 12 for John Farrell, who led the Red Sox to a World Series title.
Last year’s winner, Bob Melvin of the AL West-winning Oakland Athletics, finished third and received the other two first-place votes.
Voters submitted their ballots before the start of the postseason.
“It gives me a chance to brag for our organization,” Francona said. “It’s a representation of the organization. This was one of the funnest years I ever had.”
Francona, who had never received a first-place vote in previous balloting, and Farrell go back a long way together having been team mates on the 1988 Indians club.
Francona was manager when Boston ended an 86-year World Series title drought in 2004 with a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals. He had Farrell as his pitching coach in 2007 when Boston swept another World Series over the Colorado Rockies.
“I think I’d trade the award for what he did, any time,” Francona said about his friend Farrell’s winning this season’s World Series.
“I actually called John this morning. I thought it was hilarious that in 1988 we were both struggling to survive with the Cleveland Indians and that 25 years later we’d be going against each other for this award.”
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York- Editing by Frank Pingue and Peter Rutherford)