- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - Bud Black hung on to win this race. Ron Gardenhire became a first-time Manager of the Year, too, after so many near misses. A month after his San Diego Padres were knocked out of the playoff chase on the final day, Black nudged Cincinnati’s Dusty Baker by one point for the NL award Wednesday.

“I guess this vote was sort of like our season, it came down to the wire,” Black said on a conference call.

Gardenhire was the clear choice in the American League, earning the honor after five times as the runner-up. He led Minnesota to its sixth AL Central title in nine seasons.

“Congrats to the best manager in bestball!” Twins center fielder Denard Span tweeted. “Way overdue!” Span tweeted an apology moments later for misspelling baseball.

Said Gardenhire: “It’s pretty neat to have your name mentioned up there.”

Black was selected after guiding San Diego to a 15-game turnaround despite the second-lowest payroll in the majors. The Padres finished 90-72 and led the NL West until a late, 10-game slump and then a loss to San Francisco on the last day eliminated them.

Black drew 16 first-place votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and got 104 points. Baker had 13 first-place votes and 103 points.

Bruce Bochy of the World Series champion San Francisco Giants, Atlanta’s retiring Bobby Cox and Philadelphia’s Charlie Manuel got the other first-place votes.

“This was a great year in the NL,” said Black, who was on a golf course near San Diego when he got the word. “I guess this vote could’ve gone either way. I feel fortunate that I won. All these guys are so deserving.”

Baker, a three-time Manager of the Year, led the NL Central champion Reds to their first playoff spot since 1995. He was listed on 27 of the 32 ballots while Black was picked on 26.

“I’m not terribly disappointed because I didn’t expect it,” Baker told The Associated Press. “Buddy did a great job.”

Baker was in the mountains of California when he heard the vote totals. The announcement came on the one-year anniversary of his father’s death.

“When I woke up today, I was thinking about my dad, not the award,” Baker said. “He’d be proud of me.”

This marked the third time that the NL Manager of the Year was decided by a single point. There was a tie for the AL honor in 1996 between Joe Torre and Johnny Oates.

Two BBWAA voters from every league city send in three top choices when the regular season ends. Votes were counted on a 5-3-1 basis.

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