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Managers of the Year: Francona and Hurdle
NEW YORK (AP) - Terry Francona of the Cleveland Indians and Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates won the Manager of the Year awards Tuesday after guiding their small-budget teams to charming turnarounds.
It was the first Manager of the Year honor for Francona, even though _ in an interesting twist _ he steered the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. In his first season with the Indians, he directed them to a 24-win improvement and their first playoff berth in six years.
They lost the AL wild-card game to Tampa Bay, but voting is conducted before the postseason.
“It’s a bit overwhelming, to tell you the truth,” Hurdle said. “It’s humbling. It’s gratifying from an organizational standpoint.”
After that, they endured a record 20 straight losing seasons _ the longest drought in any of the four major professional sports _ before going 94-68 this year to capture an NL wild card.
Riding a wave of excitement from a rejuvenated fan base in a city finally enthralled by baseball again, Pittsburgh beat the Cincinnati Reds in the wild-card game before losing to league champion St. Louis in a division series that went the full five games.
“I said it’s the greatest coaching opportunity in all of sports _ the opportunity to be part of a select group of men and women that re-bond a city with a ballclub,” Hurdle said. “Three years almost to the day that I said it, it’s starting to happen.”
Hurdle was chosen second on the other five ballots and was the only manager picked on every one. He had 140 points in the 5-3-1 scoring system to 68 points for Mattingly, who received two first-place votes after leading the Dodgers to the NL West title.
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