Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award

Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award

Not to be confused with the Commissioner's Trophy.

The Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award is awarded by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball (MLB) to a group or person who has made a "major impact on the sport" of baseball.[1] It is not an annual award; rather, the Commissioner presents the trophy at his discretion. The trophy is a gold baseball sitting atop a cylindrical silver base,[2] created by Tiffany & Co.[3] The award has been presented thirteen times by Commissioner Bud Selig: eleven times to players, once to a team, and once to a non-player. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were the first to receive the award for their parts in the 1998 MLB home run record chase.[2] The most recent recipient is Mariano Rivera (2013), who was honored for his many pitching records and for being "a great ambassador of the game".[4] The 2001 Seattle Mariners won the award as a team for posting a 116–46 record one season after losing Alex Rodriguez to the Texas Rangers. Roberto Clemente, the 2006 awardee, is the only player to receive the award posthumously; his award was accepted by his wife, Vera.[5]

Three years after McGwire and Sosa were honored, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwynn, both of whom retired after the 2001 season, received the award and were honored at the 2001 MLB All-Star Game; Ripken was elected to the American League All-Star team as a starter at third base, while Gwynn was later added as an honorary member of the National League team.[6] During the first inning of the game, Rodriguez, who had been elected the starter at shortstop—the position at which Ripken played for most of his career—switched positions with Ripken for the first inning of the game as a tribute.[7] Including the presentation of the award to the Mariners following the season, the 2001 season's three awards are the most presented in a single year.

Barry Bonds received the award in 2002, becoming the third player so honored for breaking the single-season home run record. Bonds was the first of two players to receive the award that season, along with Rickey Henderson. The award was given in each year from 2004 until 2007: Roger Clemens was honored during the 2004 All-Star Game, and Ichiro Suzuki was presented with the award for breaking the single-season hits record in 2005. Rachel Robinson was honored in 2007, receiving the award for establishing the Jackie Robinson Foundation. She was the first woman and the first non-player to be thus honored.


Winners of the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award, with image, year presented, and description of his or her "major impact"
Awardee(s) Image Year presented Achievement Ref(s)
Bonds, BarryBarry Bonds 2002 Bonds set the MLB single-season home run record with 73 in the 2001 season. He also amassed 137 runs batted in, 177 walks, and an .863 slugging percentage; the last two broke records set by Babe Ruth. Bonds later went on to surpass both Ruth and Hank Aaron as the all-time MLB home run leader. [8][9]
Clemens, RogerRoger Clemens 2004 Clemens won seven Cy Young Awards during his career (six at the time of the award presentation), posted six seasons in which he won 20 or more games (career-high 24 wins in 1986), and won 354 games in his career. Clemens is only the fourth pitcher to surpass 4,000 strikeouts and appeared in 10 All-Star Games in his 24-year career. [10][11]
Clemente, RobertoRoberto Clemente
2006 Clemente is the only posthumous recipient of the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award. He led the league in batting average four times in his career, notching his 3,000th hit in the 1972 season (September 30). Inducted into the Hall of Fame after his death at sea, Clemente was recognized not only for his statistical achievements over his 17 seasons, but for his humanitarian contributions. [5][12]
Griffey, Jr., KenKen Griffey, Jr. 2011 Griffey was retired at the time of his award after having hit over 600 home runs, winning a MVP Award in 1997, and being named to the All-Century Team over the course of his career. Commissioner Bud Selig described Griffey in a statement, saying he "was a gifted all-around player with a perfect swing, a brilliant glove and a childlike joy for the game. From the time he was just 19, Ken represented MLB with excellence and grace, and he was one of our sport's greatest ambassadors not only in Seattle and Cincinnati, but also around the world. I am most appreciative for all of Ken's contributions to our national pastime." [13][14]
Gwynn, TonyTony Gwynn 2001 Gwynn played 20 seasons with the San Diego Padres, amassing 15 All-Star appearances and leading the league in batting average 8 times. His .338 average ranks him 17th on the all-time list for career batting average. Gwynn was the 1999 recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award, won five Gold Glove Awards, and notched a .306 career average in the postseason. [6][15]
Henderson, RickeyRickey Henderson 2002 During his 25-season career, Henderson set numerous MLB records, including most runs scored, most stolen bases in a season and a career, and most leadoff home runs in league history. Henderson began play at the age of 20 with the 1979 Oakland Athletics, and continued through the 2003 season, playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers at age 44. Henderson continued to play after his unofficial retirement from MLB, appearing for several independent league teams. [16][17]
McGwire, MarkMark McGwire 1998 McGwire's name is linked with that of fellow 1998 award winner Sammy Sosa for their part in the MLB home run record chase of that season. McGwire ended the 1998 season with 70 home runs, the first player ever to reach the mark in a season and only the fifth player to break 60 home runs. McGwire finished his career with 583 home runs. [18][19]
Ripken, CalCal Ripken, Jr. 2001 Ripken broke one of baseball's "unbreakable" records[20] by playing in 2,131 consecutive games. His durability earned him the nickname "Iron Man", referencing Lou Gehrig (the "Iron Horse"), the player whose record he broke. Ripken would finish his career with 2,632 consecutive games played out of his 3,001 career games. He played for the Baltimore Orioles for 21 seasons, hitting 431 home runs and redefining the role of the shortstop in baseball. [7][21]
Rivera, MarianoMariano Rivera 2013 Rivera retired as MLB's career leader in saves (652) and games finished (952) after a 19-year career with the New York Yankees, 17 of which were spent as the team's closer. A five-time World Series champion, Rivera set numerous postseason records, including most saves (42) and lowest earned run average (0.70). He was the final MLB player to wear the uniform number 42 following its league-wide retirement in honor of Jackie Robinson. Selig described Rivera as "a great ambassador of the game" who "represented his family, his country, the Yankees and all of Major League Baseball with the utmost class and dignity". [4]
Robinson, RachelRachel Robinson 2007 Robinson, wife of pioneer Jackie Robinson, is the only woman and the only non-player to win the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award. In honor of her "contribution and sacrifice to the legacy of her husband", Selig presented the award to Robinson for her work with the Jackie Robinson Foundation. The Foundation has awarded more than $14 million in scholarships to students in need. [1]
Seattle Mariners 2001 After the 2000 season, the Mariners lost shortstop Alex Rodriguez to the Texas Rangers via free agency. Adding Orix BlueWave outfielder Ichiro Suzuki from the Japanese league, the 2001 Mariners won their division with a 116–46 record, 14 games ahead of the second-place Oakland Athletics. Suzuki finished with a team-high .350 batting average, winning the Rookie of the Year award, and was named the league's Most Valuable Player. In the second round of the playoffs, the Mariners were defeated by the Yankees. [22][23]
Sosa, SammySammy Sosa 1998 Sosa and Mark McGwire's chase for the single-season home run record thrust the National League Central division into the spotlight, but Sosa's Chicago Cubs finished ahead of McGwire's St. Louis Cardinals in the division standings, second to the 102-win Houston Astros. Thus, Sosa was the recipient of the 1998 Most Valuable Player Award, though his 66 home runs placed him 4 behind McGwire's record of 70. Sosa went on to be the only player in MLB history to collect three 60-home-run seasons (1998, 1999, 2001). [2][24]
Suzuki, IchiroIchiro Suzuki 2005 In breaking a record many thought "unbreakable",[25] Ichiro led the major leagues with a .372 batting average in the 2004 season by amassing 262 hits. The previous record had been set in 1920 by George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns (257). Ichiro also led the league in at-bats (704), plate appearances (762), and intentional walks (19). [22][26]


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