In unsurprising news, Hunter Pence was named winner of this season’s Willie Mac Award. Giants players, coaches, training staff and fans voted the 30-year-old right fielder as the 35th recipient of this time-honored award.
On a cool September night at AT&T Park, Giants fans gathered for the time-honored tradition of the Willie Mac Award. Previous winners stood on the field – Mike Felder, Shawon Dunston, J.T. Snow, Mark Gardner, Matt Cain and a very dapper Andres Torres – as Mike Krukow passed the microphone over to Willie McCovey.
“This year’s winner is one of my favorite players. He works hard, he plays every day, every inning of every game…I know, along with me, all of you wish he is back next year,” said the legend, before announcing this year’s winner.
Pence walked on the field to cheers and fan appreciation before giving another inspirational speech that only Pence can deliver. Some highlights:
“To my teammates, I love you all. Buster, I know you don’t like it when I say I love you, I know you think it’s soft but I think it’s the strongest statement I’ve got.”
“I’ve got two goals everyday… To go hard and love every minute of it.”
“I’d like to thank God. God, you didn’t bless me with grace, or very much style, but you blessed me with a heart and a chance, so I can thank you for that.”
Just as all of AT&T Park was about to spontaneously combust from so many feelings, Pence addressed the fans that have become so attached to this odd, unique 2013 Willie Mac Award Winner.
“I’m not going to say you’re the best fans in the world. You’re more than that. I’m from another planet and know.”
Pence leads the team with 25 home runs and 22 steals this season. He’s set career highs in homers and is just seven RBI short of 100 for the second year in a row. He has also probably beat out more potential double plays than what should be possible. As of the ceremony, he has batted .282, and .313 with 11 homers and 45 RBI in the 65 games since the All Star break.
If he starts the final games of this season, he will be the first Giant in the SF-era to start every regular game in a season, and the first since Alvin Dark in 1954. His consecutive game streak is the longest streak in the National League and second longest in the Majors. Prince Fielder holds the current record and just played his 500th straight game on Monday.
The Giants are already talking with Pence’s camp about a new contract, as the outfielder will be a free agent at the end of this season. He has expressed his desire to return, and has found a home in San Francisco.
From his hustle, to production, to competitive yet respectful way of play, Hunter Pence is everything good about baseball. His heart and inspiration led the team through the 2012 postseason and he’s finishing up the season just as hard as he began.
Congratulations, Hunter Pence.