Joey Votto wins Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Tip O’Neill Award

Tip O'Neill trophy (3)St. Marys, Ont. – For the sixth time in seven years, Etobicoke, Ont., native Joey Votto has won the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Tip O’Neill Award.

The St. Marys, Ont.-based shrine presents this honour annually to the Canadian player judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to baseball’s highest ideals.

To determine the winner, the Hall takes into account a number of criteria, including each candidate’s on-the-field performance, contributions to their team, community and charitable endeavors and support in fan voting. Starting on November 18, the Hall had encouraged fans to vote for their top three candidates and they responded by casting their votes via e-mail and on the Hall’s website.

The Cincinnati Reds first baseman, who shared the Tip O’Neill Award with John Axford (Port Joey VottoDover, Ont.) in 2011, staved off strong competition from Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin (East York, Ont.), outfielder Michael Saunders (Victoria, B.C.), Baseball America double-A Minor League Player of the Year Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, B.C.) and national women’s team MVP Amanda Asay (Prince George, B.C.) to win the award.

“Joey Votto had another outstanding season on the field in 2016,” said Scott Crawford, the Hall’s director of operations. “But he also continues to be very active in charitable endeavors away from the field. He’s an excellent ambassador for the game of baseball in Canada and we’re proud to honour him with this award.”

Votto’s .326 batting average in 2016 was the third-best in the National League, but he hit .408 in the season’s second-half to become one of just seven players in major league history to bat over .400 after the All-Star break in a season. He led the National League in on-base percentage (OBP) (.434), times on base (294) and on-base plus slugging percentage plus (OPS+) (160) and finished second in on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) (.985) and walks (108).  He also posted a .550 slugging percentage and recorded 181 hits, good for sixth and eighth in the National League respectively.

His 2016 campaign represented just the 19th time in major league history that a Canadian has completed a season with a batting average over .300, an OBP over .400 and a slugging percentage over .500.

For his efforts, he was nominated for the National League’s Hank Aaron Award, handed out to the league’s top hitter, and he finished seventh in the National League MVP voting.

Away from the field, Votto is heavily involved with the Reds Community Fund, the club’s non-profit arm that’s dedicated to improving the lives of youth. He also regularly visits the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and participates in meet and greets with patients and staff at the ballpark throughout the season.

His previous contributions helped lead to the construction and completion of the 33,000-square foot training center at the P&G Cincinnati MLB Urban Youth Academy. The indoor complex bears his name and hosts year-round baseball, softball, educational and vocational programming.

Votto has also been a generous donor to UC Health (Greater Cincinnati’s Academic Health System) with a focus on patients living with post-traumatic stress disorder and he has participated in Make-A-Wish experiences at Great American Ball Park.

“I thank the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for the recognition. It is very humbling, because our country produces some very good baseball players,” said Votto, after being informed he’ll be honoured with the 2016 Tip O’Neill Award. “We all need to thank the Baseball Hall of Fame’s efforts in promoting the sport and our native players.”

Votto will be presented with the award in a pre-game ceremony in Cincinnati early in the 2017 season.

The Hall’s Tip O’Neill Award is named after Woodstock, Ont., native James “Tip” O’Neill, who was one of Major League Baseball’s first legitimate stars. With the American Association’s St. Louis Browns in 1887, O’Neill set big league records in hits, doubles, slugging percentage and total bases, while compiling a major league record .492 batting average. Walks were counted as hits in 1887, but if O’Neill’s average was calculated by today’s standards, it would be .435, the second-highest in big league history to Hugh Duffy who hit .440 in 1894.

Past winners of the James “Tip” O’Neill Award:
1984 – Terry Puhl
1985 – Dave Shipanoff
1986 – Rob Ducey
1987 – Larry Walker
1988 – Kevin Reimer
1989 – Steve Wilson
1990 – Larry Walker
1991 – Daniel Brabant
1992 – Larry Walker
1993 – Rob Butler
1994 – Larry Walker
1995 – Larry Walker
1996 – Jason Dickson
1997 – Larry Walker
1998 – Larry Walker
1999 – Jeff Zimmerman
2000 – Ryan Dempster
2001 – Corey Koskie
2001 – Larry Walker
2002 – Eric Gagné
2002 – Larry Walker
2003 – Eric Gagné
2004 – Jason Bay
2005 – Jason Bay
2006 – Justin Morneau
2007 – Russell Martin
2008 – Justin Morneau
2009 – Jason Bay
2010 – Joey Votto
2011 – Joey Votto
2011 – John Axford
2012 – Joey Votto
2013 – Joey Votto
2014 – Justin Morneau
2015 – Joey Votto
2016 – Joey Votto