Mike Soroka wins Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Tip O’Neill Award

St. Marys, Ont. – Calgary native Mike Soroka has been named the winner of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2019 Tip O’Neill Award.

Canada’s baseball 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.

Soroka, who finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting and sixth in the Cy Young Award voting, is a first-time winner of the award. He staved off strong competition from last year’s winner James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.) to secure the honour.

“Mike Soroka put together one of the best rookie seasons by a Canadian pitcher in major league history,” said Scott Crawford, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s director of operations. “He not only had an outstanding regular season with the Atlanta Braves, but he was also dominant in his first post-season start. He’s definitely a worthy recipient of the award.”

Mike Soroka By: Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves
Photo by Kevin D. Liles for the Atlanta Braves

In his first full major league season, Soroka posted a 13-4 record and a 2.68 ERA, while striking out 142 batters in 174-2/3 innings in 29 starts for the Braves. His ERA ranked third in the National League, while his road ERA (1.35) was the best in the circuit and the fifth lowest in major leagues since 1913 (minimum 15 games started).

Among National League rookie hurlers, Soroka had the best ERA, was third in wins and fourth in games started, innings pitched and strikeouts. For his efforts, he was named to the National League All-Star team and a starting pitcher on Baseball America’s MLB All-Rookie team.

The Canuck right-hander was also masterful in his first post-season start, limiting the St. Louis Cardinals to one run on two hits, while striking out seven, in seven innings in Game 3 of the National League Division Series.

Selected in the first round of the 2015 MLB draft, the PBF Redbirds and Junior National Team alum made his big league debut on May 1, 2018. In five starts for the Braves last season, he registered a 2-1 record and a 3.51 ERA.

On top of his strong on-the-field performance in 2019 , Soroka has also been active in charitable and community endeavors. He worked with a number of charities that the Braves Foundation supports, including the Dave Krache Foundation and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He also worked with CHOA’s epilepsy unit during the season to host a number of children and their parents at a game. Back in his home province, he serves as an ambassador for KidSport Calgary.

“When I had been told I would be the recipient of the 2019 Tip O’Neill Award, it really did put me back in a sense of awe,” said Soroka. “Having had the opportunity to grow up through the Canadian Baseball Program (Junior National Team), I have always felt a sense of pride when there are Canadians excelling in this game. I am always sure to mention to anyone watching other games in the clubhouse when a Canadian is at the plate or on the mound. I am beyond humbled to have the honour of sharing this award with some of the greats of not just Canadian baseball, but Major League Baseball period. This sense of pride has stemmed from others who represented Canadian baseball so well before me, and is something I hope to carry on as well.

“I am extremely thankful to have been considered for the Tip O’Neill, as it will be something I carry with great pride.”

Details about the presentation of the 2019 Tip O’Neill Award will be announced in the coming months.

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.

To determine the winner of the Tip O’Neill Award, 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 15, 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.

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
2017 – Joey Votto
2018 – James Paxton
2019 – Mike Soroka