The inspirational story of the return to prominence of St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman is being celebrated by his teammates and the St. Louis chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. The first-year Cardinal is the 2011 winner of the Darryl Kile Award.
Earlier named the 2011 National League Comeback Player of the Year, Berkman had his first 30-home run season since 2007 after hitting just 14 in 2010. This past season, the switch-hitter ranked among National League leaders in home runs (31, tied for ninth), RBI (94, tied for 11th), walks (92, fourth), slugging (.547, fifth) and on-base percentage (.412, third). Berkman was also selected as The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com 2011 St. Louis Cardinals Player of the Year.
The Kile Award was first announced in January 2003 to memorialize the late pitcher and is voted upon annually by Cardinals players. Criteria include Kile’s qualities of being “a good teammate, a great friend, a fine father and a humble man.”
Kile took great pride in not missing a start in 331 major league outings and in never spending a day on the major league disabled list in 12 years. The right-handed pitcher passed away in his sleep due to coronary disease on June 22, 2002, leaving behind a wife, two small children, legions of fans and a grieving Cardinals organization.
Past winners include (no winner in 2002 to honor Kyle), Mike Matheny (2003), Woody Williams (2004), Cal Eldred (2005), Chris Carpenter (2006), Russ Springer (2007), Adam Wainwright (2008), Skip Schumaker (2009) and Matt Holliday (2010).
Berkman will receive his Award on January 15 at St. Louis Baseball Writers' Dinner. Tickets by the seat and table, with or without Winter Warm-Up passes included, can be obtained from the St. Louis BBWAA. Details on prices and ordering information can be found in this article from the Post-Dispatch.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column during the season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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