Stephen Vogt is the choice of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association as Oakland's winner of the 2015 Heart & Hustle Award, honoring "active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game." A committee of former players with established relationships to the A's selected Vogt for the honor. The final winner from the 30 nominees will be announced on November 10.
Stephen Vogt was 22 in the summer of 2006, the year he went undrafted after his junior season at Azusa Pacific, a disappointment after his coach "went to a sporting goods store and bought every major league cap he could find, a dozen in all, so that Vogt could have something to wear for photos, when his team got picked," writes Mark Whicker for USA TODAY.
Stephen Vogt was 24 in the summer of 2008, "playing for the Charlotte Stone Crabs in Class A ball, [when] he suffered a shoulder injury so severe that he contemplated retirement," writes Jerry Crasnick for ESPN.com. "He was ready to leave pro ball and pursue a career in coaching until his wife, Alyssa, dissuaded him from quitting."
Stephen Vogt was 28, and he had gone hitless in his first 25 at bats for the Tampa Bay Rays when the Oakland Athletics acquired him for $125,000 on April 6, 2013, writes Tyler Kepner for the New York Times. "He kept the ball he had used for his first caught stealing, he said, because he doubted he would ever get one for a hit," Kepner says.
Then he hit a home run for his first major league base hit on June 28, 2013:
And after collecting 74 more hits in that half-season, he added three more in the postseason, including this walk off winner in Game 2 of the American League Division Series:
In his age 29 season, he played through a foot injury that kept him from catching in most of 2014. He still hit .279/.321/.431 and hit nine home runs even though he again was kept from the majors until June 1. At the end of the year, his teammates awarded him the Jim "Catfish" Hunter Award, given to the Oakland Athletics player whose play on the field and conduct in the clubhouse best exemplifies the courageous, competitive and inspirational spirit demonstrated by the late Hall of Fame pitcher.
This year, at age 30, he's Oakland's primary catcher, team leader, and players vote winner to the American League All-Star Team.
Vogt has come far since injury almost caused him to choose another path six years ago. It's been a remarkable journey, and I'm looking forward to seeing it continue.
Past Oakland and overall winners of the MLBPAA Heart & Hustle Award
|Oakland A's winner||Overall winner|
|2015||Stephen Vogt||(TBD Nov. 16)|
|2014||Josh Donaldson||Josh Harrison, PIT|
|2013||Josh Donaldson||Dustin Pedroia, BOS|
|2012||Jonny Gomes||Mike Trout, LAA|
|2011||Kurt Suzuki||Torii Hunter, LAA|
|2010||Kurt Suzuki||Roy Hallady, PHI|
|2009||Jack Cust||Albert Pujols, STL|
|2008||Jack Cust||Grady Sizemore, CLE|
|2007||Nick Swisher||Craig Biggio, HOU|
|2006||Jason Kendall||Craig Biggio, HOU|
|2005||(no team awards)||David Eckstein, STL|