Called by Elston Howard (1963) the "Nobel Prize of baseball," the Most Valuable Player award attempts to capture more than statistics: it also attempts to identify the player who best served his team, and whose contributions to his team were in fact invaluable.
History Of The Award
In 1910, the idea to reward the player with the highest batting average began. The prize was a new Chalmers automobile. After a topsy-turvy final day of games, Nap Lajoie had edged Ty Cobb in the batting title by one-thousandth of a point (Lajoie had been thrown a lot of meat pitches and went 8-for-8 in a doubleheader - a slap in the face of the unpopular Georgia Peach). To avoid further confusion, the award was handed over to 11 sportswriters, who would select the league's most valuable player. An important clause was that no player could win twice. This award (colloquially named the Chalmers award) was discontinued in 1914, as Chalmers shifted their gears toward the war effort.
In 1922, the American League again began bestowing an MVP award on its favorite player (mostly to have something to enshrine on a newly proposed baseball monument in Washington, D.C.) and in 1924, the National League followed suit. In 1929, the award was again discontinued, mostly due to waning interest.
In 1931, the Baseball Writers Association of America began awarding the MVP award to one player from both the American and National League. The Sporting News presented the trophy until 1940, when the BBWAA took over this aspect as well.
Odds And Ends
Here are the winners of the American League Most Valuable Player Award, in reverse chronological order:
Source: Major League Baseball - http://www.mlb.com/
American League Awards:
National League Awards: