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 (and along with it the no-repeat rule), 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 given in the NL but not the AL, and 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
- For the first and only time in history, 1979 saw co-MVPs in baseball, with rival first basemen Willie Stargell of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Keith Hernandez of the New York Mets split the votes and the award.
- While Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, Yogi Berra, and Mickey Mantle are tied in the American League with three MVPs apiece, in the National League it's no contest - the otherworldly Barry Bonds has won 7!
- With his victory in 1956, Don Newcombe became the first pitcher to win the MVP and National League Cy Young Award in the same season. The feat was repeated in 1964 by Sandy Koufax, in 1968 by Bob Gibson and in 2014 by Clayton Kershaw.
- In 1987, Andre Dawson became the first player to win an MVP award while playing for a last place team, the Chicago Cubs.
Here are the winners of the National League Most Valuable Player Award, in reverse chronological order:
Source: Major League Baseball - http://www.mlb.com/
American League Awards:
National League Awards: