Arkansas' Kevin Kopps is the 2021 Dick Howser Trophy, becoming the first relief hurler to be awarded the honor. The award, presented each year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), was the 34th trophy they've handed out since the inception of the award.
Oregon State’s Adley Rutschman took home the 2019 Dick Howser Trophy.
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Let’s take a look back at the history of the Dick Howser Trophy.
THE DICK HOWSER TROPHY: What is it?
The Dick Howser Trophy was created in July 1987 to honor the late Dick Howser, who had passed away in June of the same year after his battle with brain cancer. Howser was a two-time All-American shortstop for Florida State who became a Major League All-Star later in his professional career.
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After a brief stint managing the New York Yankees in 1978 — literally, it was a one-game gig as the official manager — Howser returned to head coach Florida State in 1979. When the Yankees came calling for Howser to manage again in the 1980 season, Howser’s Seminoles career came to an end. He handed the reins to a young, up-and-coming baseball coach named Mike Martin.
Switch-hitting catcher Adley Rutschman of @BeaverBaseball, who hit .411 with 17 HR, is our 2019 @HowserTrophy winner as the National Player of the Year: https://t.co/HjoiMfw16g pic.twitter.com/dUmC5wnc9K— NCBWA (@NCBWA) June 15, 2019
Howser eventually went on to manage the Kansas City Royals until he became too weak to do so after he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He led the Royals to the 1985 MLB World Series title — the first in Kansas City history — and the final game he managed was the 1986 MLB All-Star Game.
Florida State helps keep the memory of Howser alive, as the Seminoles play on Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium. The NCBWA carries on the tradition as well, handing out the Dick Howser Trophy annually at the College World Series in Omaha. It is widely considered the Heisman Trophy of college baseball.
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THE DICK HOWSER TROPHY: What’s it look like?
Simply put, the answer is it looks like Dick Howser. It is a massive bronze bust of Howser's head wearing a Royals hat atop a wood base. Upon the base are plates with words like "leadership," "character" and "performance," traits Howser was known for and what voters look for in their annual trophy winners. A nameplate for Dick Howser adorns the front of the trophy while the winners have their names surrounding the trophy. You can see the trophy on display at Tropicana Field in Tampa, Florida, home of the Tampa Bay Rays.
THE DICK HOWSER TROPHY: How it works
The trophy’s presentation has changed a bit over the years. Originally founded by Howser's friends in the St. Petersburg community, the award was first presented at the Governors Baseball Dinner in St. Petersburg as a welcoming to MLB spring training. It has since moved to TD Ameritrade Park Omaha and is announced at the College World Series in June.
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The voting process has also changed hands. From 1987-98, the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) selected the winner of the Dick Howser Trophy. Beginning in 1999, the NCBWA — who presents the prestigious award jointly with the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce — began its annual national voting process for the award. College baseball players’ names are presented by the baseball writers, SIDs and other college baseball media of the NCBWA and then voted down to semifinalist and finalists before the winner is finally named.
The award criteria are those traits mentioned before that were found in Howser. Obviously, performance puts the player on the map, but as the NCBWA explains, it is based on "baseball excellence and scholastic achievement" as well as courage, leadership and character.
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THE DICK HOWSER TROPHY: A history of winners
Mike Fiore of Miami (Fla.) was the first winner of the award way back in 1987. Rutschman took home the most recent award. Let’s take a look back at the history of the Dick Howser Trophy.
- Pitchers rule the day. Eleven have won the award, more than any other position. Third base and outfield are a distant second, each with five winners. Catchers and utility players are right behind, taking home the trophy four times.
- The ACC is the top conference in Dick Howser Trophy winners. The award has gone to an ACC school nine times, with the SEC close behind with seven. The Big 12 has had six winners, while Rutschman became the second Pac-12 player to win the trophy.
- Rutschman was the 19th trophy winner to win both the Dick Howser and Golden Spikes in the same season. Oklahoma State’s Robin Ventura was the first back in 1988.
- Brooks Kieschnick of Texas is the only back-to-back winner of the award. Kieschnick was a two-way threat, finishing his Longhorns career with a .360 batting average and 43 home runs while going 34-8 with a 3.05 ERA.
- Clemson's Seth Beer became the first freshman to win the award in 2016.
- In 2021, Arkansas' Kevin Kopps became the first primarily relief hurler in the history of the award.
Here's a complete history of the 34 winners of the Dick Howser Trophy.
(BOLD PLAYERS = Won the Golden Spikes Award the same season).
|1987||Mike Fiore||Outfielder||Miami (Fla.)|
|1988||Robin Ventura||Third baseman||Oklahoma State|
|1990||Alex Fernández||Pitcher||Miami-Dade Community College|
|1991||Frank Rodriguez||Pitcher||Howard College|
|1992||Brooks Kieschnick||Utility player||Texas|
|1993||Brooks Kieschnick||Utility player||Texas|
|1994||Jason Varitek||Catcher||Georgia Tech|
|1995||Todd Helton||First baseman||Tennessee|
|1997||J. D. Drew||Outfielder||Florida State|
|1998||Eddy Furniss||First baseman||LSU|
|2000||Mark Teixeira||Third baseman||Georgia Tech|
|2001||Mark Prior||Pitcher||Southern California|
|2003||Rickie Weeks||Second baseman||Southern|
|2004||Jered Weaver||Pitcher||Long Beach State|
|2005||Alex Gordon||Third baseman||Nebraska|
|2008||Buster Posey||Catcher||Florida State|
|2009||Stephen Strasburg||Pitcher||San Diego State|
|2010||Anthony Rendon||Third baseman||Rice|
|2013||Kris Bryant||Third baseman||San Diego|
|2014||A. J. Reed||Utility player||Kentucky|
|2017||Brendan McKay||Pitcher/First baseman||Louisville|
|2019||Adley Rutschman||Catcher||Oregon State|
|2020||Canceled due to COVID-19||--||--|