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Wayne Cavadi | | June 18, 2021

The Dick Howser Trophy: A complete guide to college baseball's national player of the year award

Rutschman in contention for Golden Spikes Award

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 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.

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.

Oregon State Athletics Adley Rutschman won the 2019 Dick Howser Trophy.


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).

Year Player Position School
1987 Mike Fiore Outfielder Miami (Fla.)
1988 Robin Ventura Third baseman Oklahoma State
1989 Scott Bryant Outfielder Texas
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
1996 Kris Benson Pitcher Clemson
1997 J. D. Drew Outfielder Florida State
1998 Eddy Furniss First baseman LSU
1999 Jason Jennings Pitcher Baylor
2000 Mark Teixeira Third baseman Georgia Tech
2001 Mark Prior Pitcher Southern California
2002 Khalil Greene Shortstop Clemson
2003 Rickie Weeks Second baseman Southern
2004 Jered Weaver Pitcher Long Beach State
2005 Alex Gordon Third baseman Nebraska
2006 Brad Lincoln Pitcher Houston
2007 David Price Pitcher Vanderbilt
2008 Buster Posey Catcher Florida State
2009 Stephen Strasburg Pitcher San Diego State
2010 Anthony Rendon Third baseman Rice
2011 Taylor Jungmann Pitcher Texas
2012 Mike Zunino Catcher Florida
2013 Kris Bryant Third baseman San Diego
2014 A. J. Reed Utility player Kentucky
2015 Andrew Benintendi Outfielder Arkansas
2016 Seth Beer Outfielder Clemson
2017 Brendan McKay Pitcher/First baseman Louisville
2018 Brady Singer Pitcher Florida
2019 Adley Rutschman Catcher Oregon State
2020 Canceled due to COVID-19 -- --
2021 Kevin Kopps Pitcher Arkansas

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