Friday, July 25, 2014

Kershaw Joins Koufax as a Hickok Belt Winner - Check Out My Vintage Photo Featuring Koufax Winning Same Award in 1963

Sometimes luck is all about timing.

For instance, I recently won a couple of vintage photographs through RMY Auctions, one of which features Sandy Koufax winning the Hickok Belt for his accomplishments in 1963.  As luck would have it, once that photo arrived in my hands, a press release was issued naming Clayton Kershaw as a monthly winner of the Hickock Belt for June 2014.

How about that, eh?

It's like the cosmos momentarily aligned to give me inspiration for a new blog post.  Or, maybe it's just dumb blind luck.

Anyway, first to the Kershaw announcement. Through voting conducted by a select panel of members of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, they chose Clayton Kershaw as the June 2014 winner of the Hickock Belt. This should come as no surprise since he was clearly the most overwhelming sports athlete in the country last month. Via a press release:
Kershaw's selection as the Hickok Belt Award winner for June 2014 recognizes him as "the best of the best" in professional sports for the month and makes him the sixth candidate eligible to receive the 2014 overall award, joining previous 2014 monthly winners Kevin Durant, Carey Price, Tuukka Rask, Bubba Watson, and Nelson Cruz.
I'm sure you're wondering, what the heck is a Hickock Belt? 

Well... The Hickock Belt was initially founded in 1950, and was known as the S. Rae Hickok Professional Athlete of the Year Award.  It recognizes the top American professional athlete of the year, and they awarded a belt (much like a boxing championship belt) to its winner.  For the next 27 years some of the greatest American athletes were awarded the prize; including Phil Rizzuto, Rocky Marciano, Willie Mays, Ben Hogan and Joe Namath.  Also, a couple of Dodgers have won the award.  Maury Wills won it in 1962, and Sandy Koufax won it twice (1963 and 1965).  Now, after a 36 year hiatus the award returns to honor the countries best.  Unlike in years past, monthly award winners are named with a single annual overall winner named at years end.  You can visit the Hickock Belt website here.

As indicated on the write-up on the reverse of the vintage photo of Sandy Koufax (as seen below);
"Sandy Koufax of the world champion Los Angeles Dodgers tries on the $10,000 jewel-studded Hickock Belt awarded him January 20 as Professional Athlete of the Year."
If you look closely at the vintage photo you'll notice that it is an alligator-skinned belt with a solid gold buckle, a 4 carat diamond and various gemstones.  I have no idea if today's winner receives a similar pricey award.  I get the impression that it is no longer as high-profile and prestigious as it once was.  Still, to be named along with other greats of American sports past is quite an accomplishment.

Congrats, Clayton!

* Please follow on twitter @ernestreyes *
* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

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