OAKLAND -- Josh Willingham was named the recipient of the 2011 Jim "Catfish" Hunter Award, which for the past seven years has recognized the A's most inspirational player -- a trait the late Hunter prominently showcased during 15 Major League seasons.
It marks a third honor this year for the A's outfielder, who also garnered the Dave Stewart Community Service Award as well as a nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award. This one, though, proved the most gratifying, as it was voted upon by A's players, coaches and staff members.
"Pretty unbelievable," Willingham said. "Any time you're voted for something or given an award from your peers, I think a lot of people, when their careers are over with, their numbers don't matter as opposed to what others think of you, how you represented yourself. That's why it's so special to me."
The 32-year-old Willingham is enjoying perhaps the most productive season of his eight-year career. He entered Tuesday with a team-leading 27 home runs and 92 RBIs -- both numbers represent career highs, and the latter is the most by an A's player since Frank Thomas' 114 in 2006.
Off the field, he has joined wife, Ginger, in continually working to expand the Josh Willingham Foundation, which this year provided much-needed help to tornado victims in their home state of Alabama.
"I think the fact that he's picked up basically every humanitarian award you can this year tells you a little bit about him off the field," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Usually you just get a perspective on a guy on the field, and your interviews with him pertain a lot more to baseball, but obviously there's a lot more with this guy that meets the eye than just baseball-wise."