OAKLAND, Calif. – Outfielder/designated hitter Jonny Gomes has been named the recipient of the 2012 Jim “Catfish” Hunter Award, which honors an A’s player whose play on the field and conduct in the clubhouse best exemplifies the courageous, competitive and inspirational spirit demonstrated by the late Hall of Fame pitcher. The award is voted upon by Oakland A’s players, coaches and staff.
Gomes, a free agent signing by the A’s during the offseason, provided power and team leadership for the playoff-bound Athletics. The 31-year-old Petaluma, Calif. native ranks first on the team in on-base percentage (.374), fourth in batting average (.260), home runs (17) and slugging percentage (.480) and sixth in RBI (46), while playing in only 98 games with 277 at-bats.
The 6-foot-1, 223-pound slugger is batting .292 (38 for 130) with nine home runs and 25 RBI in 43 games after the All-Star Break. He has particularly shined in the clutch, hitting .311 (19 for 61) with runners in scoring position, including a Major League-leading .480 (12 for 25) with runners in scoring position with two outs.
This is Gomes’ second team honor this season, having previously been named the recipient of the 2012 Dave Stewart Community Service Award. He has contributed to many community organizations, most recently to the Petaluma National Little League team that finished third in the 2012 Little League World Series in Williamsburg, Pa.
This annual award, which was established in 2004, is named after Jim “Catfish” Hunter, a native of Hertford, N.C who posted a 224-166 record and 3.26 ERA during 15 Major League seasons with the Kansas City/Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees. He holds Oakland’s all-time career mark for wins (131) and won 20 or more games in five consecutive seasons (1971-75). In 1974, he won the American League’s Cy Young Award after winning a career-high 25 games.
“Catfish” earned five World Series rings during his career and was 4-0 with one save in seven World Series appearances with the A’s. An eight-time All-Star, he made his Major League debut in 1965 with the Kansas City Athletics and did not miss a start until the 1977 season. Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987, Hunter is one of five Oakland players to have had his number retired, along with Rollie Fingers, Reggie Jackson, Dennis Eckersley and Rickey Henderson.
Hunter was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in September of 1998 and died of complications from the disease on Sept. 9, 1999 at the age of 53. Previous winners of the Jim “Catfish” Hunter Award include Tim Hudson (2004), Mark Ellis (2005, 2007), Jason Kendall (2006), Mike Sweeney (2008), Kurt Suzuki (2009), Ben Sheets (2010) and Josh Willingham (2011).
Gomes will receive the Catfish Hunter Award in an on-field presentation prior to tonight’s game against the Rangers.