Etobicoke’s hometown hero hopes his award will boost baseball in the GTA
National League MVP Joey Votto hopes his major league award will raise interest in baseball throughout the GTA.
The Richview Collegiate alum was honoured with the accolade after a standout season with Cincinnati Reds batting .324 with 37 home runs and 113 runs batted in. The victory was one vote shy of being unanimous.
Calling from his home in Sarasota, Florida, he was shocked, and admittedly anxious leading up to the announcement.
“It’s an individual award but such great accomplishment is pretty much the pinnacle of all the awards,” said Votto. “It’s a great moment.”
The season has been one of accomplishment as the Reds made it to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years, Votto was elected to the All-Star game by the fans on 13.7 million ballots and he was given the Hank Aaron Award for being the top batter in the National League.
It’s a turnaround from a rough 2009 campaign where Votto took some time away from baseball to recharge after losing his father in 2008.
“Not to be dramatic or anything but after I was told I couldn’t help but cry because I know how much that something like this meant to me and would’ve meant to my father,” he said. “With what I went through in the past, I don’t really take that too much into account with this award but I have overcome a lot and I am very proud of myself.”
As for his competition — Albert Pujols of St. Louis Cardinals and Carlos González of Colorado Rockies — he lauded their skills, admitting he looks up to Pujols.
“Albert is the great player,” he said. “Myself and Carlos Gonzalez are learning how to be major leaguers and trying to establish ourselves and I think Carlos would agree with that.”
Votto isn’t the first Canadian to achieve MVP status in the majors as both Larry Walker (with Colorado in 1997) and Justin Morneau (in 2006 as a Twin) have taken home the hardware.
“There’s something about having guys achieve before you kind of set the bar you want to reach,” he said. “Larry was that for a lot of younger players and I can play a bit of that role especially in the Toronto area.
“Baseball, especially in the major leagues, we don’t have a ton of talent coming up and maybe I can be a part of that some way to let people know you can do it, you can get here.”