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Gold Glove Award

   The Gold Glove award is given by Rawlings Sporting Goods. In 1956, a survey indicated that 83 percent of major leaguers used Rawlings' gloves - as a publicity stunt, Elmer A. Blasco (the company's advertising, public relations, and sales manager) decided to sponsor a fielding award, similar to the Silver Bats award given by Hillerich & Bradsby (the major leagues' leading baseball bat supplier) to the leading hitters.

   The December 18, 1957, edition of The Sporting News featured the first winners of the Gold Glove, as chosen by 19 noted sports writers.

   In 1958 the Gold Glove selection privilege was turned over to the major league players, and an All-Star Fielding Team was selected for each league (as it still is). In 1961 the method for selecting outfielders was changed. Rather than choosing a left, center, and right fielder for each league, each voter was instructed to name three outfielders regardless of their positions (still the practice today).

   Since 1965, the managers and coaches of each team have taken over the voting responsibility. Voters are not permitted to select players on their own teams.

   Although voters are supposed to consider defensive performance only, the winners have often borne little relationship to the best defensive players. For example, 4-time winner Steve Garvey is widely acknowledged as a poor defensive first baseman - he had no range, no arm, and lacked aggressiveness. He was accused of holding the ball and allow opposing runners to take extra bases to avoid throwing errors, thereby compiling high fielding averages at first base. As a third baseman, he was awful defensively - in 1972, Garvey's last season as a third-sacker, he led the NL with 28 errors in only 85 games, posting a woeful .902 percentage.

   But Garvey was a flashy player and great hitter, and was at the forefront of voters' minds. That probably had an impact on how the vote turned out.

   Another common complaint is that too much importance is given to fielding average. Most fans realize that fielding average is not always a reliable indicator of defensive ability, but about one-third of the players who have led their respective leagues win the Gold Glove.

C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | P | OF


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