Black, Gardenhire picked as managers of the year

Bud Black hung on to win this race. Ron Gardenhire became a

first-time Manager of the Year, too, after so many near misses.

A month after his San Diego Padres were knocked out of the

playoff chase on the final day, Black nudged Cincinnati’s Dusty

Baker by one point for the NL award Wednesday.

”I guess this vote was sort of like our season, it came down to

the wire,” Black said on a conference call.

Gardenhire was the clear choice in the American League, earning

the honor after five times as the runner-up. He led Minnesota to

its sixth AL Central title in nine seasons.

”Congrats to the best manager in bestball!” Twins center

fielder Denard Span tweeted. ”Way overdue!” Span tweeted an

apology moments later for misspelling baseball.

Said Gardenhire: ”It’s pretty neat to have your name mentioned

up there.”

Black was selected after guiding San Diego to a 15-game

turnaround despite the second-lowest payroll in the majors. The

Padres finished 90-72 and led the NL West until a late, 10-game

slump and then a loss to San Francisco on the last day eliminated

them.

Black drew 16 first-place votes in balloting by the Baseball

Writers’ Association of America and got 104 points. Baker had 13

first-place votes and 103 points.

Bruce Bochy of the World Series champion San Francisco Giants,

Atlanta’s retiring Bobby Cox and Philadelphia’s Charlie Manuel got

the other first-place votes.

”This was a great year in the NL,” said Black, who was on a

golf course near San Diego when he got the word. ”I guess this

vote could’ve gone either way. I feel fortunate that I won. All

these guys are so deserving.”

Baker, a three-time Manager of the Year, led the NL Central

champion Reds to their first playoff spot since 1995. He was listed

on 27 of the 32 ballots while Black was picked on 26.

”I’m not terribly disappointed because I didn’t expect it,”

Baker told The Associated Press. ”Buddy did a great job.”

Baker was in the mountains of California when he heard the vote

totals. The announcement came on the one-year anniversary of his

father’s death.

”When I woke up today, I was thinking about my dad, not the

award,” Baker said. ”He’d be proud of me.”

This marked the third time that the NL Manager of the Year was

decided by a single point. There was a tie for the AL honor in 1996

between Joe Torre and Johnny Oates.

Two BBWAA voters from every league city send in three top

choices when the regular season ends. Votes were counted on a 5-3-1

basis.

Gardenhire drew 16 first-place votes and 108 points, and was the

only AL manager listed on all 28 ballots.

Ron Washington, who started the year with a cocaine admission

and ended it with Texas’ first trip to the World Series, was next

in the AL with 10 first-place votes and 81 points. Tampa Bay’s Joe

Maddon and Toronto’s retiring Cito Gaston drew the other

first-place votes.

”It’s pretty cool,” Gardenhire said on a conference call from

Florida.

The last time a manager won the award without making the

playoffs was 2006, when Joe Girardi got it with Florida.

The pitching-rich Padres were a surprise all season, and led the

division by 6 1/2 games on Aug. 25. But San Diego’s inability to

hit proved to be its downfall.

Needing a win to keep playing, San Diego lost 3-0 at San

Francisco on the last day and tarnished the year – ”162 defines

your season,” Black summed up.

”It still stings,” he said.

Black moved the Padres within one win of a playoff berth for the

second time in his four seasons. His first season as manager, in

2007, the Padres lost an epic 13-inning wild-card tiebreaker game

at Colorado.

A former pitcher who once played under Baker, Black was hired by

the Padres after Bochy was forced out following the 2006

season.

Black and Bochy are the lone Padres winners for the manager

award, first presented in 1983. That first year, Tom Lasorda of the

Dodgers beat Houston’s Bob Lillis by one point. In 1985, St. Louis’

Whitey Herzog topped Cincinnati’s Pete Rose by a point.

Gardenhire became the first manager in baseball history to win

six division titles in his first nine seasons. Despite another loss

to the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs, there are many

in the Minnesota organization who feel that he had his best year as

a manager.

”A lot of good things came out this season,” he said.

Always focusing on fundamentals, he won his 800th career game in

September and another division title despite playing the entire

year without closer Joe Nathan and most of it minus former MVP

Justin Morneau. Gardenhire shuffled his lineups and batting order

constantly.

Minnesota finished 94-68 in its first season at Target Field.

The Twins were swept by New York in the opening round, the fourth

time in eight seasons they’ve been eliminated by the Yankees.

”It’s getting old, getting knocked out,” Gardenhire said.

”Not finishing second” in the voting, ”that’s good. Now if we go

whack the Yankees in the playoffs next year, we’ll get that

done.”

Gardenhire joined Tom Kelly as the only managers in Twins

history to win the award. Gardenhire finished second the last two

years, along with 2006, ’04 and ’03.

The next BBWAA award will be the AL Cy Young, to be announced

Thursday.

AP Sports Writers Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis and Bernie

Wilson in San Diego contributed to this report.