San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, Olympic short track skater Apolo Ohno and Seattle Pacific middle-distance runner Jessica Pixler emerged as the major winners at the 76th Seattle Sports Star of the Year event Benaroya Hall Jan. 24, 2010.
More than 1,000 athletes, coaches and fans crammed Benaroya to watch Lincecum, a former University of Washington star, claim the Professional Star of the Year award, Ohno take the Male Star of the Year and Pixler the Female Star of the Year.
Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, the 2009 Professional Star of the Year, won the Sports Story of the Year award for his 2010 American League Cy Young season.
Lincecum, from Renton, helped the Giants win their first World Series title since moving from New York in 1958. Ohno, a Federal Way native, became the most decorated Winter Olympian in U.S. history with his eighth medal at the Vancouver Games in February. Pixler capped her cross-country and track careers with her 12th NCAA Division II championship.
Special guests at Benaroya included retired sportscaster Keith Jackson, former Sonics star Gary Payton (1997 Sports Star of the Year), Gov. Chris Gregoire and soccer star Hope Solo (2008 Female Sports Star of the Year).
Special awards went to Dave Niehaus (Keith Jackson Award), Storm president Karen Bryant (Sports Executive of the Year), Seahawks and Sounders FC owner Paul Allen (Sports Citizen of the Year), former UW football coach Don James (Royal Brougham Legends Award) and Snohomish High football player Ike Ditzenberger (Seattle Children’s Inspirational Youth Award).
The major winners at the 2010 Sports Star of the Year program:
PROFESSIONAL SPORTS STAR OF THE YEAR
TIM LINCECUM, San Francisco Giants
A graduate of Liberty High School and the University of Washington, Lincecum already holds the distinction of being the most decorated ex-Husky ever to play in the major leagues.
A 2006 first-round draft choice by the Giants, Lincecum is a three-time National League All-Star, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, a two-time Sporting News Pitcher of the Year, a three-time strikeout champion, and a three-time NL leader in strikeouts-per-nine innings.
Also the winner of the 2006 Golden Spikes Award while pitching for Washington, Lincecum capped his third full season in the majors by helping the Giants defeat the Texas Rangers in the World Series.
He won Game 1, opposing former Mariner Cliff Lee, and followed up by beating Lee again in Game 5, the clincher.
Earlier in the playoffs, on Oct. 7, Lincecum fanned 14 Atlanta Braves in his first postseason appearance, establishing a Giants franchise record.
Lincecum was unable to attend the banquet.
2010 Professional Sports Star of the Year Nominees: Swin Cash, Seattle Storm; Fredy Montero, Seattle Sounders FC; Louis Ratcliffe, Washington Stealth; Mike Williams, Seattle Seahawks.
MALE SPORTS STAR OF THE YEAR
APOLO OHNO, USA Short Track Speedskating
Ohno became attracted to short track speed skating while watching on TV the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Eight years later, in Salt Lake City, Ohno became an Olympic gold medalist for the first time, and eight years after, in Vancouver, B.C., became the most decorated American athlete in Winter Olympics history.
By winning three medals, Ohno hiked his career total to eight, breaking the record of six, held by speedskater Bonnie Blair.
Ohno has won more Olympic medals than any athlete (summer or winter) in state sports history. In addition to the two gold, two silver and four bronze Olympic medals, he also owns eight gold, seven silver and six bronze medals in World Championship meets, and one gold and one bronze in World Team Championship meets.
Ohno is also a three-time World Cup overall champion. Once a state champion swimmer, Ohno has been a member of three U.S. Olympic teams (Salt Lake City, 2002; Turin, 2006, and Vancouver, 2010).
A celebrity apart from sports, Ohno, along with partner Julianne Hough, won ABCs Dancing With the Stars competition in 2007, beating out singer Joey Fatone and boxer Lalia Ali.
This city is pure, Ohno said in his acceptance speech. We really care about our athletes here.
2010 Male Sports Star of the Year Nominees: J.R. Celski, short track; Mason Foster, UW football; Quincy Pondexter, UW basketball; Klay Thompson, Washington State University basketball.
FEMALE SPORTS STAR OF THE YEAR
JESSICA PIXLER, SPU Cross Country/Track & Field
Pixler attended Seattle Pacific University so she could run cross country and play soccer, something most Division I schools prohibit. The Falcons hit the motherlode as Pixler culminated her college career owning 12 NCAA Division II national championships.
A finalist for the Female Athlete of the Year award for the second consecutive year, Pixler became eligible again because of her indoor and outdoor accomplishments in 2010.
At the NCAA Division II indoor meet in March, she won the mile. At the NCAA outdoor meet in May, she won the 1,500 meters, giving her 12 national crowns overall.
In all, Pixler won three 1,500 titles, three cross country titles, four indoor mile titles, an indoor 5,000-meter title, and was part of a victorious SPU distance medley relay team.
A week before claiming her award, Pixler was named one of the NCAA Top VIII award winners, which honors eight recipients spanning all three NCAA divisions for athletic and academic success and community involvement.
Also in 2010, Pixler was named NCAA Division II National Outdoor Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and the Cross Country Coaches Association. That gave her a sweep of the USTFCCCA Athlete of the Year awards: cross country the fall, indoor track in the winter,and outdoor track in the spring.
The Falcon senior became just the second woman to win all three of those awards in the same school year preceded Mandy Zemba of Grand Valley State (Mich.) in 2005-06.
In discussing her success, Pixler told attendees, “The biggest thing is holding off injury. When running at that level, so much is injury maintenance. Most times when you run, youre running through something. Its a balancing act. In order to get better you have to push yourself but you dont want to push it too far. Its a really fine line.
Gov. Christine Gregoire and former UW soccer star Hope Solo presented the award to Pixler.
2010 Female Sports Star of the Year Nominees: Katie Follett, runner, University of Washington; Jenna Haglund, volleyball, University of Washington; Ariana Kukors, USA Swimming; Karen Thatcher, USA Hockey.
SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR
FELIX HERNANDEZ, Cy Young Award Winner
The Mariners signed Hernandez to a five-year, $78 million contract Jan. 19, 2010, easily making him the highest-paid pitcher in franchise history.
Hernandez more than justified the outlay. Although he won only 13 games mainly due to a lack of run support (Mariners scored one or fewer runs in 10 of his 34 starts), he topped the American League in ERA (2.27) and also led the league in innings pitched, quality starts, opponent batting average and finished second in strikeouts, a performance that earned him the Cy Young award.
The Sporting News also named Hernandez the American League Pitcher of the Year.
In the Cy Young voting, Hernandez drew 21 first-place votes and 167 points to outdistance Tampa Bays David Price (four first-place votes, 111 points).
Felix became Seattles second Cy Young winner (Randy Johnson, 1995), and the first pitcher in history to win the Cy Young Award while pitching for a 100-loss team. His 13 wins were the fewest by a Cy Young starting pitcher (previous: former University of Washington ace Tim Lincecum, 15 for the 2009 San Francisco Giants).
When Hernandez arrived at the 2010 Sports Star of the Year awards, he was not even a week removed from receiving his Cy Young plaque during a ceremony in New York City. That accolade didn’t make him any less gracious when he accepted his local award.
Its a special night,” he told the audience. “Thank you, thank you. I couldnt make it (to the event) last year but Im here this year, man. Sports fans in Seattle I think are one of the best. We spent about a month in Venezuela (after the 2010 season) then came back here. I love this city, man. This city is great.
Part of what made the Fernandez story so compelling was that baseball writers had to overlook how bad the Mariners were as a team. A variety of other premier statistics made a case that its not about the team, its about the pitcher.
I was a little nervous, Hernandez said. But my wife always tell me, Dont worry. Youre going to get it. She was so positive. My (other) numbers were at the top so I think I got a chance. And I win.
Sports Story of the Year Nominees: Ichiro Suzuki’s 10th consecutive 200-hit season; Washington Stealth’s professional lacrosse championship; Seattle Storm’s second WNBA championship in six years; Auburn’s run to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA.
Other award winners as selected by the Sports Star committee prior to the event:
SPORTS CITIZEN OF THE YEAR
PAUL ALLEN, Seattle Seahawks Owner
Allen, also co-owner of Sounders FC and owner of the Portland Trail Blazers, was cited for his philanthropic generosity, having donated more than $1 billion of his Microsoft fortune (too much of that might have gone to Charlie Whitehurst, however).
SPORTS EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR
KAREN BRYANT, President/CEO, Seattle Storm
The Storm won the WNBA title for the second time in six years.Bryant was the franchise’s guiding force since its inception in 1999.
SEATTLE CHILDREN’S INSPIRATIONAL YOUTH AWARD
IKE DITZENBERGER Ditzenberger, Snohomish High football.
Ike, a junior with Down Syndrome, became a national inspiration when video of his touchdown run topped 2.5 million hits on YouTube.
44th ANNUAL HUTCH AWARD
TIM HUDSON, Atlanta Braves
The Hutch Award is presented to the baseball player who best exemplifies the honor, courage and dedication of Fred Hutchinson, the former Seattle Rainiers and Cincinnati Reds pitcher whose brother helped establish the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Hudson received it for his charitable work.