2009’s – “REAL” Sportsman Of The Year …..

December 11, 2009 |

A couple weeks ago, Sports Illustrated named Derek Jeter it’s “2009 – Sportsman Of The Year” …..

Yeah, it’s just another trophy among a long list of awards handed out every year. And, in truth, the whole SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR concept is primarily tied to Sports Illustrated’s devotion to staying relevant, rather than identifying and honoring the most befitting sports personality.

With no disrespect to Derek Jeter, how did he distinguish himself above any and all personalities, throughout the last twelve months?

He had a good year on the field.

And, he’s a good citizen.

Heck, Derek Jeter is living the dream life of a lot of guys. He evidently has Tiger Woods’ affinity for dating a cache’ of girls. But, Derek isn’t married – and he doesn’t answer to a combustible blonde. Good for him !!!!

He’s single …..

He’s a player – on and off the field …..

I’m envious …..

Actually, I’m not. I love my life and all that’s in it. But, I do respect a bachelor’s incentive to live his life like a playboy. Thus, I would have no problem with naming Derek Jeter “Sports Bachelor Of The Year.”

But, SportsMAN ???

I don’t think so.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve looked at the long list of former sports celebrities who’ve held Sports Illustrated’s prized distinction. Derek Jeter befits their company – and they befit his …..





And, of course, we can’t forget 2008’s decorated selection …..


I honestly think there are better candidates – and certainly a BETTER CHOICE for “2009’s Sportsman Of The Year”

In early September, Hall Of Famer, Ernie Harwell, disclosed that he was battling incurable cancer. At 91 years old, Harwell has decided not to fight the inevitable, and instead, he’s chosen to enjoy the brief but precious time he has remaining on this earth.

Think about that …..

Ernie Harwell could’ve jetsetted around the world, while seeking radical and experimental treatments. He could’ve spent his remaining time searching for his own remedy, while neglecting the blessed days with his family.

He made an incredibly UNSELFISH decision.

To hear Harwell talk about it, he’s incredibly grateful for the life he was granted. He’s at peace and ready for his life to end – ON HIS TERMS.

In the months following the revelation, Ernie Harwell has been showered with accolades and devotions to his character. He’s handled it with the same class that embodied his career – HUMBLY and MODESTLY.

On September 16th, the Detroit Tigers honored Ernie Harwell, during pre-game festivities. During his speech, Harwell seized the spotlight to do what he’s always done …..

He shined it on the players and fans.

He thanked them for giving him the opportunity to live a dream. He thanked them for letting him SERVE BASEBALL.

Ernie Harwell has never hit a homerun. He’s never stolen a base. And, he’s never thrown a pitch. Indeed, he’s done more for the game of baseball than any All Star could ever do.

He delivered the game to the people who love it. And, he was great …..

We haven’t heard much from Ernie Harwell, since mid-September. Gosh, I hope he’s having a special holiday season, surrounded by family and friends. He truly deserves it.

And, speaking of “deserving” …..

I’m not suggesting Derek Jeter doesn’t deserve Sports Illustrated’s award. He’s a class act.

And, he helps people through charitable endeavors …..

I just think Sports Illustrated missed the mark, in 2009.

Ernie Harwell has given more to the SPORTS COMMUNITY than any active player – in any league.

He’s proof that a SPORTSMAN isn’t required to actually stand on the field. A sportsman supports the sports community, and does it with a humble dedication to sustaining humanity. Nothing more, nothing less …..

I wish WNST had a “Sportsman Of The Year” or “Person Of The Year” award. And, I can’t think of a more fitting choice than Ernie Harwell. He’s always put others first.

Baseball and the world will miss him.