Matheny wins Willie Mac Award

Matheny wins Willie Mac Award

SAN FRANCISCO -- Catcher Mike Matheny hadn't heard of the Willie Mac Award until he and his teammates voted for the honor last Friday in Colorado, but more importantly, the Giants definitely knew about Matheny.

Named for Giants Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, the award is for the player who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership consistently shown by the San Francisco legend throughout his career.

On Friday, Matheny was named the 16th recipient of the trophy, and he was "floored" by the honor, saying his comrades "see you all season long, see you when you're struggling and screw up, snap -- and especially that it comes from them, that means more than anything."

The 35-year-old veteran had a sensational year: a Major League-leading 33 doubles for backstops, a National League high of 59 RBIs, a career-best 13 homers and a .314 average with runners in scoring position.

But that was almost incidental to the honor.

"We're all in this together, and I just love the guys that go out there every day and try to give your best," said shortstop Omar Vizquel, who voted for Matheny -- and Matheny voted for Vizquel. "Watching him go out there was motivating for me. To be on the same field as him was an honor for me."

Vizquel said he admired Matheny for playing when he was tired, playing day games after night, being beat up but still handling his job.

Matheny was well known for being an outstanding catcher and man long before joining the Giants, and the St. Louis Cardinals honored him with the first Darryl Kile Award, named for the inspirational veteran pitcher who died during the 2002 season.

"You hear nothing but good things about Willie," said Matheny. "He sounds like a very quality person. It's very humbling."

Kind of like the Giants receiver.

"Doing the right things is a good way to put it," said Matheny, explaining how he strives to never have regrets in the game. "I run from the thought of having regrets that you didn't do things a certain way. I've had good teachers along the way, and watching guys like Omar and [Moises Alou] who have done it the right way."

Rich Draper is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.