May 15, 2008
LINCOLN, Neb. - The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), working in conjunction with the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, has released the list of 16 semifinalists for the 2008 Dick Howser Trophy, given to the top player in collegiate baseball. The University of San Diego's junior left-hander Brian Matusz highlights this list.
The membership of the NCBWA will choose the Dick Howser Trophy based on three rounds of voting. The 2008 winner will be announced just prior to the first game of the College World Series, with a press conference slated for Saturday, June 14, at 10 a.m. (CDT) at the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.
Matusz is currently 10-2 overall with as 2.05 ERA and leads the team in strikeouts with 122. Matusz has been named the WCC Pitcher of the Month twice this season and is second all-time in career strikeouts at USD with 378, only trailing the all-time leader Gary Myron (1968-71) by 16 for the all-time lead.
The 16 candidates hail from nine different conferences, with the SEC producing four and the Pac-10 listing three. Arizona State and Kentucky are the only schools with multiple semifinalists. Eight different positions are represented on the list, including five pitchers, three outfielders and two first basemen.
The Dick Howser Trophy, given in memory of the former Florida State University All-America shortstop and major league player and manager who died of brain cancer in 1987, is regarded by many as college baseball's most prestigious award.
Criteria for consideration for the trophy include performance on the field, leadership, moral character and courage, qualities that were exemplified by Dick Howser's life.
A Florida native, Howser was twice an All-America shortstop at Florida State University (1957-58), then coached the Seminoles in 1979 after a career as a major league player and coach. After one year in the college ranks, Howser returned to the majors to manage the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals and won the World Series with the Royals in 1985. The baseball stadium on the Florida State campus is named for Howser.
The winner's name is inscribed on the permanent trophy, a bronze bust of Howser displayed at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg - home of the Tampa Bay Rays and the 1999 NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four - along with several other locations. Both the winner and his school receive a special trophy to keep.
The St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce is in its 109th year of existence in 2008. The organization has long been a vital force in the baseball affairs of the city, both in spring training and during the pursuit of a major league baseball franchise for the Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg area and continues its solid role in the 21st Century.
NCBWA membership includes writers, broadcasters and publicists. Designed to promote and publicize college baseball, it is the sport's only college media-related organization, founded in 1962.
The Howser Trophy was created in 1987, shortly after Howser's death. Previous winners of the Howser Trophy are Mike Fiore, Miami, 1987; Robin Ventura, Oklahoma State, 1988; Scott Bryant, Texas, 1989; Alex Fernandez, Miami-Dade Community College South, 1990; Frank Rodriguez, Howard College (Texas), 1991; Brooks Kieschnick, Texas, 1992 and 1993; Jason Varitek, Georgia Tech, 1994; Todd Helton, Tennessee, 1995; Kris Benson, Clemson, 1996; J. D. Drew, Florida State, 1997; Eddy Furniss, LSU, 1998; Jason Jennings, Baylor, 1999; Mark Teixeira, Georgia Tech, 2000; Mark Prior, P, USC, 2001, Khalil Greene, SS, Clemson, 2002; Rickey Weeks, 2B, Southern U., 2003; Jered Weaver, P, Long Beach State, 2004; Alex Gordon, 3B, Nebraska, 2005; and Brad Lincoln, P/DH, Houston, 2006; David Price, P, Vanderbilt.