Florida senior first baseman Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) was named on Thursday as one of 16 semifinalists for the 2007 Dick Howser Trophy, presented to the top player in collegiate baseball.
The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), working in conjunction with the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, will choose the Dick Howser Trophy recipient based on three rounds of voting. The 2007 winner will be announced just prior to the first game of the NCAA College World Series, with a press conference slated for Friday, June 15, at 11 a.m. at the Omaha Press Club.
LaPorta is enjoying a phenomenal senior campaign and leads the Gators in eight different offensive categories. He paces the Southeastern Conference in batting average in overall (.423) and league games (.456) and has 49 RBI and 19 homers. LaPorta’s slugging percentage is an eye-popping .853 and he is also among the NCAA leaders with a .579 on-base percentage. He has scored 57 runs, drawn 41 walks, been hit 18 times and roped 10 doubles. Florida’s career leader with 73 round-trippers, a total that rates third all-time in the SEC, LaPorta has six multiple-HR outings in 2007.
The 16 candidates hail from eight different conferences, with top-ranked Vanderbilt, No. 4 Florida State and No. 8 Virginia being the only schools to produce multiple semifinalists. The list includes six pitchers, eight position players and two utility players.
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 Devil 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 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.
2007 DICK HOWSER TROPHY SEMIFINALISTS
Pos. Name, School
Dustin Ackley, 1B, North Carolina
Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Vanderbilt
Sean Doolittle, P-1B-DH, Virginia
Barry Enright, P, Pepperdine
Bryan Henry, P, Florida State
Kellen Kulbacki, OF, James Madison
Matt LaPorta, 1B, FLORIDA
Brian Matusz, P, San Diego
Adam Mills, P, Charlotte
David Price, P, Vanderbilt
Kyle Russell, OF, Texas
Joe Savery, P-1B, Rice
Blake Stouffer, 3B, Texas A&M
Tony Thomas, Jr., 2B, Florida State
Jacob Thompson, P, Virginia
Brett Wallace, 1B, Arizona State