KANSAS CITY -- Baseball's trophy case teems with numerous awards presented by various organizations. But only one in that showcase comes from the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association -- its annual Heart and Hustle Award, and left-hander Tony Watson on Tuesday was named the Pirates' recipient of that honor.
"It came as pretty shocking. I was surprised, didn't expect it at all," Watson said. "I'm honored. The list of guys who have gotten this is pretty impressive, and being honored by the alumni of the Pirates makes it even more special."
Alumni of each of the 30 Major League clubs select team winners "who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game."
A national winner will be named on Nov. 12 through voting by fans, all MLBPAA members as well as active players. Watson has a tough in-house act to follow: The 2014 national honoree was teammate Josh Harrison.
Watson will be presented with the Pirates' Heart and Hustle Award by Steve Blass in pregame ceremonies on Aug. 18.
"Tony has an overview of Major League Baseball, the history, the people, and why the game itself remains part of the fabric of America," Blass said. "[His understanding] goes beyond the sum of the last night's contest."
One thing Watson understands is that in Monday night's game against the Royals, he become the sixth left-hander in Pittsburgh history to appear in 300 games. He joined Wilbur Cooper (469), John Grabow (390), John Candelaria (345) Scott Sauerbeck (341) and Bob Veale (341).
"That's also an impressive list," Watson said. "I hope I got 300 more in me. That'd be awesome."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.