Hargrove honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

Indians' AL title run also recognized at annual Cleveland Sports Awards

Hargrove honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

CLEVELAND -- The Indians gave their city a memorable run last season, capturing the sixth American League pennant in franchise history. The fact that the Tribe's run to the World Series was not even the best moment in Cleveland sports last year speaks to how incredible of a year it was in Northeast Ohio.

On Thursday night, the Cavaliers' NBA championship was honored as the best moment of 2016 at the 17th annual Greater Cleveland Sports Awards banquet, but the Indians got their time in the spotlight. Members of the AL champions took the stage and received a standing ovation, and Mike Hargrove was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his time with the Indians as a player and manager.

It was a night that served as a link to the Tribe's past and present. Former Indians slugger Jim Thome, who played under Hargrove for the team's impressive run in the 1990s -- when the Tribe won a pair of AL pennants -- said the current team's run reminded him of those great teams of Cleveland past.

"It was so incredible to watch it all evolve," Thome said. "Just the excitement, watching the kids. I was able to bring my son [to the World Series]. Just the whole atmosphere. I really believe the same thing -- I think they're ready for a great run here. They have great pitching, a great bullpen and really, really talented, good, young players."

One of those players, Gold Glove Award-winning shortstop Francisco Lindor, was among the nine players who attended the awards banquet. Lindor was up for the Professional Athlete of the Year award, which went to NBA star LeBron James for helping the Cavs bring the city of Cleveland its first major sports title since '64.

Joining Lindor at the ceremony were Indians teammates Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw, Tyler Naquin, Zach McAllister, Dan Otero, Mike Clevinger, Cody Anderson and Perci Garner. Indians owner Paul Dolan was also in attendance, as well as manager Terry Francona, who took the stage briefly to discuss the team's postseason run. Even more players will be in town this weekend for the team's annual Tribe Fest event on Saturday.

Sandy Alomar Jr., the former Indians catcher and current first-base coach, presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Hargrove, alongside Thome and former Tribe pitcher Chad Ogea. As a player, Hargrove hit .292 in parts of seven seasons with Cleveland from 1979-85. As a manager from 1991-99, he led the club to 721 wins, five straight division titles and two World Series appearances ('95 and '97).

"It's an honor for me to have an opportunity to honor Grover," Alomar said. "He was a guy who was at the beginning of the resurgence of the Cleveland Indians, when baseball was kind of dead in Cleveland. He was the manager who brought back the tradition of winning here. I want to thank him for the opportunity to play on a daily basis. We had a lot of fun together."

Hargrove -- a proud Texan -- said he was honored to be able to call Cleveland his home.

"I don't feel like I deserve this award," Hargrove said after accepting the award. "I think that there's probably a lot of people that do, but I want to thank you. Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think that I would be a Major League Baseball player, or a Major League manager or a father of five kids. Most of all, I never really believed that I was going to make Cleveland, Ohio, my home. I came from a small Texas town."

Alomar has seen first-hand the organization's transition from its glory days in the '90s to its current run back to the top of the AL.

"The atmosphere and the drive is coming back," Alomar said. "It takes a special person to play here in Cleveland. You really have to be special. I've felt very happy to be a part of a group that was able to start that. These new kids, they're going to start their own legacy, I believe."

Miller, who was named MVP of the AL Championship Series this past October, said the offseason has provided time to reflect on Cleveland coming up just short in the World Series against the Cubs. The lefty relief ace believes the club has what it takes to finish the job in the season ahead.

"Hopefully, we can learn from it and finish that extra step," Miller said. "It seems like we have the personality around this team to do that. I know it's not going to be for a lack of effort. We'll be ready to go. Hopefully, we'll have a little extra motivation."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.