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Monday, October 18
Rangers' Palmeiro named Sporting News Player of Year

ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- Rafael Palmeiro, who enjoyed tremendous success in his return to the Texas Rangers, today was named The Sporting News Player of the Year.

Palmeiro hit .324 with 47 homers and 148 RBI and received 74 votes in balloting of nearly 400 players conducted by the weekly magazine.

The Sporting News also named Pedro Martinez of the Boston Red Sox and Mike Hampton of the Houston Astros as Pitchers of the Year in the American and National Leagues, respectively.

Jimy Williams of the Red Sox and Bobby Cox of the Atlanta Braves were named Managers of the Year in their respective leagues in a vote of big league skippers.

Palmeiro, who rejoined the Rangers as a free agent after five years in Baltimore, became the first primary designated hitter to win the award, given annually since 1936. At 35, he is the oldest player to win since Willie Stargell of Pittsburgh was honored in 1979 at 37.

"I'm shocked, really stunned about it," Palmeiro said. "It's not something I ever thought I'd win. I know I can be pretty hard on myself at times, but this is amazing."

Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa was second with 57 1/2 votes and was followed by Martinez (53), Manny Ramirez of Cleveland (48 1/2) and Chipper Jones of Atlanta (30).

Martinez (23-4) led the American League in wins, ERA (2.07) and strikeouts (311). Hampton was 22-4 with a 2.90 ERA for Houston.

Cox, who guided the Braves to 103 wins and their eighth straight division title, won the award for the fourth time. He also won with Toronto in 1985 and in 1991 and 1993 with Atlanta.

Williams, who coached under Cox for 11 seasons, is a first-time winner of the award after leading Boston to 94 victories and the AL wild card berth.

Carlos Beltran of the Kansas City Royals (.283, 108 RBI) and Preston Wilson of the Florida Marlins (.280, 26 homers) were named top rookies for position players.

Rookies of the Year among pitchers were Tim Hudson of the Oakland Athletics (11-2, 3.23) and Scott Williamson of the Cincinnati Reds (12-7, 2.41 ERA, 19 saves).

Fireman of the Year Honors, given to the top reliever, went to Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees and Ugueth Urbina of the Montreal Expos. Rivera had 45 saves and a 1.83 ERA while Urbina saved 41 games for a team that won 68 all season.

John Jaha of Oakland and Rickey Henderson of the New York Mets were named Comeback Players of the Year in the AL and NL.

Jaha hit .276 with 35 homers and 111 RBI after batting just .208 with seven homers for Milwaukee in 1998. After hitting a career-low .236 for Oakland last season, Henderson rebounded to hit .315 this year.

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