Lamont attributes manager of the year award to strong finish


NEW YORK (AP)—Gene Lamont figures the strong finish of the Chicago White Sox may have contributed to his selection Monday as American League manager of the year.

‘‘I’m sure that helped. We treaded water and let some teams come back, but when we had to win, we did,’‘ Lamont said during a teleconference from his home in Sarasota, Fla.

Lamont, who led the White Sox to their first division title in 10 years, received eight first-place votes, nine second-place votes and five third-place votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America, a total of 72 points.

The award came as a surprise.

‘‘As a coach and manager, you don’t think about personal awards. It’s nice, but you get to thinking more about team awards. We were hoping we’d still be playing last week,’‘ said Lamont, whose team lost the AL playoffs to Toronto and missed reaching last week’s World Series.

Lamont said he didn’t see the award as vindication for a season of savage criticism he received on Chicago radio sports talk shows.

‘‘You’re always going to have some second guessing,’‘ he said. ‘‘When you take a major-league managing job, you know that’s part of it.

‘‘That’s why baseball is so great. When the basketball season is over, it’s over. When football is over, it’s over. Baseball is never over because people talk about it all year-round.’‘

Lamont said his low-key approach worked with the White Sox.

‘‘I don’t want to say, ‘I told you so.’ I don’t think that with every team you can be low key. With the team we have right now, you can be low key,‘’ he said.

Buck Showalter of the New York Yankees was second with 63 points based on five points for first place, three for second and one for third. Showalter got seven first-place votes, eight seconds and four thirds.

Cito Gaston, who hasn’t won the award despite leading the Toronto Blue Jays to consecutive World Series titles, was third with 49 points. Gaston, who finished second last year to Oakland’s Tony La Russa, got six first-place votes, five seconds and four thirds.

Kevin Kennedy of the Texas Rangers was fourth with 28 points, four more than Lou Piniella, who took over the Seattle Mariners last winter.

Mike Hargrove of Cleveland was fifth with 10 points, followed by John Oates of Baltimore with five and Butch Hobson of Boston with one.

Lamont was hired by the White Sox on Nov. 26, 1991, after Jeff Torborg left Chicago to go to the New York Mets. Lamont led the White Sox to a third-place finish and a 86-76 record in 1992, then took them this year to a 94-68 record and the AL West title.

Chicago lost the AL playoffs to Toronto in six games, but balloting took place before the start of the postseason.

Lamont, 46, is the third White Sox to win the award. La Russa won in 1983, the first year the BBWAA honored managers, and Torborg won in 1990 despite a second-place finish behind La Russa’s Oakland Athletics.

Before going to Chicago, Lamont spent six seasons as third-base coach for Jim Leyland at Pittsburgh.