NEW YORK — Two championships and eight successful seasons in Boston brought Terry Francona exactly zero first-place votes in Manager of the Year balloting.
It took him one year with the surprising Cleveland Indians to bag the prize.
Francona and Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates won the Manager of the Year awards Tuesday after guiding their small-budget teams to charming turnarounds.
In a close vote by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America panel, Francona edged old friend John Farrell of the World Series champion Red Sox 112 points to 96 for the American League honor.
“I have a feeling he wouldn’t trade what they did for this any day of the week,” Francona said on a conference call from Tucson, Ariz.
Hurdle was a runaway winner in the NL, selected first on 25 of 30 ballots after taking the Pirates to the playoffs in their first winning season since 1992.
“It is so rewarding for me to see what’s happened, the synergy in the city,” Hurdle said in Pittsburgh. “To be a small part of a group that’s able to bring joy at so many different levels — that’s what’s rewarding to me in life.”
It was the first Manager of the Year award for Francona even though — in an interesting twist — he steered the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. During his initial season with the Indians, he directed them to a 24-win improvement and a late surge that produced their first playoff berth in six years.
Cleveland lost the AL wild-card game to Tampa Bay, but voting was conducted before the postseason.
Francona said he called Farrell, a longtime colleague and his former pitching coach in Boston, on Tuesday morning because he thought it was funny they were up against each other as finalists.