By Kevin Taylor, Point Park (Pa.) Sports Information Director
PITTSBURGH -- Point Park University (Pa.) baseball alum Don Kelly is the Detroit Tigers 2014 Heart and Hustle Award winner, announced the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association on Tuesday (July 22, 2014). Every team in Major League Baseball has one recipient of the award, and it is the second year in a row that Kelly is the Tigers' award winner.
According to a Detroit Tigers press release, the award "honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game. The Heart and Hustle Award is also the only award in Major League Baseball that is voted on by former players."
"We are proud to present Don with this award," said MLBPAA Director of Communications Nikki Warner. "He embodies all that the award represents and is an inspirational role model to young players."
As the Tigers' recipient of the Heart & Hustle Award, he will be one of the 30 candidates who will be voted on to be the overall winner in Major League Baseball. The 30 candidates will be voted on by fans, baseball alumni and active players. The previous overall winners are David Eckstein (2005), Craig Biggio (2006, 2007), Grady Sizemore (2008), Albert Pujols (2009), Roy Halladay (2010), Torii Hunter (2011), Mike Trout (2012) and Dustin Pedroia (2013).
Check the Point Park athletic website or the Pioneers' social media channels for more information on the voting process when it begins. More information is also available at the Tigers Release link above.
Kelly is in his seventh year in the major leagues, and he has been on the Tigers' Opening Day roster the last five seasons. He was an NAIA First Team All-American shortstop at Point Park from 1999-01. He was drafted in the eighth round of the 2001 MLB Draft and made his big-league debut in 2007 with his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates.
As a utility man for the AL Central-leading Tigers, Kelly is hitting .245 in 48 games for the 2014 season. For his career, he is hitting .231 with 23 home runs and 92 RBIs in 522 games.
Kelly, who is from Butler, Pa., and grew up in Mt. Lebanon, still holds the Point Park record for career batting average at .413. His best season at Point Park came in 2001 when he hit .450 with 45 RBIs and 39 stolen bases in 45 games to earn AMC Player of the Year honors and NAIA All-American accolades.