San Francisco Giants

Giants’ Bumgarner was sudden but decisive choice for SI award

SAN DIEGO -- Madison Bumgarner called it "extremely humbling" to be named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year on Monday, following his historic performance in the World Series.

The 25-year-old left-hander became the first Giants player to receive the prestigious award and the first baseball player honored since 2000. Bumgarner is the seventh major-league pitcher to be named Sportsman of the Year, and the first since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling shared the honor in 2001.

Bumgarner broke Schilling’s record for most innings in a single postseason by throwing 52 2/3 innings to carry the Giants to their third World Series title in five years. He posted a 1.03 ERA in the playoffs and earned World Series MVP honors after winning Games 1 and 5 and throwing five scoreless relief innings in the decisive Game 7 in Kansas City.

Chris Stone, managing editor of Sports Illustrated, said on a conference call Bumgarner was not on the publication’s radar for the award in September, but that his performance in the World Series was impossible to ignore.

"There was a very strong consensus, almost unanimous consensus, after Game 7 of the World Series, that really there was no other choice," Stone said.

Stone said other sports figures considered for the award included the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, their coach Gregg Popovich, golfer Rory McIlroy and Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, the National League Cy Young Award winner and MVP for the 2014 season.

"There was no shortage of candidates," Stone said. "But in the end it wasn’t an incredibly difficult decision for us."

Past winners of the award include Peyton Manning last year, LeBron James in 2012, Joe Montana, Jack Nicklaus, Muhammad Ali and Billie Jean King. Bumgarner said the fact that the award transcends sporting lines makes it all the more meaningful.

"I don’t know if this one ever will sink in," Bumgarner said. "It truly is special. Just to be considered for an award like this is an honor in itself, let alone to win it."

Bumgarner lowered his career World Series ERA to 0.25 in leading the Giants over the Kansas City Royals, and finished the 2014 season throwing 270 innings between the regular season and the playoffs. But he said Monday he already started his offseason workout regimen -- he hasn’t begun throwing yet -- and "everything feels great."

"I got a splinter in my finger the other day that was kind of painful," Bumgarner said. "It was on my right hand, though, luckily, so it should be fine."

Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at sacbee.com/mlb. Follow him on Twitter at @matthewkawahara.

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