J.J. Hardy thought he’d hit a home run, only to be robbed when Mike Trout made one of the most sensational grabs of the season.
On Tuesday night, Hardy caught a break.
The Baltimore shortstop won a Gold Glove, putting him among a group of nine players honored for the first time for their fielding excellence.
“It means a lot to me,” Hardy said. “It’s definitely an award I always hoped to get and never really expected to get. I’m surprised and honored at the same time.”
Pittsburgh center fielder Andrew McCutchen, San Diego third baseman Chase Headley, who is a Fountain-Fort Carson graduate, and Oakland right fielder Josh Reddick also were first-time selections.
"Last year defensively didn't go the way I would've liked it to have gone," Headley told the U-T San Diego newspaper. "Coming into spring training (infield coach) Glenn Hoffman and I sat down and talked about the things we could work on. We really got after it in spring training. I think the foundation was laid there.
"(Defense) is something I take pride in. You want to be the best that you can be in every aspect, but there was a focus on it in spring training. It's nice when you get the results."
Headley also finished with by far the best offensive season in his six big-league years.
He went from four home runs and 44 RBI in 2011 to 31 homers and an NL-best 115 RBI in 2012.
The Orioles were the only team with three winners. Baltimore center fielder Adam Jones and catcher Matt Wieters were second-time choices, joining Hardy for the awards chosen by major league managers and coaches and presented by Rawlings.
Colorado Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez won his second Gold Glove.
Trout, the Angels rookie who spent the year climbing walls to take away potential homers, was not picked.
The San Francisco Giants, fresh off winning a World Series in which they excelled with their gloves, did not have a Gold Glover.
These were the first major awards presented during the offseason, and the MVPs, Cy Youngs and others will come in mid-November. Gold Gloves always seem to raise a ruckus, with many claiming the prizes — actual gloves colored gold — don’t define the most deserving fielders.
Strong-armed St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina won for the fifth straight year and Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira added his fifth award. Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre, Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins and Miami pitcher Mark Buehrle became four-time winners.
In the AL, pitchers Jake Peavy of the White Sox and Jeremy Hellickson shared the honor as first-time winners. This was only the third time since the Gold Gloves were first presented in 1957 that there was a tie — there were four NL outfielders in 2007 and four AL outfielders in 1985.
Also winning this year: Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano and Kansas City left fielder Alex Gordon.