Liberty grad Tim Lincecum wins Cy Young pitching award

December 9, 2008

By Jim Feehan

 

Tim Lincecum holds his San Francisco Giants baseball card at a recent autograph session at DJ’s Sportscards shop in Renton. By Jim Feehan

Tim Lincecum holds his San Francisco Giants baseball card at a recent autograph session at DJ’s Sportscards shop in Renton. By Jim Feehan

Tim Lincecum, a 2003 Liberty High School graduate, was named the National League Cy Young award winner Nov. 11. 

In his first full major league season with the San Francisco Giants, Lincecum, 24, went 18-5 with an earned-run average of 2.62 and a major-league leading 265 strikeouts in 227 innings.

Lincecum handily won baseball’s top pitching honor. Of the 32 ballots submitted by two writers in each league city, Lincecum received 23 first-place votes (for 137 points), seven seconds and one third. Arizona’s Brandon Webb, the 2006 winner, finished second with four first-place votes (for 73 points), 15 seconds and eight thirds.

During a news conference at AT&T Park, Lincecum said he was surprised he won by such a large margin.

“I figured it would be a lot closer race than it was especially with the tough competition out there,” he said. “I thought Webb, (Johan) Santana or perhaps C.C. (Sabathia) had it. My reaction was, ‘Woohoo!’”

He thanked the Giants’ owners, fans and the baseball beat writers who voted him the Cy Young winner. He said he’s still learning his craft. With an awe-shucks demeanor, he said he wants to keep his emotions in check and stay focused for the upcoming season.

“It’s definitely an honor for me,” Lincecum said of winning the coveted award for top pitcher in the National League.

He told reporters that winning the award was not a goal of his at the beginning of the season.

“That was the farthest thing from my mind,” he said. 

Lincecum is only the second athlete from the state to win either a Cy Young or league MVP honor. Hall of Fame Chicago Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, from Spokane, won the National League MVP award in 1984. 

Lincecum led the Patriots to the state baseball title his senior year before playing three seasons at the University of Washington, where he was an All-American in 2006. In three seasons with the Huskies, Lincecum set a Pac-10 record with 481 strikeouts. The Giants selected him with the 10th overall pick in the 2006 draft.

Last month, Lincecum won the Players Choice Award as the National League’s outstanding pitcher, and was also named National League Pitcher of the Year by Sporting News.

Lincecum phoned his father Chris after he discovered he had won the Cy Young Award.

“At the time, I was in the world’s largest building and the cell phone reception was not that great,” said Chris Lincecum, who works as a parts expediter at the Boeing plant in Everett.

“I’m happy for him,” he said. “He worked hard and earned it.”

Chris said he expected his son would win the Cy Young, but he was a little surprised that he won by such a large margin.

“Wining the Players Choice Award also meant a lot to Timmy, because it was voted on by his peers,” he said.

Success hasn’t spoiled the down-to-earth pitcher who is not that far removed from his roots. Last winter, he returned home to spend a few weeks visiting family and high school friends. 

He also dropped by DJ’s Sportcards to sign autographs. As a youngster at Apollo Elementary School, Lincecum said he couldn’t wait for the final bell to ring so he could head over to the sports card shop to peruse the display cases and gaze at the posters of Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds.

“He’s the local boy who made good,” said Don Joss, owner of DJ’s. “He’s so young. I don’t know how many more Cy Young Awards he’s going to win.”

Liberty High School teacher Brian Hartman was excited to hear the news. 

“Tim worked really hard for this and the award is a reflection of the 20 years of hard work he and his father put in,” said Hartman, an assistant coach for the Patriots’ 2003 3A state championship team. “Tim overcame a lot of obstacles from people who said he wasn’t big enough to make it as a baseball player.”

Hartman said Lincecum was determined to succeed. On a bus ride back following a junior varsity game against Hazen High School, the players talked about what they were going to do for a living.

“I remember Tim saying, ‘I’m going to pitch in the Major Leagues,’” Hartman recalled. “At the time, he was 14, weighed all of 105 pounds. I thought, at the time, he truly believed he could make it to the big leagues.”

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