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Tampa Bay's Dewon Brazelton wins 2004 Tony Conigliaro Award
12/10/2004 5:18 PM ET
BOSTON, MA -- Dewon Brazelton of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays has been voted the winner of the 15th annual Tony Conigliaro Award, presented to a major league player who has overcome adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination and courage that were trademarks of Tony C. Tony's brothers Billy and Richie will make the official presentation of the award to Brazelton January 13, 2005 at the Boston Baseball Writers' Association's annual dinner.

The Red Sox inaugurated the award in 1990 to perpetuate the memory of Tony C., who died that February after an eight-year struggle to come back from a massive heart attack that left him severely handicapped. Major league teams submit nominations, and an independent 11-person panel does the voting.

Brazelton received seven first-place votes, one second and one third from the 11 selectors for 39 points. Andres Galarraga received one first, five seconds and one third for 21 points. Jon Lieber was third with 19 points. Chris Carpenter, Johnny Estrada and Brad Wilkerson also received votes.

Brazelton grew up in Tullahoma, TN with a twin brother, Fewon, who was afflicted with cerebral palsy. Their parents were not together and the boys called four places home. As a 13-year-old Dewon became involved with two local churches and some very caring families. He was quite an athlete and student (3.4 GPA) and then a baseball star at Middle Tennessee State University. In 2001 he was Tampa Bay's first-round draft pick (third overall) in the First-Year Player Draft. He made his major league debut in 2002, and in 2004 he was 6-8 with a 4.77 ERA in 22 games (21 starts).

Past winners of the Tony C. Award are Jim Eisenreich (1990), Dickie Thon (1991), Jim Abbott (1992), Bo Jackson (1993), Mark Leiter (1994), Scott Radinsky (1995), Curtis Pride (1996), Eric Davis (1997), Bret Saberhagen (1998), Mike Lowell (1999), Kent Mercker and Tony Saunders (2000) Graeme Lloyd and Jason Johnson (2001), Jose Rijo (2002) and Jim Mecir (2003).

Tony C. became the youngest player (20) to lead a major league in home runs when he hit 32 in 1965, and he became the youngest in A.L. history to reach 100 homers (22 yrs., 197 days). His promising career was tragically shortened when he was hit in the face by a pitch at Fenway Park August 18, 1967. He missed all of 1968, made a dramatic comeback in 1969 and was traded to the California Angels after the 1970 season. Tony played two years with the Angels, then attempted another comeback with the Red Sox in 1975. After an excellent Spring Training, he earned a place on Boston's Opening Day roster, got the team's first hit of the season and later hit the Sox' first home run. His performance then fell off, he was outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket in mid-June and retired in August.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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