Springer wins World Series MVP honors

Fred Jeter | 11/10/2017, 7:11 p.m.
In the 113th World Series, George Springer III had more hits than almost any other slugger in the previous 112 …

In the 113th World Series, George Springer III had more hits than almost any other slugger in the previous 112 fall classics.

As the lone African-American playing a significant role in this year’s World Series, Springer led the Houston Astros to their first ever Series title, nipping the Los Angeles Dodgers four games to three.

Houston wrapped it up Wednesday, Nov. 1, with a 5-1 win in Los Angeles with Springer, as usual, walloping a telling blow — a two-run, 438-foot, second-inning homer.

It was likely the most impressive showing by a man named George since George Herman Ruth, aka “The Babe,” showed off his long-ball prowess in the 1920s and 1930s.  

Here are some of the achievements of Springer, the Astros’ 28-year-old, centerfielder/leadoff hitter from New Britain, Conn.:

• Hit five Series homers, tying the record held by Reggie Jackson (1977) and Chase Utley (2009).

• Set the record with homers in four straight games.

• Set the record of 29 total bases, breaking the mark set by Willie Stargell in 1979.

• Set the record of eight extra base hits, breaking Stargell’s mark of seven in 1979.

Overall, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound right-hander hit .379 with seven RBIs, easily earning the Willie Mays Most Valuable Player Award.

“I used to go in the backyard with my dad, and he would hit me fly balls and I’d pretend to be Willie Mays,” Springer told MLB.com.

“To earn this (MVP award) is an honor. But it’s not about me,” he said. “It’s about the team and what the team has done. I’m extremely happy for the team.”

Houston’s triumph came in its 56th season of existence after being founded as the Colt .45’s in 1962. The team became the Astros upon moving to the Houston Astrodome in 1965.

Winning this year’s World Series helped ease some of the pain and suffering caused by Hurricane Harvey that hit Houston in August. The disaster forced the relocation of several games from Minute Maid Park at the time.

Springer was Houston’s 2011 first round draft choice out of the University of Connecticut. His father, George Springer II, played in the 1976 Little League World Series, representing the Forestville Little League of Bristol, Conn. He later was a member of the University of Connecticut football squad.

Springer’s mother, Laura, is a native of Puerto Rico, where she was a nationally prominent gymnast.

Springer speaks fluent Spanish, making him popular with Latino teammates such as Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Carlos Beltran and Yuli Gurriel. While several men of color from the Caribbean, South America and Asia suited up for the baseball finals, Springer was the lone African-American headliner.

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ only African-American was back-up outfielder Curtis Granderson. That means the Dodgers, then in Brooklyn, had more African-Americans (Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson and Don Newcombe) in the 1949 World Series than on the 2017 World Series roster.

Newcombe, now 91, threw out the first ball for game seven of the series, along with another Dodgers legend, Sandy Koufax. The Dodgers “old-timers” stole the pregame show. Then it was Springer’s turn to take the bows once the climactic game began.