Helton wins GIBBY Award due to hidden-ball trick

Helton wins GIBBY Award due to hidden-ball trick

Helton wins GIBBY Award due to hidden-ball trick

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A Todd Helton moment that nabbed him the 2013 Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Award for Oddity of the Year was 17 years in the making.

On Sept. 19, Helton was nearing the end of a long career spent entirely as the Rockies' first baseman. Many times he wanted to pull off the hidden-ball trick after a pickoff move. Something like that may work in Little League, but surely it wouldn't be possible in the Majors.

Would it?

It was.

In the top of the first inning of an eventual 7-6, 15-inning victory over the Cardinals, Rockies pitcher Roy Oswalt attempted to pick off Matt Carpenter. Helton noticed something while returning the ball to Oswalt.

"I threw back and turned around and watched him step off the back of the bag," Helton said. "I was just hoping [Oswalt] was going to pick again."

It was his big chance.

After the second pickoff throw, Carpenter stepped away from the bag to dust off his uniform. Helton performed the sneaky tag and Carpenter was left shaking his head.

"It had never worked, that was the first time," Helton said after that game. "Five or six times, I've given it a half-hearted effort. I can't believe it worked."

It was an award-worthy fake out.

"It just worked, but I'm not an actor," Helton said. "It was just one of those things. I wanted to do it my whole career."

Helton also hit a game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth in that game. But he and Rockies fans will remember his sleight of hand much longer.

Helton shared the award with the Rays' Evan Longoria, who also pulled off the hidden-ball trick on Aug. 10.

MLB's A-listers won GIBBY trophies -- the ultimate honors of baseball's awards season -- on Tuesday at the Winter Meetings. More than 10 million votes were cast by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research.

This year's GIBBY Awards featured nominees in 22 categories. Individual honors went to the MLB MVP, in addition to the year's best Starting Pitcher, Hitter, Closer, Setup Man, Rookie, Breakout Hitter, Breakout Pitcher, Comeback Player, Defensive Player, Manager, Executive and Postseason Performer.

In addition to the Oddity award won by Helton, GIBBY trophies also were awarded for the year's top Play, Storyline, Hitting Performance, Pitching Performance, Walk-off, Cut4 Topic, Regular-Season Moment and Postseason Moment, with video available via MLB.com's Must C highlight reels.

GIBBYs categories included players from both leagues and performances not only from the regular season but also through the end of the playoffs, making them unique in singling out the best of the best.

All 30 clubs were represented among the award candidates. In fact, every team had multiple nominees in 2013 -- a testament to the parity of talent around the game.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.