Hickok Belt

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The S. Rae Hickok Professional Athlete of the Year award, known as the Hickok Belt, is a trophy that originally was awarded for 27 years (from 1950 to 1976) to the top professional athlete of the year in the United States, and was re-established in 2012. It was created by Ray and Alan Hickok[1] in honor of their father, Stephen Rae Hickok, who had died unexpectedly in 1945[1] and was the founder of the Hickok Manufacturing Company of Rochester, New York, which made belts—hence the choice of a belt as a trophy.[2]

The trophy was an alligator-skin belt with a solid-gold buckle, an encrusted 4-carat (800 mg) diamond, and 26 gem chips. It was valued at over $10,000 in the currency of the time[3] (US$90,000 to $140,000 in 2011 dollars)[1] and its presentation was a major event in sporting news of the day.[4]

For the first 21 years, from 1950 to 1970, it was awarded in Rochester at the annual Rochester Press-Radio Club dinner (an event that continues today). After the Hickok company was taken over by the Tandy Corporation, the award was presented in larger cities such as Chicago or New York. The last award was made in 1976.

In 2010, Tony Liccione, the president of the Rochester Boxing Hall of Fame, announced plans to reinstate the Hickok Belt starting in 2012.[5] The mold used for the belt starting in 1951 (the 1950 belt spelled Mr. Hickok's name as "Ray") has been found and will likely be used again.[5] Liccione planned to invite the 18 surviving belt winners (except O.J. Simpson, who at the time was incarcerated in Nevada) to the Comeback Dinner, which was held on October 16, 2011 at St. John Fisher College.[5][6]

Since being re-established in 2012, the award has been given based on a vote by the National Sports Media Association;[7] however, there have been no award ceremonies or belt presentations.[8] A 20-member panel chooses one athlete each month, with the twelve monthly winners being eligible for the award at the end of the calendar year.[7] Of the awards given since 2012, two have been presented to Lebron James.

Winners[edit]

Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax was the award's only two-time winner prior to the award's revival in 2012
For a biographical sketch of each winner from 1950 to 1976, see footnote.[9]
Year Winner Sport
1950 Phil Rizzuto Baseball
1951 Allie Reynolds Baseball
1952 Rocky Marciano Boxing
1953 Ben Hogan Golf
1954 Willie Mays Baseball
1955 Otto Graham Football
1956 Mickey Mantle Baseball
1957 Carmen Basilio Boxing
1958 Bob Turley Baseball
1959 Ingemar Johansson Boxing
1960 Arnold Palmer Golf
1961 Roger Maris Baseball
1962 Maury Wills Baseball
1963 Sandy Koufax Baseball
1964 Jim Brown Football
1965 Sandy Koufax (2) Baseball
1966 Frank Robinson Baseball
1967 Carl Yastrzemski Baseball
1968 Joe Namath Football
1969 Tom Seaver Baseball
1970 Brooks Robinson Baseball
1971 Lee Trevino Golf
1972 Steve Carlton Baseball
1973 O. J. Simpson Football
1974 Muhammad Ali Boxing
1975 Pete Rose Baseball
1976 Ken Stabler Football

Revived belt[edit]

LeBron James – a two-time Hickok Belt winner since the award's revival.
Year Winner Sport Monthly winners
2012 LeBron James Basketball
2013 LeBron James (2) Basketball
2014 Madison Bumgarner Baseball
2015 Stephen Curry Basketball
2016 Michael Phelps Swimming
2017 José Altuve Baseball
2018 TBD

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "The Storied History of the Award that Made Sports History: The Backstory on the Hickok Belt, the Crown Jewel of the Sports World". HickokBelt.com. Liccione Enterprises. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  2. ^ Morrell, Alan (October 23, 2016). "Whatever Happened To ... the Hickok Belt". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, New York: Gannet Company. pp. 8A–9A. Archived from the original on October 24, 2016. Retrieved October 24, 2016.
  3. ^ "Hickok Award to Yankee Star". The Windsor Daily Star. Associated Press. January 22, 1957. p. 18. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  4. ^ Matthews, Bob (October 12, 2010). "Hickok Belt is returning to Rochester". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, New York. Gannett Company. pp. 1A, 4A. Archived from the original on October 15, 2010. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c Bradley, Steve (October 13, 2010). "Hickok Belt mold to be used again". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, New York. Gannett Company. pp. 1D, 2D. Archived from the original on October 15, 2010. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
  6. ^ "The Belt is Back". Hickok Belt official website. Liccione Enterprises. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Adams, Thomas (September 19, 2011). "Efforts underway to bring back the Hickok Belt". Rochester Business Journal. Rochester, New York. Archived from the original on September 19, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2011.
  8. ^ Morrell, Alan. "Whatever Happened To ... the Hickok Belt". commercial appeal. commercialappeal.com. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  9. ^ "The Sports Legends on Sports' Most Prestigious Short List: Meet the 26 Winners of the Original The Hickok Belt Award". HickokBelt.com. Liccione Enterprises. Retrieved January 11, 2017.

External reference[edit]