CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto is the recipient of this year's Phi Delta International Fraternity Lou Gehrig Memorial Award.
Based in Oxford, Phi Delta Theta presents the award each year to the Major League Baseball player who best exemplifies the giving character of Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig, a member of the fraternity's Columbia University chapter.
The award was first presented in 1955 and is maintained at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.
Fraternity representatives will physically present the award to Votto on July 27 when the Reds host the Philadelphia Phillies.
Notable past recipients include Stan Musial, Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Harmon Killebrew, Willie Stargell, Lou Brock, George Brett, Ozzie Smith, Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn, Albert Pujols and Derek Jeter.
Other Reds that have received the award include Pete Rose (1969), Johnny Bench (1975), Barry Larkin (1994) and Danny Graves (2002).
"Joey Votto is a leader in our clubhouse and sets the example for our players on how to conduct themselves on and off the field," said Dick Williams, Cincinnati Reds president of baseball operations and general manager. "His engagement in the community has quietly encouraged others on our team to do the same. We congratulate him on this award."
Votto was named the Reds' Most Valuable Player for the sixth time last season. The vote was unanimous for the second straight year. He became the first Reds player to start all 162 games in a non-strike year since Pete Rose in 1975.
Votto hit .320 with 34 doubles, 36 home runs and 100 RBIs. He led MLB and broke his own club record by reaching base safely 321 times. He also led the Major Leagues in walks (134) for the fifth time and in on-base percentage (.454) for the sixth time, as well as the National League in OPS (1.032).
Votto finished second in National League Most Valuable Player Award voting by two points. He earned his fifth career National League All-Star recognition.
Following the conclusion of the 2017 season, Votto served at the P&G MLB Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy, giving lessons to the boys and girls that train there. The building where the student athletes train, the Joey Votto Training Center, bears his name in recognition of the contributions he has made to the Reds Community Fund over the years, team officials say.
Every December, Votto attends Redsfest, the club's annual offseason fan-fest and fundraiser for the Reds Community Fund, where he does autograph sessions, media interviews, team introductions and awards. This past year, he held a a kids-only press conference during the event.
The story of Votto and "Superbubz" stands out, though.
In August, Walter Herbert, better known as "Superbubz," had the opportunity to attend batting practice at Great American Ball Park as part of a wish visit experience. Superbubz was fighting stage four neuroblastoma when he met Votto for the first time.
Votto gave him a behind the scenes tour of the clubhouse and signed a bat for him to take home.
A week later, on Aug. 31, Superbubz was at the game, sitting behind home plate, when he caught Joey's eye. Joey gave him a high five while waiting in the on-deck circle, and during his next plate appearance, Joey hit his 34th home run of the season. Immediately after, he delivered the bat and his jersey to Superbubz.
Superbubz lost his long battle with cancer on Oct. 6. Joey attended the visitation, along with hundreds of others, to pay his respects to the family. Their interaction on August 31 won him with the MLB Award for Best Player-Fan Interaction, which he accepted in Superbubz' honor.