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National Collegiate Baseball Writers June 13, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: Russ Anderson
Southern second baseman led nation in hitting twice

OMAHA, Neb. (NCBWA)Rickie Weeks, the first standout from the Southwestern Athletic Conference to receive the honor and NCAA Division I batting champion for two consecutive seasons, has been named as winner of the 17th annual Dick Howser Trophy as 2003 college baseball player of the year.

Southern University's Rickie Weeks has led the nation in hitting in each of the last two seasons.

In voting by members of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association in conjunction with the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Area Chamber of Commerce, Weeks is the second straight Florida resident to capture the prestigious Howser Trophy. Last year Clemson shortstop Khalil Greene of Key West, Fla. (also the hometown of Dick Howser's Florida State fellow alumnus Burt Reynolds), earned top laurels.

The 2003 and 2002 numbers posted by the 2003 winner are among the finest in NCAA history.

Weeks has led the nation hitting in each of the last two seasons averages of .495 and .479, respectively, as the second baseman from Altamonte Springs, Fla., rolled to one of the most successful careers in college baseball history.

During the 2003 campaign the 2002 Howser Trophy finalist as a sophomore was 78-for-163 with a NCAA-best 1.61 runs scored per game (82 in 51 contests), hit 16 home runs and drove in 66 runs.

A year earlier, he posted equally outstanding numbers with a .495 average, 98-for-198 plate work, 63 runs scored, a Southern season-record 20 home runs and school-most 96 RBI.

Over his last 107 games in college he batted .488 with 36 home runs and 162 RBI for an average of 1.55 runs batted in each outing. He also notched Southwestern Athletic Conference Player of the Year and consensus All-America honors in each of his last two campaigns. He played on a SU team that sported the nation's best winning percentage (.863) in DI baseball this season at 44-7 and belted a two-run homer to push head coach Roger Cador's Jaguars into the second round of the NCAA Hattiesburg Regional with a 5-3 triumph.

The second straight Florida resident to win the Howser Trophy was the second player selected in the 2003 Major League Baseball Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. He currently is awaiting possible signing or returning to Southern for his senior season.

Weeks also distinguished himself as 2003 Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year, was a Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-America in 2001 and played on the USA Baseball National Summer Team for two seasons.

Rickie Weeks is the first SWAC player to win the NCBWA's Player of the Year award.

"We could not be more pleased to present the Dick Howser Trophy to a deserving young man like Rickie Weeks," said Howser Trophy chair David P. Feaster of the Greater St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Signature Bank-Florida. "He had an amazing season in 2003 and has put together two of the most successful back-to-back individual seasons in college baseball history."

The Dick Howser Trophy, given in memory of the former Florida State University All-America shortstop and major league player and manager who died of brain cancer in 1987, is regarded by many as college baseball's most prestigious award.

In addition to Friday's presentation by NCBWA President Rob Carolla of the Big East Conference, there will be a special ceremony before or during a 2003 Southern football contest to be determined to award Weeks the trophy in front of a "home" audience.

Criteria for consideration for the trophy include performance on the field, leadership, moral character and courage, qualities that were exemplified by Dick Howser's life.

A Florida native, Howser was twice an All-America shortstop at Florida State University (1957-58), then coached the Seminoles in 1979 after a career as a major league player and coach. The personable college standout and successful Major League manager also served as an analyst for ESPN's coverage of the 1981 NCAA World Series with Jim Simpson. After one year in the college ranks, Howser returned to the majors to manage the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals and won the World Series with the Royals in 1985. The baseball stadium on the Florida State campus is named for Howser.

The winner's name is inscribed on the permanent trophy, a bronze bust of Howser permanently displayed at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, home of the Tampa Bay D-Rays and the 1999 NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four, among other championship events. Both the winner and his school receive a special trophy to keep on public display at the university.

The St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 100th birthday in 1999 and is in the midst of its third century of service to the community and nation in 2002. The organization has long been a vital force in the baseball affairs of the city, both in spring training and during the pursuit of a major league baseball franchise for the Tampa Bay area, and continues its solid role in the in both college and professional sports as well as serving as the home for the Association of Professional Baseball Leagues.

NCBWA membership includes writers, broadcasters and publicists. Designed to promote and publicize college baseball, it is the sport's only college media-related organization, founded in 1962, and just celebrated its 40th anniversary as an organization in 2002.

The Howser Trophy was created in 1987, shortly after Howser's death. 1987-98 winners were selected by the American Baseball Coaches Association before the NCBWA became the voting body in 1999.

Previous winners of the Howser Trophy are Mike Fiore, Miami (Fla.), 1987; Robin Ventura, Oklahoma State, 1988; Scott Bryant, Texas, 1989; Alex Fernandez, Miami-Dade Community College South, 1990; Frank Rodriguez, Howard College (Texas), 1991; Brooks Kieschnick, Texas, 1992 and 1993; Jason Varitek, Georgia Tech, 1994; Todd Helton, Tennessee, 1995; Kris Benson, Clemson, 1996; J. D. Drew, Florida State, 1997; Eddy Furniss, LSU, 1998; Jason Jennings, Baylor, 1999; Mark Teixeira, Georgia Tech, 2000; Mark Prior, Southern California, 2001; Khalil Greene, Clemson, 2002; Rickie Weeks, Southern, 2003.

Related Link:
Dick Howser Trophy official site