By Larry Fine
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels and Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins were selected as American League and National League winners of the Hank Aaron Award, Major League Baseball said on Saturday.
The award, established in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's career home run record, recognizes the top offensive performer in each league and is voted on by fans and a panel of Hall of Fame players.
The 24-year-old Stanton batted .288 with 31 doubles, 37 home runs, 105 RBIs and 89 runs scored despite missing Miami's final 17 games due to injury.
Trout, 23, batted .287 with 39 doubles, nine triples, 36 home runs, 111 RBI, 115 runs scored and 16 stolen bases.
Retiring commissioner Bud Selig was also presented with an honorary Aaron Award, in recognition of 22 years leading the organisation.
"I was shocked, I don't mind telling you. I'm not often surprised," said Selig, who is retiring in January and was moved in accepting the award named after his long term friend.
Aaron entered the majors with the Milwaukee Braves and became friends with local automobile dealer Selig, who later became owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, who joined MLB after the Braves relocated to Atlanta.
"Hank and I have been friends for 57 years now," said 80-year-old Selig, who warmly embraced Aaron.
"Boy, we're getting old, Henry. Our birthdays are only four months apart, so we are getting old together."
Selig praised Aaron, who batted over .300 14 times and was an elite outfielder in addition to breaking Babe Ruth's career home run record.
"Broke the most famous record in sports, and it didn't change him," said Selig, who recalled the death threats sent to Aaron as he closed in on Ruth's record of 714 home runs.
"He went through unmitigated hell for having the gall to break that record, but did it with a lot of class and dignity."
Aaron recalled a fond early memory of dealing with Selig.
"I bought my first car from him," Aaron said, referring to a treasured Ford convertible.
"I loved that car so much that driving it back to Mobile, Alabama ... the street that I was staying on was not paved and when it rained I put it in the garage and I would walk because I really loved that automobile."
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)