OAKLAND -- Josh Willingham was named the recipient of the 2011 Jim "Catfish" Hunter Award, which for the past seven years has recognized the A's most inspirational player -- a trait the late Hunter prominently showcased during 15 Major League seasons.
It marks a third honor this year for the A's outfielder, who also garnered the Dave Stewart Community Service Award as well as a nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award. This one, though, proved the most gratifying, as it was voted upon by A's players, coaches and staff members.
"Pretty unbelievable," Willingham said. "Any time you're voted for something or given an award from your peers, I think a lot of people, when their careers are over with, their numbers don't matter as opposed to what others think of you, how you represented yourself. That's why it's so special to me."
The 32-year-old Willingham is enjoying perhaps the most productive season of his eight-year career. He entered Tuesday with a team-leading 27 home runs and 92 RBIs -- both numbers represent career highs, and the latter is the most by an A's player since Frank Thomas' 114 in 2006.
Off the field, he has joined wife, Ginger, in continually working to expand the Josh Willingham Foundation, which this year provided much-needed help to tornado victims in their home state of Alabama.
"I think the fact that he's picked up basically every humanitarian award you can this year tells you a little bit about him off the field," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Usually you just get a perspective on a guy on the field, and your interviews with him pertain a lot more to baseball, but obviously there's a lot more with this guy that meets the eye than just baseball-wise."
Melvin enjoys buzz created by 'Moneyball'
OAKLAND -- A's manager Bob Melvin was stationed in Arizona as the D-backs' bench coach in 2002 when Oakland strung together 20 consecutive wins.
But on Monday, he essentially received a front-row seat to relive it, taking part in the "Moneyball" national premiere at the historic Paramount Theatre in Oakland, which was followed by a mingling scene with the film's actors at the Fox Theater.
"I thought, really, the whole night was very nice," Melvin said Tuesday afternoon. "It was great for the city of Oakland. There was a big buzz, from the Paramount to the Fox and everywhere in between. On top of it, it was entertaining and a great story. It really ended up being an enjoyable evening."
The A's skipper even engaged in conversation with Philip Seymour Hoffman, "told him that I was currently in the role he portrayed." Hoffman plays the part of then-manager Art Howe in the movie, one which depicts a rather tense relationship between him and general manager Billy Beane.
Melvin insisted he wasn't scared off, quickly answering, "I do, I do," when asked if he still wanted to work for Beane following the screening -- "Though I did notice him throwing that chair out of the manager's office," he said, smiling.
The film has generated a welcomed buzz around the A's, with whom star Brad Pitt said Monday he "feels a bit romantic about."
"I didn't know how big it would be," Melvin said. "I didn't expect anything like that. It really felt like an L.A. or Hollywood event, mixed in with a lot of baseball fans."
As for the movie itself, Melvin exited a fan, as did several of his players, including Jemile Weeks.
"If you're part of the A's organization, it had a little more effect than just a sports movie," Melvin said. "To an extent, it was surreal to see it go down in the fashion it did, and know that a lot of people that experienced that are still in the organization, and you're part of that."
Brandon Allen received the day off Tuesday, allowing Chris Carter to make his second straight start, this time at first base. Allen, manager Bob Melvin said, is expected back for Wednesday's contest against the Rangers.
Ryan Sweeney, sidelined by a strained upper left quad, is more likely to return in a pinch-hit role than as a starter this season, Melvin said. Still, there's a possibility the A's could also choose to keep Sweeney off the field, as only eight games remain after Tuesday.