Saturday March 2, 2013Former Gator Mike Zunino Named Semifinalist for the 83rd AAU Sullivan Award
Former University of Florida catcher Mike Zunino was announced as one of the 15 semifinalists for the 83rd Annual AAU James E. Sullivan Award. Known as the “Oscar” of sports awards, and older than the Heisman Trophy, the AAU Sullivan Award honors the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States.
It has been presented annually by the AAU since 1930 as a salute to founder and past president of the Amateur Athletic Union, and a pioneer in amateur sports, James E. Sullivan. Based on the qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship, and the ideals of amateurism, the AAU Sullivan Award goes far beyond athletic accomplishments and honors those who have shown strong moral character. Two former Gators have claimed the Sullivan Award: Tracy Caulkins (1978) and Tim Tebow (2007).
The recipient of the 2012 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, the Dick Howser Trophy and the Johnny Bench Award, Zunino was Florida’s “Triple Crown” winner last season in helping the Gators to their third-consecutive NCAA College World Series appearance, leading the team in batting average (.322), RBI (67) and homers (19). The Cape Coral, Fla., native paced the Orange and Blue in total bases (164), doubles (28), sacrifice flies (11) and slugging percentage (.669). He was also 9-for-10 on the basepaths.
According to the final 2012 NCAA statistics, Zunino was first nationally in sacrifice flies, third in doubles, fourth in round-trippers, fifth in total bases, ninth in doubles per game, 10th in RBI and 11th in slugging percentage. A two-time, first-team All-SEC recipient and two-time member of the league’s All-Defensive Team, the three-year starter registered a .994 fielding percentage in his final campaign, with three errors in 510 chances, and threw out 20 runners who attempted to steal on him.
Zunino became the first Gator catcher to be voted as a first-team All-American twice. He batted .327 in 193 career games, including 188 starts. His total of 17 sacrifice flies matches Mario Linares’ (1988-91) for the most by a UF player, he ranks fourth on the school’s all-time list in both doubles (58) and homers (47), occupies sixth in slugging percentage (.620) and RBI (175) and rates seventh in total bases (425). Zunino also totaled 224 hits, scored 159 runs, drew 72 walks and was 24-of-30 on stolen-base attempts. His sterling fielding percentage of .995 is second on the school’s career chart, as well as his 1,340 putouts. He committed just eight errors in 1,473 total chances. The Gators posted a 147-56 (.724) record over his three seasons, the top three-year performance in the program’s existence. Zunino was the third overall pick in the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft by the Seattle Mariners, becoming the highest selection in school history.
The complete list of the 15 semifinalists for the 83rd AAU Sullivan Award is as follows:
Darren Barnes, USA Weightlifting
David Boudia, USA Diving
Liz Brenner, Oregon Volleyball, Women’s Basketball, Softball, Track & Field
Jordan Burroughs, USA Wrestling
Isaiah Canaan, Murray State Men’s Basketball
Elena Delle Donne, Delaware Women’s Basketball
Gabrielle Douglas, USA Gymnastics
Missy Franklin, USA Swimming
Brittney Griner, Baylor Women’s Basketball
Steve Johnson, USC Men’s Tennis
Jones, Alabama Football
Claressa Shields, USA Boxing
Maggie Steffens, USA Water Polo
Breanna Stewart, USA Basketball, Connecticut Women’s Basketball
Mike Zunino, Florida Baseball