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Chicago's Torborg is AL Manager of the Year

Jeff Torborg, who transformed the Chicago White Sox into baseball's biggest surprise team of the season, on Tuesday was selected the American League Manager of the Year. Torborg took the youngest club in the majors and helped guide it to the best turnaround in the big leagues. The White Sox, picked to finish far back in the AL West after finishing last at 69-92 in 1989, improved by 24{ games to 94-68 and challenged Oakland until September.

Only Oakland and Pittsburgh had better records than the White Sox. Chicago also was the only team to hold an edge over the Athletics in the regular season, going 8-5 against the pennant winners.

Torborg, who turns 49 next month, got 23 of 28 first-place votes and finished with 128 points. Oakland's Tony La Russa got four first-place votes and had 72 points and Boston's Joe Morgan got the other first-place vote and was third with 28.

Torborg was the only manager to be named on every ballot. Two members of the Baseball Writers Association of America from each AL city voted.

Eight of the 14 AL managers received votes. Detroit's Sparky Anderson was fourth with 12, followed by Toronto's Cito Gaston (6), Texas' Bobby Valentine (4) and Seattle's Jim Lefebvre and California's Doug Rader with one each.

The National League Manager of the Year will be announced today.

Torborg is the second White Sox manager to win the honor. La Russa got it with Chicago in 1983, the first year the award was given.

Until last year, no AL manager had won the award without winning a division championship. But Frank Robinson won last season after turning the Baltimore Orioles from a last-place team into a contender, and Torborg, who inspired his club this year with comparisons to the Orioles, did nearly the same thing.

The White Sox stuck close to the Athletics from the start and, a day before the All-Star break, were seven percentage points ahead of Oakland. Torborg juggled a young pitching staff, bringing up Scott Radinsky from Class A and Wayne Edwards from Class AA. He relied heavily on reliever Bobby Thigpen, who set a major league record with 57 saves, and catcher Carlton Fisk.

After the All-Star break, the Athletics began to break away. The White Sox managed to pull within five games on Aug.

26, and wound up nine games behind.

Torborg was hired by the White Sox after they went 71-90 under Jim Fregosi in 1988. In his first year with Chicago, Torborg's team slipped two games.

Torborg managed Cleveland from 1977-79, going 157-201 with the Indians. He was a coach for the New York Yankees for 10 years and spent 1988 as their bullpen coach.

Torborg was a catcher in the majors for 10 years, mostly with Los Angeles. He caught no-hitters by Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan and Bill Singer, one short of the major-league mark of four no-hitters caught by Ray Schalk.

Last week, Torborg was selected AP Manager of the Year in voting by sportswriters and broadcasters.