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Piazza, Thomas repeat as hit picks

The Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame, in conjunction with CNN/SI and Total Baseball, announced its 1997 award winners, with Chicago White Sox first baseman/designated hitter Frank Thomas and Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza heading the list of seven inductees.

Thomas and Piazza are the first repeat winners of the Ted Williams Award, which is based on a formula that combines on-base percentage and slugging percentage. The award is given to the best performer under that formula in each league.

Thomas received the award in 1995. Piazza won it last year.

"Thomas is a consistently great hitter _ a consistently productive hitter _ and he's been that way throughout the entire decade," Williams said in a statement. "He's Lou Gehrig without the streak. Among big-league first basemen, Frank Thomas is the Lou Gehrig of our time. Not splashy, but he can kill you."

Joining Piazza and Thomas on this year's list of inductees are Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra and Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Scott Rolen, who are scheduled to receive the inaugural Ted Williams Rookie Award at the Feb. 17 induction ceremonies at the Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame.

"I love this kid. He's got unlimited potential," Williams said of Garciaparra. "Not only can he hit, he knows hitting. Nomar understands the whys and wherefores, the guts of hitting _ and he's only going to get better. And he does it at one of the diamond's most demanding positions. I give him four stars."

Mark McGwire also is a repeat winner of the Splendid Splinter Award for his near-record 58-homer performance in 1997. He won the inaugural Splendid Splinter Award last year.

Warren Spahn and Bob Feller complete the list of inductees for 1997. Each will receive the Great Achievement Award and will be inducted into the Ted Williams Wall of Great Achievements during the award ceremonies.

Spahn, the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter after turning 40, has more wins (363) than any left-hander in history and the fifth-highest win total overall, including 13 20-win seasons. Feller won 266 games, completed six 20-win seasons, had three no-hitters and 12 one-hitters.