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November 12. 2013 9:34PM

Cherington garners Executive of the Year

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, a Plainfield native, is the major league baseball executive of the year. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Ben Cherington was honored Monday night with the Sporting News MLB Executive of the Year Award for the transformation of the Red Sox from punchline to champions.

A native of Plainfield, N.H., and graduate of Lebanon High School, he became just the third member of the Red Sox to win the award, joining former GM Dick O'Connell (1967, 1975) and former owner Tom Yawkey (1946).

He also became the second Granite Stater so honored. Concord's Brian Sabean won the award in 2003.

"It's definitely unexpected," Cherington said Monday at the Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes resort, site of Major League Baseball's General Manager Meetings. "I was telling people in the room that I consider this to be an award for the organization, not for me. Coming off the year we had in 2012, I also sort of see it as usually an award that goes to an organization that does work over a period and not necessarily in one year.

"I think it just speaks to the hard work that a lot of people have done. It's about our ownership and the people that work for me and John Farrell and the players. Sort of the same themes we talked about after winning the World Series, this is just another symbol of a good year and a lot of good work by a lot of good people."

Cherington was considered the odds-on favorite for the award, which often goes to small-market executives. His main competition was Pirates GM Neal Huntington, like Cherington is a New Hampshire native, Amherst College graduate, and holder of a degree in sports management from UMass-Amherst.

Huntington helped Cherington get his start in professional baseball, recommending him to the Indians when Huntington was working as a member of Cleveland's player-development staff in the late 1990s.

Cherington continues to get help from another executive from New Hampshire, Red Sox assistant GM Allard Baird, a Rochester native.

With the 2013 season officially in the books, Cherington, Baird and the rest of the Boston Baseball Operations staff already has turned full attention to 2014. "Everyone has forgotten about the World Series and is just on to the offseason's work," he said. "That's what the conversation is."

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