BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini won the 2021 Players Choice Award for American League Comeback Player after he beat stage III colon cancer and returned to play 147 games in 2021.

The awarded was voted on by players across Major League Baseball.

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On the season, Mancini hit .255 with 21 home runs and 71 RBI in 616 plate appearances. Perhaps the highlight was Mancini reaching the finals of the Home Run Derby a day before MLB’s All-Star Game, falling just short of eventual winner Pete Alonso of the New York Mets.

After being diagnosed in spring training 2020, Mancini missed the pandemic-shortened season as he recovered from surgery to remove a malignant tumor from his colon and went through six months of chemotherapy treatment.

“It means the world to me,” Mancini said of the award in a video released by the Major League Baseball Players Association. “There were a lot of times last year that I wasn’t exactly sure that I’d be able to play again.”

Current and former teammates and players from across the league commended Mancini’s accomplishments in the same video.

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“For him to have the perseverance to not only get healthy and get better, but also to make his way back and put up the numbers that he did this year, it’s unfathomable, honestly,” said Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Robbie Ray

Fellow Orioles first baseman Ryan Mountcastle said seeing Mancini throughout the season was inspirational.

“For you to overcome the obstacles that you had to face, it’s truly amazing,” he said.

Mountcastle was also recognized by his peers, winning the 2021 Players Choice Award for American League Outstanding Rookie after hitting .255 with 33 home runs and 89 RBI. He set the franchise mark for home runs in a season by a rookie.

Former Oriole Mark Belanger, who played in Baltimore from 1965 to 1981, won the Curt Flood Award given to “a former player, living or deceased, who in the image of Flood demonstrated a selfless, longtime devotion to the Players Association and advancement of players’ rights,” according to MLB.com.

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Belanger was the first former ballplayer hired to work for the union, according to MLB.com.

CBS Baltimore Staff