KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Miguel Cabrera became the 15th player to win baseball's Triple Crown on Wednesday night, the reluctant superstar thrust into the spotlight after joining an elite list that includes Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig.
Cabrera's milestone wasn't official until the Yankees pinch hit for Curtis Granderson in their game against the Boston Red Sox. Granderson had homered twice to reach 43 for the year, tied with the Rangers' Josh Hamilton and one shy of Cabrera.
Cabrera went 0 for 2 against the Royals before leaving in the fourth inning to a standing ovation. He finished the regular season with a .330 average, four points better the Angels' Mike Trout, his biggest competition for MVP. Cabrera was the runaway leader with 139 RBI.
Boston's Carl Yastrzemski was the last player to achieve the Triple Crown in 1967.
"I am glad that he accomplished this while leading his team to the American League Central title," Yastrzemski said in a statement. "I was fortunate enough to win this award in 1967 as part of the Red Sox's 'Impossible Dream Team.' " Commissioner Bud Selig said also offered his congratulations, calling the Triple Crown " a remarkable achievement that places him amongst an elite few in all of baseball history."
The crowd at Kauffman Stadium gave him a standing ovation before he flied out in the first inning. He struck out in the fourth inning but remained in the game, allowing Leyland to remove him with two outs to another standing ovation from thousands of appreciate fans.
Cabrera high-fived his teammates as he entered the Detroit dugout, then walked back to the top step and waved his helmet. When the milestone became official, it was displayed on the center field scoreboard to another standing ovation.
"I would say without question he's enjoyed it. How could you not enjoy what he's done if you're a baseball player?" Tigers manager Jim Leyland said before the game.