Dave Justice, who began the season in the minors and blossomed into baseball's best baby boomer, was the near-unanimous choice yesterday as National League rookie of the year.
Justice hit 28 homers for the Atlanta Braves, most of them after he took over in right field when Dale Murphy was traded to Philadelphia in early August. Justice batted .282 with 78 RBI in 127 games.
Justice received 23 of 24 first-place votes for 118 points. Montreal second baseman Delino DeShields got the other first-place vote and placed second with 60 points.
Cincinnati first baseman Hal Morris (13), San Francisco pitcher John Burkett (12), Chicago pitcher Mike Harkey (7), St. Louis catcher Todd Zeile (4) and Montreal outfielders Marquis Grissom (1) and Larry Walker (1) followed in the voting. Two members of the Baseball Writers Association of America in each NL city voted.
Justice, 24, joined Earl Williams (1971) and Bob Horner (1978) as Atlanta players to win the award. The American League rookie of the year will be announced today.
At the start of the season, Justice was not in Atlanta's plans. He sustained a broken cheek bone in spring training and began the year at Triple-A Richmond. Even when Justice joined the Braves on May 16, he played out of position at first base.
Justice, Atlanta's fourth-round choice in the 1985 draft, had never hit more than 12 home runs for one team in a season before this year.