2017-07-27 / Sports

BASEBALL’S BEST

Hall of Fame induction set
By LAMAR GARRARD
Baseball Historian

“So it seems like an anniversary to me too, and I’m surely glad and it’s a pleasure for me to come up here and be picked also in the Hall of Fame.” – Babe Ruth from his induction speech June 12, 1939.

The crowning achievement that baseball players have dreamed of forever will take place this coming Sunday at the Clark Sports Complex in Cooperstown at 1:30 p.m.

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez, John Schuerholz, and Bud Selig will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, baseball’s highest honor. Fifty thousand fans attended the event in 2016.

How difficult is it to make it to this pinnacle in one’s playing career? Of the 18,000 plus major leaguers to ever play the game only 220 have been inducted so far and 97 others such as umpires, executives, managers, and Negro leaguers add up to the total number of folks in the hall at 317. 220 out of 18,000 could be classed as almost impossible. That is how good you must be as a ballplayer to make this exclusive club.

Jeff Bagwell played his whole 15 year major league career as a first baseman for the Houston Astros. His lifetime .297 batting average with 449 home runs and 2,314 hits were stats that screamed Hall of Fame. The four-time all-star and National League Rookie of the Year in 1991 was also a unanimous National League MVP in 1994.

Tim “Rock” Raines an outfielder for 23 years played for several teams. The 7-time All-Star was on three World Championship teams. His speed accounted for 808 stolen bases placing him fourth all-time behind Henderson, Brock, and Cobb. He played 10 seasons for the Montreal Expos and holds 10 Expos offensive team records. With a lifetime career batting average of .294 and 170 homers coupled with a .988 fielding percentage it is easy to see why Tim was a sure choice to be honored with a HOF plaque.

Ivan “Pudge” Rodriquez had a .296 career batting average with 311 homers and 1,332 RBIs. On several teams, but mostly with the Texas Rangers, his power and defensive skill and the handling of pitchers are compelling reasons that he is one of the best catchers in baseball history. Fourteen times he made the All-Star team and was on the Florida Marlins World Championship team in 2003.

John Schuerholz, Atlanta Braves executive, and Bud Selig, former baseball commissioner, round out the 2017 class of inductees. All five of these deserving men will be greeted at the ceremony by at least 50 or maybe more of the living hall of famers.

I always look forward to watching the ceremony on TV and listening to the gracious humility of the recipients in their acceptance speeches. Greatness shines through as they usually give the credit to their families and former teammates and coaches.

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