Baseball Hall Makes Good Selections

The Baseball Hall of Fame selection committee made three good choices on Wednesday afternoon. The Hall announced that joining John Schuerholtz, and Bud Selig will be Ivan Rodriguez, Tim Raines and my favorite Jeff Bagwell.

Rodriguez is possibly the best defender to ever play the catcher position. He stopped his opponents running game almost single handedly. He also was a pretty good hitter over a long career that saw him make 14 All-Star teams and win 13 Gold Gloves. He threw out 46 per cent of those trying to steal bases against him and hit over 300 home runs. Along with Johnny Bench, Rodriguez is only the second catcher to be a first ballot selection.

Tim Raines was the best leadoff hitter of his era. The switch hitter played for twenty three years and stole 808 bases. He came up to the majors as a second baseman but switched to the outfield after arriving in Montreal. He was teammates with guys like Andre Dawson, Warren Cromartie, Tim Wallach and Terry Francona that made the Expos one of the top teams in the National League. Then he went on to play for the Yankees and White Sox and then ended his brilliant career back with the Expos, playing in one game with his son Tim Raines, Jr. in the same outfield. This was Raines final appearance on the ballot.

I am most happy for Bagwell. Although I saw both of the others play in the minor leagues against teams I worked for, Bagwell will be the second player to enter the Hall in Cooperstown that played on teams I was General Managger. Frank Thomas was the other. Bagwell was only in Jackson for three days and didn’t hit much while on his rehab assignment but he left an imprint on me and the city of Jackson.

Each day he would arrive at the park and do his work in the weight room and during batting practice then he would go near the dugout and sign autographs for those waiting for him. He was coming off an MVP season in Houston and had suffered a broken hand when hit by a pitch but was in great demand for autographs. After the game for three nights in a row he and Rick Wilkins (another Astro on rehab) would stay by the dugout and sign for as long as someone stayed in line. He treated the other players and our staff very well and on the final night in town, he took the entire team out after the game and picked up the tab.

His accomplishments on the field are well deserving of the honor he will receive, but he will always be special to me for the manner he treated the fans in Jackson and the way he respected his Double A teammates. Our owner, Con Maloney was so impressed with Jeff that he had me take out a full page ad in the Houston paper the Sunday after he left, thanking him for the treatment of our fans.

Congratulations to Jeff Bagwell for getting into the Hall of Fame.

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