Long enjoys Hall of Fame visit
By Bill Francis
Terrence Long, who became accustomed to postseason baseball during big league playing career, found time during his first trip to Cooperstown to show his young family the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Thursday.
Long, his wife and four sons made the trip from their home in Montgomery, Ala., because 9-year-old Jalon has been playing in one of the local baseball camps. According to Long, Jalon, a right fielder on his 10-and-under travel team, and his brothers are all good athletes.
“They are star players on their teams,” said Long, after looking at his clippings file at the Hall of Fame Library’s A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center. “Hopefully, I rubbed off on them in some kind of way.
“They might be a little bit better than me,” said Long. “They’ve got a lot more tools than I think I had.”
Long played for eight big league seasons from 1999 to 2006, spending time with the New York Mets, Oakland A’s, San Diego Padres, Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees. But it was his years in Oakland where both he and the team excelled.
For four straight seasons, from 2000 to 2003, with Long a starting outfielder, the A’s qualified for the postseason – only to get knocked out each time in the American League Division Series.
“I do miss it,” said the 33-year-old Long. “My first couple of years out of baseball I missed October baseball. I got a chance to play in October in four of my six full seasons, so that was a blessing. I do miss my teammates, but I really miss playing in October.”
In one of the more famous plays of recent postseason action, Long’s two-out double in the seventh inning against the Yankees nearly scored Oakland teammate Jeremy Giambi from first base in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS. The A’s had won the first two games of the five-game series, and were losing 1-0 in Game 3 when Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter picked up an errant throw from the outfield and flipped the ball to catcher Jorge Posada. Giambi, who didn’t slide, was tagged out on a close play.
“We had Eric Byrnes, who was probably the fastest guy on the team, ready to pinch-run,” recalled Long. “But I can’t… Jeremy was my buddy. It will be on TV forever, though.”
Long was a first round draft pick of the Mets in 1994, but didn’t establish himself in the majors until he was traded to the A’s for pitcher Kenny Rogers on July 23, 1999.
“It was exciting having been in the Mets organization and not getting to play much and then getting traded to Oakland. They gave me a chance to play and we had some good teams,” Long said. “Thanks to the Mets for drafting me and a special thanks to Billy Beane (A’s general manager) for giving me a chance to play. That started my career off.”
It was in 1999, the year Long made his big league debut with the Mets, that he became teammates with Rickey Henderson. Henderson will be inducted into the Hall of Fame along with Joe Gordon and Jim Rice on Sunday, July 26.
“I got a chance to hang out with Rickey then. It was great,” Long said. “He took care of me. He taught me a lot and that was good. He’s a great guy, teaches the game, great sense of humor. A real laid back, down to earth guy. I wish I could be here to see him get inducted.”
These days Long spends his time coaching his sons and fishing.
“Just teaching the kids the game of baseball. I enjoy it. It takes up a lot of my time,” Long said. “I never thought that I would spend eight seasons in the big leagues. Maybe one day we’ll come back and my sons will be in the majors.”
Bill Francis is a library associate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.