Results tagged ‘ BBWAA ’
By Craig Muder
NEW YORK — Andre Dawson never knew he had so many friends. But after becoming the newest member of the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, Dawson’s cell phone never stopped ringing.
“I’ve had 90 text messages and 60 voice messages,” Dawson said. “I don’t think I know that many people.”
But people know Andre Dawson. And now they know him by his new title: Hall of Famer.
Dawson arrived in New York City on Wednesday night after learning earlier in the day that he had become the 292nd member of the Hall of Fame. On his ninth try on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot, Dawson crossed the magic 75-percent level necessary for Hall of Fame induction.
He’ll be enshrined July 25 in Cooperstown with Veterans Committee electees Doug Harvey and Whitey Herzog.
The 55-year-old Dawson is fit and trim — and looks like he could still mash a few balls over the fence. But the knee problems that dogged him during his playing career would make any comeback impossible.
“I got stopped in the airport, as usual, because of this knee,” said Dawson, patting the right leg that contains an artificial joint made of metal. “They won’t let me through security.”
Dawson, however, was more than happy to endure the wait in the airport. The smiles came easy on Wednesday for the eight-time All-Star outfielder — one of baseball’s most outstanding citizens — as he recalled the career path that brought him to the Hall of Fame.
In a little more than six months, that path will land Dawson on stage in the Village of Cooperstown — and once again, he’ll be recalling his career. Only this time, thousands of fans will be cheering.
One last ovation for a player who has as many friends as he does fans.
Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
By Craig Muder
It’s Hall of Fame Eve in Cooperstown, the day before the annual Baseball Writers’ Association of America election.
And just like on Christmas Eve, you can bet there’s going to be a few people who have trouble sleeping tonight.
Take Andre Dawson. The leading returning vote-getter from the 2009 BBWAA election (at 67 percent) is on the ballot for the ninth time after missing election by just 44 votes a year ago.
Or how about Bert Blyleven? The curveball maestro received 62.7 percent of the vote last year, falling just short of the 75 percent needed for election. For Blyleven, this marks his 13th time on the BBWAA ballot – leaving him two more chances (if he needs them) after this election.
Then there’s Roberto Alomar, who’s making his BBWAA ballot debut. The 12-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner could become just the 45th player to be elected in his first year of eligibility.
How about Lee Smith and Jack Morris, who both received a little less than half of the vote last year? Or ballot newcomers Andres Galarraga, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez and Fred McGriff? All are likely to receive support.
It all happens tomorrow. They’ll wake up and head downstairs with their expectations in hand. But instead of looking for the presents under the tree, they’ll wait for a phone call that will totally change their lives.
If the call comes, they’ll once again know the joy of being a kid on Christmas morning.
Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
By Craig Muder
Warren Cromartie slipped on the white gloves provided by the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library and opened the file with his name on it.
“That was me, in the minors,” said Cromartie, carefully examining a newspaper clipping from his days as an Expos farmhand. “Oh my word. You surprised me… You surprised me.”
Suddenly, Cromartie’s eyes filled. On his first trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the memories — and the tears — came flooding back.
Cromartie, who played 10 big league seasons with the Expos and the Royals, visited Cooperstown on Friday as part of an assignment with Fuji TV. Following a nine-year stint with the Expos that ended in 1983, Cromartie played seven seasons in Japan with the Tokyo Giants — learning the Japanese language and becoming a fan favorite.
Cromartie led his TV crew through the Hall of Fame, describing artifacts along the Museum’s timeline before visiting the Library — which contains a file on each of the more than 17,000 players in MLB history.
“Playing in Montreal was great, and we had a good team,” said Cromartie, who averaged 177 hits and 38 doubles per season in his first four big league campaigns from 1977-80. “But after the 1983 season, the Giants’ owner said to me: ‘Mr. Cromartie, how much will it take for you to come to play in Japan?’ Well, I wrote down a figure with a lot of numbers, and they said OK. And I really enjoyed my time there.”
Today, Cromartie lives in South Florida and is exploring ownership possibilities in minor league baseball. But the next major event on his baseball calendar comes Jan. 6, when his longtime friend Andre Dawson will be one of the top returning candidates in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame election.
In last year’s election, Dawson received 67 percent of the BBWAA vote — falling just 44 votes short of the 75 percent needed for enshrinement.
“I’m going to be back here real soon, with tears in my eyes again,” Cromartie said. “Everyone who saw Andre Dawson play knows he’s a Hall of Famer. I can’t wait to come back with Andre.”
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
By Thomas Lawrence
Thirty-seven years ago Wednesday, Roberto Clemente recorded a career milestone.
On Sept. 30, 1972, Clemente and the defending world champion Pirates were taking on Yogi Berra‘s Mets at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. Clemente, a native of Puerto Rico, was hitting an impressive .311 heading into the season finale against New York.
Batting third against Mets starter Jon Matlack, the eventual National League Rookie of the Year, Clemente looked to push his career hit total of 2,999 into an historic category. At the time, only 10 other players were members of the 3,000-hit club, and only three — Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Stan Musial — had done so in the latter half of the 20th century.
Clemente, aside from being a world-renowned humanitarian, had a chance to become the first Latin ballplayer to reach 3,000 hits.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Clemente led off against Matlack after striking out in his first at-bat. Clemente promptly roped a double to the Three Rivers outfield — the 3,000th and last regular-season hit of his exceptional career.
But it wouldn’t be his last impact on Major League Baseball. The Pirates won the National League East and were set to take on Sparky Anderson‘s Reds in the league’s championship series. Clemente only had four hits in the five-game series loss, which officially unseated the 1971 world champions, but a double and a home run were among the four hits.
After 18 magical seasons of watching Clemente control the diamond as few ever did, the world was dealt a huge blow when Clemente was killed on Dec. 31. Flying to Nicaragua to deliver goods to earthquake victims, Clemente was the victim of a plane crash that took his life at the young age of 38.
But to dwell on Clemente’s tragic passing is a disservice to the incredible life he led — one which began on Aug. 18, 1934, in Carolina, Puerto Rico. One of more than 200 Puerto Rican players to play in the big leagues, Clemente remains the commonwealth’s all-time hits leader, 276 in front of runner-up Roberto Alomar.
Clemente became the first Latin American player to be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973, and dozens of artifacts from Clemente’s life are housed at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown. In the brand-new ¡Viva Baseball! exhibit, which celebrates the Latin influence on the game, Clemente is recognized alongside other Latin American stars.
A No. 21 Pirates jersey retired on Opening Day 1973, a scrapbook of newspaper clippings covering his untimely passing and the “Roberto Clemente Memorial Album” vinyl record are all on display in ¡Viva Baseball!.
“Roberto Clemente touched us all,” Pirates pitcher Steve Blass once said. “We’re all better players and people for having known him.”
Thomas Lawrence was the 2009 publications intern at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
By Samantha Carr
Bobby Cox has set the date for his retirement. If he remains on schedule, it will likely mean a date in Cooperstown as well.
After years of speculation, the Braves skipper has announced that 2010 will be his final year as a manager. He will continue to serve the organization as a consultant beyond next season.
“I’m thrilled and happy to be coming back next year,” Cox told MLB.com. “The retirement, it’s time in my life that I do that.”
Cox ranks fourth all-time on baseball’s all-time managerial wins list with 2,409. He trails only Hall of Famers Connie Mack and John McGraw, and Tony La Russa, who is not yet eligible for the Hall of Fame.
“Bobby loves the game. It’s in his blood,” La Russa said. “He always had his team ready to play.”
If he follows through on his retirement, Cox will be eligible for Hall of Fame Veterans Committee consideration in time for the Class of 2012. Among first-time eligible players up for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America election in 2012 are former Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams and long-time Braves catcher Javy Lopez.
Next year will mark Cox’s 25th year as the Braves manager, his 29th overall. Cox began his managerial career in Atlanta from 1978-1981 and then managed for four years in Toronto from 1982-1985. After a stint as general manager, Cox became the Braves skipper again in 1991.
The 68-year-old manager led the Braves to 14 straight postseason appearances (1991-2005) and a World Series crown in 1995. He has a .556 winning percentage and five NL pennants to his credit.
And he shows his passion on the diamond. Cox has been ejected from a ballgame a record 150 times.
“He’s one of the greatest – not only managers, but people,” Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “He’s a Hall of Famer.”
Samantha Carr is the media relations coordinator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Steve Light, the Hall of Fame’s manager of museum programs, ran a live blog from the 2009 Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Cooperstown. Readers of his live banter had the ability to comment or ask questions.
11:00 a.m. Good morning everyone, and welcome to the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s official live blog for the 2009 Induction Ceremony as we get ready to induct the Hall of Fame’s newest members, Joe Gordon, Rickey Henderson, and Jim Rice. My name is Steve Light, and I am the manager of museum programs here at the Hall of Fame. Right now I’m sitting on “Radio Row” here at the Induction Site – The Clark Sports Center. I’ll be bringing you live updates on the ceremony all afternoon, so stay tuned and send me your questions and comments.
The Induction Ceremony is just about two and a half hours away. Right now Hall of Fame staff and volunteers are busy wrapping up all the final preparations. Wondering about the forecast? Right now it’s mostly cloudy and 75 degrees. We do have a threat of isolated thunderstorms this afternoon, but hopefully we’ll stay dry for the ceremony.
11:10 a.m. The crowd has already started to build here. In fact, some fans set up chairs to stake out their spots yesterday morning. If you are in or near Cooperstown, don’t forget that the ceremony is free and open to the public! If you can’t get here, you can catch live coverage on the MLB Network beginning at 12:30. We will also stream the ceremony live on our website, www.baseballhall.org
11:16 a.m. Red Sox Nation has turned out in full force this weekend to celebrate Jim Rice. Catering to the crowd, the big screen next to the stage is playing highlights from the 2004 Red Sox season.
11:35 a.m. 51 Hall of Famers have turned out to welcome their three newest members this weekend. Of course, today is not just about Jim, Joe, and Rickey. We will also honor J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner Nick Peters, and Ford C. Frick Award winner Tony Kubek. Peters covered the San Francisco Giants for 47 years, 1961 – 2007. Kubek has worked as an analyst for NBC’s Game of the Week, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the New York Yankees for 30 years. He is also the first exclusively television analyst to win the Frick Award.
11:36 a.m. [Comment From Kevin Brazee]
Do you know who will speak first Henderson or Rice?
11:36 a.m. Great question Kevin! The final order has not been decided yet, but Jim Rice will likely speak first.
11:53 a.m. We’ve had a great weekend here in Cooperstown already. On Friday our annual PLAY Ball! with Ozzie Smith event raised $10,000 for the Hall of Fame’s Educational programs and gave some fans the opportunity of a lifetime to interact with Ozzie, Wade Boggs, Harmon Killebrew and Eddie Murray on Doubleday Field. Yesterday at the Clark Sports Center a crowd of over 750 people watched four families’ compete against Dick Williams, Goose Gossage and Ryne Sandberg in our annual Connecting Generations, a Family Feud-like game show. Harold Reynolds served as the host.
11:56 p.m. The gates have opened in the seated sections and fans begin to stream to their seats as the excitement begins to build. Just about an hour and a half away.
12:04 p.m. Red Sox Nation isn’t alone here in Cooperstown this weekend. The section 3 seats directly behind me are filled with Oakland Athletics’ gear. Feel free to send any questions you might have about today’s Induction Ceremony, and be sure to include where you are from!
12:17 p.m. Let’s talk some stats now, starting with Rickey. Henderson is the 44th player elected on the first ballot. He received 94.8% of the vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Henderson played in 10 All-Star games, won three silver sluggers, and was named the 1990 AL MVP. During his 25 year career he set career records for runs, stolen bases, and walks. The records for runs and stolen bases still stand. Rickey also holds the single season steals record, and led the league in steals a record 12 times.
12:22 p.m. Jim Rice was elected on his 15th year on the Baseball Writers ballot, receiving 76.4% of the vote. He joins two other famous Hall of Fame Red Sox leftfielders, Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski. In his 16-year major league career Rice was one of the most feared sluggers in the American League. He was an 8-time All-Star, led the league in home runs 3 times and won an AL MVP in 1978.
12:25 p.m. [Comment From C Itle]
I can’t find the stream link. Could you please post it here?
12:26 p.m. The live stream will be posted on the Hall’s website at 12:30 eastern time. Just visit www.baseballhall.org.
12:30 p.m. Nine-time All-Star Joe Gordon was elected on the pre-1943 Veterans Committee ballot. He received 10 of the 12 committee votes. Gordon was a member of five World Series winning teams, and won the 1942 Most Valuable Player Award. During his first six seasons, Gordon and the New York Yankees won five pennants and four World Series titles. He was traded to Cleveland in 1946, and helped lead the Indians to their World Series title in 1948, hitting 32 home runs and driving in 120 runs.
12:33 p.m. A lot of people are asking who is representing Joe Gordon here today. It will be Joe’s daughter, Judy Gordon.
12:35 p.m. A note for all you fans out there who might be attending a major league game today: save your tickets! The Hall will grant free admission to all fans who present a ticket stub from a major league game bearing the date July 26, 2009. This opportunity is good right up until next year’s Induction.
12:47 p.m. I’m getting some more questions about where to find the televised broadcast, so for those joining our live blog late, you can catch live coverage on the MLB Network (their broadcast has already started!) or you can stream them onto your computer via our website, www.baseballhall.org.
Casey is on stage warming up for his annual presentation of “Casey at the Bat”. That surely means the start of the ceremony is getting closer.
12:55 p.m. With Joe Gordon, Rickey Henderson, and Tony Kubek all being honored today, it’s no surprise that Yankees GM Brian Cashman has arrived and is in the audience for today’s ceremony. Another notable name spotted in the audience: Keith Olberman.
Right now on the big screen, 2009 Steele Intern Daniel Sampson interviews MLB Network commentator and former major leaguer Harold Reynolds.
1:00 p.m. [Comment From Fitz - Boston]
Have you seen Freddie Lynn in the crowd? Any other Rice teammates?
1:00 p.m. Haven’t seen Fred Lynn, Fitz. But Dwight Evans is in town.
1:05 p.m. Other former teammates expected today: Dave Henderson and Bob Montgomery for Rice and Dave Stewart for Henderson.
Casey is at the bat on the Induction Stage right now, 25 minutes to go!
1:11 p.m. Can’t make it to Cooperstown today? How about tomorrow morning? We conclude our Hall of Fame Weekend festivities with our annual Legends Series event right here at the Clark Sports Center. Rickey and Jim will sit down for an interview to reflect on their experiences this weekend, which must have been a whirlwind for them. Tickets ($10) are still available by contacting the Hall of Fame’s membership department.
1:17 p.m. Well if Brian Cashman is here for the Yankee Inductees, it shouldn’t surprise you that the Red Sox’s John Henry and Larry Lucchino are here to support Jim Rice (and of course Rickey Henderson, who played for the Red Sox as well).
1:24 p.m. Five minutes to go! Who do you think will get the biggest cheers as the Hall of Famers are announced?
1:30 p.m. The Hall of Famers are on the stage, we’re just about ready to go.
1:30 p.m. And Rickey and Jim have just arrived on stage, to a great ovation from the crowd.
1:37 p.m. President Jeff Idelson and Chairman of the Board Jane Forbes Clark offer welcoming remarks. As Ms. Clark points out, 51 of the 65 living Hall of Famers are on stage today. Where else can you get such a collection of greats in one place at one time?
Now the MC of today’s ceremony is introduced, George Grande. George begins the player introductions.
1:40 p.m. George did a great job having fun with fans and introducing the Hall of Famers during the Red Carpet Arrivals event at the Museum last night as they arrived for a private reception. If you are ever in Cooperstown for Hall of Fame Weekend that is definitely an event to check out.
1:47 p.m. [Comment From Shawn Anderson, Illinois]
Which Hall of Famer elicits the biggest hush when he enters the room? Meaning…who makes everyone stop what they are doing?
1:47 p.m. Great question Shawn! I can’t speak for everyone, but for me I am in awe any time I see Willie Mays.
1:48 p.m. Biggest ovation yet? Yaz get’s a prolonged standing O.
1:52 p.m. Juan Marichal is introduced. Juan was at the Hall of Fame earlier this year as we opened a brand new exhibit on baseball in the Caribbean called ¡Viva Baseball! If you haven’t seen it make sure you come on out to Cooperstown!
Speaking of new exhibits, the Hall also has a brand new exhibit this year entitled Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream. Hank is introduced, and the fans deliver another loud ovation.
1:58 p.m. And now this year’s Inductees are introduced, along with Judy Gordon on behalf of her father.
The Red Sox fans make their presence known as Jim Rice is introduced, while shouts of “Rickey” echo through the crowd as George Grande introduces “the greatest leadoff hitter of all time.”
2:12 p.m. A bit of rain has moved in but it hasn’t dampened any spirits. The ceremony is going to be moved along a bit however due to storms expected later this afternoon. After the invocation and national anthems, it’s Joe Gordon’s turn! Bud Selig reads the inscription on the plaque as Hall President Jeff Idelson presents it to the crowd.
2:12 p.m. Judy Gordon takes the podium.
2:16 p.m. Judy talks about how her father reached out to Larry Doby in his first ever day in the major leagues as he desegregated the American League. “This was not an isolated incident. This was how my dad lived his entire life.” She then notes that today marks the 11th anniversary of Doby’s Induction into the Hall of Fame.
2:19 p.m. Here’s an interesting story about the 1948 season with the Cleveland Indians, in which Gordon hit 32 home runs. According to Judy, he received a case of Wheaties and a case of gum for every home run he hit. Judy Gordon: “As I remember, even the dog got more athletic eating the Wheaties.”
2:24 p.m. A very touching moment and a loud standing ovation here as Judy Gordon concludes by indicating that her family considers Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame as her father’s final resting place where he will be remembered forever.
Next up: Jim Rice.
2:25 p.m. Anyone have any special memories about watching Rice play? Send them along!
2:28 p.m. Jane Forbes Clark welcomes Jim to the Hall of Fame family, and Bud Selig reads the inscription on his plaque as it is presented to the crowd. Later tonight, that plaque will join Gordon’s and Henderson’s as the Hall of Fame’s curatorial staff will hang them with the other 286 in the Hall of Fame Gallery.
2:29 p.m. The crowd breaks out into a chant of “Let’s Go Red Sox!”
2:36 p.m. Where was Jim when he received the call that he had been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame? Watching The Young and the Restless.
Jim thanks the Boston Red Sox, with whom he spent his entire major league career. Not only did he help lead them to the AL pennant in his rookie season, but from 1977-1979 he became the only player in big league history to record 35 home runs, 100 RBIs, and 200 hits for three consecutive seasons. One of those years, 1978, he hit 46 home runs and drove in 139 on his way to earning the AL MVP.
2:41 p.m. Another standing ovation for Rice as he concludes his speech, stating that he cannot think of a better place to be – with his fans and with the greatest living ballplayers.
Now, it’s time for Rickey. The fans here have been waiting for this since the announcement in December.
2:46 p.m. The cap on Rickey’s plaque? The A’s of course. The inscription on his plaque begins “Faster than a speeding bullet….” As Selig reads off all nine of Rickey’s team, a loud ovation from the crowd as the Red Sox are mentioned. Now: Rickey takes the podium.
2:47 p.m. Any special memories of watching Rickey play? Send them along!
2:51 p.m. Rickey says that he played so long (25 seasons!) because of his love for the game of baseball. Apparently his dream was to play football for the Oakland Raiders, but his mother was afraid he would get hurt and told him to play baseball. As Rickey points out, mothers always know best.
2:54 p.m. Rickey’s nine teams ties him for second place among Hall of Famers with Goose Gossage and Hoyt Wilhelm. Anyone know who’s first?
2:59 p.m. The answer to that previous question: Dan Brouthers.
Rickey’s take on his nine teams – it was a great chance to meet fans all across the country. Henderson: “It is the fan who make the game fun. To the fans: Thank you, thank you, thank you, for all your support over the years.”
3:01 p.m. Rickey closes his speech by stating how humbling it is to now be considered in a class of the greatest players of all time. He receives a prolonged ovation from the fans.
3:03 p.m. Don’t go anywhere folks – we have plenty of ceremony left, and we haven’t yet heard from Tony Kubek or Nick Peters! Now on the big screen – a video of Stan Musial (who could not be in attendance tonight) playing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on his harmonica.
3:09 p.m. On the stage now we have George Grande and Billy Williams remembering 1969, as it is the 40th anniversary of that season. An incredible season perhaps best remembered for the Miracle Mets.
Billy Williams is the spokesman for the Hall of Fame’s Membership Program. Billy thanks all Hall of Fame members out there for supporting the Hall and helping to keep baseball’s history and tradition alive here in Cooperstown.
Now Don Sutton takes the podium to introduce this year’s Ford C. Frick Award winner, Tony Kubek. Sutton points out that his first day as a broadcaster was spent sitting alongside Kubek.
3:15 p.m. Tony’s turn. He points out Moose Skowron, his first road roommate, who is sitting just to the right of stage today.
Of course, Kubek played baseball himself, for nine seasons with the New York Yankees, making four All-Star games.
3:24 p.m. Tony speaks about how the game of baseball has pioneered so many of the changes in American culture, drawing particular attention to the racism and bigotry that Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron overcame during their playing careers, breaking down barriers in the process. This draws a loud ovation from the crowd.
As a member of the Hall’s Education department, I’m glad to see Tony mention this. At the Hall we try to teach our visitors about how baseball has been at the forefront of many changes in American culture.
3:29 p.m. Kubek closes and Jane Forbes Clark returns to the podium to present the J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner, Nick Peters. Peters covered the Giants for 47 years, more years than any sports journalist in history. David O’Brien, President of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, comes to the podium to introduce Peters.
3:32 p.m. Here’s a good Rice memory:
3:32 p.m. [Comment From Scott Downer]
I was at a game in Cleveland in 1979. I saw Rice his a pitch out of old Municipal Stadium that cleared the center field wall, I’m going to say 410. The ball never got over 20 feet off the ground. I’ve never seen a shot lie this one. It must have gotten out in two seconds. Just a blast.
3:37 p.m. Nick Peters talks about listening to Red Sox games on the radio on Sunday drives with the family. His idol? Ted Williams naturally. Peters then recalls how he learned how to do math through computing batting averages and other statistics. Sounds kind of like the Batter Up math unit that the Hall of Fame uses to teach kids across the country using video-conferencing technology
3:42 p.m. Nick Peter’s closes by pointing out that he was able to do something he loved without every having to go too far from home or looking for another job. While he laments that the Giants never won a World Series in his 47 years covering them, he also points out that the A’s won 4 of the 6 they played in during that span.
With that, the ceremony concludes! The rain held off. One last round of applause for the class of 2009.
3:48 p.m. So don’t forget to get the 2009 Hall of Fame Weekend on your calendar now, the last weekend in July as always!
It’s never too early to start thinking ahead to next year. On this year’s ballot, Andre Dawson received 67% of the vote, with Bert Blyleven receiving 62.7%, and Roberto Alomar will be on the ballot for the first time.
3:50 p.m. The weekend isn’t over yet, as Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson will be back here tomorrow for a special Legends Series interview on the Induction Stage.
I think it’s about time for me to sign off. But before I do I’d like to thank you all for joining me this afternoon, and hope you enjoyed the coverage! Don’t forget to log onto www.baseballhall.org for more coverage of Hall of Fame Weekend 2009!
Stephen Light is manager of museum programs at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
By Craig Muder
The hand enveloped mine like a huge oven mitt: firm, secure and warm. I reminded myself not to wince.
Jim Rice remains as powerful as ever, though at 6-foot-2, he easily blends into most crowds. But after one handshake, you quickly realize why this man hit 382 home runs en route to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Rice spent Friday touring the Hall of Fame in preparation for his July 26 induction. Alongside his wife, Corine, Rice strolled through the Museum’s timeline and down into the archives, marveling at the history of the game.
It seems that, in the 124 days since his election to the Hall of Fame, Rice has yet to stop smiling.
“Looking at these guys [the plaques of the Hall of Famers], you remember how special it is to be here,” Rice said. “I never even thought I’d get to the big leagues. So this is just incredible.”
Rice was elected to the Hall of Fame on Jan. 12 in his final year of eligibility on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. An All-Star in eight of his 16 big league seasons, Rice led the American League in home runs three times and total bases four times and won the AL Most Valuable Player Award in 1978.
Yet Rice downplays his own success in comparison to the legends he will soon join in the Hall of Fame.
That “kid,” however, was the most feared hitter of his generation. And someday, another new Hall of Famer will feel the same way about the legendary Jim Rice.
Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.