Roman Around

combating liberalism and other childish notions

HALL OF FAME BOUND

Posted by Andrew Roman on January 12, 2009

rickey-is-all-about-rickeyRickey Henderson is on his way to the Baseball Hall of Fame. If ever the phrase “no brainer” is applicable, it is here. Besides being the only player in the history of the game to reach four digits in career stolen bases (1406), he sits atop the all-time list of runs scored (2295), ahead of names you may have heard before: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. He has over 3,000 career hits – generally considered an automatic ticket to Cooperstown, is second all-time in walks (2190), was the American League Most Valuable Player in 1990, appeared in ten all-star games, and played for two world championship teams.

Personally, Rickey Henderson was never a favorite of mine. I never rooted for him, nor did I ever get particularly excited watching him play. I don’t think it had anything to do with his self-absorbed narcissistic nature, or his arrogance. He just never “did it” for me. This isn’t to disparage him in any way, because if anyone is deserving of being a first-ballot hall-of-famer, it is Henderson.

In his prime, there was no one quite like him.

I remember quite vividly the 1989 American League Championship Series when he was playing for Oakland. Admittedly, he was an absolute witch on the base paths, swiping eight bags.

Sick.

Henderson received 94.8 of the vote from the Baseball Writer’s Association of America to get into the Hall. (75% is needed).

rice-in-his-primeJim Rice, on the other hand, has been at the Hall’s door before – fourteen times to be exact – only to be turned away each time … until now. In his last year of eligibility, Rice garnered 76.4 of the vote to finally earn his spot among the game’s all-time greats.

Whether it was Rice’s love-hate relationship with the press (mostly hate), or the fact that his all-time numbers were not particularly earth-shattering, many believed Rice would probably never get in.

Rice, for a stretch of time in the 1970s, was one of the game’s most feared hitters. Unlike Henderson, Rice was one of my favorites when I was a boy. Between 1977 and 1979, he was nothing short of dangerous. Rice averaged 41 home runs, 127 RBI, 207 hits, 114 runs scored and a had a batting average of .320.

Not bad.

In 11 of his 16 seasons, he hit 20 or more home runs. He was the American League MVP in 1978 – his best year – when he hit .315, smacked 46 homers and knocked in 139 runs. He was an eight-time all-star.  And, interestingly enough, he is the only player in the history of the game to lead not only his own league, but the entire Major Leagues in triples, home runs, and RBIs in the same season.

In short … if Bill Mazeroski is in the Hall of Fame, Jim Rice damn well deserves to be there.

Congratulations to both.

Incidentally, the late Joe Gordon – second basemen for the Yankees and Indians between 1938 and 1950 – will be inducted posthumously. Gordon was a nine-time all-star. He passed away in 1978.

The induction ceremony is July 26th in (of course) Cooperstown, New York.

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