Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” Yogi, spring training is over.
BASEBALL STARTS TOMORROW.
When looking for a Hall of Famer to represent the Diamondbacks, it’s slim pickings. Roberto Alomar played all of 38 games there, which doesn’t necessarily disqualify him, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Then there is Alan Trammell, who was a coach from 2010 to 2014 and managed the final three games in 2014 after Kirk Gibson was fired.
The only guy left is Randy Johnson, and he ain’t no slouch. He is the only Hall of Famer so far sporting an Arizona cap on his plaque. Will Curt Schilling join him when (not if) he is finally inducted?
Rich “Goose” Gossage was a reliever for the majority of his career, but in 1976 the White Sox used him as a starter. Despite a 5-7 record as the All-Star break, he was still recognized as a great pitcher due to his 2.91 first-half ERA and was named an All-Star. He was traded to the Pirates after the season, returned to the bullpen and never started a game again.
Wade Boggs finished his illustrious career in Tampa Bay, collecting his 3000th hit while wearing one of the ugliest uniforms in MLB history.
Reggie Jackson was one of my first favorite baseball players. I didn’t start following baseball until the tail-end of his career, but I enjoyed hearing about his swagger. His 1988 Fleer card is one of my all-time favorites, and I just came into possession of his rookie card less than a year ago via a Twitter giveaway contest.
A lot of athletes are hyped up while in college, but perhaps none as much as Dave Winfield in the early 1970s. Winfield was the best hitter and pitcher for the University of Minnesota Gophers’ baseball team, and was a star power forward for the basketball team. He was drafted fourth overall by the Padres and never spent a single day in the minor leagues.
The Atlanta Hawks tried to persuade him to try his hand at professional basketball, drafting him in the 5th round of the 1973 NBA draft. Add to that the ABA’s Utah Stars selection of Winfield in the 6th round of the 1973 ABA draft.
Winfield never played a single football game in college, but the Minnesota Vikings were impressed with his athleticism so much that they used their 17th round draft pick on him.
I’m glad Winfield chose baseball.
Everyone knew Mariano Rivera would get the call today. The question was whether he would be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame unanimously. No one had ever done it before—not Babe Ruth, not Mickey Mantle, not Ken Griffey. One writer stated earlier in the year that he would not vote for Rivera, then revealed he wouldn’t vote for anyone. However, he declined to submit his ballot, therefore Rivera still had a chance. As of late last night, according to the Ballot Tracker by Ryan Thibodaux, the all-time saves leader was still at 100%. Today, the question was finally answered. Mariano Rivera is the first unanimous selection to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Joe Torre spent fifteen years on the BBWAA ballot as a player, but only received more than 20% of the vote once in that entire time. His time as the Yankees manager, however, made him a no-brainer selection for the Hall of Fame. Under Torre’s leadership, the Yankees won four World Series in five years, and two additional AL Pennants.
Jacob Ruppert bought the New York Yankees in 1915, acquired Babe Ruth at the end of 1919, and began a winning tradition in the Bronx by building the team that would win the first of 27 World Championships (so far).
Joe Gordon hit 18 homers and drove in 103 runs while hitting .322 in 1942, winning the AL MVP award over Ted Williams. He was named to nine All-Star teams in 11 years, and gave up two seasons to serve in the United States Army in World War II. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009 as a Veterans Committee selection.