I would like to open this morning’s article by offering my heartiest congratulations to the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots for winning their respective conference championships. Here’s hoping for a good, close match-up next week. Oh, and by the way, this writer will be pulling for the Eagles!
I now offer a break in the action on this non-football Sunday (the Pro Bowl doesn’t count). I bring you a mid-winter baseball break!
On Wednesday night the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced its class of 2018. As a result of the Baseball Writers Association of America’s annual vote, the Hall of Fame will welcome Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Trevor Hoffman, and Vladimir Guerrero this July. These players join Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, who were elected by the Veterans Committee last month.
Trevor Hoffman was the first closer to reach both the 500 and 600 save plateau.
Trevor Hoffman broke in with the inaugural edition of the Florida Marlins in 1993. He was dealt to the San Diego Padres in June of that first season in exchange for Gary Sheffield. As a Marlins fan I was thrilled about the trade. Sheffield would become a key piece of Florida’s 1997 World Championship, and it looked like they got him for “mere prospects.”
Hoffman would spend the next fifteen seasons in San Diego and become one of the most storied players in Padres history. Trevor would rack up 552 of his 601 career saves in a Padres uniform, including his 500th save in 2007. He would finish his career with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010 where he notched his 600th career save.
Vladimir Guerrero will be the first Hall of Fame inductee to be depicted in a Los Angeles Angels cap.
When I wrote last year’s edition of this blog, I touted Tim Raines as the last of a breed from yesteryear. It looked to me at the time that Raines would be the last member of the Montreal Expos to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I was wrong, well sort of. Vladimir Guerrero broke in with the Montreal Expos late in the 1996 season. Guerrero spent seven years in an Expos uniform before signing on to play with the then Anaheim Angels. Here’s the “sort of” part, Guerrero announced this week that he will be depicted as a member of the Angels on his plaque in Cooperstown. So it looks like Raines will be the final member of the Expos to be enshrined in the Hallowed Hall.
Guerrero would spend six seasons in Southern California before finishing his career as a member of the Texas Rangers in 2010 and the Baltimore Orioles in 2011. Vladimir was a .318 lifetime hitter, he blasted 449 career home runs and drove in 1496 runs.
Jim Thome finished his storied career with 612 home runs.
Jim Thome enjoyed success in three different markets. He broke in with the Cleveland Indians in 1991, and became a main cog on a team that won American League championships in 1995 and 1997. Thome would hit over 40 home runs three times during his tenure in Cleveland, including a career high 52 in 2002.
Thome signed on with the Philadelphia Phillies before the 2003 season. Thome would only be in the City of Brotherly Love for three years, but he became one of the most popular members of the Phillies. Thome lead the National League with 47 homers in 2003, and followed that up with a 42 home run year in 2004. The Phillies dealt Thome to the White Sox following an injury riddled 2005 campaign.
Thome’s production would pick back up in Chicago following that 2005 season. In his first year with the White Sox, Thome hit 42 homers and knocked in 109 runs. In his three plus years in Chicago, Thome would smack 134 total home runs. Jim would finish his career with stints in both Cleveland and Philadelphia in 2011 and 2012 while also spending time with the Dodgers and Twins. Thome wrapped up his career as a member of the Baltimore Orioles in 2012.
Chipper Jones spent his entire career with the Atlanta Braves.
Chipper Jones accomplished something that is a rarity in modern professional sports. In an era where money talks and players often chase the dollar bill to other teams, Jones spent his entire 20 year career with the Atlanta Braves.
A member of the 1995 World Championship team in his rookie year, Jones became a fixture in Atlanta. He would finish his career with a batting average of .303, 468 home runs and 1623 RBI. Chipper’s most productive year was as a member of the National League Champions in 1999. Jones hit 45 round-trippers, while driving in 110 runs and hitting .319. In 2008 Jones was the National League Batting Champion when he hit .364.
Although the quartet of Jones, Thome, Guerrero, and Hoffman grabbed this week’s headlines, I believe the Veterans Committee also got it right this year. In my opinion both Jack Morris and Alan Trammell were way overdue for their calls from the Hall.
Congratulations to the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2018!