Monday, January 12, 2009

Hall of Famer

Congratulations to Jim Rice, Boston's great outfielder of the 70s and 80s and one of the most feared hitters of his day, for his election today to the Baseball Hall of Fame. It was a long time coming (this was his 15th and final year of eligibility) and many people felt he should have been in the HOF long ago but it must feel sweet as hell to final get the call to be immortalized as one of the game's greats.

When I was a kid and would play baseball with friends, we'd all pretend that we were members of the Red Sox and that those players were striding up to the plate with us or making a great play in the field. There was Yaz, Dewey Evans, Freddie Lynn, and Carlton Fisk in the field along with Bruce Hurst, Oil Can, and Roger Clemens (before he turned into a steroid-inflated, egomaniacal, teenage country singer-dating freakazoid), and the scariest of them all was Jim Rice.

In the 6 or 7 years of his prime, no one wanted to be facing him when he came to the plate. I remember watching him on TV clubbing home runs and being absolutely mezmerized. While a number of players have moved beyond him in the record books, especially in recent year, his accomplishments actually shine a bit brighter as his three seasons as home run champ, two seasons as the RBI leader, four 200+ hit seasons, and seven seasons with a better than .300 batting average were all accomplished well before the statistic (and head)-inflating steroid era.

Given a choice, I'd pick Jim Ed Rice over Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, or Barry Bonds any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Congratulations, Jim! Can't wait to see the Red Sox' new Hall of Famer in a few months on the NESN post-game show!

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