Dan's Dugout: Things to Know About Class of '17 • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Things to Know About Class of ’17

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COOPERSTOWN – This place is like a ticker-tape parade without the confetti.

It’s Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, the time when this Central New York hamlet of 1500 hardy souls turns into Times Square, with more thn 50,000 baseball-loving fans seeking souvenirs, pictures, and autographs of their heroes.

And it represents the only place and the only time, with the exception of occasional card shows, that the legends and their legions of admirers can actually meet.

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez are the three newest players in the Hall of Fame

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez are the three newest players in the Hall of Fame

Sunday is the day that Tim Raines, Pudge Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell, former general manager John Schuerholz, and retired commissioner Bud Selig became teammates in the hallowed hall.

Raines received the required 75 per cent of the vote from the baseball writers in his tenth and final try, while Bagwell got in after seven seasons of waiting. Rodriguez, on the other hand, was a first-round pick, thus becoming the first Puerto Rican and the second catcher to earn that distinction.

Let’s dwell on their careers for a second. Each of the players did something remarkable to achieve baseball immortality. Consider these facts:

• The only member of the Houston Astros to win a Most Valuable Player award, Bagwell also was the only Astro to be National League Rookie of the Year

Jeff Bagwell had a pair of 30/30 seasons Photo Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

Jeff Bagwell had a pair of 30/30 seasons
Photo Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

• In an age when players beg off with ingrown toenails, Bagwell played the complete 162-game schedule four times
• Bagwell remains the only first baseman ever to post a 30/30 season – and did it twice
• Tim Raines began his career as a second baseman but moved to left field because he wasn’t good enough defensively
• Raines was the first player since Ty Cobb to steal 70 bases and collect 70 RBI in the same year
• The switch-hitting Raines is widely regarded as one of the best leadoff men in baseball history but his idol was Joe Morgan, a two-time MVP who had more power
• Raines batted third for Montreal in 1984 after the team signed free agent Pete Rose
• A football player at heart, Raines switched to basebal because of his diminutive size
• Raines won two World Series rings with the Yankees
• Raines and his son Tim Jr. played for the Baltimore Orioles at the same time
• Pudge Rodriguez had to postpone his wedding because the Rangers called him up unexpectedly at age 19

Tim Raines reached the Hall on his last try Photo Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

Tim Raines reached the Hall on his last try
Photo Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

• He wouldn’t say it then but the rifle-armed Rodriguez admitted Raines was tough to nail when he was trying to steal a base
• Rodriguez once picked off Bagwell in an exhibition game when the first baseman wasn’t paying attention
• Rodriguez joins Roberto Clemente, Roberto Alomar, and Orlando Cepeda to form the Puerto Rican wing of the Hall of Fame

Hall talk:

The flailing Phillies started unloading high-priced vets, sending Howie Kendrick to the Nationals and Jeremy Hellickson to the Orioles . . .

Not worried about dealing within the division, the Miami Marlins moved closer A.J. Ramos to the Mets, who are expected to dump incumbent Addison Reed before the Monday trade deadline . . .

At least eight teams remain in the hunt for Oakland ace Sonny Gray, with the Yankees hoping to land first baseman Yonder Alonso at the same time.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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