Friday, July 22, 2011

Who Am I? (Hall of Fame Weekend Edition)

I've been doing a weekly "Who Am I?" feature over on Pickin' Splinters since mid-June, and will probably continue to do so through the end of the baseball season. It's pretty self-explanatory: I offer a bunch of facts about a certain player, written in the first person as if by the player himself. It's a pretty fun exercise, and the folks over there are good about not looking up the answer on the internet, as that would be too easy.

Anyway, since this coming weekend will be my 24th (in the past 25 years) trip to Cooperstown for Hall of Fame Weekend, I thought I'd share this week's entry. Also, feel free to head over to Pickin' Splinters on Wednesday mornings if you care to participate. Just don't go there now. It will give away the answer to this one, which honestly isn't very difficult.

I was one of the great ones. That’s right, I have a plaque in Cooperstown.

I’m one of two Hall of Famers who was born in Baltimore. The other guy is a way bigger deal. You know, an icon…one of those guys with multiple nicknames, a larger than life figure who played most of his career in a stadium they supposedly built for him.

I was a pretty special player too. So much so I was signed right out of high school and made my major league debut at the age of 18. The next year I was a full-time starter, and the following season I finished second in MVP voting.

As it turns out, I never won an MVP, but I finished in the top 10 in the voting nine times, including three times in the top three. Every time I finished in the top three, I was beaten out by Yankees. Even when I finished third, the top two vote-getters were those damn pinstripers.

I did earn my share of accolades, though. What do you think about 10 Gold Gloves and 15 All-Star selections? Not too bad, huh? Of course, the ultimate honor was a first-ballot Hall of Fame induction. There aren’t that many people who can say that.

I didn’t make very many postseason appearances, however. You can probably guess why. I played my entire career for one team, and we happened to be in the same league as the Yankees. I did finally make it, though, kind of late in my career. We had a phenomenal season, led by a starting pitcher who accomplished something that hadn’t been done in over 30 years, and hasn’t been matched since.

In the World Series, our ace was twice out-pitched by their ace, a guy who had a pretty historic season himself and who would enter the Hall of Fame the year after me. But, a different pitcher for our team came back on two days rest to out-duel said Hall of Famer in a game-seven matchup that earned him the Series MVP. It was his third complete game victory in the Series, a truly historic performance.

If not for that player, I had an MVP-worthy performance (11-for-29, 6 runs, 2 HR, 8 RBI) myself. But, as usual, I was outshined.

I came pretty close to being the first player to ever collect over 3000 hits and 400 home runs solely in the American League, but Carl Yastrzemski later earned that distinction.

I wasn’t outshined on the day I got into Cooperstown, though. Well, I was inducted alongside another legendary player, but it was his 11th year on the ballot. Like I said, I was voted in on my first try. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Who Am I?

1 comment:

  1. This is a great idea. I got Kaline pretty quickly, since I knew he was one of the great teenage players, but I didn't know a lot about him.

    I think you'll like this post. The answer to the riddle will be obvious, but it could be really fun with the right audience: