Saturday, July 25, 2015

My First Memories of the 2015 Hall of Fame Class

Looking at the 2015 National Baseball Hall of Fame class of Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, I started to think about when I first remember seeing each player.

Photo: Julio Cortez, Associated Press
As I have mentioned before on this blog, I grew up as a kid in an era where we didn't have 24-hour/7-day a week sports networks, up to the minute news updates through the internet and apps. The majority of my Baseball information came the old fashioned way via baseball cards, newspapers, the local televised ballgames and the weekly games of the week. So after establishing that I am one of the last of the dinosaurs ;) here are my recollections of the first time I saw the Hall of Fame class of 2015.

Craig Biggio

I remember Craig Biggio coming up as a catcher for the Houston Astros. Watching a game that contained the Astros would require me to watch a New York Mets telecast on WWOR-9. I honestly believe that the first time I remember Biggio was from his Baseball Card. One such card was the 1989 Donruss #561 card of Craig Biggio at the plate in his catching gear.

Biggio made his debut for the Astros in 1988 and for three season he would share duties at catcher, various outfield positions and second base. He was such a versatile athlete that he played 161 games at second base during the 1992 season and the rest as we know today is history

- Click Here for Craig Biggio's career statistics from BaseballReference.com
- Craig Biggio: From Kings Park to Cooperstown by Steven Marcus from Newsday.com dated July 24, 2015

Randy Johnson

My first recollection of Randy Johnson is in the powder blue uniforms that the Montreal Expos used to wear. Now those uniforms were truly unique and add to the mix that Randy Johnson was 6'10" and as wild as Major League's Rick Vaughn. But when I really got to know Randy Johnson was when he was traded to the Seattle Mariners in 1989. Not so much for because he was traded but because of who he was traded for.

I used to play Micro League Baseball religiously on my old Commodore 64-C (see, I am one of the last dinosaurs) and Mark Langston was always money for me in that game. I used to update the lineups every couple days a week and when the trade happened, I remember wonder who this Randy Johnson was. I remember seeing footage of his being wild either on This Week in Baseball or on the George Michael Sports Machine.

Luckily for Johnson, he would learn to utilize his size and velocity to become the Hall of Fame pitcher he is today.

- Click Here for Randy Johnson's career statistics from BaseballReference.com
- Cooperstown-bound Randy Johnson recalls the moment everything changed for him by Daniel Brown from the San Jose Mercury dated July 24, 2015

Pedro Martinez

My first memory of Pedro Martinez wasn't so much about Pedro himself but about the hype of his being the little brother of Dodgers prospect Ramon Martinez. Ramon Martinez was supposed to be the next great Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher when he came up in 1988. Ramon posted a 20-6 season in 1990 with a 2.92 ERA and 12 complete games which earned him a spot on the All-Star team and was the runner up for the 1990 NL Cy Young Award behind Doug Drabek of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

While Ramon was establishing himself as a mainstay of the Dodgers rotation, Pedro made his debut September 24, 1992. Luckily for Pedro, he wouldn't get much of a chance with the Dodgers. Pedro would be traded to the Montreal Expos for outfielder Delino DeShields after the 1993 season. It was in Montreal that Pedro would develop and shine. The 1997 trade to Boston only cemented the legendary status that Pedro Martinez would earn on his way to Cooperstown.

- Click Here for Pedro Martinez's career statistics from BaseballReference.com
- What made Pedro Martinez so great by Peter Abraham from the Boston Globe dated July 23, 2015

John Smoltz

I'm sure that I had heard of John Smoltz before the moment that I am going to mention. But if I hadn't, that Game 7 performance of the 1991 World Series against Jack Morris of the Minnesota Twins is a good place to start. Smoltz was part of an amazing starting rotation the Atlanta Braves that included Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. Also anchoring the rotation was veteran Charlie Liebrandt and prospect Steve Avery. But it was Smoltz performance that stood out to me in that classic World Series.

Smoltz matched goose-eggs on the scoreboard with Jack Morris through seven innings. And though Morris will always be remembered for arguably the second best World Series performance of 10-shutout innings, it was at this point that John Smoltz stands out in my memory.

Smoltz would not only be an outstanding starter, but also an amazing closer putting him in the same league as Denniz Eckersley as having succeeded not only as a starter but as a closer. And as Eck, Smoltz became a Hall of Famer.

- Click Here for John Smoltz's career statistics from BaseballReference.com
- Unparalleled John Smoltz a worthy Hall of Fame recipient Bby Ivan the Great from the Talking Chop blogpage on SBNation.com dated on Jul 24, 2015

What were your first recollections about the 2015 Hall of Fame class. Make sure to let me know in the comments box. I'd like to hear when it was that you discovered these future Hall of Famers.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco
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