‘Now Batting Third, the First Base-Man, Jeff Bagwell!
"...and there it goes, way back, way way back and it's gone!"
Better late than never and after seven tries the brilliant Baseball Writers have finally seen the light and voted Jeff Bagwell the iron-man former first baseman of the Houston Astros to forever grace the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
To quote the bard, 'all's well that ends well' but dedicated Houston baseball fans have let out a collective sigh of relief that 'Bags' is in the Hall as of today finally, joining his teammate another Houston 'Killer B' Jeff Biggio.
Bags had the numbers: an excellent .948 OPS — 22nd best in MLB history among qualifiers. His 79.6 career WAR tops even that of hit king Pete Rose. Bagwell's 449 home runs and .540 slugging percentage are evidence of his value as a slugger.
Bagwell was a powerful hitter who had a sort of 'squatting' stance in the box but when his endurance rich burly body uncorked, and he could uncork, he let loose on 449 swings for which that baseball was never again used in a Major League Baseball game.
And the bulk of his career was played inside the cavernous Houston Astrodome which baseball aficionados agree was not a 'hitters' park with it's distant deep center field fence in a separate time-zone than home plate.
OK sure, he played through an era when performance enhancing substances were in wide use in all professional sports, when they largely were not against the rules and this writer feels the Baseball Writers, all perfectly behaved angels suspected Bagwell participated. But no proof has ever been offered and Bagwell has always denied any participation.
He had the audacity to possess natural strength and ability and a top level of talent, playing in a time when lesser athletes were turning to any chemical advantage they could find.
And I believe Jeff Bagwell, I never met him but saw him up close many times signing autographs for kids before a game, patiently. As long as a kid was at the rail Bag's was giving them a memory of a lifetime.
He finally began to slow down, his clock-spring began to unwind and I knew the day he did a post game interview after playing a full nine innings, a 3-4 night when he'd driven in some runs and in the post-game admitted he could barely raise his right arm above his arthritic shoulder without intense pain that would send me or you to the Emergency Room. But he went out and played the next day.
Jeff Bagwell should have been voted into the HOF years ago - but he's there now, and he'll be there forever. And someday when I visit Cooperstown with my grandchildren I'll tell them about the Killer B's and Jeff Bagwells line drive home runs and instinctive brilliant infield play.
Jeff Bagwell one of the Good Guys, one of the
Greats of the Game is now Safe At Home!