After being rejected fourteen times in a row - unjustly, in my opinion - by the Baseball Writers Association of America, Jim Rice has finally been elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. It was his last shot - the fifteenth and final ballot for which he was eligible to make it into the Hall.
Rice played his entire career with the Red Sox, one of only four Red Sox Hall of Famers to have done so. (The others are fellow left-fielders Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski, and Bobby Doerr.) Without a doubt he was one of my favorite players of all time, and he will always be one of the enduring faces of the Red Sox for me. He was a reliable hero on the diamond during a time in which I wanted nothing more from life than to play for the Red Sox in the summer and the Bruins in the winter. (What ten or twelve year old kid in the Boston suburbs doesn’t dream of that?)
Photo from art.com.
What would account for the apparent reluctance to vote Rice into the Hall? I don’t really know. It is possible that his career numbers do not seem particularly dazzling by today’s standards, but one could hardly ask more from a player. Over his sixteen seasons, he averaged 113 RBI and 30 home runs, had a .298 career batting average, and was an eight-time All Star. Not too shabby.
Above all, though, I watched him play and to me there is something beyond the numbers that made him special. He was a solid workhorse, a consistent slugger, and when he was out on the field with Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans, it’s hard to imagine a better outfield.
Congratulations, Mr. Rice. You deserve to be in the Hall.
1. Check out baseball-reference.com for Jim Rice’s career stats.