Meet the 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame inductees!

Last weekend, the largest class since 1955 was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame since 1955. This year’s Class includes three Cy Young Award-winning pitchers – Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz – and a member of 3,000 Hit Club, Craig Biggio. All four were clear winners of this year’s ballot.

Baseball Hall Of Fame Class of 2015

Baseball Hall Of Fame Class of 2015

The three Cy Young award-winning pitchers were on the ballot for the first time, while Biggio, who came up two votes short last year, made his third appearance on the ballot. The four former MLB stars were inducted on July 26.

This year’s Hall of Fame ballot by Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) featured 34 retired players, including 17 newcomers to the ballot and 17 holdovers from previous elections. The four-member class that will be inducted on Sunday is the largest since 1955 when Joe DiMaggio, Gabby Hartnett, Ted Lyons and Dazzy Vance were elected. This is also the first time that three pitchers were elected in the same class.

Players need to appear on 78 percent of BBWAA ballots in a single year to gain admittance into the Hall. Randy Johnson appeared on 97.3, Pedro Martinez on 91.1, John Smoltz on 82.9, and Craig Biggio on 82.7 percent of the ballots.

Let’s meet the members of the 2015 Class.

Randy Johnson

Randy Johnson (51) was born in Walnut Creek (CA). The left-handed pitcher debuted on September 15, 1988 for the Seattle Mariners, just five days after his 25th birthday.

With the height of 6 feet and 10 inches “The Big Unit”, as people used to call him, is one of the tallest players in MLB history. During his career Johnson played for the Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants and Montreal Expos and retired in 2009.

Randy Johnson

Randy Johnson

During his amazing career Johnson collected 303 wins, while pitching to a 3.29 ERA. Big Unit also recorded 4,875 strikeouts, which is the second highest total in MLB history, trailing only Nolan Ryan’s total of 5,714. He won the Cy Young award five times, and is one of only two pitchers who won it in four consecutive years (1999-2002). The 10-times All-Star became the oldest pitcher in MLB history to throw a perfect game in 2004, breaking a hundred-years-old record.

Johnson also made baseball history because of an unusual event. In an accident on March 24, 2001, during a spring training game against San Francisco Giants, Johnson’s fastball to Calvin Murray struck and killed a dove that flew across the infield just as he threw the ball.

Randy and the dove.

Randy and the dove.

Pedro Martinez

National Baseball Hall of Fame begins the portrait on Pedro Martinez with the following words:

“At every stop in his baseball journey, Pedro Martinez was told he lacked the size to be a dominant starting pitcher.  And at every stop, the modest-looking right-hander – with huge hands and a heart to match – dominated opposing hitters like few ever have.”

Pedro Martinez

Pedro Martinez

This is the first year he made the MLB HOF ballots and already he appeared on 91.1 percent of the ballots. The 43-year-old former pitcher from the Dominican Republic signed with Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988, following his brother Ramon, who had signed with the team four years earlier. By 2009, Martinez played for five MLB teams, namely Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal Expos, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies.

Martinez’s 97-mph fastball, his devastating change-up and pinpoint control made him an eight-time All-Star, a winner of three Cy Young awards and a two-time runner-up. During his peak years from 1997 to 2003 Martinez established himself as one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball history.

This is confirmed by  modern sabermetric analysis. Martinez’  WHIP is the lowest of any live-ball era starting pitcher, his adjusted ERA+ is the best of any starting pitcher in major league history, and he has the third highest strikeout-to-walk ratio in modern history.

In 1999 he won the pitching Triple Crown and was a runner-up for the American League Most Valuable Player Award. In 2004 he won the World Series with the Red Sox, breaking the 86-years-old “Curse of the Bambino”

John Smoltz

A 48-year-old Detroit native was born into a baseball family. All men of the family – his him, his father and his grandfather – were huge Detroit Tigers fans. During his MLB career of 21 years he played for three teams – the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals.

A Cy Young award winner and an 8-times All-Star was invaluable for his teams because of his three significant pitches – an impressive fastball, a slider that veered away from right-handed batters, and a splitter that darted under the swings of left-handed batters. He was also the winner of the 1997 NL Silver Slugger Award.

John Smoltz

John Smoltz

Struggling with elbow problems since 1994, Smoltz missed the entire 2000 season, and was converted into a relief pitcher, where he also dominated. During his career Smoltz was honored with the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award (2005), the Roberto Clemente Award (2005) and the Branch Rickey Award (2007).

Smoltz ended his career in 2009, and the Braves retired his number 29 in 2012. Today he is still closely connected to the sport as an active sports commentator.

Craig Biggio

A 49-year-old former second baseman and catcher from New York played for the Houston Astros his entire career from 1988 to 2007. A seven-time All-Star is the only player ever to be named an All-Star at both catcher and second base.

Biggio, who batted .300 four times and scored 100 runs eight times, holds Astros franchise records for most career games, at bats, hits, runs scored, doubles, total bases (4,711) and extra base hits (1,014), and ranks second in runs batted in (1,175), walks (1,160) and stolen bases (414). He also holds the NL record for most times leading off a game with a home run (53), and is one of only five players with 250 home runs and 400 steals. He is the only player in baseball history with at least 3,000 hits, 600 doubles, 400 stolen bases and 250 home runs.

He is a four-time Golden Glove Award-winner and was the ninth player in the 3,000 hit club to collect all his hits with one team. He also won five Silver Slugger Awards. One of the most admired players of his generation, Biggio received the 2005 Hutch Award for perseverence through adversity and the 2007 Roberto Clemente Award for sportsmanship and community service.

Biggio retired in 2007 and the Astros retired his number 7 in his honor in 2008.

Craig Biggio

Craig Biggio

Whether you remember these four players by their top game, by their dedication or by their positive energy and charisma, one thing is certain – they have forever written the baseball history and they will join baseball’s greatest legends this weekend. You might as well start calling them The Immortals.



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We are all 42

Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal. 

George Will

Jackie Robinson was only a ball player. True. But he was also so much more to so many people.

A rebel. A hero. A messiah. You can call him whatever you want, but one thing is certain – he was one of the leading figures in changing the course of (American) history. Had it not been for him and club president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Wesley Branch Rickey a.k.a. Mahatma, we might not be able to fully enjoy the genius talents of Frank Thomas,  Derek Jeter, Ernie Banks, Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Hank Aaron, Josh Gibson, Bob Gibson, Lee Smith and many more. We would probably not even see players of other-than-white skin colour enter the Major League, which would certainly be a pity.

Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born on January 31, 1919. He was the youngest of five children. His grandfather had been a slave. Jacke’s dad was a farmer in Georgia. He left the family when Jackie was young. Later the family moved to California. Jackie’s mother, Mallie Robinson, cleaned houses. Jackie was a star athlete throughout his school days. In high school, he played baseball, football, basketball, and track. He was usually the best on every team. Jackie won a scholarship to the University of California at Los Angeles. He became the first student ever at UCLA to win varsity letters in four sports.

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Baseball was one of the first institutions in postwar America to become desegregated. Baseball was America’s national game, and like America itself, it preached that it was a melting pot where everyone, regardless of identity or origin, could succeed, provided they had the talent or determination. The nation’s mainstream sportswriters perpetuated this myth, and baseball fans accepted it, not knowing or not caring that talented black ballplayers played in the shadows of white baseball, barred from the game because of an insidious “gentlemen’s agreement” that had excluded blacks since the 1880s.

Baseball in postwar America needed someone like Branch Rickey, the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team. Rickey recalled the humiliation of one of his own black players from 35 years ago and decided he would tear down the color line in baseball. Rickey was determined to hire a black player for the Dodgers. He knew he had to find an excellent ballplayer with unimpeachable morals and a respectable background who could be tough enough to bear all kinds of abuse and strong enough to resist the urge to react to it. Rickey’s plan was called “the Noble Experiment.” Many in Major League Baseball believed it would not work. But Rickey thought it was the right thing to do. He knew that black players would help win games. Rickey’s scouts began watching Negro League games looking  for that perfect black baseball player to break into the all-white major leagues. At that time Jackie Robinson played with the Kansas City Monarchs and Rickey’s scouts spotted him and were impressed with his performance. When they contacted him, Jackie believed he was being considered for the Brooklyn Brown Dodgers, a Negro team. This was not the case.

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No moment in baseball history is more important than the April day in 1947 when Jackie Robinson stepped onto Ebbets Field, making a historic entrance into Major League Baseball as the first African-American player in the history of the game. His outstanding debut season netted him the inaugural Rookie of the Year award, which now bares his name, and spring-boarded him to a stellar 10-season career in which he was part of six Brooklyn Dodger pennant-winners, among them the World Championship club of 1955. In 1949, the six-time all-star won the National League batting title (.342) en route to earning MVP honors. Robinson, a first baseman as a rookie, starred as a second baseman for the next five seasons, before moving on to play third base and the outfield. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

Impressive as his athletic achievements were, what Jackie Robinson accomplished as a man was far more important. The road to Robinson’s appearance at Ebebets Field on April 15, 1947, was a long, often crooked, and dark one. At a time when black players were banned from Major League Baseball, he had the courage and dignity to be the first to endure the withering barrage of racism and rejection without responding in kind. Throughout his entire career, Robinson coped with the racial insults and abuse with tact and good humor. But keeping all his frustration inside was hard. He often couldn’t sleep or eat. The fans marveled at Robinson’s self control. Jackie credited his wife Rachel for keeping him focused and calm during the most difficult first season. When many young athletes allow fame to go to their heads, Robinson kept his principles. He refused alcohol and tobacco. When attractive girls approached him, he told them he had vowed to be faithful all his life to his wife. Robinson had become a much-admired role model for young Americans, especially blacks. In a 1947 contest, Jackie Robinson was named the second most admired man in America, only surpassed in popularity by the singer Bing Crosby.

Jackie Robsinson

Later in his life Jackie Robinson became more active in civil rights work. He became a close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

If you have not yet seen the movie on Jackie Robinson’s story, now is the perfect time to do so.

Today MLB is pervaded with different nationalities. However, we are unfortunately witnessing a decline in interest of African-Americans in playing baseball during the last few decades. This can be linked directly to partial baseball college scholarships comparing to full ones for basketball or football.

We at Scoutee believe in the power of talent and that no talent should go to waste. Today you have millions of players from poor countries where they have little opportunity to showcase their talent. We want to change that by empowering aspiring baseball players from anywhere in the world to achieve their full potential.

42 is not just a number. It represents humbleness, human dignity, perseverance, faith and courage. It represents the guts not to fight back even when the world turns against you. The number 42 is the only number retired by all of baseball. The next time you see a number 42, you should really bow to everything it stands for. Had we all been at least a little bit of 42, the world would have been a better place.

Thank you, Jackie, for showing us the way!

Long live the 42!

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A little definition of baseball (Ernie Harwell induction day speech, 1981)

Baseball is the President tossing out the first ball of the season and a scrubby schoolboy playing catch with his dad on a Mississippi farm. A tall, thin old man waving a scorecard from the corner of his dugout. That’s baseball. And so is the big, fat guy with a bulbous nose running home one of his (Babe Ruth’s) 714 home runs.

There’s a man in Mobile who remembers that Honus Wagner hit a triple in Pittsburgh forty-six years ago. That’s baseball. So is the scout reporting that a sixteen year old pitcher in Cheyenne is a coming Walter Johnson. Baseball is a spirited race of man against man, reflex against reflex. A game of inches. Every skill is measured. Every heroic, every failing is seen and cheered, or booed. And then becomes a statistic.

In baseball democracy shines its clearest. The only race that matters is the race to the bag. The creed is the rulebook. Color merely something to distinguish one team’s uniform from another.

Baseball is a rookie. His experience no bigger than the lump in his throat as he begins fulfillment of his dream. It’s a veteran too, a tired old man of thirty-five hoping that those aching muscles can pull him through another sweltering August and September. Nicknames are baseball, names like Zeke and Pie and Kiki and Home Run and Cracker and Dizzy and Dazzy.

Baseball is the cool, clear eyes of Rogers Hornsby. The flashing spikes of Ty Cobb, an over aged pixie named Rabbit Maranville.

Baseball is just a game, as simple as a ball and bat, yet as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes. A sport, a business and sometimes almost even a religion.

Why the fairy tale of Willie Mays making a brilliant World’s Series catch. And then dashing off to play stick ball in the street with his teenage pals. That’s baseball. So is the husky voice of a doomed Lou Gehrig saying “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.””

Baseball is cigar smoke, hot roasted peanuts, The Sporting News, ladies day, “Down in Front”, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, and the Star Spangled Banner.

Baseball is a tongue tied kid from Georgia growing up to be an announcer and praising the Lord for showing him the way to Cooperstown. This is a game for America. Still a game for America, this baseball!