Curt Schilling’s appreciation for baseball history dates back to his childhood.
Today, Schilling is on the verge of the ultimate mark on the game’s history: Election to the Hall of Fame.
“Baseball history is something that’s enriched my life,” Schilling said. “I think a big reason why I got into baseball and became pretty successful was because I appreciated the history of the game and knew what I was getting into.”
At one point in the middle of his career, Reggie Sanders played for seven different teams in seven seasons.
For a player with a historic combination of power and speed, it was more a case of being attractive to many teams than unwanted by others.
“You always want security for your family,” Sanders said. “But I’ve learned to play through one-year contracts. Fortunately, things have worked out.”
For Sanders, they worked out well enough to earn a spot on the 2013 Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot.
Tim Raines finished his big league career with the highest percentage of stolen bases of any player with 300-plus steals.
Now he is hoping to join the one percent of major league baseball players to make it into the Hall of Fame.
As a baseball underdog, it doesn’t get much more challenging than being a 62nd round draft choice.
But in just 25 years, Mike Piazza has gone from the 1,390th player chosen in the 1988 MLB Draft to the doorstep of Cooperstown.
Along the way, Piazza firmly established himself as one of the greatest hitting catchers in the history of the game.
“You can’t take anything for granted in this game,” Piazza said. “The minute you think you have this game licked, it’s gonna come up and bite you.”
Rafael Palmeiro’s numbers place him among the greatest hitters ever to play the game.
Palmeiro, who played 20 big league seasons with the Rangers, Orioles and Cubs, is one of 37 players on the 2013 Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot for the Class of 2013 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Palmeiro received 12.6 percent of the vote in 2012 in his second year on the BBWAA ballot.
When most teams can’t get a draft pick to sign his contract, it’s because the player wants more money.
Not Dale Murphy.
The Atlanta Braves drafted Murphy with the fifth pick in the first round in 1974 and offered him a number.
“He told me it was too much money, to take it back and reconsider,” said longtime Braves scouting supervisor Paul Snyder.
The Braves cut the offer by $5,000, and Murphy then accepted. By the end of his career, Murphy had proven to be one of the biggest bargains the Braves ever had.
He was a four-time World Series winner, a five-time All-Star and the author of what is possibly the greatest Game 7 World Series pitching performance of all-time.
But not even 254 big league victories and 14 straight Opening Day starts due justice to the legacy of Jack Morris, whose career can be summed up in one word: Competitor.
“He never wanted to come out (of a game),” said Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson, who skippered Morris and the Tigers to a win in the 1984 World Series. “So any time you went near the mound, you’d have problems.”
Perfection is an almost unattainable goal in baseball. But for one season, Jose Mesa came as close as it gets.
And for 19 big league seasons – including that memorable 1995 campaign – Mesa proved to be one of the game’s best relief pitchers. Today, he’s made it to the doorstep of the Hall of Fame.
“All I can say is that God has been pretty good to me,” said Mesa, who went from working on the family farm in the Dominican Republic to starring in the majors in less than a decade.
Statistically, he’s the most consistent power hitter the game has ever known.
Mark McGwire’s story contains so much more than that. But on the field, McGwire was undeniably a star.
“I still tell him that it was an honor and pleasure to play with him,” said Albert Pujols, the man who took over for McGwire at first base for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Fred McGriff was cut from his high school baseball team as a sophomore – and became so determined to improve he road his bike 20 miles to the gym to train.
All that hard work paid off.