Gonzalez remembered for bringing success to Arizona
Heralded as a consummate professional hitter, he brought a World Series title to Arizona, while providing a spark in the middle of lineups for 19 years.
Now, Luis Gonzalez finds himself on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame ballot, one of 36 players on the 2014 ballot for the Class of 2014.
BBWAA members who have at least 10 years of tenure with the organization can vote in the election, and the results will be announced Jan. 8. Any candidate who receives at least 75 percent of all BBWAA votes cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2014. The Induction Ceremony will be held July 27 in Cooperstown.
“You learned a lot from those guys [like Luis Gonzalez],” major leaguer Stephen Drew said. “The success he had in his career – he had 19 seasons…in the major leagues – so that’s pretty phenomenal in itself.”
Luis Emilio Gonzalez was born Sept. 3, 1967, in Tampa, Fla. Gonzalez attended the University of South Alabama and was drafted by the Houston Astros in the fourth round of the 1988 MLB Draft.
Gonzalez soared up the ranks of the minor leagues and debuted with the Astros as a September call-up on Sept. 4, 1990, at age 23.
Known for being an extra-base hitting machine, “Gonzo” made his time in Houston count. He laid the groundwork with the Astros and kept progressing toward greatness.
Prior to reaching Arizona, Gonzalez’s path led him to Chicago, back to Houston and then Detroit. He landed in the desert prior to the start of 1999 season when the Tigers traded him for pitcher Karim Garcia.
Starting to blossom into a perennial star in 1999, Gonzalez recorded a 30-game hit streak in his first year with Arizona. He led the National League in hits with 206, carrying a .336 average as well.
The 2001 season proved to be Gonzalez’s most prolific year. After winning the Home Run Derby during All-Star Game festivities in Seattle, Gonzalez captured a Silver Slugger Award for his work with the wood during the regular season.
“People knew me for some of the things I did in 1999 and 2000,” Gonzalez said. “But 2001 really set me on the map, I would say.”
For the season, Gonzalez batted .325, hit 57 home runs and drove in 142 runs. He was the man batting in the No. 3 spot of the lineup that opposing pitchers feared when they played Arizona. “In 2001, I just took off,” Gonzalez said. “All of the sudden, I got to that next level.”
Gonzalez is probably best-known for his 2001 postseason heroics and most notably, his World Series Game 7 series-winning hit.
With the bases loaded, one out and the game tied in the bottom of the ninth, Gonzalez was due to face one of the game’s best closers, Marino Rivera, who had never blown a World Series save opportunity. In front of a sold-out Bank One Ballpark, Gonzalez delivered – looping a single over the drawn-in infield to score Jay Bell with the winning run.
“My biggest thrill in my career was winning a world championship,” Gonzalez said. “I had one shot at it in my  years, and we ending up winning it.”
Gonzalez left Arizona as the franchise’s all-time leader in runs, hits, extra-base hits, doubles, home runs, runs batted in and total bases – and still holds all those records to this day.
To round out his playing days, Gonzalez had two one-year stints with the Dodgers and Marlins, in 2007 and 2008, respectively.
Gonzalez finished his career with a .283 batting average, while uncorking 354 home runs to drive in 1,439 runs. His 596 two-baggers rank 15th all-time in the baseball annals.
“There’s probably (only) a handful of guys in baseball who permeate a clubhouse like [Luis Gonzalez] did with [Arizona],” former Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said of Gonzalez.
Andrew Kivette was the 2013 public relations intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development
2014 Candidate Snapshot
Yrs on BBWAA ballot
|Paul Lo Duca||1998-2008||1st
|Hideo Nomo||1995-2005, 2008||1st|
|J.T. Snow||1992-2006, 2008||1st|
|Sammy Sosa||1988-2005, 2007||2nd|