Snow days

Former first baseman J.T. Snow debuts on BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot

December 03, 2013
2014 Hall of Fame candidate J.T. Snow. (John Cordes/NBHOF Library)

Born the son of a pro football star and a household name among diehard baseball fans before he even made the majors, J.T. Snow was destined for success. 

Today – after a 16-year big league career filled with accolades – Snow finds himself among the few players ever considered for the Hall of Fame. 

Snow debuts on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame ballot this fall as one of 36 players on the 2014 BBWAA 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. 

Born Feb. 26, 1968 in Long Beach, Calif., Snow’s father was Jack Snow – a Pro Bowl wide receiver who spent 11 seasons as one of football’s best deep threats with the Los Angeles Rams. J.T. is short for “Jack Thomas” – his father’s name – and the son who would one day make his own mark in pro sports grew up in Orange County, Calif., watching his father play and hanging around the locker room. 

“I would just pray they would win,” said Snow of the Rams of his youth. 

Jack Snow played his last pro game in 1975, and later served as J.T.’s Little League coach and taught his son how to switch-hit. By the time J.T. graduated from high school in 1986, he was big-time pro prospect who was also a football and basketball star. He settled on a baseball scholarship to the University of Arizona. 

After three years with the Wildcats, Snow was taken in the fifth round of the 1989 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees. He quickly established himself as one of the best first base prospects in the minors – but found his route to the big leagues blocked by Yankees All-Star first baseman Don Mattingly. 

“I really didn’t think al that much about the situation,” Snow said, “because I was just trying to take care of myself, trying to get established.” 

Snow became a sought-after commodity, and following the 1992 season the Yankees dealt Snow and two other prospects to the Angels for pitcher Jim Abbott. Snow had played just seven games for the Yankees in 1992, but claimed the Angels’ first base job in 1993 while hitting 16 home runs and driving in 57 runs. 

In 1995, Snow blossomed with a .289 batting average, 24 home runs and 102 RBI to go along with the first of six straight Gold Glove Awards. But after a down year at the plate in 1996, the Angels traded Snow to the Giants. 

In San Francisco, Snow became a fan favorite and a consistent run producer, driving in better than 96 runs in three of four seasons between 1997 and 2000 while becoming a full-time left-handed hitter. Snow helped the Giants qualify for the postseason in 1997, 2000, 2002 and 2003, hitting .327 in 28 postseason games with three homers and 15 RBI. In the 2002 World Series against the Angels, Snow hit .407 with six runs scored – but San Francisco lost the Series in seven games. 

Following the 2005 season, Snow signed with the Red Sox and appeared in 38 games in 2006 – wearing the No. 84 that his father had worn with the Rams. 

“I wouldn’t be sitting here and having played in the big leagues without (his father’s) support and his upbringing,” J.T. Snow said of his dad, who passed away prior to the 2006 campaign. “It’s an honor for me to (wear his number).” 

Snow was released midway through the 2006 season, but played in one more game on Sept.. 27, 2008 – signing a one-day contract with the Giants before retiring. 

His final totals: A .268 career batting average with 1,509 hits, 189 home runs and 877 RBI. Among first basemen, only Keith Hernandez (11), Don Mattingly (9), George Scott (8), Vic Power (7) and Bill White (7) have more Gold Glove Awards than Snow. 

Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG
1992 24 NYY 7 19 14 1 2 1 0 0 2 0 0 5 5 .143 .368 .214
1993 25 CAL 129 489 419 60 101 18 2 16 57 3 0 55 88 .241 .328 .408
1994 26 CAL 61 248 223 22 49 4 0 8 30 0 1 19 48 .220 .289 .345
1995 27 CAL 143 606 544 80 157 22 1 24 102 2 1 52 91 .289 .353 .465
1996 28 CAL 155 641 575 69 148 20 1 17 67 1 6 56 96 .257 .327 .384
1997 29 SFG 157 637 531 81 149 36 1 28 104 6 4 96 124 .281 .387 .510
1998 30 SFG 138 500 435 65 108 29 1 15 79 1 2 58 84 .248 .332 .423
1999 31 SFG 161 668 570 93 156 25 2 24 98 0 4 86 121 .274 .370 .451
2000 32 SFG 155 627 536 82 152 33 2 19 96 1 3 66 129 .284 .365 .459
2001 33 SFG 101 348 285 43 70 12 1 8 34 0 0 55 81 .246 .371 .379
2002 34 SFG 143 494 422 47 104 26 2 6 53 0 0 59 90 .246 .344 .360
2003 35 SFG 103 396 330 48 90 18 3 8 51 1 2 55 55 .273 .387 .418
2004 36 SFG 107 417 346 62 113 32 1 12 60 4 0 58 61 .327 .429 .529
2005 37 SFG 117 410 367 40 101 17 2 4 40 1 0 32 61 .275 .343 .365
2006 38 BOS 38 53 44 5 9 0 0 0 4 0 0 8 8 .205 .340 .205
                                     
2008 40 SFG 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0      
16 Yrs 1716 6553 5641 798 1509 293 19 189 877 20 23 760 1142 .268 .357 .427

 

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum