Back in 2003, one of my favorite producers named Tribeca put out this classic joint about how Pete Rose should be in the Baseball Hall Of Fame called “Charlie Hustle (Pony Express)”. This song was in the regular rotation on WERS, the college radio station of Emerson College (which was a few blocks down from the CVS where I worked as a overnight shift manager at the time).
It used to play during the early part of my overnight shift working at the Charles St. 24 hour CVS (from 11pm-7am) and I used to listen to that song and how Tribeca broke down the airtight case of why Pete Rose should be allowed into Cooperstown in rhyme. I haven’t thought of this song for a while...that is until today when it was announced hometown hero Jim Rice was denied admittance into the Baseball Hall Of Fame yet again.
It was widely believed that this would be the year for Rice to get in seeing as how the scandals involving players and performance enhancing drugs has put a black eye on the sport of baseball lately. Among all MLB players, Jim Rice was 1st in every major offensive category between 1975-1986 save for one (batting average, he was 4th with a .304 average during that span). While Jim Rice wasn’t the most cordial with sportswriters and the media during his playing days (it also wasn't exactly the greatest climate to be a Black athlete in Boston during much of his tenure in a Red Sox uniform) but he has become revered since he retired from the game and became a coach in the Red Sox organization.
He now is a studio baseball analyst for NESN, the network that airs majority of the Red Sox games (when they’re not playing a national game on ESPN or Fox) and a beloved by Red Sox Nation. If you look at the numbers and compare him to the other great OF’s and power hitters of his era (all of whom are currently in the Hall Of Fame with the exception of Rice) there is NO good reason why Jim Rice isn’t being inducted this year.
His final chance to make it into the Baseball Hall Of Fame happens next year, this time Jim Rice fell 16 votes short and only one player will be inducted in 2008: Rich “Goose” Gossage (it took him 8 years to be voted in). Usually, the Red Sox organization waits for a player to be voted into the Hall Of Fame before they retire his number, the prevailing attitude in Red Sox Nation is that they should retire #14 this season regardless.
Jim Rice’s career statistics: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/alltime/playercard?playerId=11569 (REMIX!). Jim Rice was finally inducted to the prestigious Baseball Hall Of Fame in Cooperstown, NY in his final year of eligibility by receiving 76.4% of the total vote. He will enter the Hall with Rickey Henderson, all time MLB steals leader, former AL MVP and 2 time World Series champion. The day he finally gets inducted just brings us closer to the much deserved Jim Rice Day at Fenway Park. It's great that one of my childhood heroes is finally receiving his due from the MLB. We already have Jim Rice Field out in Roxbury, MA!
Congrats, #14! I can't wait until your number goes up there next to the greatest Boston Red Sox in MLB history.