Bagwell Joins Hall; Ex-Teammates Pour on Praise

Jeff Bagwell has been enshrined among the game's greats in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

He was inducted Sunday as the second Astro in the Hall -- joining longtime teammate Craig Biggio.

More than 50 Hall of Famers returned to Cooperstown for the ceremony along with thousands of fans, many of whom made the journey from the Houston area for Bagwell’s historic moment. Biggio, Astros Owner and Chairman Jim Crane, General Manager Jeff Luhnow, President of Business Operations Reid Ryan, Nolan Ryan, Phil Garner, Enos Cabell, Matt Galante, Larry Dierker, Jose Cruz, Moises Alou and Bill Brown were among the large Astros contingent in Cooperstown this weekend as well. 

The Hall’s Class of 2017 also included speedster Tim Raines, former Rangers and Astros catcher Ivan Rodriguez,  executive John Schuerholz and ex-commissioner Bud Selig.

 In addition to being one of the telite players of his time, Bagwell was also one of the most respected players and teammates of his era. Here are comments from many of his teammates, peers and others:

--Astros Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, Bagwell’s teammate in Houston for 15 seasons: “Jeff  was an amazing player and a very special guy to play with. He put up incredible numbers offensively, but he was also a smart player, a really good defensive player, a great baserunner and he played the game the right way. I’m so very proud to have played with him for so many years. We were able to change the culture in Houston. Our goal was to win, and Baggy was a major reason for our success. Congrats, my  friend. I cannot say how elated I am for you and your family. This is a day you will never forget. Enjoy every minute of it."

--Teammate Lance Berkman: “This is long overdue. Jeff is one of the top, three or four players that I ever played with or against. When I think of Baggy, I think of two things. The first is ‘professional.’ He came to play every day and never took an at-bat off. You can’t say that about everyone. The second thing I think of is what a complete player he was. He was an amazing fielder and baserunner and had an innate grasp of the fine nuances of the game. He was the total baseball player.”

--Astros executive Nolan Ryan:  “Jeff played hard every day, and played the game the way it was supposed to be played.  He was one of the greatest players of his era."

--Teammate Roger Clemens: “Baggy’s career reaches far beyond the Hall. He was a fantastic teammate. Congrats, #5! Oh yeah!”

--Teammate/broadcaster Geoff Blum: “Baggy had a huge influence on me as a player. He wasn’t really outspoken in the clubhouse or on the field but he spoke volumes with how he played. His respect for the game and teammates was exemplified by how hard he played every day.”

--Astros owner Jim Crane: "When Jeff played here, a sign was posted in the weight room that read ‘Bagwell’s Gym, Work Hard, Play Hard or Leave.’ That reveals a great deal about what he was all about. Throughout his career, Jeff worked extremely hard to become a great player. He was a winner and an outstanding representative of the Houston Astros and of the city of Houston."

--Astros president Reid Ryan: “Jeff’s numbers stand alone. He played the game with grit, determination and a drive to win that few players ever know. This Hall of Fame induction is the fitting tribute to one of the game’s great players. Congrats, Baggy, on a well-deserved honor.”

--Astros manager A.J. Hinch: "His career was more than Hall of Fame caliber and to see him recognized alongside the greats or our game is simply awesome.”

--Teammate Brad Ausmus: “The Hall of Fame often focuses heavily on offensive statistics to determine worthiness.  Baggy was much more than his great run-producing statistics. He was a great base runner, Gold Glove defender, and an All-Star teammate. He is the complete Hall of Fame player. I couldn’t be happier for him.”

--Rival first baseman Albert Pujols: “Congrats to Bags and his family on being elected to the Hall of Fame today. I got to know Jeff over the first few years of my career and always appreciated the way he played the game. He was a true leader who earned the respect of his opponents as well as his teammates. Congrats, brother, you’ve earned it.”

--Broadcaster Bill Brown, who called all of Bagwell’s 15 seasons in Houston: “Jeff Bagwell stood out as the complete player. He provided power, on-base average and timely hits. He also ran the bases in expert fashion and fielded with the utmost skill, attempting plays that other first basemen could not make. He was one of the most intelligent players in the game. He was the complete package.”

--Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow:  “Jeff was one of the best players in the game for many years and is very deserving of joining this exclusive club.  The Astros are blessed to have two Hall of Famers play their entire careers with the same team in the same era.”

During his 15-year career, all spent with the Astros, Bagwell compiled a .297 batting average with 449 home runs and 1,529 RBI while posting a .408 on-base percentage and a .540 slugging percentage. He is the Houston franchise leader in career home runs, RBI, batting average and walks, and ranks second in club history in games, runs, hits, doubles, total bases, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

 His .948 career OPS ranks 10th all-time among right-handed hitters and 20th all-time among all hitters. Also, notably, Bagwell played nine of his 15 seasons in the pitcher-friendly Astrodome. A versatile player, Bagwell was considered an outstanding baserunner and defender. He remains the only first baseman in NL history to reach the 30-30 club in home runs and stolen bases in a single season, which he did twice in his career. He also was a Gold Glove winner and currently ranks 3rd all-time in career assists as a first baseman with 1,704.

During his 15 seasons, the Astros had their most successful run in franchise history, qualifying for the postseason six times while finishing at .500 or above 13 times. The Astros had the third-best winning percentage (.531) in the NL from 1991-2005.

In 1994, Bagwell became just the third player in history to win the NL Most Valuable Player Award  by a unanimous vote after hitting .368 with 39 home runs, 116 RBI, a .750 slugging percentage, .451 on-base percentage and a career-high 1.201 OPS in just 110 games. Bagwell was a four-time All-Star, earned three Silver Slugger Awards, a Rawlings Gold Glove Award and was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1991.

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