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Home » July 2009 Game CommentsJuly 2009 » Induction


Game 97: July 26, 2009
W: David Hernandez (3-2)
42-55, 1 game winning streak
Red Sox2
L: John Smoltz (1-4)
57-40, 1 game losing streak
Highlights: Six starts into the Smoltz Study results are disappointing. The veteran righty left the game in the fifth inning with 9 hits, 6 earned runs, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts, and a home run. Perhaps the 42-year old should have hung up his spikes and began his vigil for inclusion in the Hall of Fame instead of trying to get one more season out of his arm.

Nick Markakis arced a sacrifice fly to center just as Earl Weaver was acknowledged at the Hall of Fame. As is the modern-day custom, Markakis was congratulated for granting his team the first inning lead upon his return to the dugout. The Earl of Baltimore would have growled at the right fielder, “Next time could you score a run without making an out?”

At first, the induction of Jim Rice did not energize his team from afar. When his part of the ceremony began the Red Sox went down in order in the third. More evidence was added to the oft-cited argument that the Red Sox batters cannot hit rookie pitchers as David Hernandez kept Boston hitless until the fourth. Jacoby Ellsbury knocked a single off the second base sack at the same moment Rice acknowledged Tom Caron in his speech. As powerful as his bat was, his words were not strong enough to help his club complete the sweep against Baltimore.

Rice took his place amongst the immortals of baseball. Each member isn’t just an exemplar of excellence in the sport but also a representative of their era.

Bob Feller was a veteran of World War II and was the first player to enlist after Pearl Harbor. Hank Aaron was the last player from the Negro Leagues to make the majors and has recently asserted that players from the performance-enhancing drug era should have asterisks on their plaques. Willie Mays flew to St. Louis with President Barack Obama for the All-Star festivities and the president thanked Mays and his generation for presaging the desegregation of the country beyond the ballpark. Rice experienced integration of his school district but officials had cynically drawn the lines so that only he, not his sister, would be a student in the formerly all-white high school for his senior year. Rickey Henderson, Rice’s Hall of Fame classmate, named Muhammad Ali as his greatest hero.

Although Rice was amongst the first wave of players to enjoy the benefit of Andy Messersmith’s and Dave McNally’s dismantling of the reserve clause, he played with a single team for his entire career. Henderson debuted five years after Rice and was his polar opposite, making his way through nine clubhouses in his 27-year career.

As different as Rice and Henderson are, the both took their rightful place in a team of all-time greats.

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