Visiting Players in Indianapolis Turned Hall-Of-Fame Hopefuls
On July 24, Minnie Miñoso will become the 13th former member of the Indianapolis Indians inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame following the Golden Days Era Committee vote in December. Now, the attention turns to Tuesday, when the Class of 2022 will be rounded out by the announcement of the BBWAA's ballot results.
Although there are no former Indianapolis Indians on the BBWAA ballot this season - the last was Larry Walker, who was elected in early 2020 and inducted this past summer - there are a number of those who visited Indianapolis wearing opposing jerseys.
Gary Sheffield - 1988
Just days after going 3-for-11 with three RBI in three games vs. Indianapolis at Mile High Stadium in Denver, third baseman Gary Sheffield visited Bush Stadium for the only time in his short minor league career. He went 1-for-10 in those three games - good for a .190 career clip vs. the Indians in the two series combined - but it wasn't representative of the major league career he would soon be entering.
Sheffield made his MLB debut later that season and went on to a 22-year career in the big leagues. He was a nine-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger, finished third in NL MVP voting twice and was second behind Vladimir Guerrero for AL MVP in 2004.
Sammy Sosa - 1989, '92
Before Sammy Sosa became a seven-time All-Star, six-time Silver Slugger and the 1998 NL MVP known for his prodigious power, the Indians held him without a long ball in six total games at Bush Stadium between 1989 and 1992. Sleek with speed during his years as a prospect, Sosa paced center field with both Oklahoma City and Iowa and hit .250 (6-for-24) with one extra-base hit, one RBI and four stolen bases in his stints in Indianapolis.
Sosa first visited the Circle City in July 1989 after making his MLB debut with Texas in June that season. His career began to heat up just one year after he played in Indianapolis, and he soon became a feared power hitter across the league. He finished in the top 10 in MVP voting in six consecutive seasons from 1998-2003, including his MVP season in 1998 and a runner-up finish in '01.
Jimmy Rollins - 2000
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins visited Victory Field with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre twice during the 2000 season, the last coming during the Governors' Cup Championship Series just two days before he made his MLB debut with Philadelphia. During that final battle for glory within the International League, Rollins hit .385 (5-for-13) with two doubles, a home run and two RBI over the final three games of the series.
The next season, Rollins finished 17th in NL MVP voting and third for Rookie of the Year. His standout season came during his NL MVP campaign in 2007, when he led the league with 139 runs scored and a career-high 20 triples. Over his 17-year career he was a three-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove Award winner, the 2007 NL Silver Slugger, and helped the Phillies to a World Series title in 2008.
Carl Crawford -- 2002
For three games in April 2002, Carl Crawford took to the Victory Field outfield grass and tried to repeat the success he had vs. the Indians less than a week before - he had gone 5-for-10 with three extra-base hits in two games at Durham from April 13-14. Instead, the pitcher-friendly dimensions played to Indy's favor, and he was held hitless in eight at-bats through the first two games in the series.
Crawford made his MLB debut later that season and strung together an impressive 15-year career in the majors with Tampa Bay, Boston and Los Angeles (NL). He was named an AL All-Star four times, and was awarded the Gold Glove, Silver Slugger and finished seventh in MVP voting in 2010.
Justin Morneau - 2003-04
Justin Morneau spent time with Pittsburgh in 2013, but never wore an Indianapolis uniform that season. He did, however, visit Victory Field for eight games with Rochester in 2003-04 during his first two years in the big leagues. In 12 total games vs. Indy over the course of those two seasons, he hit .302 (13-for-43) with four doubles, three home runs, 12 RBI and 11 runs scored.
Just two years after his final appearance in Indianapolis, Morneau put together an impressive season that earned him the AL MVP honor. During his 2006 season with Minnesota, he hit .321 (190-for-592) with 37 doubles and 34 home runs while leading the league with 11 sacrifice flies. Over the course of his 14-year career, he was a four-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger and also finished second in the 2008 AL MVP race behind Dustin Pedroia.
Scott Rolen - 2009
Late into his impressive but injury-riddled major league career, Indiana native Scott Rolen returned to his home state for two games at Victory Field. They were his only two games as part of a rehab assignment with Louisville, and he went 2-for-6 with an RBI.
Rolen made his MLB debut with Philadelphia in 1996, and one year later was named the NL Rookie of the Year. Over the course of his career with the Phillies, St. Louis, Toronto and Cincinnati, he was a seven-time All-Star, eight-time Gold Glove winning third baseman, the 2002 NL Silver Slugger and helped lead the Cardinals to the 2004 pennant and 2006 World Series title.
Curt Schilling - 1990, 2005
Curt Schilling is in his final year on the BBWAA ballot and is the lone pitcher who appeared at Victory Field in his career. He took the mound at both Bush Stadium and Victory Field in 1990 and 2005, respectively. His only win in Indianapolis came on May 20, 1990 when he tossed 7.0 two-run innings with just five hits allowed and six strikeouts for Rochester.
The right-hander made his MLB debut in 1988 with Baltimore and racked up 216 wins and 3,116 strikeouts over 20 years. He finished in the top five of Cy Young Award voting four times, with three runner-up finishes (2001-02, '04). He was also a six-time All-Star and shared the 2001 World Series MVP Award with former Indians pitcher Randy Johnson. Three years later he helped end Boston's 86-year championship drought, and won another World Series ring with the Red Sox in 2007.
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International League Stories from January 24, 2022
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- Visiting Players in Indianapolis Turned Hall-Of-Fame Hopefuls - Indianapolis Indians
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