Well, yesterday three of the baseball stars of my youth were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Haven't yet gotten to watching all of the speeches, but I enjoyed Greg Maddux's and I read part of Joe Torre's and it was great:
While it's hard to really like a guy who spent time with both the Yankees and the Dodgers, can't help but respect his love for the game.
As a kid, my two main card-trading buddies were Matt and Justin. They were neighbors, and I lived about 5 minutes away on bike from them. They were huge Braves fans and would always rub the Padres most recent loss or trade in my face. I thought my life was going to end when they stole Fred McGriff from us.
Because of them, it's pretty easy to root against the Braves, but for whatever reason, I didn't really mind Tom Glavine.
I'm not sure what it was about him that I liked - maybe it was that he was left handed, or maybe it was because of that one Pinnacle card where he's in his Braves uniform with a hockey stick and skates. I'd like to think it was something about him that I liked, but to be honest, it was more than likely this particular card. The '92 Topps set is the set that got me into collecting (thanks to my 3rd grade teacher, Mr. Seipel), and I thought that this was one of the best looking cards.
Frank Thomas was another guy who you couldn't help but like as a card collector in the 90s, because, again, his cards were awesome. Also, I'm not sure that the numbers back me up, but he always looked like he was the biggest guy in the world to ever play baseball, and he would hit the ball so far. Being in the American League, I had no reason to dislike him, because he never faced the Padres.
Greg Maddux was a different story. He was the face of the Braves pitching staff, and as such, there was no way I could ever like him, right? All those division championships, all those World Series appearances? Not something that I could relate to as a Padres fan (though we did beat them in the NLCS in '98). I'd compare Maddux to present-day Clayton Kershaw. One, if not the best pitchers in the game, who I respected but could never root for, because of his jersey. It all changed, however, when Mad Dog became a Padre.
It wasn't one of those "instant" things, either, just because he played for the team I liked. I never was a Mike Piazza fan, he was already too much of a Dodger. But I can honestly say that going to a game at Petco Park where he got the win and Trevor Hoffman got the save is something that I'll probably tell my grandkids about.
At the end of Maddux's speech, he said that he didn't get a team logo on his hat because he wouldn't be in the Hall of Fame without his experiences in Chicago or Atlanta. But I sure am glad I got to see him in a Padre uniform.
I'll just forget that it was sandwiched between stints with the Dodgers.
Congrats to everyone who was inducted into Cooperstown. Hoping that some day I'll be able to make it up there.