Three of baseball’s most prolific hitters in recent memory will be inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Iván Rodríguez will get the call after putting up some impressive numbers during their excellent careers.
It’s the highest accomplishment a baseball player can achieve, but it means even more when you have the respect of your contemporaries. Recent Hall of Fame inductee Pedro Martinez went up against all three members of the 2017 Hall of Fame class. Martinez, who now works as an analyst at MLB Network, has memories of battling each one of them.
While most of those memories are fond for Martinez – he did hold all three players to batting averages below .200, though the samples are small – he opted to begin with a sad story about hitting Bagwell with a pitch. As Martinez explains, Bagwell had to leave the game after being hit.
While the play didn’t come in a huge game, Martinez still feels bad about it today. He had grown close to Bagwell during his career, and felt awful about hurting him. It gives you a good idea of how well liked and respected Bagwell was during his career.
With Rodríguez, Martinez recalls throwing to him at the 1999 All-Star Game. Both players started the contest. Martinez threw two innings with Pudge behind the plate. The two never worked as a battery or faced each other again during the All-Star Game even though they combined for 22 All-Star appearances
Finally, Martinez describes what made Raines great. He was a feared leadoff man, and Martinez never wanted to put him on base. If Raines got on, Martinez knew “he could do damage” on the bases.
When Bagwell, Raines and Rodríguez get inducted Sunday, Martinez said he will be happy, excited and honored to call them “teammates forever.”
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