Tis true, Tribe fans. Though the object of much recent nihilism and vitriol from fans across the Midwest, Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge has been given a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Now, before you flip out and assume that he will be perched right between Tris Speaker and Hoyt Wilhelm, realize that Wedge’s situation may be a bit different. Actually, it is considerably different because he’s being inducted into a Hall of Fame with Philadelphia’s Jimmy Rollins – who is still an active player.
So what sort of “Hall” could this be? Why, it is the seven-year old Hall of the Arizona Fall League.
Rollins and Wedge will represent players 22 and 23 in the Fall League Hall, which bases its appointments on what certain players have accomplished since their time in the AFL. Rollins’ accomplishments do not need much discussion. He’s a former league MVP and a 30/30 threat that is also a league-leader in the field. But what about Wedge?
Not much has been published about his accomplishments since his days with the Red Sox which were quickly followed by him being taken 48th overall by the Colorado Rockies in their initial expansion draft back in 1992. Terry Pluto documented Wedge’s minor league career quite a bit in Dealing, and some of the numbers will amaze you.
One quick look at his B-Reference page, and you’ll see that he was quite the slugger in his day. Clubbing .289 with 11 home runs in 60-plus games at the Triple-A level (at age 24) is one heck of a start. Upping that home run total to 19 by age 26 shows you that he had some promise – until the knee surgeries became a regular occurance.
Like him or not (especially this year), Wedge has had quite the run in the coaching ranks since his hiring at the Single-A level back in 1998. Not many guys his age have had the chance to shoot from affiliate to affiliate, and then beat out seasoned candidates for the shot at the big league team. Recall, when Wedge had started coaching, he was younger than some of the players he was coaching.
Yes, he may not be aggressive on the base paths. He may not be a fan of bunting. Ever. And he just couldn’t get along with Brandon Phillips. But given the team that he had in 2003 that proceeded to go 68-94, you can see how the AFL would consider his accomplishments to be worthy of their Hall of Fame.
For comparison purposes, other coaches that are currently in the Hall include Dusty Baker, Terry Francona, Grady Little and Tony Pena. Where you would like to place Wedge among those enshrined is up to you.
Congratulations to both men. Now if we could just trade this in for a few more wins. Okay, maybe closer to 15 or so.