Chipper, Vladdy, Trevor and Gentleman Jim – Introducing The Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2018

Time sure is flying!  It seems like only yesterday that Jim Thome, Chipper Jones, Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero were the subjects of my best “focal intent”…

OAKLAND - 1998: Jim Thome #25 of the Cleveland Indians bats during an MLB game against the Oakland Athletics at he Oakland-Alameda County Colosseum. Thome played for the Indians from 1991-2002. (Photo by Ron Vesely) (Ron Vesely)

OAKLAND – 1998: Jim Thome #25 of the Cleveland Indians bats during an MLB game against the Oakland Athletics at he Oakland-Alameda County Colosseum. Thome played for the Indians from 1991-2002. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

Today, all four have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, joining Jack Morris and Alan Trammell July 29th in Cooperstown, New York.

CLEVELAND - UNDATED: Jim Thome #25 of the Cleveland Indians looks on during batting practice prior to an MLB game at Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Ohio. Thome played for the Indians from 1991-2002. (Photo by Ron Vesely) (Ron Vesely)

CLEVELAND – UNDATED: Jim Thome #25 of the Cleveland Indians looks on during batting practice prior to an MLB game at Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Ohio. Thome played for the Indians from 1991-2002. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

Covering baseball as long as I have (2018 is my 33rd year), it sure has been fun observing and, well, chronicling, the careers of these four worthy inductees from start to finish.

CLEVELAND - 1995: Jim Thome #25 of the Cleveland Indians looks on during an MLB game at Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Ohio. Thome played for the Indians from 1991-2002. (Photo by Ron Vesely) (Ron Vesely)

CLEVELAND – 1995: Jim Thome #25 of the Cleveland Indians looks on during an MLB game at Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Ohio. Thome played for the Indians from 1991-2002. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

Jim Thome, one of the most prolific home run hitters in baseball history, number eight all-time with 612 round-trippers, was a cornerstone of the great Cleveland Indians teams of the mid 1990’s.  Not only a home run threat, “Gentleman Jim” was an incredibly clutch hitter as well.

CHICAGO - AUGSUT 23: Jim Thome #25 and Ken Griffey Jr. #17 of the Chicago White Sox pose together for a portrait prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois on August 23, 2008. With 1152 home runs hit between the them in the major leagues, it was a rare opportunity to photograph two players on the same team with that many home runs between them. (Photo by Ron Vesely) (Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO – AUGUST 23: Jim Thome #25 and Ken Griffey Jr. #17 of the Chicago White Sox pose together for a portrait prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois on August 23, 2008. With 1152 home runs hit between the them in the major leagues, it was a rare opportunity to photograph two players on the same team with that many home runs between them. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

I had the privilege of watching Jim play on a daily basis for the White Sox from 2006-2009 and to say it was a privilege is an understatement… Jim’s leadership, in the clubhouse and in the community, was second to none.

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 30: Jim Thome #25 of the Chicago White Sox connects for a solo, game and A.L. Central Division winning home run of Nick Blackburn in the 7th inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois on September 30, 2008. The White Sox defeated the Twins 1-0 to win the American League Central title. The Sox and Twins had to play a one game playoff to determine the American League Central Champion. (Photo by Ron Vesely) (Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO – SEPTEMBER 30: Jim Thome #25 of the Chicago White Sox connects for a solo, game and A.L. Central Division winning home run of Nick Blackburn in the 7th inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois on September 30, 2008. The White Sox defeated the Twins 1-0 to win the American League Central title. The Sox and Twins had to play a one game playoff to determine the American League Central Champion. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

Congratulations, Jim on an honor well deserved!

CHICAGO - 1999: Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves bats during an MLB game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois during the 1999 season. (Photo by Ron Vesely). Subject: Chipper Jones (Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO – 1999: Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves bats during an MLB game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois during the 1999 season. (Photo by Ron Vesely).

Chipper Jones just flat out came to play! As part of the Braves dynasty of the 1990’s, he was a force to be reckoned with, both defensively and offensively. Nestled in a batting order that also contained Andruw Jones, Fred McGriff, Ron Gant, Deion and of course supported by the pitching staff of Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz and Avery… well, you remember… But the one player opposing mangers tried to contain so as to not let him beat you..?

CHICAGO - 1999: Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves fields during an MLB game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois during the 1999 season. (Photo by Ron Vesely). Subject: Chipper Jones (Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO – 1999: Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves fields during an MLB game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois during the 1999 season. (Photo by Ron Vesely). Subject: Chipper Jones (Ron Vesely)

Chipper… and so many times, as hard as the opposition may have tried to prevent it, he’d end up beating you anyway.

SAN DIEGO - 1992: Trevor Hoffman of the San Diego Padres pitches during an MLB game at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California during the 1992 season. (Photo by Ron Vesely). Subject: Trevor Hoffman (Ron Vesely)

SAN DIEGO – 1993: Trevor Hoffman of the San Diego Padres pitches during an MLB game at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California during the 1993 season. (Photo by Ron Vesely).

Trevor Hoffman, second all-time with 601 saves and a seven-time All-Star, joins baseball’s elite in Cooperstown as one of the greatest relief pitchers to have ever played the game.

CHICAGO - 1992: Trevor Hoffman of the San Diego Padres looks on during an MLB game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois during the 1992 season. (Photo by Ron Vesely). Subject: Trevor Hoffman (Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO – 1993: Trevor Hoffman of the San Diego Padres looks on during an MLB game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois during the 1993 season. (Photo by Ron Vesely).

When Padres, and late in his career, Brewers fans, heard AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells”, they knew the game was a good as over as Trevor entered from the bullpen to finish off yet another opponent.

MINNEAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 04: Vladimir Guerrero #27 of the Texas Rangers looks on against Minnesota Twins on September 4, 2010 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rangers 12-4. (Photo by Ron Vesely) (Ron Vesely)

MINNEAPOLIS – SEPTEMBER 04: Vladimir Guerrero #27 of the Texas Rangers looks on against Minnesota Twins on September 4, 2010 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rangers 12-4. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

Vladimr Guerrero reminded me at times of the late, great Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente.  He had all the tools, finishing up with a .318 lifetime batting average, 449 home runs and a cannon of an arm.

CHICAGO - MAY 01: Vladimir Guerrero #27 of the Baltimore Orioles bats against the Chicago White Sox on May 01, 2011 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Orioles defeated the White Sox 6-4. (Photo by Ron Vesely) Subject: Vladimir Guerrero (Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO – MAY 01: Vladimir Guerrero #27 of the Baltimore Orioles bats against the Chicago White Sox on May 01, 2011 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Orioles defeated the White Sox 6-4. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

To his detractors who say he ran himself into too many outs and overthrew the cutoff man more than occasionally, payback will most likely feel sweet as Vladdy joins Jim, Trevor and Chipper in Cooperstown later this summer.

CHICAGO - APRIL 7: Jack Morris #47 of the Detroit Tigers reacts after striking out Ron Kittle #42 of the Chicago White Sox for the final out as Morris pitched a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox on April 7, 1984 at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jack Morris; Ron Kittle (Ron Vesely/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – APRIL 7: Jack Morris #47 of the Detroit Tigers reacts after striking out Ron Kittle #42 of the Chicago White Sox for the final out as Morris pitched a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox on April 7, 1984 at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely).

 

DETROIT - 1987: Alan Trammell of the Detroit Tigers bats during an MLB game at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Michigan during the 1987 season. (Photo by Ron Vesely). Subject: Alan Trammell (Ron Vesely)

DETROIT – 1987: Alan Trammell of the Detroit Tigers bats during an MLB game at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Michigan during the 1987 season. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

Congratulations to this years Hall of Fame Class of 2018!

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