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Jeff Bagwell got fielding advice from Ozzie Smith during a pitching change

Jan 7, 2014, 10:54 AM EDT

Bagwell

The linked article is about way more than that. It’s Brian McTaggart of MLB.com talking with Jeff Bagwell about a number of things. Which is notable, because Bagwell has become a relative recluse since leaving the game. Or, at the very least, does’t give a lot of interviews.

But he talks about his Hall of Fame chances. About how he cares more that long-time teammate Craig Biggio gets in than him. He talks about when he was a non-prospect in the Red Sox organization and how Houston gave him a shot. And how Ken Caminiti took him under his wing “for good and for bad but mostly for good” once he was traded to the Astros.

But my favorite bit in there is him talking about his move from third base to first base and how he was having trouble with it. And how, one day, during a pitching change in an Astros-Cardinals game, Ozzie Smith gave him some fielding advice while he was standing on first base.  Just kind of neat and remarkable.

Good story. And while I’m not holding my breath, here’s hoping a postscript with his Hall of Fame induction can be added tomorrow.

  1. hoopmatch - Jan 7, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    I bet it would be interesting to mike up a first base person in MLB and see what he says to runners (and vice versa).

    • karlkolchak - Jan 7, 2014 at 11:14 AM

      “Okay, well, uh… candlesticks always make a nice gift, and uh, maybe you could find out where she’s registered and maybe a place-setting or maybe a silverware pattern.”

      • braxtonrob - Jan 8, 2014 at 7:37 AM

        “… okay, LET’S GET TWO!”

    • Marty McKee - Jan 7, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      Joey Votto, who seems like a quiet, smart, friendly guy, talks up a storm out there, and I’ve always been curious to know what he’s saying.

      He and BP may be the chattiest right-side in the NL.

      • stex52 - Jan 7, 2014 at 11:29 AM

        If you got to first when Lance Berkman was there, you needed to plan to have a conversation. He may have been the friendliest 1st baseman ever.

    • unclemosesgreen - Jan 7, 2014 at 11:46 AM

      Chattiest 1st baseman of my lifetime – I have to take Sean Casey. He wasn’t called “the mayor” for nothing.

  2. butchhuskey - Jan 7, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    I’m surprised Bagwell hasn’t received more Hall of Fame support. I guess he doesn’t have the cumulative numbers some might associate with worthy candidates, but the guy has hardware (Rookie of the Year, MVP, Gold Glove), demonstrated consistency, had a long peak, and put up numerous monster offensive seasons. Bill James even listed him as the fourth best first baseman of all time. When I watched him play, he more than passed “the eye test;” he was viewed by most as elite and seemed to possess that intangible quality that some believe defines an all-time great.

    I think it would be a shame if Bagwell continues to receive less support than he deserves simply due to unsubstantiated PED rumors. Like Piazza, he seems to have suffered from baseless innuendo, rumors, and hall voters who think they can determine steroid usage simply by looking at body type. Instead of backing mediocre candidates like Jack Morris, more writers should be publicly backing players like Bagwell.

    • stex52 - Jan 7, 2014 at 11:28 AM

      It was generally agreed about ten years ago that 500 HR would cement it for Bagwell. But the shoulder arthritis kicked in and he couldn’t make it. If he had not played the bulk of his career in the Astrodome, I think he would have added another 50-100 HR.

      We look at the HOF with more sophisticated stats these days, so I am optimistic he will make it. But probably not quite this year.

      • jm91rs - Jan 7, 2014 at 11:36 AM

        I feel like in this era of voting (which I hope doesn’t last much longer) it would actually be a red flag to have more than 500 home runs.

      • jm91rs - Jan 7, 2014 at 11:37 AM

        And unfortunately “we” look at the HOF with more sophisticated stats, but those with the votes do not.

  3. Steve Stein - Jan 7, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    I don’t think it’s fair to say Bagwell was a “non-prospect” in the Red Sox organization. He was just buried in the depth chart at 3B behind Wade Boggs and Scott Cooper.

    • stex52 - Jan 7, 2014 at 11:46 AM

      I agree, the Sox knew he was good. The Astros knew they were getting a deal at the time. No one predicted HOF, but everyone knew it was a deal that had to do with position.

    • slaugin - Jan 7, 2014 at 6:18 PM

      Friggin’ Scott Cooper

      • Glenn - Jan 7, 2014 at 8:52 PM

        Easy – that’s two time all-star Scott Cooper you’re talking about! Out of the league by age 29, though.

  4. Walk - Jan 7, 2014 at 7:37 PM

    I love stories like this where ozzie helped jeff bagwell. That is the biggest reason i detested the no fraternization rule. I always took time to talk to opposing players when i could. I could stay motivated and play hard and still take time to talk a bit and show my respect for other players and the game so i know others could as well. The cameras at a game show you a lot but they cut away too and while you might see a player break a bat or throw a helmet they often miss a player touching his hat brim, a small gesture to show respect to the pitcher and let them know the anger was directed at themselves and no one else. Baseball is a big game and i am glad the no fraternization rule is going away. I really hope to be seeing more stories of this type soon.

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