I was reading this piece on Jamie Moyer over at Seamheads and was struck by a remarkable occurrence, prompted by a tidbit I hadn’t remembered: Moyer was one of the players who went with Rafael Palmeiro to the Rangers in the deal that brought Mitch Williams to Chicago. Palmeiro, like Moyer, came up in 1986, but he’s now been retired five years and is on the Hall of Fame ballot.
So now get this: Should Roberto Alomar or Jeff Bagwell be elected when the results are announced in January, both players will have started and finished their careers and been elected to the Hall of Fame within the span of Moyer’s career. That is, those players debuted after Moyer did (1988 for Alomar, 1991 for Bagwell), retired before he did (2004 for Alomar, 2005 for Bagwell) and were elected before Moyer’s retirement. Even though the results are announced in January and the players are inducted in July 2011, the voting takes place in 2010. And even if Moyer’s last Major League pitch came on July 20, 2010, he still pitched in the year of election for those players (should they get in). Of course, if Moyer comes back as he hopes in 2012, that will make this whole exercise that much easier.
In any case, it’s pretty crazy that a player’s career could see its genesis in the form of a Major League debut, conclusion with retirement and denouement in induction to the Hall of Fame. But it’s happened before.
Nolan Ryan played in more seasons, 27, than any player in history. He debuted with the Mets in 1966 and retired with the Rangers in 1993, throwing his last pitch on Sept. 22, 1993. In between, five players came, went and were enshrined. Ryan’s Mets teammate Tom Seaver debuted in 1967, last pitched in 1986 and was inducted in 1992; Johnny Bench came up in ’67, retired in ’83 and was inducted in ’89; Rod Carew came on the scene in ’67, retired in ’85 and went into Cooperstown in 1991; Reggie Jackson debuted in ’67, retired in ’87 and received his plaque in ’93; and finally, Rollie Fingers threw his first pitch in 1968, retired in 1985 and went into the Hall with Seaver in ’92.
This is by no means a definitive list (for one thing, Roberto Clemente’s untimely death and the waiver of the five-year waiting period that allowed his induction in 1973 meant that Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew and Hank Aaron all debuted before Clemente and were still playing the summer of his induction), but it’s pretty remarkable that the careers of some players, like Moyer or Ryan, can span the career and induction of others.