Every boy’s dream it to make it into the highest echelon of sports. Some youngsters dream about that big day when they actually walk onto their field of dreams. In baseball, every time you took to a diamond in the sand lots around your neighborhood with bat, ball and glove in hand, the dream became more real. Soon, that dream will come true for a couple of Major Leaguers when the Rookie Of the Year will be named. It is the hope of the winners that they will not become a Joe Charboneau, who became better known for opening a beer bottle with his eye socket than his long term batting prowess. Let’s not forget Walt Dropo.
His dream will be one of The Big 14. These are the men who became both Rookie Of the Year and a Hall Of Famer. They are the few…the greats of the game.
It began with Jackie, the ROY in 1947 as a Dodger and HOF in 1962. He is the only Dodger ever to accomplish this fantastic feat. Then there was Willie (’51 & ’79) as a Giant. Frank Robinson was the Cincinnati Red who became ROY in 1956 and Hall Of Famer in 1982. Then Luis Aparicio became the first American Leaguer to have become the ROY (’56 with the White Sox, the only member of the Pale Hose ever to do so) and HOF (’84). Orlando Cepeda (ROY ’58 with the Giants & HOF ’99); Willie McCovey (ROY ’59 as a Giant & HOF ’86) and Billy Williams (ROY ’61 as the first Cub to do so & HOF ’87). Tom Seaver was the only pitcher to ever accomplish this masterful feat by winning the ROY in 1967 as a Met and Hall Of Fame in 1992. He remains the only Met to do so. Then there was Rod Carew (ROY ’67 as a Twin & HOF ’91). Think for a moment of all the great Twin ROY’s who have not been elected into the Hall. Johnny Bench became the first catcher to win this double tribute (ROY ’68 as a Red & HOF ’89); Carlton Fisk (ROY ’72 with the Red Sox & HOF in 2000); Eddie Murray (ROY ’77 as an Oriole & HOF in 2003); Andre Dawson was the one and only Montreal Expo to win (ROY ’77 & HOF in 2010) and finally the last of The Big 14, Cal Ripken, baseball’s ironman who gained ROY in 1982 with the Orioles and entered into the Hall Of Fame in 2007. Eight from the National League. Six from the American League. Jackie did it when there was only one chosen in all of baseball.
Will two of the six up for the Rookie Of The Year award this year achieve the greatness of these great players? Or will they become the Jerome Walton or Dwight Smith like so many before them?