COOPERSTOWN, NY (CBS HOUSTON) – Jeff Bagwell was never a player that called attention to himself during his 15-year playing career with the Houston Astros. On Sunday in Cooperstown, New York in front of former teammates, friends, and family, the former Astros first baseman was the center of attention as the day finally arrived for his induction into the elite fraternity known as the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Bagwell, who received one of the loudest ovations on Sunday, had the limelight firmly pointed in his direction with a 20-plus minute speech in front of several hundred Astros fans that made the trip to celebrate his induction with him.
“You guys have been absolutely wonderful,” Bagwell said thanking the Houston fans for their years of support both during and after his career with the Astros “I can’t tell you how much being around you guys in the city and showing me the love and my family, this is where my kids were born, this is where my kids were raised. I love you so much for everything that you’ve done for me.”
Bagwell remained in character throughout his speech and expressed a sense of humility as he began his remarks.
“This is actually a really unbelievable day. I’m so humbled to be here,” Bagwell said during his remarks. “To be surrounded by some of the greats that ever played this game. The guys you see on TV, guys you read about and all that, and I’m standing up here and kind of sitting in the background just watching and just trying to figure out what’s really going on.
Bagwell would touch on a variety of topics including him and his father’s love of the Boston Red Sox and how just playing for his childhood favorite team would be the dream come true for him and never thought the Hall of Fame would be his eventual destination.
He would thank his family and former managers but took a moment to thank his former hitting instructor Rudy Jaramillo, who ironically worked with both Bagwell and fellow 2017 inductee Ivan Rodriguez on their respective swings. Bagwell joked about his unorthodox stance and swing which Jaramillo helped him perfect rather than change.
“I really do appreciate that and all the times that we went in the back cage and worked,” Bagwell said in thanks to his former hitting instructor. “Even when you were the hitting coach for (the Texans Rangers) and working with Pudge after a series, you would come and I’d meet you in the back cage and ask you what you saw, and you would tell me, so I truly, truly appreciate that.”
Bagwell now joins Craig Biggio, his teammate for 15 seasons, with many of those standing side-by-side on the right side of the Astros infield, as the only two players with Astros caps on their Hall of Fame plaques. Bagwell saw him for the first time on the stage during his induction on Sunday, sporting the cap of the early 2000’s era Astros.
“I like it, the plaque looks pretty good as far my hair and all that kind of stuff. I think it’s done well,” Bagwell said in his post-induction press conference. “It’s still strange to me. I think when I see it in the gallery that’s when it will totally hit me.
Bagwell mentioned Biggio in his remarks and how proud he was to join his longtime teammate and friend in baseball’s most exclusive club. However, he also took time to mention several other players that had an impact on his life and career including those that have passed away like Andujar Cedeno, Jose Lima, Darryl Kile and Ken Caminiti who he affectionately referred to as “Cammy”
“Cammy, I almost want to say that Cammy, his heart was too big,” Bagwell said memorializing his former teammate briefly. “He was the nicest guy in the entire world. Took me in when I was supposed to take his job. It was just a wonderful thing for him and our relationship.”
Bagwell closed his speech again discussing family and his relationship with his father and how he hoped the moments of sitting together watching baseball with his dad were replicated by those who watched him play.
“We’d talk about Yaz, we’d talk about Fisk, talk about Rice, talk about Boggs. What we were doing is spending quality time together as a family,” Bagwell said. “If you enjoyed me playing and it brought your families together, then I did my job.”
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Jeffrey Robert Bagwell, Houston, NL, 1991-2005, combined a powerful batting stroke with a discerning eye to hit .297, score 1,517 runs, and drive in 1,529 over 15 seasons, all in Houston. A prolific run producer, posted nine seasons with 100 or more runs scored, leading the NL three times. From a wide stance, topped the 30-home run mark nine times, and finished with 449 moon shots overall. Drew more than 100 walks in seven consecutive years, a record streak in the National League. Durable, agile first baseman, played in 160 or more games six times, stole 202 bases, most by a first baseman after 1920. A four-time All-Star, named 1991 NL Rookie of the Year, and captured the NL MVP in 1994 unanimously.