Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio each were named to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week despite the arrogance of the very people that have covered the sport over the years. The Pro Football Hall of Fame also announced the 15 finalists for its Class of 2015, which will be finalized on Jan. 31.
It’s hard enough for players to hit for the cycle at least once in their Major League Baseball careers, never mind becoming just one of three big-leaguers ever to do so in both the American and National leagues. What makes the only cycle of the 2014 season so interesting is the familiarity involving a couple players and a pair of games.
Late Sunday night Colorado Rockies outfielder Michael Cuddyer accomplished the feat with a huge grin on his face when he belted a double down the third base line off of Manny Parra in the eighth inning of a 10-5 win at home over the Cincinnati Reds.
While with the Brewers on May 22, 2009, Parra gave up three of the hits Cuddyer would need for his first cycle (while with the Minnesota Twins) before going on to finish it off at the Metrodome with a triple off of Jorge Julio, who had played for the Rockies two years earlier.
I was fortunate to be granted the experience of being a part of the grounds crew at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee during Houston Astros spring training games before the start of the 2004 and 2005 seasons. There was plenty of excitement surrounding that club at the time as they would make a run at the World Series before being swept by the Chicago White Sox.
Aside from working in the trenches with some great people, I was granted front row access to be around Astros players such as Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Lance Berkman, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, among many others. Not to mention the random run-ins with Nolan Ryan and high-profile players and managers from opposing teams.
As a life-long supporter of the New York Mets since way back in the late 1980s, I never got too excited about the Atlanta Braves making the crosstown trek to Osceola County Stadium to play the Astros. I could do without seeing Mets-killer Chipper Jones and manager Bobby Cox. But then one afternoon Cox softened me up a bit while his team took batting practice under the bright Florida sun. I’ve never been able to see him in the same way as I once did ever since.