In the past couple of days, two stellar baseball players have called it a career. Lance Berkman announced his retirement yesterday while Michael Young is expected to formally announce his retirement on Friday.
Berkman spent 12 of his 15 big league seasons with the Houston Astros as well as stints with the New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers. Affectionately known as both Big Puma and Fat Elvis, he hit .293, with a .406 OBP, 366 HR and 1234 RBI. Berkman collected 100 or more RBIs six times and led the NL in RBI with 128 in 2002. On eight occasions, he had an OBP of .400 or better. He was named to the NL All-Star Team six times. Berkman played in two World Series. Although the Astros were swept by the Chicago White Sox in the 2005 Fall Classic, Berkman hit .385 (5 for 13) and drove in six runs. Berkman would collect a World Series ring with the Cards in 2011 hitting .410 (11 for 26) with a home run and 5 RBI. Two of those runs were driven in on a double in the 10th inning of Game 6 when the Rangers were a strike away from winning the World Series. That year, Berkman was also named NL Comeback Player of the Year.
Young spent 13 of 14 seasons with the Texas Rangers before splitting last year with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Originally, Young was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1997. The Jays would trade Young to Texas in the middle of the 2000 season for pitcher Esteban Loaiza in one of the most lopsided trades in MLB history. Young was a career .300 hitter who won the AL batting title in 2005 posting a .331 average. He hit .300 or better seven times and collected 200 or more hits six times. Young was also named to the AL All-Star Team seven times and won a Gold Glove in 2008.
I don’t think the BBWAA will induct either Berkman or Young into the Hall of Fame, but I hope they get above the 5% threshold when they join the ballot in 2019. Even if they don’t get into Cooperstown both men enjoyed great careers and were looked up to by players, management and fans alike.