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Former Chatham A Jeff Bagwell elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

by Jake Eisenberg
Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Former Chatham A Jeff Bagwell elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

Jeff Bagwell, who played for the Chatham A’s in 1987 and 1988, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame with 86.2 percent of the vote, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced Wednesday. He will be inducted along with Tim Raines and Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez.

Bagwell (2017) will be the first Chatham A to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, and the sixth Cape Cod Baseball League alumnus, joining Pie Traynor (1948), Carlton Fisk (2000), Frank Thomas (2014), and Craig Biggio (2015).

"It's a big deal; it's very exciting for anyone involved in the Cape League at all," CCBL Commissioner Paul Galop said. "It's why we do it. We love to watch the kids grow from when they leave here, watch them get drafted, and make it the majors. To have someone reach the Hall of Fame—that's the pinnacle of the sport."

Bagwell, who attended the University of Hartford, spent two seasons on the Cape, both of them with Chatham. After hitting .206 in 32 games in 1987, Bagwell emerged as one of the best prospects in the league in 1988, hitting .315 with six home runs in 44 games. As a result, he was named the starting third baseman of the East Division All-Star team for the league’s first East-West All Star Game.

The 1988 season was the first and only year the CCBL issued baseball cards, which included both Bagwell and former Major League outfielder Mark Sweeney, who was also a member of the 1988 Chatham A's team.

That same summer, Bagwell participated in the Boardwalk and Baseball Tournament, which included teams from the Great Lakes, Central Illinois, and Valley collegiate summer leagues. The 1988 team from the Cape Cod Baseball League, which won the tournament, included now fellow Hall-of-Famer Frank Thomas (Orleans) and four other future Major Leaguers.

"That was probably one of the best years of Cape Cod Baseball League talent," Galop said. "And [Jeff] Bagwell was part of it."

Bagwell spent 15 seasons in the Major Leagues—all of them with the Houston Astros—after being drafted in the fourth round of the 1989 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox. In 1991, Bagwell won the National League Rookie of the Year Award with 98 percent of the vote, slashing .294/.387/.437 with 15 home runs.

Three seasons later, he was unanimously awarded the 1994 National League Most Valuable Player Award, leading the league in both runs scored (104) and runs batted in (116) on the back of a .368 batting average and a then-career high 39 home runs. While it was his only MVP award, the first baseman finished in the top-10 in MVP voting six times. A four-time All-Star, Bagwell finished his career with a .297 average and 449 home runs.