There were a few moments during this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony worth mentioning here because of their connection to the Midwest League.
John Smoltz made several references to Lansing, Mich., where his family moved from suburban Detroit before the future Hall-of-Famer started fifth grade. He still lived there when the Tigers drafted him in 1985. (You can read about his Michigan sports career in this Lansing State Journal story.) Lansing became a Midwest League city in 1996, when the Lugnuts played their first season.
Smoltz also mentioned former Atlanta Braves teammate Greg Maddux, who last year became the seventh former Midwest Leaguer to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player. Maddux went 13-9 with a 3.19 ERA, 125 strikeouts and 52 walks in 186 IP for the 1985 Peoria Chiefs.
Pedro Martinez punctuated his memorable speech by holding a Dominican Republic flag with fellow countryman and Hall-of-Fame pitcher Juan Marichal. In addition to being the first Dominican player enshrined in Cooperstown (in 1983), Marichal also was the first former Midwest Leaguer inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player.
Marichal’s first season as a professional ballplayer was spent in the Midwest League, which he dominated. The Dominican Dandy went 21-8 with a 1.87 ERA, 246 strikeouts and 50 walks in 245 IP for the 1958 Michigan City White Caps.
Craig Biggio and Randy Johnson also were inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.