By Land, By Sea, Baerga to the Indians Hall of Fame

Carlos Baerga talks with media members today in Goodyear. (Dan Mendlik photo)

Carlos Baerga talks with media members today in Goodyear. (Dan Mendlik photo)

The Cleveland Indians announced today that Carlos Baerga, one of the best second basemen in Cleveland Indians history and a member of the 1995 World Series team, will be inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame on June 22.

Baerga always has been a fan favorite and is warmly remembered throughout the organization as being an uplifting, positive force in the clubhouse.

“As difficult as it is to identify one player who made the most significant impact on the renaissance of Indians Baseball in the 1990s, I would have to have Carlos Baerga at the heart of the discussion,” said Indians Vice President of Public Relations Bob DiBiasio. “It took Carlos’ passion and enthusiasm to awaken a baseball franchise and its fan base from a 40-year slumber. His energy was infectious. Constantly moving, constantly dancing and talking whether in the clubhouse, during BP or during a game, Carlos provided an enthusiasm that helped create perhaps the best run of Indians baseball in club history.”

Tom Hamilton, voice of the Indians, agrees. “The guy unified the clubhouse. His personality was so magnetic; he made sure everyone was ready to play. Baerga didn’t have a problem getting guys fired up. He was never one of those guys that said, ‘that’s not my job.’ He did things others hadn’t done before.”

His impact on the field was just as — if not more — incredible. A switch hitter, Baerga was the first (of only three players) to have ever hit a home run from both sides of the plate in the same inning. He had back-to-back seasons with 200 or more hits; Kenny Lofton, in 1996, is the only Indians player to accomplish the feat since Baerga.

“In 1993, he had cellulitis after fouling a ball off his leg with 199 hits. He spent five days in the hospital and on the sixth day came out and got his 200th hit,” said Indians Director of Media Relations Bart Swain. “That 200 was a magical number for him. Most guys would have shut it down, but Carlos gutted it out and got his 200th hit legging out a swinging bunt down the third base line in the last game at the old stadium.”

April 17, 2004 Indians vs. Detroit Tigers 2011 Spring Training

“Whether leading the team in hits or hustling from first to third, Carlos was in constant motion,” DiBiasio said. “Most remember Carlos’ highlights on the field — hitting homers from both sides of the plate in one inning to set a Major League record or producing seasons for a second baseman that rivaled baseball legend Rogers Hornsby — but my memories of Carlos focus on what an incredible teammate he was. Always smiling, always keeping the clubhouse a fun place to be. And when our franchise suffered the tragic deaths of Steve Olin and Tim Crews, it was Carlos who represented his teammates at a press conference the morning following the accident. Few have worn the Cleveland Indians uniform with more pride than Carlos.”

Baerga currently works as an Alumni Ambassador for the club and is assisting new manager Terry Francona’s staff at Spring Training in Goodyear, Arizona. Most recently, he was named Manager of the Year in la Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente Walker in Puerto Rico.

Out in Goodyear, it seems Baerga’s passion has been revived. “Having (new outfielder Nick) Swisher here reminds me of the energy and enthusiasm that Carlos brought day in and day out,” Swain said.

“He has never changed,” Hamilton added. “That’s why you knew it was genuine.”

Baerga will be honored in a ceremony before the Indians’ game against the Minnesota Twins and later will be recognized in Heritage Park, behind the center field wall at Progressive Field. Sincerest congratulations to Carlos Baerga on being the 39th member inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame.

–TribeVibe contributor Courtney Shilling

1 Comment

He was a great and exciting player to watch. He definitely belongs in the Indians HOF! Congrats Carlos!

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