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Vizquel to be inducted into Indians Hall of Fame

Former SS to be 40th member; broadcaster Dudley to take place in Distinguished HOF

CLEVELAND -- The debate over Omar Vizquel's candidacy for the National Baseball Hall of Fame will begin in four years. In Cleveland, there is no doubt about his place in history.

On Tuesday, the Indians announced that Vizquel will be inducted into their Hall of Fame this summer, making the former shortstop the 40th member of the franchise's elite class of players. Cleveland will also posthumously induct longtime broadcaster Jimmy Dudley to the Indians Distinguished Hall of Fame.

Both Vizquel and Dudley will be recognized prior to the Tribe's game against the Tigers on June 21 at Progressive Field.

"I never thought that I could belong to a prestigious group of players that have given everything to the city of Cleveland in an Indians uniform," Vizquel said in a press release. "My priority always was the game and to enjoy it as much as possible. I'm honored by this and to have had the chance to play for the Indians."

Vizquel, who will be in attendance at Tribe Fest on Sunday, spent parts of 11 seasons in an Indians uniform from 1994-2004, helping guide the team to six division titles and a pair of American League pennants. Along the way, Vizquel picked up eight of his 11 Gold Gloves and made three All-Star teams during his time in Cleveland.

The peak of Vizquel's career in the batter's box came in 1999, when he hit .333 with 42 stolen bases, 45 extra-base hits and 112 runs scored for an Indians team that set a franchise record with 1,009 runs overall. Over the course of his 24 seasons, though, Vizquel was best known for his acrobatic abilities in the field.

Vizquel won nine Gold Gloves in a row from 1993-2001 and became the oldest shortstop to win the award in both '05 and '06 (38 and 39 years old). Among Major League shortstops, Vizquel is the all-time leader in double plays turned (1,734), games played (2,709) and fielding percentage (.985).

Vizquel -- currently the first-base coach for the Tigers -- will become eligible for baseball's Hall of Fame in 2018.

During his time with the Indians, Vizquel hit .283 with a .352 on-base percentage and a .379 slugging percentage. In the process, he collected 60 home runs, 288 doubles, 39 triples, 279 stolen bases, 584 RBIs, 612 walks and 906 runs. The shortstop also churned out 1,616 of his 2,877 career hits.

"Omar was a transcendent player and one of the best of all time at his position," Bob DiBiasio, the Indians' senior vice president of public affairs, said in a release. "He was a big part of one of our organization's most successful periods, and we're excited for him to join the Indians Hall of Fame."

In order to become eligible for the Indians Hall of Fame (established in 1951), a player must have spent at least three seasons with Cleveland and have been retired for at least one year.

Dudley, who is a member of the broadcasters' wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, joins a short list of non-uniformed personnel enshrined in the Indians' Distingushed Hall of Fame. Other members include owners Bill Veeck and Dick Jacobs, general manager and scout Cy Slapnicka, general manager John Hart, athletic trainer Jim Warfield and broadcaster Jack Graney.

From 1948-67, Dudley worked as an Indians television broadcaster on WJW and WERE. After serving in World War II, Dudley joined Cleveland during the team's run to the World Series in '48 after doing play-by-play for the Cubs earlier in his career. Dudley, who passed away in 1989, also broadcast football for the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Colts, as well as Ohio State.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.

Cleveland Indians, Omar Vizquel