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Schmidt grateful in yielding hit record to Rollins

PHILADELPHIA -- Mike Schmidt seemed just as happy as Jimmy Rollins on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.

Schmidt, who finished with 2,234 hits in his Hall of Fame career, quickly stepped onto the field, picked up Rollins' bat at home plate and jogged to first base to greet and embrace him.

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"I am glad I was here," Schmidt said. "My heart is pounding a little bit now. It hadn't in a while. Jimmy passing this record definitely brought my name back into the news. It is just nice to be back so to speak."

Schmidt played his entire 18-year career in Philadelphia, while Rollins has played his entire 15-year career in Philly.

"It is a tough town," Schmidt said. "I don't think anybody thought a player would play in this town, what, 15 years?"

Schmidt and Rollins are kindred spirits in some respects. Despite their immense talents and immense contributions to the history of the organization, including MVP Awards and its only two World Series championships, they have been a lightning rod for fans because they often spoke too candidly for their tastes.

All-time Phillies hit leaders
Player Hits Games
Jimmy Rollins 2,235 2,014
Mike Schmidt 2,234 2,404
Richie Ashburn 2,217 1,794
Ed Delahanty 2,213 1,555
Del Ennis 1,812 1,630

"Jimmy probably didn't scratch the surface relating to me in that regard," Schmidt said. "In speaking your mind and getting in trouble, nobody will probably ever match that part. Just like me, I think Jimmy probably has some detractors as great players do. In Philly they either like you or don't like you, there is no in between."

But Schmidt is very clear here: He thinks Rollins has the potential to be elected into the Hall of Fame. There certainly is an argument to be made, comparing Rollins' numbers to shortstops currently in the Hall of Fame.

"There will be players who get in the Hall of Fame every so often who have great careers, but some would say maybe not Hall of Fame careers, and they get in," Schmidt said. "They spend their time on the ballot and get in the Hall of Fame. And you're a Hall of Famer when you get in. Barry Larkin is a Hall of Famer, and Jimmy is very comparable to him. The same with Alan Trammell and Dave Concepcion, as Larry Bowa -- can we go down to Larry? The great thing is that we can talk and debate these things. I don't have a problem with Barry Larkin as a Hall of Famer. It just brings some people into play."

A few more productive seasons only would seem to strengthen Rollins' case.

Either way, Schmidt is a Rollins fan.

"He goes about his business the way he goes about his business," Schmidt said. "He may not be at the ballpark at 1 o'clock in the afternoon for a night game like some of the guys are. You can say, 'Well, he doesn't like the game much.' He may come in a half-hour before BP. Doesn't mean he's not thinking about the game or doesn't mean he's not playing a good game. It's just his personal style of existing in the Major Leagues might be different than some guys.

"Like Chase [Utley, he's kind of] a ballpark rat. A baseball rat. He wants to be at the ballpark. I wouldn't call Jimmy Rollins a baseball rat … Jimmy has other interests and I think sometimes people read into that, that he isn't passionate about the game. That's totally false. He is a very strong role model. Not much is said about that today, about athletes. There was a time in my career where that was a big thing to talk about, 'He's a great role model.' Nowadays, it's not talked about that much, but Jimmy is that."

Schmidt left the ballpark Saturday, no longer the Phillies' hit king, but still their home run king.

He doesn't expect that to change.

"Not in my time," he said, when asked if he thinks anybody could sniff that number. "Not in many of your guys' time."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for

Philadelphia Phillies, Jimmy Rollins, Mike Schmidt