COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- The lingering doubt he belongs in a place alongside the game's all-time greats is about to become a humbling reality for former Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell.In the days and months leading up to today's enshrinement ceremony at the Clark Sports Center, Bagwell has struggled to wrap his
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- The lingering doubt he belongs in a place alongside the game's all-time greats is about to become a humbling reality for former Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell.
In the days and months leading up to today's enshrinement ceremony at the Clark Sports Center, Bagwell has struggled to wrap his mind around his place in history. He's awed by the numbers of Hank Aaron, admits he was intimidated by George Brett and Andre Dawson and finds it hard to believe others perhaps now view him in the same light.
Bagwell will be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame today, joining a club that includes Aaron, Brett, Dawson and more than 200 others, including longtime teammate Craig Biggio -- the only two players to go into the Hall of Fame representing the Astros.
:: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::
"Obviously, it's an honor and I'm humbled by it, but it is a little bit overwhelming," Bagwell said Saturday. "That's why I hunker down in the hotel as much as I can. It is a wonderful experience. I'm overwhelmed by the support I've gotten from the city, my family and friends. It will be nice when it's over, but I'm going to try and take this all in."
MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- begins with MLB Tonight today at 11 a.m. CT, followed by the ceremony at 12:30 p.m. Prior to today's live coverage, you can watch a rebroadcast of the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 10 a.m. CT on MLB Network. It features Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers), and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film, "A League of Their Own."
Hundreds of orange-clad Astros fans and dozens of Bagwell's friends, former teammates and family members have descended upon Cooperstown this weekend to pay tribute to the man who still holds Houston's franchise records for homers (449) and RBIs (1,529). Bagwell spoke of the countless text messages he's received from former teammates, and even a phone call he got from Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, the former Red Sox slugger who was Bagwell's idol growing up.
"That was pretty cool," Bagwell said. "Being a player I idolized growing up, for him to take the time to call me meant a lot."
As much as this weekend is a celebration of Bagwell, he admits he's not comfortable talking about himself.
"I don't even remember this much media attention during playoffs and stuff like that," Bagwell said. "To get to the magnitude of this individually is something I'm trying to take in. I talked to a lot of the Hall of Famers. They said just enjoy it. It goes real quick. It's really just overwhelming to see all the guys and meet everybody and see how friendly they are and welcoming all of us to the class. It's pretty cool."
And when asked about facing baseball immortality, Bagwell chuckled.
"If I make it to Monday morning when they put the plaque up, that will be there forever," Bagwell said. "That's pretty cool. It's something I never set out to do. It's just weird. It's just a crazy feeling being with all these guys you see on TV and played against and played with, like Craig -- just to be a part of that group is really humbling."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.