PHILADELPHIA -- The way Larry Andersen looks at things, a little piece of him will be going into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend when former Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell is inducted Sunday in Cooperstown, N.Y.Andersen and Bagwell will be forever linked for being on the opposite ends
PHILADELPHIA -- The way Larry Andersen looks at things, a little piece of him will be going into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend when former Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell is inducted Sunday in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Andersen and Bagwell will be forever linked for being on the opposite ends of one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history -- Andersen, then a 37-year-old relief pitcher, was dealt to the Red Sox on Aug. 31, 1990, in exchange for Bagwell, an unknown Double-A third baseman in Boston's system.
Bagwell moved to first base the next spring and won a starting job with the Astros to begin the season, setting the stage for a Hall of Fame career. He won the 1991 National League Rookie of the Year Award and the '94 NL Most Valuable Player Award during the strike-shortened season. Bagwell hit .297 with 2,314 hits, 449 homers, 1,529 RBIs, 1,517 runs scored and a .408 on-base percentage in 15 seasons with Houston (1991-2005).
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Andersen, meanwhile, pitched really well for a Red Sox team that made the postseason, posting a 1.23 ERA in 15 games, then he wound up finishing his career with the Padres (1991-92) and Phillies (1993-94), for whom he serves as the radio color announcer.
Bagwell will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday -- and you can watch live on MLB Network and MLB.com starting at 10 a.m. CT.
"I tongue-in-cheek say for him going in the Hall of Fame makes me feel a lot better about myself," Andersen said. "But the truth of the matter is, and I've said this for a few years since he was eligible, I would love to see him get in, because I love to see guys get into the Hall of Fame that played the game right, that respected the game, that did all the things you expect a Hall of Famer to do, or you think they would. He does that. … Obviously, with the trade, it makes it doubly happy for me."
The 1990 Astros were rebuilding and trading away veterans for prospects, so when Andersen was called into manager Art Howe's office, he knew the drill. He had been traded twice previously in his career.
"So I go back to Art Howe's office and he said, 'You've been traded,' and I said, 'Well, I figured,'" Andersen said. "Guys had already been traded ahead of me. I said, 'Where am I going?' He said, 'Boston.' I said, 'Who'd you guys get?' He said, 'We got a third baseman from Double-A.' I was like, 'I'm pitching good and I'm one of the best setup men,' I felt like, at the time, and coming off two sub-2.00 ERAs two seasons in a row.
"I was like, 'Really, all they got was a Double-A third baseman for me?' After the fact, Bagwell is looking back and going, 'You've got to be kidding me? I'm going to the Hall of Fame and all they got was this 40-year-old reliever for me?' It kind of goes hand in hand. We joked about it, we laughed about it, but it's all been good for me, and I'm sure for him going into the Hall of Fame is good for him, too."
Andersen wound up facing Bagwell five times, allowing one hit, walking him once and striking him out twice. He hasn't spoken to Bagwell since the career Astro was elected in, but he has a message for the soon-to-be Hall of Famer.
"I would love to tell him congratulations and thanks for keeping me relevant," he joked.
MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- begins with MLB Tonight Sunday at 11 a.m. CT, followed by the ceremony at 12:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, MLB Network will televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 10 a.m., featuring Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (the 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."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.