Scott Rolen, Hall of Famer
Scott Rolen wore No. 17 for the Phillies. He’s now No. 18 on the list of third basemen in the Baseball Hall of Fame, just the ninth elected by the BBWAA. Among all positions, third base has the fewest legends. He’ll be inducted in Cooperstown during the July 21-24 weekend.
Of the 18 HOF third basemen, the Phillies have two who wore their uniform -- Mike Schmidt and Rolen -- and both were second-round Draft picks. George Brett was also a second-rounder (29th overall by the Royals) in 1971; Schmidt went 30th overall.
Of the 18, Rolen’s one of two who never played any other position -- all 17,479 1/3 innings were at third base. Frank (Home Run) Baker played 13,845 innings there in his 13-year American League career that began in 1908.
Rolen’s career was 17 years in The Show, of which the first 6 1/2 were with the Phillies, his longest stint with one team. In addition to the Phillies (1996-2002), he played in St. Louis (2002-07), Toronto (2008-09) and Cincinnati (2009-12). He logged the most games with the Phillies (844), followed by the Cardinals (661), Reds (330) and Blue Jays (203).
“The Phillies taught me how to play the game,” said Rolen. “My six years in Philadelphia, I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. It taught me who I was as a player and what I was going to do for them, how I was going to work, no matter where I went.”
At 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, he was an impressive athletic figure, agile and strong, strong both physically and mentally. He was always aggressive, whether at the plate, in the field or on the bases.
"The highlight of my Hall of Fame career was the first day I got called up in the Major Leagues and I watched my parents walk into the stadium,” said Rolen. “I choked up on the field and had a hard time finishing the inning."
“Hardest part of the game,” he said. “You’ve got to work and figure it out.”
Batted .281/.364/.490 with 2,077 hits, 316 home runs and 1,287 RBIs ... One of only 35 players with at least 2,000 hits, 300 homers and 500 doubles. Became 22nd of that group in the HOF ... Among HOF third basemen, his 517 doubles rank fifth; 316 home runs, sixth ... He hit 20 or more home runs in 10 seasons; 30 or more, three seasons ... 100 RBIs, five times; 100 runs, twice... 2002 Silver Slugger Award winner ... He hit between 25 and 34 homers in each season, 1998-2004 ... Lifetime, .281 vs. RHP; .282 vs. LHP ... In wins, .318; in losses, .240 ... Pinch-hitting, .400 (8-for-20). Designated hitter, never.
Highest career slugging percentage among HOF third basemen: Chipper Jones (.529), Schmidt (.527), Eddie Mathews (.509), Rolen (.490).
“I took pride in defense and baserunning,” Rolen said. “I thought those are two aspects that I could really contribute on a daily basis on the field."
Rolen recalled attending his first Major League camp with the Phillies in 1996 and being ordered by coach John Vukovich to report to the field before the sun rose to take ground balls.
“He said, ‘Kid, be there at 6.’ We went out there and he, as much as anybody, taught me how to work. He made me work hard. It wasn’t a choice. I didn’t have a choice to work hard. He worked as hard as I did, and he’s sweating and he’s hitting balls. It was nonstop. We just did it over and over and over, and he took a real interest in me. He taught me different defensive fundamentals that I just didn’t know about. Widened my stance. Put my glove in a certain spot. The learning curve was so fast, because he was just right there with me the whole way. He spent so much time with me.”
Most Gold Gloves, third base: 16, Brooks Robinson; 10, Schmidt and Nolan Arenado; 8, Rolen.
“Learned the importance of going first to third in the Phillies' Minor League system,” said Rolen. “Baserunning is your character. Took a lot of pride in making it an offensive weapon. ... I saw myself as a 245-pound rumbling, bumbling guy that was going to try to kill the second baseman to break up a double play and be announced as a big guy that runs pretty well.”
NL Rookie of the Year (1997) ... Topps All-Star Rookie Team (1997) ... All-Star seven times (2002-2006, 2010 & 2011) ... Eight Gold Gloves (1998, 2000-2004, 2006 & 2010).
Basketball and baseball star at Jasper (Ind.) High School ... Senior year, “Mr. Baseball” in state of Indiana ... All-State in basketball, averaged 26.9 points per game with 9 rebounds as a shooting guard during his senior year ... Offered multiple basketball scholarships. Committed to the University of Georgia, but changed his mind when the Phillies drafted him in the second round. Credit scout Scott Trcka.
Off The Field
“The E5 Foundation is a nonprofit organization created by Major League Baseball player Scott Rolen. In 1999, Scott had a vision to bring smiles to the faces of children and their families who are dealing with an illness, hardship or other special needs. The E5 Foundation works to achieve Scott’s vision through T.E.A.M field trips and “once in a lifetime” family weekends at Camp Emma Lou, our outdoor recreational retreat near Bloomington, Ind.”
In an interview on MLBN, Scott mentioned there are four log cabins named Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Reds. Kids wore uniforms of those four teams.
After getting the call from the Hall, Scott, wife (Niki), daughter (Raine) and son (Finn) celebrated along with his brother’s family. Before heading for his parents’ home, Finn asked, “I know you are busy dad, but could we have a catch?” Dad obliged. “It's 30 degrees here, and it's gonna snow about 12 inches tomorrow, and my son and I were in the driveway playing catch about 10-15 minutes after we got the phone call,” said Rolen. “So that's going to be a pretty special memory when I get to stop and think about it all.”