Sunday, July 1, 2007

Mike Hargrove Calls It Quits!

Seattle Mariners manager Mike Hargrove has resigned his position effective today. The former manager of the Cleveland Indians (from 1991 through 1999) stated that his “passion has begun to fade” for baseball as the reason for his resignation.
It is bitter—sweet to see Hargrove retire for Cleveland Fans. From 1995 through 1999, the Indians dominated the American League Central Division, winning the division all 5 seasons. Hargrove took us to our last two World Series appearances in 1995 and 1997. As a player, he was a career .290 hitter with 80 home runs and 686 RBI in 1666 games. He was the 1974 American League Rookie Of The Year and a 1975 All Star. Hargrove was referred to as the “Human Rain Delay” for his deliberate routine at the plate before each pitch, stepping out of the batter's box after each pitch and starting his routine, which consisted of adjusting his helmet, adjusting his batting glove, making sure it was tight on his hand and especially the thumb, pulling each sleeve on his uniform up about an inch, and wiping each hand on his uniform pants before finally settling in the box.
He may have lost some passion for baseball, but it didn’t show this year as he was pretty much responsible for rescheduling the snowed-out opening day game at Jacobs Field this year. In that game, he aquired the nickname of "Human Snow Delay!" He always was a fierce competitor vs. his old team and appeared to be very focused on victory.
Mike Hargrove was extremely talented in building a strong lineup that became a powerhouse for most of the 90’s. His late inning offensive and defensive substitutions were sometimes psychic as his Indians delivered some of the most dramatic victories that seem to still echo in the hallows of Jacobs Field to this day. No one was better at guessing when an opposing runner would attempt to steal second base. Grover would call for a pitch out and catch the runner flatfooted and out.
However, there were times when Hargrove appeared to be losing his passion even back then. 90% of his job was in preparing his team for games but the long haul of the season took a toll on Hargrove and it became apparent near the end of his managerial career with Cleveland. I had a feeling and an indication that Hargrove was fading again and made a joke in this blog back in April that he wouldn’t make it to the All Star Break.
Good luck to Mike Hargrove and his family. He and his wife Sharon made an impact in Cleveland with some great charity work and they continue to do so. Hargrove should be remembered in Cleveland sports for being the engineer that built the Indians back up from the early 90’s non-contenders to where they are now through patience, determination, and innovation.

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