We all hoped he would play forever. Like Yankee fans with Mantle, or Red Sox fans with Teddy Ballgame. Like him or not, Jeffery Robert Bagwell was the embodiment of the Houston Astros franchise.
He was a true professional in every sense of the word. His work ethic never questioned, his skills rarely matched and his love of the game always evident each time he took the field.
Don’t confuse modern day Bagwell with the “Bags” that we all remember. Too many people are doing that.
What other people remember, is the injured barely able to throw a ball, much less hold a bat, Bagwell. They think of the Bagwell unable to hit monstrous home runs, make diving plays in the field, steal bases or turn a 3-4-3 double play.
These are the very things that true Astro fans will remember.
Who can forget the 1994 season? Two things stick out, the players’ strike, and the play of Jeff Bagwell. In that short 110 game season, he not only hit .368 with 39 homers and 116 RBI’s; he also snagged a gold glove. Making him one of only nine players in National League history to win the MVP and Rookie of the Year award (which he won in 1991).
Let’s remember the Baggy that is the Astros all-time leader in home runs (449) and RBI’s (1,529). He also has four All Star appearances and is the ONLY first baseman in baseball history to have over 400 home runs and 200 stolen bases.
And of course the injury, who can forget. That right shoulder was the Kryptonite to our very own Superman. Watching him battle was inspiring, and at times, depressing. It seemed that it just could not, or would not, get better. Late nights in the training room, and long orthopedic sessions were not enough to bring him back.
So now we say goodbye. How do you properly send off someone as treasured as a Jeff Bagwell? Retire his jersey? Of course. Astro Hall of Fame? No Doubt. A trip to the Hall of Fame is almost certain. All of these are standards.
Owner Drayton McLane has stated that he “would love” for Bagwell to remain a part of the organization.
That’s it. Bring him back. Let him know that he is always welcome in the organization. Let alone the bars, restaurants, shopping malls, even your homes. Don’t let him forget that he will always be an Astro. Assure him that Houston is always his home.
From me and millions of Astro fans, thank you Baggy.