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Palmeiro's made enough noise to enter Hall of Fame

July 03, 2005|by MARK KELLER / Sports Editor

He's not flashy.

He's never started an All-Star Game.

He doesn't endorse "hip" products, like Nike or Coca-Cola. He's a Viagara man, thank you.

Rafael Palmeiro has proven that it's possible to hit 563 home runs in relative obscurity.

And maybe that's part of what makes him great.

In an age when players work more on their home run celebrations than on their swings, Palmeiro keeps chugging along, closing in on 3,000 hits and climbing up the career home run list.

Let the others pound their chests and kiss the sky. Palmeiro has a job to do.

He just goes out and hits ... and hits ... and hits.

As Palmeiro has seen his career winding down in the last two years, one question has been asked repeatedly: Does he belong in the Hall of Fame?

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The easy answer is yet another question: How can he not go into the Hall of Fame?

When Palmeiro reaches 3,000 hits, likely sometime before the All-Star break, he will join Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Eddie Murray as the only players with 3,000 hits and 500 homers.

He's driven in over 1,800 runs, scored 1,650 and is a lifetime .289 hitter.

Save the argument that Palmeiro has played a portion of his career primarily as a designated hitter. That didn't keep Paul Molitor - another deserving player - out of the Hall of Fame.

And Palmeiro has played more at first base in recent years than he has as a DH, anyway. He won three straight Gold Gloves at first base from 1997-99.

Palmeiro never won a batting title. He never led the league in home runs or RBI.

It shouldn't matter. As the headline above reads, Palmeiro's career numbers are loud and clear. They can't be argued or debated.

Besides that, does he not have the sweetest swing you've ever seen in baseball?

Without a doubt, Palmeiro has earned his place among the greats of Major League Baseball today. And five years after he retires, he'll take his rightful place in the Hall of Fame along with the rest of the game's all-time greats.

-- Speaking of the Hall of Fame, I haven't yet given up hope on Pete Rose one day being inducted in Cooperstown.

I know the chances are slim, at least any time soon. But every now and then, something happens that gives me hope.

If you'd have told me a year ago that David Gilmour and Roger Waters would take the stage again as Pink Floyd, as they did Saturday, I'd never have believed it.

Once again, there's proof that hell does sometimes freeze over.




Mark Keller is sports editor of The Herald-Mail. His column appears on Sundays. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2332, or by e-mail at keller@herald-mail.com>

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