Baerga, Hart to join Indians Hall of Fame
GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — They were a major part of Cleveland’s baseball rebirth — the steady second baseman and the architect.
Carlos Baerga and John Hart helped make history with the Indians, and they’re linked again.
Baerga, a three-time All-Star whose acquisition in a trade with catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. sparked Cleveland’s rise to an AL power, and Hart, the crafty general manager who got the Indians to two World Series in the 1990s, were named Wednesday as the newest members of the club’s Hall of Fame. They will be inducted on June 22 during a ceremony before the Indians host Minnesota at Progressive Field.
“This is special,” said Baerga, working this spring as an infield instructor at training camp. “There were so many great moments I had with the Indians. I never thought I would even make this team as a utility guy. But when I did, from that day on, it was magic.”
Baerga was one of the key members of those brash Indians teams in the mid-1990s who piled up runs and wins while leaving pitchers in their wake. With Kenny Lofton, Baerga, Alomar, Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome, the Indians could intimidate an opponent simply by showing up. They were fearless and fearsome.
“How I hit third in that kind of lineup, I don’t know,” Baerga said. “Every time we stepped on the field, we thought we would win. And it wasn’t just the nine starters. Our bench was unbelievable.”
Baerga led the Indians in hits four times, and in 1992-93, he became the first second baseman since Rogers Hornsby (1922) to have consecutive seasons of 200 hits, 20 homers and 100 RBIs.
Hart was Cleveland’s GM from 1991 to 2001. In that span, the Indians went 870-681, won two AL pennants and in 1995 made it to the World Series for the first time since 1954.
He was a special-assignments scout working with GM Hank Peters in 1989 when the Indians acquired Baerga and Alomar from San Diego for slugger Joe Carter, a deal that accelerated Cleveland’s resurgence after decades of futility.
“The trade for Sandy and Carlos really jump-started the organization,” said Hart, who has spent the past few years working as an analyst for MLB Network. “When I heard I was going in with Carlos, I thought, ‘this is really appropriate.’ We had a good run.”