Angels induct World Series team into HOF
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Angels brought back their past Saturday night, and it couldn't have come at a better time.
Their current team is struggling. The season is slowly beginning to slip away. So why not honor the 2002 World Series champions and see if something rubs off?
On the 10-year anniversary of their first and only title, the Angels brought back 27 players and coaches, lined them up on the infield at Angel Stadium and inducted them as a group into the team's Hall of Fame.
There were plenty of shared memories and group hugs, but it was also worth noting that most of the members of this season's team were lined up on the dugout steps to watch, and perhaps to appreciate the moment.
"The guys on this team will get something out of seeing that team," said manager Mike Scioscia, "but with the understanding that you have to climb your own mountain."
That's a good description of the 2002 team, which endured a 6-14 start, earned its playoff berth through the wild card, then lost the first game of each of its postseason series. It even rallied to beat the San Francisco Giants in a seven-game series after being on the brink of elimination in Game 6.
Certainly, the first part of that sounds like the present Angels, who also started 6-14 but have yet to establish themselves as a playoff contenders.
"Their in a fight for their life right now," said David Eckstein, the shortstop on the '02 club. "It's a do-or-die situation in the sense that all these games are very big and they're trying to find a way to get into the playoffs. That was kind of like us.
"At the time there was a feeling of whether they were going to keep our club together because of the way we started. Then we turned it around and finished like we did. I see a lot of those characteristics in this club. I expect them to battle back."
Players wore their team jerseys and were introduced individually by FOX Sports West broadcaster Victor Rojas to roaring ovations. Also on the field were Hall of Famer Rod Carew and Jackie Autry, the wife of former owner Gene Autry. A jersey with the No. 50 rested on the seatback of an empty chair in memory of longtime coach Jimmie Reese.
Among the members of the '02 team who attended were Eckstein, Tim Salmon, Darin Erstad, Troy Glaus, Benjie Molina, Garret Anderson and Troy Percival. Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon, a coach on Scioscia's staff, and catcher Jose Molina, who backed up Benjie Molina, were also on the field.
Players emerged from the Angels dugout as they were introduced, although Scott Spiezio ran onto the field from the right-field stands where his pivotal home run landed in Game 6.
There were a lot of memories to share and a lot of times to remember. And they seemed to enjoy every moment.
"It's why we play," Erstad said. "I've always felt that individual accomplishments mean zero. Do they pour champagne on people's heads for individual accomplishments? Do they dog pile for individual accomplishments? No, they do it for team stuff. To be on top of that mountain at the highest level is pretty powerful and something I'll never forget."
Current Angels outfielder Mark Trumbo, who was born in Anaheim and attended Villa Park High School, said he attended one playoff game that year but also spent a number of games sitting in the right-field stands watching Salmon, his idol, play.
He was 16 years old at the time, and the Angels were a team he could relate to.
"That was my type of team, a bunch of scrappy guys," he said. "They were household names but not mega-superstars of the game. They were guys that went out there and played the game the right way, hard-nosed baseball. They kind of had a chip on their shoulder. They got their foot in the door in the playoffs and just ran with it."
Asked if the Angels could use a little of that 2002 karma, Trumbo said, "I think we probably could. I think that would be just what the doctor ordered right now."