The BBWA revealed its Hall of Fame voting results on Tuesday, and, for the second year in a row, just one player got elected: third baseman Scott Rolen.
Rolen received 76.3% support in his sixth year on the ballot, joining Fred McGriff in this year’s class of new Hall of Famers. Renowned as one of the best defensive third basemen of all time—and certainly of his era—he won eight Gold Glove awards during his 17-year career with seven All-Star appearances.
Perhaps as a result of deriving much of his value on defense, Rolen was something of an under-the-radar superstar during his career, even with Hall of Fame credentials. With that in mind, here are a few things you might not have known about Cooperstown’s newest resident.
Rolen began and ended his career against the Cardinals
Rolen suited up for four different franchises during his career, but he’s perhaps best remembered for his exploits as a Redbird. Four of his seven All-Star nods came while playing for St. Louis, and he won his only World Series ring with the Cardinals in 2006. He logged his most games with the Phillies (844), followed by St. Louis (661), the Reds (330) and the Blue Jays (203).
But though he didn’t start or end his career as a Cardinal, he did both against the Cardinals. Rolen debuted with the Phillies on Aug. 1, 1996, playing in both legs of a doubleheader against St. Louis. He went a combined 1-for-7 with a walk, a double and two strikeouts. His final regular season game came on Oct. 3, 2012, with Rolen’s Reds losing 1–0 at Busch Stadium. Cincinnati made the postseason that year, bowing out to the Giants in the NLDS. But it’s fitting that Rolen’s career was bookended by games against the franchise he once starred for.
Rolen turned down a Division I basketball scholarship after being drafted in 1993
Given the jaw-dropping athleticism he displayed with his many highlight reel-worthy plays at third base, perhaps it’s not a shock that Rolen’s talents were not limited to the baseball diamond. But it might be a surprise to learn that, as a high school senior, Rolen was the runner-up in Indiana’s prestigious Mr. Basketball award voting in 1993. His talents on the hardcourt earned him a scholarship to play basketball at Georgia, though he ultimately decided to forego his commitment after the Phillies took him in the second round of the 1993 MLB draft.
Don’t worry about young Rolen’s trophy case, though: He was voted Indiana’s Mr. Baseball.
Rolen is the last third baseman to win National League Rookie of the Year (sort of)
This one’s only half true. Since Rolen won the award in 1997, three others have received the honors while primarily occupying the hot corner: Albert Pujols (’01), Ryan Braun (’07) and Kris Bryant (’15). But all three later shifted to other positions, with Pujols moving to first base and Braun and Bryant shifting to left field, so Rolen is the last permanent third baseman to pull off the feat. Rolen now also the most recent Rookie of the Year winner to be elected into the Hall of Fame, winning the award one year after Derek Jeter in ’96.
Rolen is in rarified company when it comes to aging third basemen
Over the course of 17 seasons, Rolen played in over 17,000 defensive innings. Every one of them came at third base. His elite defense allowed him to stick there for so long, but his bat also aged like fine wine. He hit .285/.358/.497 in 2010 at age 35, the season in which he won his final Gold Glove award. With an OPS+ of 125, Rolen is one of just 10 MLB third basemen since the start of the 20th century to post an adjusted OPS that high at that age while playing in at least 100 games at the hot corner. Only one player has pulled that feat off since: Adrián Beltré, who did it twice (’14 and ’16).
Rolen’s World Series resume is a testament to his perseverance
Like any player, Rolen’s career—as successful as it was—was not without struggles. Perhaps no stat shows his resilience quite like this. Rolen appeared in two Fall Classics during his career: 2004 and ’06, both with the Cardinals. In his first trip, he went a whopping 0-for-15 as St. Louis was swept by the Red Sox. He more than made up for it two years later, going 8-for-19 with four extra-base hits as the Cardinals won their first World Series title in 24 years.