ST. LOUIS — In St. Louis, picking a favorite baseball player when you were a kid was a big deal. Being the baseball city it is, our town wasn't short on options, regardless of the generation you grew up in.
For kids growing up in the same era as me, the mid-2000s, it was a smorgasbord of choices.
Sure, you could take the obvious route and be an "Albert kid". But everybody was an "Albert kid". That was easy. He was the best player in baseball. You could go the Jim Edmonds route. He definitely provided the flair in center field. Or maybe that trademark Chris Carpenter intensity was your calling card. How about Yadi? Nothing like getting in on the ground floor of one of the greatest Cardinal careers anyone would ever see.
But I always thought the smartest kids in town were the ones rocking the No. 27 Scott Rolen jerseys. Rolen definitely wasn't the flashiest, as he would attest to himself, but nobody was going to out-work him.
On Tuesday, Rolen finally became a National Baseball Hall of Famer, garnering 76.3% of the 75% he needed for induction on the BBWAA ballot.
It may have taken a while, but all those kids who were rocking the No. 27 jerseys circa 2005 finally get their day to say, "See, I told you so!"
Almost once a night, Rolen would do something at third base that would make you audibly say, "wow." In the field, he moved like a lion stalking his prey. At the plate, he kept his swing as compact as his 6-foot-4, 245-pound frame would allow it. And rounding the bases on a home run trot, he was going to set the land-speed record.
When he was playing, I was never concerned with the question: "Is Scott Rolen a Hall of Famer?" He was just a guy I wanted to emulate in my own, limited ability. But after he closed the book on his career, and the numbers started to show just how dominant he was, I made it a personal mission to tell everyone I know why Scott Rolen was a Hall of Famer.
And I did it as often as I could.
I get to stop reminding them of that now. The plaque in Cooperstown will do all the talking for me.