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Hall of Fame

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Class of 2013

Andy Van Hekken 2000

Van Hekken pitched for the Whitecaps in 2000, putting up impressive numbers that still rank among the team's finest in its 19-year history. His 16 wins that season is tied with Jon Connolly's 16 in 2003 as the team record for wins; and he still ranks in the top 10 in team records for winning percentage (.727, 8th), ERA (2.45, 8th) and strikeouts to walks ratio (3.41, 10th).

A third-round draft pick by the Mariners in 1998, Van Hekken made his major league debut on September 3, 2002, for the Tigers, throwing a complete game shutout for a victory against the Cleveland Indians. He made five major league starts that month, going 1-3 with a 3.00 ERA in 30 innings pitched. He played in the minor leagues for the Tigers for the next two seasons, then spent the next two years with the farm systems of the Braves, Reds and Royals. In 2008 he signed with the Astros and played mostly for their AAA team for four seasons. He then signed with the Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization before the 2012 season.


Class of 2012

Ben Grieve '95

Grieve was the Whitecaps' first high-profile player, in 1995, after being the parent club Oakland A's first-round draft pick a year earlier. The outfielder was just 18 when he played for the Whitecaps, hitting .261 in not quite one full season. He rose through the ranks quickly, and broke into the Major Leagues with the A's in late 1997. In 1998, he hit .288 with 41 doubles and 18 home runs, was named to the American League All-Star Team, and won the American League Rookie of the Year title. He remained with the A's for two more seasons before being traded to Tampa Bay. He also played for the Brewers and the Cubs before wrapping up his big-league career in 2005 with a career .269 batting average in nine seasons.


Ramon Santiago '00

Santiago earned mid-season and post-season Midwest League All-Star honors for his performance in 2000 with the Whitecaps. He missed most of August due to a shoulder injury, but was still named as the best defensive shortstop in the league by Baseball America and finished the season with a healthy .272 batting average. He quickly moved up the ladder and made his Major League debut with the Tigers in May of 2002. That season he was named to the TOPPS Rookie All-Star Team. Santiago was traded to the Mariners in 2004, then re-signed with the Tigers two years later. He remains with the Tigers as a veteran player and is known as one of the best defensive shortstops in the Major Leagues.


Matt Walbeck '04-'06

Walbeck managed the Whitecaps for three years, from 2004 through 2006. He made a quick jump to a managerial career from a Major League playing career; he spent 10 years as a catcher in the majors from 1993 to 2003, building a career .233 average with the Cubs, Twins, Angels and Tigers. He spent his final two years with the Tigers before moving directly into his first managerial role with the Whitecaps in 2004. He led that squad to a Midwest League Championship as a rookie manager, then won the league championship again two years later, in 2006. He was named Midwest League Manager of the year in both 2004 and 2006. Walbeck posting an overall 238-181 record with the Whitecaps. He then was promoted to AA Erie, where he was named Eastern League Manager of the Year in 2007. In 2008 he was named third base coach for the Texas Rangers; the following year he returned to the Minor Leagues as manager of the AA Altoona Curve (Pirates). He won his fourth Manager of the Year honor in six years of managing in 2010, leading Altoona to the Eastern League Championship. In 2011 he managed the A Rome Braves (Atlanta) for the first half of the season before leaving the organization due to philosophical differences.


Class of 2011

Joel Zumaya '03

Zumaya was a starting pitcher for the Whitecaps in 2003, at just 18 years old. He posted a 7-5 record with a 2.79 ERA, recording 126 strikeouts and just 38 walks in 90.1 innings pitched, and was named to the Midwest League All-Star Team. He broke into the majors as a relief pitcher for the Detroit Tigers in April 2006; that season he struck out 97 with only 42 walks in 83.1 innings pitched, logging a 6-3 record and a stellar 1.94 ERA. Zumaya is known for his fastball speed, which regularly tops a blistering 100 mph. He recorded a speed of 104.8 on a radar gun in a playoff game on Oct. 10, 2006, which was the fastest pitch ever recorded in MLB history. That record was broken by Aroldis Chapman of the Cincinnati Reds, who hit 105 mph on Sept. 24, 2010. Unfortunately, Zumaya has been plagued by injuries throughout his major league career; he has appeared in no more than 31 games per season since 2006. When healthy, Zumaya is known as one of the premier setup men in the game and one of the most exciting pitchers in the game because of his pitch speed.


Ramon Hernandez '96

Hernandez, a native of Caracas, Venezuela, played on the 1996 Midwest League Championship team before breaking into the major leagues with the Oakland A's in 1999. While with the Whitecaps, the catcher hit .255 with a team-high 12 home runs and 68 RBI (second highest on the team), with 69 walks and only 62 strikeouts in 447 at-bats. His outgoing personality, in addition to his power hitting and team leadership skills, made him a fan favorite in West Michigan. Hernandez has gone on to a 12-year major league career, amassing 1,211 hits and 149 homers with a career .265 batting average. He has played for Oakland (1999-2003), San Diego (2004-2005), Baltimore (2006-2008) and Cincinnati (2009-current). Hernandez was named to the American League All-Star Team in 2003 while with Oakland. In 2010 he recorded the highest batting average of his career, a .297 average in 97 games with the Reds. He is known as a solid-hitting catcher with a steady defense and a stellar ability to mentor young pitchers.


Heather Nabozny '94-'98

Nabozny was the first head groundskeeper in Whitecaps history, overseeing the playing surface that would earn raves from players and managers alike from 1994 to 1998. In March 1999, she became the first female head groundskeeper in Major League Baseball history when she was hired by the Detroit Tigers. Her first year with the Tigers was their last in Tiger Stadium; the following year the team moved to Comerica Park and its brand new field supervised by Nabozny. In addition to her duties with the Tigers, she was hand-picked to be part of the grounds crew for the Super Bowl in 2004 and has served at several Super Bowls since then. In 2006 the Michigan State University sports turf management graduate was named to Crain's Detroit Business 40 under 40 list of Detroit's most promising successful young businesspeople. Her attention to detail, work ethic and love of her work has made her one of the most highly respected experts in her field. The Whitecaps Hall of Fame will now have seven members, as this class joins 2008 inductees pitcher Francisco Cordero (1997), first baseman/catcher Robert Fick (1997) and catcher Brandon Inge (1999), and 2009 inductee manager Bruce Fields (1997-2000).


Class of 2010

Bruce Fields '97-00

Fields managed the Whitecaps from 1997 through 2000, compiling an impressive four-year record of 331-220. He was a two-time Midwest League Manager of the Year and won the league championship in 1998. In three of his four seasons, the Whitecaps posted the league's best record, including the astounding 1997 season when the team had the best record in all of professional baseball at 92-39 (.702 winning percentage).

After his stint with the Whitecaps, he went on to manage the AAA Toledo Mud Hens for two seasons, then joined the Detroit Tigers as hitting coach from 2003 to 2005. Before his coaching career, he played 13 seasons in the Minor Leagues (mostly in the Detroit organization) and appeared in 58 Major League games with Detroit and Seattle from 1986 to 1989.


Class of 2009 (Inaugural)

Brandon Inge '99

Brandon Inge played catcher for the Whitecaps in 1999, hitting .244 with 54 runs, 86 hits, 25 doubles, nine home runs and 46 RBI and 15 stolen bases. He was named as the best defensive catcher in the Tigers farm system by Baseball America with a .990 fielding percentage, 703 put-outs and only five errors. He was a leader on and off the field and gave much of his free time to community appearances.

Inge has played his entire eight-year Major League career with the Tigers since his debut in April 2001. He posted career highs of 27 home runs and 83 RBI in 2006, and hit .353 during the 2006 World Series. Inge has played catcher, third base and outfield during his career and is considered one of the best defensive third basemen in the American League.


Robert Fick '97

Robert Fick came to the Whitecaps in 1997 as a backup catcher. However, due to an injury to another player, Fick was able to play first base and had one of the best seasons a Whitecap has ever had. Fick helped lead the Whitecaps to their best regular season record by hitting .341 with 16 home runs and 90 RBI. That season, he was named a Midwest League All-Star as well as the League’s MVP. Fick owns 12 Whitecaps single-season records including batting average, hits, longest hitting streak, runs and doubles.

Fick played 10 Major League seasons with the Tigers, Braves, Devil Rays, Padres and Nationals and was named to the 2002 American League All-Star team. He is also remembered for recording the last hit ever at Tiger Stadium when he belted a grand slam off the Royals’ Jeff Montgomery in the 8th inning.


Francisco Cordero '97

During the 1997 season, pitcher Francisco Cordero had one of the most dominant seasons ever by a Whitecaps reliever. He amassed a 6-1 record with 35 saves, 67 strikeouts and a 1.00 ERA in 54 innings pitched. That season he set a Whitecaps single-season record for saves and had a streak of 23 1/3 innings without giving up an earned run while being named the Tigers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Cordero has played 10 seasons in the Majors with the Tigers, Rangers, Brewers and Reds. He was an All-Star in 2004 and 2007 and has recorded 30 or more saves in four of the past five seasons.

If you would like to nominate someone for the Whitecaps Hall of Fame please send your nomination along with a brief explanation to playball@whitecaps-baseball.com.