OXNARD, California -- In 1941, the Santa Barbara Saints defeated the Anaheim Aces, 7-3, in what would be the first of many California League games. Since that day, thousands of players and personnel have appeared in the league with more than 2,600 making it to the Majors.
To honor those players and individuals who have helped make the California League one of the premier circuits in Minor League Baseball, the league is announcing the second class of the Cal League Hall of Fame.
The five honorees below will be inducted during the All-Star Game in Visalia, California on June 20, 2017. There will be a pregame ceremony followed by the game between All-Stars from the North and South Divisions.
Dave Duncan - Dave played for the Modesto Reds in 1966 and hit .271 with an amazing 46 HRs and 112 RBIs. He played 11 seasons in the Major Leagues before moving on to a stellar coaching career. As a pitching coach, he developed 4 CY Young Award Winners (LaMarr Hoyt, Bob Welch, Dennis Eckersley, and Chris Carpenter). He also won World Series Titles in 1972 (player), 1989, 2006, and 2011. He is also the father of current Visalia manager, Shelley Duncan.
Doug Harvey - Doug was a Major League umpire for 30 years and umpired in 5 World Series, 6 All-Star games, and 9 National League Championship Series. He was nicknamed "God" by the players because of his strict focus on the rules of the game. Harvey was ranked as the second greatest umpire in history, according to the Society for American Baseball Research, behind only Bill Klem. In 2007, Referee magazine selected him as one of the 52 most influential figures in the history of sports officiating. He began his professional umpiring career in the Cal League in 1958 and umpired in the League for the 1959 and 1960 seasons before moving up to Triple-A. The Cal League is the only League in MiLB to honor its umpires. The Doug Harvey Award is an annual award going to the League's best umpire.
Tony La Russa - The World Series winning manager played for the 1966 Modesto Reds. He is one of the most successful managers in Major League History and won World Series Titles in Oakland and twice in St. Louis. He has the 3 rd most wins in MLB history as a manager (2,728) and was inducted into MLB's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 2014. While in Modesto, Mr. La Russa hit .291 with 20 doubles and 18 stolen bases.
Mike Piazza - The former NL Rookie of the Year came up through the Los Angeles Dodgers system as a player for the 1991 Bakersfield Dodgers. After his Rookie year in 1992, Piazza went on to be named an All-Star twelve different times. He also holds the record for highest batting average by a catcher (.362). During his time in Bakersfield, Piazza hit .277 with 29 HRs, and 80 RBIs. He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 2016.
Kirby Puckett - Kirby was inducted in MLB's Hall of Fame in 2001. The 12-year veteran outfielder for the Minnesota Twins played for Visalia in 1983. A lifetime .318 hitter, Mr. Puckett made the All-Star team 10 times and was a 6 time Gold Glove recipient. While in Visalia, Puckett hit .314 with 97 RBIs. He also won 2 World Series Titles with the Twins.
Only those not currently active players were eligible to be selected to the Cal League Hall of Fame.
"The League is extremely proud to announce the selection of these five individuals to the Hall of Fame," said Cal League President, Charlie Blaney. "From former Rookies of the Year to perennial All-Stars to world class managers, coaches, and umpires, this class represents the diversity of legends that have made this league so great over the years."
The Cal League Hall of Fame is a virtual one on the league website: californialeague.com. The new class will be available to view on the day of the induction ceremony, June 20, 2017.