COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — On Hall of Fame weekend, Phillies broadcaster and former reliever Larry Andersen got himself into the conversation.
During the induction ceremony Sunday at the Clark Sports Center, one of the lighter moments came when Jeff Bagwell mentioned Andersen in his induction speech. On Aug. 30, 1990 Bagwell, then a double-A third baseman, was traded from the Boston Red Sox to the Houston Astros for Andersen, then a 37-year-old relief pitcher.
That trade paved the way for Bagwell's Hall of Fame career. Bagwell was inducted Sunday along with players Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez and Tim Raines, executive John Schuerholz, and former commissioner Bud Selig.
During the season after the trade in 1991, Bagwell reached the majors, moving to first base. He played his entire 15-year career with the Astros.
Andersen? He helped the Red Sox make the playoffs, but after that, the deal became known as one of the more one-sided trades in baseball history.
"I got traded and I asked who I got traded for and they said Larry Andersen — and I said, 'Who is Larry Andersen?'" Bagwell said Sunday. "They said he is a relief pitcher for the Astros and a really good one.
"Larry used to always get on me when I went to Philadelphia and say, 'Hey, man, you've got to step it up. People are not actually talking about me anymore,'" Bagwell added. "And I was like, yeah, OK. So I do the best I can and play my entire career, Larry. OK, I am here: Is that good enough for you?"
The laughter followed, but afterward in a brief post-ceremony news conference, Bagwell was serious in his praise when asked whether Andersen would get off his back now that he mentioned him.
"He is going to be so happy right now," Bagwell said. "I can't give him a higher honor than that, but he deserves it. He is one of the true great people in this game."
In a recent interview at Citizens Bank Park, Andersen said he has enjoyed being linked to Bagwell since that trade.
What is lost in the deal is that Andersen was a vital cog as the Red Sox made the playoffs in 1990. He sported in a 1.23 ERA in 15 games covering 22 innings. The Red Sox won the AL East by two games. After that season, Andersen signed with San Diego as a free agent.
"A lot of people said we wouldn't have gotten in the playoffs [without Andersen], but that gets put on the back burner and that is understandable, because you have a guy in the Hall of Fame versus somebody helping just to get in the playoffs," Andersen said.
Andersen said he and Bagwell have had a lot of fun talking about the trade over the years. He recalled a time when the two were out having drinks after a Houston game in Philadelphia late in Bagwell's career when Andersen offered to buy.
"As we were walking to the counter, he throws a $100 bill down," Andersen said. "He said, 'Look do you realize you made me about $130 million, I think I can handle this round.' "
Andersen saw the reasoning.
"I couldn't argue with that, so he got the next round and probably most subsequent rounds," Andersen said.
Bagwell didn't know anything about Andersen before the trade, but Andersen also had no clue about Bagwell. And at the time, Andersen was insulted that Houston received what he thought was a piddling amount for him.
"I was like, that is all they got back, a double-A third baseman for me and I am pitching back-to-back years with a sub-2.00 ERA?" Andersen said.
Andersen said he couldn't have been happier when Bagwell was named to the Hall of Fame.
"That is a special place and should only be for guys who cared about winning, guys who played the game right and respected the game the way he did," Andersen said. "So in all truthfulness, I appreciate him going into the Hall of Fame for that more than I was traded for him."