Simply Baseball Notebook: Cover Stories

Palmeiro Trudges On

October 2004

Rafael Palmeiro Quietly Plays On


When you’ve played as long and accomplished as much as Rafael Palmeiro has, you can’t be blamed for being a little moody or indifferent while playing out the string with a non-contending team. This fact quickly became apparent to one reporter in September, when he discovered that not even a little blue pill could get Palmeiro interested in participating in a conversation.

"It’s been alright, I wish we were playing better," the 19-year-veteran quickly quipped when asked about his first season back in Baltimore.

Even the questions about the milestones he has reached and is currently approaching have grown tiresome to the four-time All Star. "It hasn’t sunk in yet," Palmeiro said of his accomplishments. "I’m sure when I’m done; I’ll be able to reflect on it."

When asked what it is like leap-frogging some of the games’ most legendary names on the career homerun list, the 40-year-old patronizingly and robotically stated, "It’s nice to pass big names, but that’s not what my focus is on right now."

One name however, did cause the future Hall of Famer to pause and elaborate, if just for a moment, "That was big, a big name," Palmeiro said of Mickey Mantle, who he passed on the all time homerun list earlier in the season. "That’s a guy I heard about growing up over the years. He was my dad’s favorite player."

Although he’s yet to reach career hit number 3,000, the subject seemed to bore the native Cuban, "It’s hard not to (think about it) -- I’m getting close to it." Palmeiro explained. "The media brings it up all of the time."

By the time the Hall of Fame came up, Palmeiro was so disinterested that he pulled his hat over his eyes. "Same thing, same thing – the media brings it up all of the time," he grunted.

When asked if he deserves induction, an irritated Palmeiro snapped, "That’s not for me to decide."

The fact that there is even a debate about Palmeiro’s Hall of Fame credentials is ridiculous. As of September 22, the slugging first baseman was tied with Mike Schmidt for 10th on the career homerun list with 548 and stood just 88 hits shy of 3,000. Only Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Eddie Murray have eclipsed both the 500 homerun and 3,000 hit plateaus. Anybody with those numbers is a lock, case closed.

While his future in Baltimore is in doubt, (he is currently in a one year contract with a team option of $4.5 million for 2005), Palmeiro seems committed to playing in 2005 and beyond. "I haven’t determined that yet," he said when asked about retirement. "I will evaluate myself at the end of the season and I’m sure I’ll play a couple of more years."

Whenever Palmeiro does decided to hang it up, he insists he will be at peace with the decision. "I just want to play the game hard," the former Cub and Ranger commented, "give it everything I got and whatever I end up with is the best that I can do."

-David Zingler

Palmeiro's page @ Baseball-Almanac.com

Palmeiro's page @ BaltimoreOrioles.com


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