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Hitters Hall of Fame to add MLB greats Irvin and Carew

The friends will be inducted next month.

By KEITH NIEBUHR
Published January 16, 2004

CITRUS HILLS - Sugarmill Woods resident Monte Irvin found out last summer he would be inducted into the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame in February, but now comes the bonus.

He's going in with a pal.

Irvin, 84, will be enshrined at the Feb.15 ceremony with fellow Baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew, the museum announced.

"It's exciting," Irvin said. "We met at various baseball functions through the years, and he's a good friend. We like to talk baseball. We like to talk about hitting."

Dennis Eckersley, a 2004 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, Luis Tiant and the late Smokey Joe Wood will be inducted into the pitchers' wing. Other honorees include: Tampa Bay outfielder Rocco Baldelli and Mets first baseman Jason Phillips (top rookies); Toronto first baseman Carlos Delgado and St.Louis outfielder Albert Pujols (Splendid Splinter Award for best hitter in each league).

"We're really excited," said Dave McCarthy, museum executive director.

Irvin moved to the county in 1984 with Dee, his wife of 61 years. For years, he has donated items to the Key Training Center, which provides daily living, social skills, job training, residential services and life-sustaining care for the developmentally disabled.

"It's a high honor," Irvin said. "Anything connected to Ted Williams I want to be a apart of. And since I live here, it's that much nicer."

In eight major-league seasons, during which he often battled injuries, Irvin hit .293, blasted 99 homers and drove in 443 runs, all respectable numbers in the era. In 1951, his best year in the majors, Irvin batted .312 and led the league with 121 RBIs while helping spark the Giants to the World Series. They lost to the Yankees, but Irvin hit .458.

He was even better in the Negro Leagues.

Irvin batted a career-best .422 in 1940, then led the league the next year with a .396 average. He won the batting title in 1946 (.401) and hit .400 or better three times, receiving four All-Star berths.

"Monte really has a special place in our hearts," McCarthy said. "He's a huge piece of baseball history."

Carew, who retired in 1985, is a member of the 3,000-hit club.

"He's one of the great hitters of all time," McCarthy said. "He always got a clutch hit when you needed it."

For ticket information, call (352) 527-6566.

- Keith Niebuhr can be reached at 860-7337 or online at niebuhr@sptimes.com

[Last modified January 16, 2004, 01:33:00]


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