Jimmy Rollins remembers going to Oakland Athletics games as a kid, sitting on the first-base line with his dad and witnessing the sheer size of Mark McGwire.
"Is that how big you've got to be to hit a home run in the big leagues?" Rollins recalled thinking.
Rollins never grew to 6-5 or became the standard physically imposing slugger, but he grew into a skill set and mindset that made him one baseball's best players during his peak.
And now, nearly 15 years after winning NL MVP, he is part of the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for the first time along with Ryan Howard.
"It means we both were sent home at the same time," Rollins joked to Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic Tuesday.
"It's definitely cool. We haven't talked or texted about it much, but when I saw those images up there, I was like, wow. That was a pretty special time that we got to spend together in Philadelphia."
Rollins' 2007 season was historic. He had at least 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases, an accomplishment that occurred only three other times in the history of baseball, by Curtis Granderson the same year, Willie Mays in 1957 and Frank Schulte in 1911.
His 778 plate appearances that year are still the major-league record.
His 139 runs scored and 20 triples that year are still the most by any NL player since.
His 88 extra-base hits that season are fourth-most in the NL in the last 15 years, behind only Albert Pujols, Nolan Arenado and Matt Holliday.
But, of course, one year doesn't get you in. Did Rollins have a long enough peak?
"MLB's eyes were on us for a number of years there. You knew who you had to deal with," Rollins said. "But numbers, I'm not certain. Honestly, I don't know where they stand and compare to where others were, but what I do know is that I helped turned that organization into one that other teams around the league had to live up to," Rollins said. "We had a good team, I said a couple of magic words, put pressure on us, and all of us lived up to the hype and brought a championship home."
Those magic words, of course, were "team to beat," the phrase uttered by Rollins ahead of the 2007 season. Six months later, they chased down the Mets after by trailing by seven games with 17 to play. They won the World Series a year later, and a year after that were right back in the Fall Classic.
When it comes to Rollins' Hall of Fame case, Barry Larkin is an interesting barometer. Larkin was inducted in 2012 with 86% of the vote.
Larkin had better rate stats than Rollins, most notably a batting average 31 points higher (.295 to .264). But Rollins, despite playing two fewer seasons, had more doubles, more triples, more homers, more stolen bases, more runs scored and more Gold Gloves.
"I'm not going to aspire to be average. I wanted, at the end of the day, to be compared to the best," Rollins said. "As of now, I'm on the ballot, so hopefully it all works out. But I achieved that dream of comparing myself to the best."
Voting results are revealed on January 25.
Check out the full Rollins interview on the Mike Missanelli Show here.
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