Though Jimmy Rollins hasn’t talked too much about becoming the all time hit leader for the Philadelphia Phillies, it clearly means a lot to him and to the city of brotherly love. The only thing he has really stressed about breaking the record is how much respect he has for the long time leader Mike Schmidt and how he wants to break it at Citizens Bank Park in front of the home crowd that he has professionally grownup in front of over the years.
It is very rare in today’s sports world, full of free agency and multi million dollar contracts to see an average player play his entire career for one team, let alone a star player. Growing up in Oakland, California, Rollins was drafted by the Phils in the second round in 1996 and hasn’t looked back since. Being a superstar and cornerstone of this franchise, he was faced with many opportunities to test the free agency water and potentially join a better ball club, but has remained loyal to this city.
At times fans and ownership has gotten on him about his lack of hustle but how often do you see a 20 year relationship without any problems? We have all witnessed the ups and downs of being a Phillies fan (and for those of you who aren’t familiar, believe me it’s been a roller coaster ride) but one thing that has always been a constant has been Jimmy Rollins anchoring down our middle infield. Whether it be flashing the leather and twisting an inning ending double play or leading off an inning with a base hit and swiping second base. Whenever the lineup cards are being exchanged before the first pitch you knew Rollins would be at the top of the lineup, penciled in at shortstop.
Playing consecutive 162 game seasons since 2000 at a high level can lead to some pretty impressive accolades. Rollins always had a knack for the dramatic, being responsible for some late inning fireworks and many clutch walkoffs. Playing on some subpar Phillies teams in the early 2000’s (to put it nicely), Rollins stuck through the whole building process and was crowned a world champion in 2008 at the pinnacle of his career. The team has since then returned to its below average record, being at the bottom of the league in runs scored, but Rollins will forever be remembered as the lead off hitter and igniter of one of the most feared offenses in baseball for about a four year span.
14 years after his major league debut with the Phillies, Jimmy Rollins recorded his 2,235th hit of his long, successful career. He did it against the Chicago Cubs on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in South Philadelphia. In the 132-year history of the Phillies franchise, only one player had as many hits (2,234): Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, considered the best third baseman to ever play the game.
Now the only question left is how much longer can he go? At 35 years old, there is no question he is still playing at a high level, making all the plays in the field and still setting the table at the top of the order with some pop in his bat. With at least 2 or 3 solid years of baseball ahead of him one thing is for sure, when he decides to hang em up for good his record will stand for a very, very long time. Schmidt was arguably the most beloved Philadelphia athlete of all time and when it’s all said and done, Rollins will have certainly reserved a special spot in their hearts as well.
[Photo: AP Photo/Chris Szagola]