I’ve always heard that it’s not the destination that matters, but the journey. I figured out a few years ago that this wasn’t in reference to my daily commute, but to those achievements and events that really make differences in people’s lives. The journey is what shapes how we look at whatever goal was ahead of us in the future, and how we look back at those in the past. Most of the time this is right.
But yesterday we all got to witness a time when it was the destination, and not the journey that made all the difference. Jim Rice is a Hall of Famer. It took fifteen years of balloting, the most that was possible, but it doesn’t matter whether he got in on the 15th try or the first (like Rickey Henderson, who went in with him), just that he is in.
For the last twenty years, Jim Rice has been a statue. He couldn’t do anything to improve the numbers which include three seasons of 35 HR, 100 RBI and 200 Hits (the only player in Major League History to do that). In his MVP season of 1978, he lead the league in HR, RBI and triples. As impressive as those stats are, they haven’t changed one bit over the past fifteen ballotings for the Hall of Fame, or the five years before that. The journey, and how long it took, don’t really matter anymore.
Yesterday, Jim Rice entered the Hall of Fame. It took way too long, and the journey got harder year after year. But as we watched Jim Ed speak on that podium at Cooperstown, the years melted away and we could see the man who walked away twenty summers ago after having dominated the American League for a decade. We saw the smile that I grew up loving, and pitchers learned to fear, and we saw one of our own enter the final stop on his journey, one in which he will be enshrined forever. And where he ended up is what really matters.