2018 Hall of Fame Ballot Features Five Former Knights
On Monday, November 20th, the National Baseball Hall of Fame revealed its 2018 ballot. The ballot features five former Knights — three newcomers (Jim Thome, Livan Hernandez, and Carlos Lee) and two holdovers from past years (Manny Ramirez and Curt Schilling). The results of the election will be announced at 6 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, live on MLB Network.
Let’s talk a look at the three newcomers to the ballot:
Jim Thome: 1993 Charlotte Knights
In 1993, Jim Thome made his mark on the International League. That season, Thome helped lead the Knights — who were in their first season as a Triple-A franchise— to win the Governors’ Cup. Although Thome was promoted to Cleveland before the end of the season, his numbers were remarkable.
During that special 1993 season as the Triple-A affiliate of the Indians, Thome paced the Knights’ offensive with a .332 average, 25 home runs, and 102 RBIs. For his impressive numbers that season, Thome earned the International League’s MVP award.
The talented slugger went on to have a tremendous major league career. He hit 612 career home runs in the majors, which currently ranks eighth all-time. He was a five-time All-Star and finished in the “Top 10” in MVP voting four times.
In 2016, Thome, along with his long-time manager, Charlie Manuel, were inducted into the Charlotte Baseball Round Table of Honor at the Triple-A Baseball All-Star Game in Uptown Charlotte. Thome, who works in the Chicago White Sox front office, has frequented BB&T Ballpark over the past few years. He’s one of the best guys you will ever meet and more than worthy of a first-ballot Hall of Fame nod.
Livan Hernandez — 1996–97 Charlotte Knights
In 1995, at the young age of 20, Livan Hernandez, a successful baseball player from Cuba, defected to the United States in search of a job in Major League Baseball. He got one with the Florida Marlins — signing with the club in 1996.
The 6’2″ right-hander, who was a hot commodity, and talk of the baseball world, pitched for the Charlotte Knights in 1996.
That season, Hernandez posted a 2–4 record with a 5.14 ERA in 10 games for the Knights. His presence on the mound, along with his defection from Cuba, brought much hype to the Knights and Minor League Baseball.
A year later (1997), Hernandez improved in Charlotte and posted a 5–3 mark with a 3.98 ERA in 14 games for the Knights.
In June of that year, Hernandez, who already got a taste of the Majors in 1996 (appeared in one game), joined the Marlins for good. He excelled at the Major League level in 1997 and would later finish in second place of the National League Rookie of the Year voting.
In 17 starts for the ‘Fish that year, Hernandez posted a 9–3 record and a 3.18 ERA. More importantly, he helped lead the club into the World Series for the first time in franchise history.
Hernandez was sharp in the postseason, especially in the World Series — winning both Game 1 and Game 5. His solid pitching helped give the Marlins a World Series win over the Cleveland Indians. For his efforts, Hernandez was named World Series MVP.
Over the years, Hernandez proved to be one of the most reliable pitchers in the game. He tossed 200 innings or more 10 times over a 12-year period. The other two years he tossed 199.2 innings pitched. He won 178 games over his big league career.
Carlos Lee — 1999 Charlotte Knights
Before Carlos Lee slugged 358 home runs at the major league level, the Panama native made a brief stop with the Knights. He shined for the Knights.
During the team’s first season as the Triple-A affiliate of the White Sox in 1999, Lee appeared in 25 games as a 23-year-old and hit .351 (33-for-94) with four home runs and 20 RBIs. As for the Knights that season, they won the Governors’ Cup and Lee played a brief part in that.
2018 Hall of Fame ballot