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Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Kenny Rogers talks about honor, regrets

By Richard Durrett

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Kenny Rogers will become the newest member of the Texas Rangers Baseball Hall of Fame in an induction ceremony on Aug. 6.

Rogers pitched in more games than any other player in club history over the course of his 12-year career in Texas, the longest tenure of any pitcher. He is the Rangers’ all-time leader with 528 appearances and second with 133 wins and 1,909 innings, third in games started at 252 and strikeouts at 1,201. The left-handed pitcher went to three All-Star Games with Texas (1995, 2004-05) and won three Gold Gloves (2002, 2004-05). He joins an elite group of Rangers that includes pitchers Nolan Ryan, Charlie Hough and Ferguson Jenkins in the club’s Hall of Fame.

“My first thought is that I don’t belong there,” Rogers said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday to announce his selection. “Those names are up on a pedestal to me. I was fortunate to play with Nolan for a few years and watch and learn and understand what he did. Charlie was a fantastic teammate and Fergie coached with us for a while. Those guys were true Hall of Fame representatives. I never thought I’d be included in any kind of way with those guys in that caliber.”

But Rogers admitted that he had some regrets about his final season in Texas. Much of that stems from his outburst with a couple of camera operators on June 29, 2005, which included an injury to Larry Rodriguez of KDFW. Rogers wrestled Rodriguez’s camera away from him twice and ended up kicking it. Rodriguez was taken to a local hospital with injuries and Rogers was sent home by the club. Rogers later apologized and appealed Major League Baseball’s 20-game suspension. It was reduced to 13 games and he was fined $50,000. The club decided not to offer him arbitration after the season and he finished his career with the Detroit Tigers.

When asked Wednesday if he regretted the way he departed, Rogers said, “I think anybody would.”

“I’m not perfect in any way, shape or form,” Rogers said. “If I had known then what I know now, I would make different choices. I am who I am. I’m an emotional guy. I think people saw I was by myself on that pitcher’s mound and I was still a maniac.

“I’m aggressive. I’m emotional. I’m hyper. I think that benefitted me in a lot of ways to become a pitcher that lasted this long. But you live and learn. I never stop learning. Whatever times I’ve been through that were tough, when I got through them I was better.”

Rogers shared a few memories of his time with the Rangers, noting that pitching in Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and with some tremendous firepower in the lineup, he could give up three or four runs and win games. He recalled the calm that he felt on July 28, 1994, when he pitched his perfect game in Arlington against the Angels. It was the 11th perfect game in history and the first for an American League left-hander.

Rogers said he felt comfortable the whole night and was in a groove.

“I never had one millisecond of a negative thought through the whole game,” Rogers said. “That is an accomplishment in itself. I have multiple thoughts that aren’t conducive to success whether it’s golf or any sport. But in that game I was right where I needed to be. That’s what sticks with me the most is the focus and the complete control of what I wanted to do. My concentration level was so good. It’s extremely hard to get there. Luckily, I was able to stay in it as long as possible.”

Rogers joins the Hall of Fame for the club that drafted him in the 39th round of the1982 draft out of Plant City High School in Florida. He was an outfielder in high school and spent seven seasons in the minors before making the big leagues as a reliever in 1989. He pitched in various bullpen roles before becoming a full-time starter in 1993.