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07/30/09 8:18 PM ET
Duo to be inducted into club Hall of Fame
Rangers to honor Sierra, Harrah prior to Saturday's game
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Leo Durocher was the one who coined the term "five-tool player" when referring to Willie Mays as a guy who could run, throw, field, hit and hit for power. The Rangers will honor a couple of five-tool players when Toby Harrah and Ruben Sierra are inducted into the club's Hall of Fame in ceremonies before Saturday's game against the Mariners. Sierra was recognized as a five-tool guy from the moment he was brought up from the Minor Leagues in 1986. But Tom Grieve, longtime Rangers player, executive and broadcaster, said Harrah was right there as well. "Toby was talented, a five-tool athlete," Grieve said. "He could run. He could throw, he had one of the top 10 arms in the league. He played three different positions and played them all well. When he first came up, people didn't think he would hit for power but he did. This guy could dunk a basketball flat-footed. He was a great ping-pong player. He was just a great athlete and a tremendous competitor." There was never any doubt about Sierra. "Ruben really could do it all," former Rangers catcher Jim Sundberg said. "Hit for average, power, could run and throw; early on a five-tool player. He was very impressive with a bright future." Harrah and Sierra will be the eighth and ninth players inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame, which was established in 2003. They will join Sundberg, Nolan Ryan, Charlie Hough, Buddy Bell, Ferguson Jenkins, John Wetteland and Rusty Greer. Also in the Hall of Fame are former manager Johnny Oates, broadcaster Mark Holtz and Tom Vandergriff, the former Arlington mayor who was instrumental in getting the franchise to move from Washington, D.C. Harrah followed the Rangers from Washington. Undrafted out of high school, Harrah signed with the Phillies in 1966 and was stolen a year later by the Senators in the Minor League Draft. He made his Major League debut on Sept. 5, 1969. He became a regular for the Senators as their shortstop in 1971. When the Rangers moved to Arlington in 1972, Harrah was their first All-Star. An injury kept him from appearing in the game that year, but he would be selected as an All-Star three more times during his career. He was an All-Star shortstop for the Rangers in 1974 and '76, then moved to third base when Bert Campaneris was signed as a free agent. Harrah responded by hitting .263 with 90 runs scored, 27 home runs and 87 RBIs. "He was a tough player," Royals All-Star second baseman Frank White said. "He played the game hard and he played the game right. I remember one time he was turning a double play and Hal McRae didn't slide into second base. He didn't get down and Toby's throw hit him right in the helmet." Harrah was traded to the Indians for Bell after the 1978 season. But he returned to the Rangers for his final two seasons in '85 and '86. The Rangers looked at him as a utility infielder, but he ended up as their regular second baseman and set a club record with a .432 on-base percentage. The record stood until Milton Bradley broke it last year. "Toby had an amazing season," Grieve said. Harrah retired after the 1986 season. By then, the Rangers had another star on the rise. Sierra made his debut on June 1, 1986, against the Royals in Kansas City and hit a two-run home run off Charlie Leibrandt in his second at-bat. A star was born in Arlington. "He's probably as gifted a player as we've had," Grieve said. "The thing I enjoyed the most was watching him run: scoring from first on a double or hitting a triple. He was an exciting player to watch." The offense was special. Offensive numbers exploded all over baseball around the time the Rangers moved into the Ballpark in 1994. But Sierra's '89 season may have been the best all-around campaign by a Rangers player in old Arlington Stadium. Sierra hit .306 with 101 runs scored, 35 doubles, 14 triples, 29 home runs, 119 RBIs and a .543 slugging percentage. He led the league in triples, RBIs and slugging percentage, and finished second to Milwaukee's Robin Yount in the Most Valuable Player voting. "He's a guy who was dangerous as a switch-hitter," Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. said. "At one point, he was one of the most feared hitters in baseball, from both sides. I don't think his average was extremely high, around .270 or .280, but he was dangerous with the bat. He always seemed to drive in the key runs when his team needed them. That was the one guy you didn't want to see at the plate with a runner or two on, up by one run or down by one run. He was capable of putting a game out of reach and putting his team ahead." Sierra, after an equally great season in 1991, was one of three players traded to the Athletics on Aug. 31, 1992, in exchange for Jose Canseco. Baseball historian Bill James wrote, "I wouldn't trade Ruben Sierra for 10 Jose Cansecos." The Hall of Fame ceremonies begin at 6:30 p.m. CT on Saturday. From 5-5:45 p.m., members of the Rangers Alumni will be signing autographs on the main concourse between home plate and third base.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.