Gil LeBreton

Michael Young formally takes his place in Rangers’ Hall of Fame

Special to the Star-Telegram

In the end, the trade went down like this:

On July 19, 2000, Texas traded pitcher Esteban Loaiza to the Blue Jays, and Toronto sent the Rangers reliever Darwin Cubillan, plus a man who would become their bedrock, the face of their franchise, for the next 13 seasons.

Not a bad deal.

It seems almost embarrassingly perfunctory, this idea of formally inducting Michael Young into the Rangers Hall of Fame. His picture, along with Nolan Ryan’s and Pudge Rodriguez’s, should already be hanging above the door.

As former teammate David Murphy said before Friday’s Hall of Fame luncheon, “This is about as obvious a decision as there is.”

Young’s statistical accomplishments are all over the team record book — most games, most hits, most total bases, and on and on. More importantly, though, he became the team’s captain, its conscience, its benchmark for how to play the game.

“He’s got a career full of superlatives,” Murphy said. “He was the ultimate player, the ultimate team guy both on the field and off. He was the ultimate philanthropist, the guy in the clubhouse, the team leader.

“Michael is the type of guy, player and personality wise, that you want to build your team around, and that’s what the Rangers did. It was a huge reason why we were successful during the 2009-2012 years of his career.

“I never realized how important team chemistry was until I was on some of those teams, and he was the focal point of all of it.”

Loaiza ended up pitching for seven more big league seasons and won 126 games. He even won 21 in 2003 for the Chicago White Sox.

But it’s safe to say that the best thing Loaiza did in his three years with the Rangers was entice Toronto to give up its then-23-year-old second baseman who was playing for the Double-A Tennessee Smokies.

Michael was called up by the Rangers on May 25, 2001, and promptly became a fixture in a lineup that included Pudge, Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Rusty Greer and Ruben Sierra.

Somehow, nine years would pass before the franchise would reach the World Series for the first time. Murphy was right to cite the importance of team chemistry.

Young sees it himself now in his role as special assistant to general manager Jon Daniels. He understands the problem of having to balance the club’s future with the urgency to win now.

“There’s a lot of things to consider, a lot of layers, when you get close to a trade deadline,” Young said. “I can see now where a GM wants to sign guys, develop them and see them become the player they should be in our uniform.

“As a player you don’t really think about that. You only think about what kind of player he is now, because you think our job is to win now, and I completely understand that.

“It’s been definitely a learning process for me to see the other side of this.”

Expect Michael’s speech Saturday night to be short, he said.

“Knowing me, I’ll want to say my thanks, sit down and watch the game for nine innings because that will be the highlight of my night,” he said.

“But I am going to try to soak it in and remember the great times I spent here, because there were tons of them. I’m just very appreciative and humbled by this honor.”

Under Michael’s watch as leader of the clubhouse, the Rangers were transformed from afterthoughts to contenders. He said he remembers how exciting it was to drive to the stadium during the 2010 playoffs and see fans tailgating in mid-afternoon.

It seems almost unnecessary to formally welcome him into the franchise’s Hall of Fame.

He’s belonged for years.

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