Torii Hunter may be one of the most beloved former Angels in the history of their franchise so we wanted to pull some of our greatest hits from our old Blog into one column to reminisce a true fan favorite.
Let's start off with David Saltzer's piece, titled - Torii Hunter, my favorite Angel followed by Coral Marshall's Torii Hunter: A True All-Star. David Saltzer catches up with Torii Hunter in an interview (video) while he was promoting the Pepsi Max Field of Dreams and finally Brian Waller wraps it up in his All Good Things Must Come to an End article on Hunter.
Enjoy some of our finest through the years on one of our favorite all-time Angels.
Torii Hunter, My Favorite Angel
By David Saltzer - AngelsWin.com Senior Writer
August 4th, 2010
Years from now, Angels fans might look back on August 3rd, 2010 as the day the Peter Bourjos era began. He is a speedy, dynamic, defensively gifted outfielder who may become an integral part of the Angels’ future. But for me, I’ll remember the day as the day Torii Hunter became my favorite Angel player on the team.
No one likes getting older. When I close my eyes, I don’t picture myself as the person I am standing in front of the mirror. I picture myself as the person I was in my prime, about 10 years ago—the guy with the full head of hair, who could bench a lot more, and who weighed a bit less.
I’m just a few years older than Torii, so it’s not too hard for me to relate to the aging process. While my prime may have been a lot better than I am today, it never will come close to the athleticism that Torii had in his prime. Heck, my prime couldn’t touch his worst. So, it must be much harder for Torii to witness the inevitable toll that time takes on us all.
When Torii Hunter, a nine-time Gold Glove winner in centerfield to agreed to move to right field so that Peter Bourjos could take over center, it took a lot of humility on his part. Torii said "I didn't sleep for three, four days. I prayed about it, thought about it . . . I think we need to do something different.”
I’m sure that this decision didn’t come over easy for Torii. He’s a highly skilled, highly paid, and highly liked player. He’s vocal about what he thinks the team needs in order to win. He is the team’s de facto captain. He didn’t need to make this move. And yet, he did it. Rather than fighting it, he embraced it. In an era of mega-egos, Torii, the face of the franchise, owned the decision to take a back seat to the kid. "This is my decision. This isn't their decision." By stepping aside, he made the team better and gave the team its best shot to win.
As an Angels fan, I want to see the best players on the field playing their hardest every day. I want to see the players playing with passion—running out every play as if it were their only chance to win a spot on the field. I want the players playing selflessly, not selfishly. But more importantly, I want to see the Angels win. I want to see the players doing whatever it takes to win it all—even if it comes at the expense of their individual goals.
"I could say I want to go for that 10th Gold Glove . . . But sometimes you've got to slap pride in the face and all that individual stuff – the Gold Glove stuff – you can let that go . . . All I care about is winning, I need a ring. I've been to the playoffs seven times and haven't won anything. I haven't been to the World Series yet, not even to lose . . . If this makes the team better, I'm going to do it."
With those words and with his actions on the field, Torii showed me that his passion to win is as great as my passion to see the Angels win. He wants to win a ring as badly as I want to see them win another championship. He willingly put aside his personal goals to see the team win some bigger goals. As a fan, I couldn’t be more grateful to have him as a player.
Baseball teaches a lot of life lessons. Sometimes it says in order to win you have to swing for the fence and hit a home run—the ultimate individual achievement. But other times, it also says, in order to be a winner, you sometimes have to lay down a sacrifice. Over the years, I’ve seen Torii hit a lot of homers but I can’t recall ever seeing him lay down a bunt—until today. By moving aside for Bourjos, Torii laid down a perfect sacrifice for the team.
Ever since Tim Salmon retired, I’ve been asked by many people “who is my current favorite player on the team?” And, while there are plenty of good players to like, I haven’t had a clear favorite until now. Today I’m proud to say that Torii Hunter is my favorite current Angels player. He is the ultimate and rare champion—one who plays with a selfless passion to win.
Torri Hunter: A True All-Star
By Coral Marshall - Angelswin.com Columnist
May 18th, 2009
For someone who has won the Gold Glove for eight consecutive seasons, Torii Hunter is a guy who doesn't get much credit when it comes to the All-Star Game. Sure, a career .273 batting average with about 25 home runs a year are not the numbers one expects from an All-Star outfielder (think Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle or Ted Williams). Instead, Hunter's overall numbers are more akin to former Angel Fred Lynn, an All-Star who didn't make it to the game for the last seven seasons of his career. (He too averaged 25 homers a year and a .283 batting average, only .010 higher than Torii's.)
But the All-Star Game isn't about comparing the past with the present; it is about electing who is most deserving in the early months of a season to a game that not only celebrates the players who have done the best so far, but also determines which league gets home field advantage in the World Series. This should not be about fans only electing big name players, or players from their favorite team, yet it inevitably comes down to that; evidenced by the fact that fans are not allowed to vote for pitchers, perhaps even more telling is the election of David Ortiz to play first base when games are in National League parks and designated hitters are not used. But fans of the game of baseball should instead vote for the players who will give them the best game possible, especially since each team is required to have at least one player represented on the roster.
If the Angels are to have only one player on this roster, Torii Hunter is most deserving this season. This isn't to say that Mike Napoli and others have not stepped up to the plate metaphorically, but rather that Hunter has exceeded all expectations in Vladimir Guerrero's absence. While Napoli, Gary Matthews Jr., Bobby Abreu, Juan Rivera and the rest of the team have really come through in the trying times the Angels have faced with this season's injuries, Hunter has displayed the fielding and batting expertise necessary to hold the team together, which does not even include his clubhouse presence — which one can deduce from player interviews keeps everyone in good spirits.
Instead of making the All-Star Game a who's who of baseball, fans should work to honor those who have made a difference on the field and carried their team to this point in the season. Torri Hunter has become a prime example of this. His defense is unmatched, as shown by the aforementioned Gold Gloves, and not to mention his almost nightly appearance on baseball highlight reels. And to be honest, the numbers don't lie — Hunter has a perfect fielding percentage so far this year; that means no errors.
His offense has been impressive so far this season, too. Before Sunday's game, the Angels had a total of 27 home runs this season, of which Hunter had hit 9; that's one-third of the total for the team. (Is anyone else reminded of Babe Ruth in the 1920s by that kind of percentage?) His total ranks him No. 10 in the AL. His at-bats-per-homer ratio is an impressive No. 10 in the league, as well. With 14-plus position players in a game like the All-Star Game, where players are likely to only get one or two at bats for the entire game, this is a highly important statistic. The fewer at bats, on average, it takes for a player to hit a home run the more likely in any game (let alone a game that they will more than likely not bat the minimum three times) they are to do so, increasing the odds of scoring at one time rather than having to put together a rally. While his batting average may not have him on any leader boards before Sunday's game, he was batting .317 this season (an entire .029 points higher than his highest single season average), and more importantly his .611 Slugging Percentage ranks him ninth in the American League, while his 1.012 On-Base Plus Slugging percentage puts him at eighth.
Hunter has not only stood out amongst the Halos this year, but amongst the entire league. Who knows, with these numbers, maybe by the end of the season this will become a petition for an MVP instead of an All-Star Game bid.
Promoting the Pepsi Max Field of Dreams, AngelsWin.com got a chance to interview 9-time Gold Glove winner Torii Hunter.
August 2nd, 2011
All Good Things Must Come to an End
By Brian Waller - AngelsWin.com Columnist
Nov 6th, 2012
All good things must come to an end, and it appears as though fan favorite Torii Hunter’s days in a Halo’s uniform have come to an end; with the door only slightly cracked for the mayor of “Toriitown” to return. After signing a 5 year $90-million deal with the Angels on November 22, 2007 Hunter seemed like the perfect fit for the team. Sure his contract was a little on the pricey side and sure he didn’t appear on paper as the “impact” player the team had been seeking the previous season or so but none the less the marriage seemed perfect; it was consummated at a Del Taco after all.
From afar, I think we all could agree that Hunter was and is the type of player that any fan would love to have on their team. The former 1st round pick of the 1993 amateur draft spent 9 full seasons in Minnesota where he made two All-Star appearances and compiled 192 home runs, 711 rbi’s, swiped 126 bases all while hitting .271 with a .793 OPS. Perhaps Hunter’s most impressive attribute on the field was not his offense, but what he did defensively. In those same 9 seasons with the Twins, Hunter racked up 7 Gold Glove awards and proved himself to be one of the best defenders in Major League Baseball.
As an Angel fan I can honestly say I was pleased with the signing at the time and figured he would be a great addition to the team both offensively and defensively. What I didn’t take into consideration however was the impact Hunter would have on the Angels’ clubhouse as well as the Southern California community. Through the years Hunter has contributed to many charities including his own, the “Torii Hunter Project Education” Initiative, which provides college scholarships to students in California, Arkansas, Nevada and Minnesota. Hunter is also very involved in a partnership with Major League Baseball to help maintain and improve baseball diamonds in inner cities as well as the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the “Big Brother” program. In 2009 Hunter was acknowledged for his hard work in the community and charitable services when he was presented with the Branch Rickey Award; an honor bestowed upon those in the MLB that go above in beyond in the community and who show excellence in charity work.
Hunter became something the Angels hadn’t had since Tim Salmon retired; a face of the franchise. Hunter became the voice of the clubhouse, someone who from afar, seemed to put the team on his shoulders when needed and handled the media when things got rough. He was the cheerleader in the off season reaching out to players to sign with the Angels; players like Carl Crawford, C.J. Wilson, etc. As a fan it was both enjoyable and refreshing to see a player so passionate about his team he would take to Twitter and other media outlets to entice free agents to done Angels red; even though it didn’t always work out. Hunter’s leadership qualities really became apparent when he voluntarily moved from center field to right field in 2011 to make room for a speedy Peter Bourjos and eventually Mike Trout. Rather than show bitterness and shun the up and coming players, Hunter took his years of knowledge and helped teach the youngsters because he knew it was best for the team. When you really take a step back and realize that a player who had won nine consecutive gold gloves in center field during his career made such an unselfish move you really appreciate just what type of player and person Hunter is.
Hunter would go on to become a solid contributor to the Halos on the field. He won his 8th and 9th Gold Glove awards while with the Angels and also won the only Silver Slugger award of his career in 2009 (thus far). Hunter made the All-Star team twice; most notably in 2010 when the All-Star game was hosted at the “Big A”. Although injury prevented Hunter from participating in the All-Star game it still gave the fans a tremendous sense of pride having one of their own and the face of the franchise voted in to the annual summer classic. Hunter would go on to hit 105 hr, 432 rbi’s, steal 60 bases and hit .286 with an .814 OPS during his 5 year stint in Anaheim; numbers that are not necessarily “eye popping” but again, his value cannot be measured in mere stats.
Watching a fan favorite change teams is never easy, it’s all most like a break up of sorts with the Angels telling Torii “it’s not you….it’s me”. Although both sides may appear to part ways amicably there always will be lingering feelings due to just how intermingled the two were due to Hunter being the face of the franchise. We all have our favorite “Torii moments” and although it is easy to get wrapped up and attached to players we do need to realize it is a business. Hunter has intangibles that can’t be given a stat and won’t show up on the back of a baseball card; how important those intangibles are remains to be seen. The Halos will most likely find out in 2013 what life is like without Hunter and hopefully the dollars saved are worth his absence and will be put to good use.