Feb. 27, 2008
Providence, RI - Brown Hall of Famer Bill Almon '75 has been named a candidate for the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock, Texas. The only Ivy League athlete to be chosen first overall in a professional draft when he was chosen by the San Diego Padres with the first pick of the 1974 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, Almon was named Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year by The Sporting News in 1974. He is one of 54 players and 19 coaches on this year's ballot.
Almon left Brown owning 13 of 19 game, season, and career records. An All-State performer at Warwick Vets High, Almon was considered the finest high school baseball prospect in Rhode Island since World War II. He had offers from all but two major league teams and passed up a $50,000 bonus from San Diego to enroll at Brown. He lived up to every one of his press clippings during his freshman year, batting .536 and leading the Cubs to a 10-2 season. He could run, hit for both average and power, and field with the best of them. On top of this Almon had a good baseball head.
He was All-Ivy and All-EIBL in both 1973 and 1974 and was named College Baseball Player of the Year in 1974 after batting .350, knocking in 31 runs, smashing 10 home runs, and stealing 20 bases in 21 attempts. "Billy Almon had the best range and arm of any college shortstop I've ever seen," says Woody Wordsworth, his college coach. "Billy was one of the rare ones who could make the great play consistently."
An all-around athlete, Almon led the state in scoring and was an All-State selection in his senior basketball season at Vets high. He then played on Brown's 18-2 freshman basketball team of 1971-72. In June of 1974, Almon was the number one draft pick of the San Diego Padres and was assigned to their farm club in Hawaii for two years of seasoning. He came up to the majors as the regular shortstop for the Padres in 1977, playing with the Padres, Expos, Mets, White Sox, Athletics, Pirates, and Phillies before retiring in 1988 after 15 seasons. His best professional season came in 1981, when he hit .301, tops among Major League shortstops, and was voted Most Valuable Player on the White Sox by Chicago's sportswriters. He also finished 19th in the MLB Most Valuable Player voting that season.
The members of the 2008 College Baseball Hall of Fame class will be announced in late February or early March once all the ballot have been tallied and the results verified. Those selected will join previous inductees including coaches Skip Bertman of LSU, Jerry Kindall of Arizona, Cliff Gustafson of Texas and the late Rod Dedeaux of USC, and players Dave Winfield of Minnesota, Jim Abbott of Michigan, Will Clark of Mississippi State and Derek Tatsuno of Hawai'i.
To be eligible for the College Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, players must have completed one year of competition at a four-year institution and made an All-American team (post-1947) or an All-League team (pre-1947) and or earned verifiable national acclaim.
The 2008 inductees will be honored on July 4 as part of the College Baseball Foundation's annual celebration of both the past and present of college baseball from July 2 through July 4 in Lubbock.