The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

January 24, 2014

Forbes proud of accomplishments entering Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame

A quote from former Major League Baseball player P.J. Forbes has been passed around local social media circles as a source of inspiration.

“I am sure when I graduated from Colgan at 5-foot-9 and 128 pounds, the last thought on anyone’s mind was that he’s going to play in the major leagues,” Forbes said.

But the Pittsburg, Kan., native and St. Mary’s-Colgan graduate went on to have quite the baseball career. Forbes helped the Wichita State Shockers win the College World Series in 1989 and played more than 13 years in professional baseball, which was highlighted by stops in the majors with the Baltimore Orioles and the Philadelphia Phillies. After ending his playing career in 2002, Forbes has managed in the minors for the past 10 years.

Not a bad resume for a scrawny kid from southeast Kansas.

This weekend, Forbes adds another accomplishment to his impressive biography.He will be inducted into the Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday at Hillside Christian Church in Wichita. Other inductees are Cowley College coach Dave Burroughs, the 1954-55 Boeing Bombers and former major leaguer Pat Meares. George Dockins, Marvin Truby and Jerry Webster will be inducted posthumously.

The inductees will be joining an historic hall of fame that started in 1939 and includes such legends as Walter Johnson, Joe Tinker and Satchel Paige.

“It’s just a great honor,” Forbes said. “I know Kansas isn’t necessarily thought of as a baseball hotbed, but many great players are from Kansas. I’m honored to be a part of that historic group.”

Forbes will be the third Pittsburg native to be inducted into the hall, joining former St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Browns infielder Don Gutteridge and former Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Bill Russell.

“When I was a kid, Bill was someone everyone in the area looked up to,” Forbes said. “I started learning more about Don as I got older. We’ll always be talked about as the three guys from Pittsburg. But I obviously didn’t accomplish anything close to what those guys did.”

Forbes was a contact-hitting second baseman with a good glove, but he never received anything beyond a cup of coffee at the major league level. His playing career (1990-2002) was right in the middle of the steroid era when it suddenly became common for middle infielders to hit 30 home runs each season.

“My proudest individual accomplishment was getting to the big leagues and getting there without cheating,” said Forbes, who had a playing weight of 160 pounds. “That’s becoming more and more important to me over the years.”

Forbes said he doesn’t have any regrets.

“Other players did what they did, and they have to look at themselves in the mirror,” Forbes said. “There was nothing in the MLB rules at the time. They did what they thought they needed to do.

“I just played at the wrong time. If I had played in the ’60s or ’70s or from now on, I probably would have had a better chance. But I will never look at this game and think I’ve been wronged. I still feel like I’ve had two of the greatest jobs a person can ever have — playing pro baseball and managing pro baseball.”

After serving as the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Arizona League team in 2013, Forbes will lead the Dodgers’ High-A affilliate Rancho Cucamonga Quakes this summer.

Forbes said he will thank his family, especially his wife Stephanie, as well as coaches who helped him along the way like Wichita State’s Gene Stephenson and Colgan’s Chuck Smith (football), Wayne Cichon (basketball) and Mike Watt (baseball).

“When Chuck, Wayne and Mike retire, people will look back at all the amazing things they’ve done,” Forbes said. “All three of them started when I was there, and my dad (Pat) hired all three of them. I was so lucky to play for those three guys. They shaped my playing career and my coaching career. I consider myself an extension of their coaching tree.”

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