Torii Hunter and Bo Porter go way back
Bo Porter and Torii Hunter were in opposite dugouts this weekend when Detroit was in town for a four-game series.
But off the diamond, they share a bond that began long ago.
"I'll never forget it -- he was with the Cubs, I was with the Twins," Tigers OF Hunter said. "In 1995, we played a playoff game in A ball -- he was with the Daytona Cubs, I was with the Fort Myers Miracles. We hung out a lot during the playoffs, but we tried to beat each other's brains out during the games, but he's been a good friend of mine."
"He was one of the first people to text me," Porter said. "He said, 'Congratulations, Big Dog. I'm so happy for you. You're going to do great.' You know when you have a genuine friendship beyond the baseball field."
Although Porter and Hunter have remained close friends, their baseball careers have gone in different directions.
Porter was drafted in 1993 by the Chicago Cubs and made his major league debut in 1999. He also spent time with the Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies organizations. He began his coaching career in 2005 with a couple stints in the minors before spending time on the Florida Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks coaching staffs. He was the third base coach for the Washington Nationals when the Houston Astros hired him as their new manager in September 2012.
From what Hunter knows about Porter, he feels he's the right man to lead this young Astros team.
"He played the game the right way," Hunter said. "For him to be the manager, I think it's a great fit for those young guys coming up. They got all the talent in the world over there and when you've got someone like that leading, it becomes you."
Hunter, on the other hand, has remained at the top of his game throughout his 17-year major league career with the Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and now the Detroit Tigers. He is a four-time All-Star and has won nine consecutive Gold Glove Awards as an outfielder as well as a Silver Slugger Award winner.
And Porter is his biggest fan. He even thinks Hunter should be in the Hall of Fame one day.
"You look at the level in which he's been able to play at for the length of time in which he's been able to play," Porter said. "You're talking about arguably one of the best defensive center fielders in our generation. He has over 2,000 hits, he's played on numerous playoff teams, the Gold Gloves, the All-Stars and just the ambassador in which he has been in the game of baseball.
"When you look around, it's not many guys that you can go player by player, to teammates, guys that have played with him, people that have played against him, coaches and managers, front office people that have had the privilege to get to know him – they will all just rave about not just Torii Hunter, the All-Star baseball player, but Torii Hunter, the man, the father, the community leader – all things he does to help the people around him better themselves.”