Baseball / Sports

Mike Schmidt on hand as Jimmy Rollins breaks his hits record

Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt stood at first base and lifted the arm of the man who had just broken his longtime Phillies record.

Schmidt stood with Jimmy Rollins after the shortstop surpassed Schmidt as the Phillies' all-time hit king on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.

It was difficult to tell who was more excited, Schmidt, the proud former record-holder, or Rollins, the new one.

With a fifth-inning single off Chicago Cubs righthander Edwin Jackson, Rollins stood on top of the Phillies hit list with 2,235.

Rollins had tied Schmidt the previous night in a 2-1 loss. The record-breaker, however, came in a 7-4 triumph over Chicago.

Rollins had the best of both worlds, a new record and a win, the Phillies' fourth in five games.

"It was very cool," Rollins said. "Mike Schmidt coming down the line shocked me."

Fireworks went off; the crowd of 31,524 gave an extended ovation; and Rollins was also joined on the field by his exuberant teammates, who emptied out of the dugout.

Schmidt had been in town since Wednesday's game with the San Diego Padres because he didn't want to miss the moment.

"He needed four (hits) when I came in town, so you had to be here," Schmidt said.

Schmidt, 64, then recalled passing the torch to Rol lins as they stood by first base.

"I said, 'Congratulations, it couldn't happen to a better guy. I appreciate your friendship,' and I turned, and there was the whole team, which was kind of neat," Schmidt said.

The 35-year-old Rollins is in his 14th full season with the Phillies. His double-play partner, Chase Utley, said that what is even more impressive is that Rollins accomplished this mark while playing such a demanding position, shortstop.

"He's not a spring chicken anymore, but he keeps himself in good shape to go out there on a daily basis," Utley said.

Added first baseman Ryan Howard: "To see him go get the hits record for the organization, I'm just glad to be a part of it."

Rollins recalled telling people since the age of 4 that he would be a baseball player, and seeing the accompanying skepticism. Listed at 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, Rollins, with 207 career home runs, has shown there is room in this game for the little guy.

Will there still be room in Philadelphia?

Rollins is a 10-and-5 player (at least 10 years in the majors and five with the same team) and can veto a trade. He was asked whether he would like to stay with the Phillies if the team begins rebuilding.

"It really depends. If everything is blown up, then you take that into consideration," he said.

Yet Rollins is hoping that he can finish what he started in Philadelphia. An $11 million option will vest if he makes 156 more plate appearances this season.

"I think I do have a chance to finish my career here," Rollins said. "I don't make all of those decisions. I become a free agent again eventually, so the question will definitely be answered then."

(c)2014 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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