MARION -- The Southern Illinois Miners are proud to announce that all-time Miners pitching great Ryan Bird has been inducted into the Frontier League Hall of Fame. He is the third former Miner to be enshrined in the league's Hall of Fame, joining Stephen Holdren (2015) and Joey Metropoulos (2016).
Unlike in years past, where the Hall of Fame class was honored during the All-Star break, this year, each member of the class will be officially inducted at their home ballpark. The Miners and the league will honor Bird in a ceremony at Rent One Park before the game against the Florence Freedom on Friday, July 26 at 7:05 p.m.
Originally from Potomac, Illinois, Bird came to the Miners in 2008 after one season in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, and proceeded to tear up the Frontier League immediately. He took home postseason all-star and Frontier League Pitcher of the Year honors in 2008 by going 13-3 with a 2.48 ERA in 21 games (20 starts), striking out 152 and walking only 45 while allowing just 97 hits and four homers in 123 1/3 innings. The right-hander led the league in wins and strikeouts that season, with both totals still standing as Miners single-season records.
Bird wasn't done there, either, as he pitched the next two seasons in a Miners uniform, finishing with an overall 28-12 record in 49 games (48 starts), and a career 2.96 ERA along with 308 strikeouts in 289 1/3 innings. Between 2008 and 2009, he won a league-record 17 consecutive decisions that still stands to this day, and Bird is still the Miners' all-time leader in career strikeouts while ranking tied for first in career victories. He also finished his legendary career with 16 1/3 scoreless playoff innings in 2010, allowing just eight hits and four walks with 19 strikeouts in two postseason starts that year. His number 13 jersey was retired by the Miners in 2015.
"First of all, I am so happy for Ryan on a personal level," Miners manager Mike Pinto said. "He was such a big part of Miners history, not just on the field, but off the field as well. On the mound, he was absolutely dominant- not only one of the best pitchers to wear our uniform, but one of the best in league history. He was a tremendous competitor, and we knew every single time Ryan took the mound for us that we had a chance to win. Off the mound, he was an incredible ambassador for the Miners in the community. I am excited to see him again, and have him and his family back at Rent One Park."
Bird joins the ranks of the Frontier League's all-time greats alongside fellow former players Mitch House (Chillicothe, 1996-98), Landon Hernandez (Gateway, 2010-14), Gilberto Mejia (Windy City, 2007-10), and Jason Simontacchi (Springfield, 1998), as well as former Florence Freedom owner, the late Clint Brown.