Four men influential to the success of baseball in the Duke City will be inducted into the Albuquerque Professional Baseball Hall of Fame at Saturday evening’s Albuquerque Isotopes’ ballgame as outfielder Billy Ashley and pitchers Charlie Hough, Steve Lagomarsino and Geoff Zahn make up the 2013 class. 

The four were elected by the Albuquerque Professional Baseball Hall of Fame committee, consisting of baseball history experts throughout the city of Albuquerque.

Ashley (1992-94, 1996): The only outfielder among this year’s inductees, Ashley played in 264 career games for the Albuquerque Dukes and posted a .309 batting average with 224 RBIs over those seasons. Leading the Pacific Coast League in back-to-back years (1993 and 1994) with 26 and 37 home runs, respectively, the power-hitting outfielder blasted 61 career homers as a Duke. He also received Topps Triple-A All-Star and PCL All-Star honors in 1993 and 1994, even being named Baseball America’s Triple-A Player of the Year, the L.A. Dodgers’ Minor League Player of the Year and the PCL Most Valuable Player in 1994.  

The Dodgers’ third-round selection in the 1988 draft, he spent time with L.A. in 1992-97, including all of the ’95 and ’97 seasons, finishing his days in Dodger Blue with 25 home runs. He ended his MLB career with the Boston Red Sox in 1998, appearing in 13 games.

Hough (1967-69, ’72): led the 1971 Albuquerque Dodgers with seven complete games and was second on the club with 113 strikeouts. The knuckleballer appeared in a team-high 58 games for the 1972 Dukes, was second on the squad with 14 saves and tied the team lead with 14 wins.

An eighth-round draft pick of the Dodgers in 1966, Hough pitched for the Dodgers (1970-80), Texas Rangers (1980-90), Chicago White Sox (1991-92) and Florida Marlins (1993-94), winning the first game in the Marlins’ debut year — against the visiting Dodgers. In his 25 MLB seasons, Hough was 216-216.

Lagomarsino (1950-51): The lanky right-hander appeared in 78 games, with 27 starts, for the Dukes in the West Texas-New Mexico League in 1950-51, posting an 18-16 record, and he was back with the Dukes in 1952, although all that is indicated by baseball-reference.com is that he appeared in 11 games for them. Lagomarsino’s pro career began at Class C Amarillo in the WT-NM league in 1947, when he had his best season, going 18-7 in 29 games.

He played at Jackson in the Southeastern League in 1948 and was back at Amarillo in 1949. He also pitched in 18 games for Class C Vernon in the Longhorn League in 1952.

In addition to his time as a Dukes pitcher, Lagomarsino is best known for serving 26 years with the New Mexico State Police Department, having risen to the rank of deputy chief.  He still resides in Albuquerque. 

Zahn (1969, ’71): A member of the Double-A Dodgers (1969, 1971) and Triple-A Dukes (1972-73), Zahn compiled a 40-24 record with a 3.14 ERA in 87 career games for Albuquerque in the Texas League, Dixie Association and Pacific Coast League.  He went 10-1 in 1972 record and led the team in winning percentage (.909) that season.  In 1973, he went 13-8 with a 3.05 ERA with 12 complete games and 103 strikeouts. He recorded 29 complete games in 78 career starts for Albuquerque.    

Zahn played at the University of Michigan and was the Dodgers’ fifth-round selection in the 1968 draft. He’d been drafted by the White Sox in the 1966 draft, by the Red Sox in the January Secondary draft in 1967 and by the Tigers in the June 1967 draft, but declined to sign, preferring to pitch for the Wolverines.

He debuted with the Dodgers on Sept. 2, 1973, and made 21 starts for them before being traded with Eddie Solomon to the Cubs for Burt Hooton in May of 1975. Zahn later pitched for the Twins (1977-80) and California Angels (1981-85), finishing his 13-year MLB career with a record of 111-109.

Former big-league player and manager Lou Piniella once said, after striking out against Zahn, “It’s like being bitten by a stuffed panda.”

The Albuquerque Professional Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be part of the festivities surrounding Dukes Retro Night before the Isotopes take on the Omaha Storm Chasers at 7:05 p.m. 

Hough, Lagomarsino, and Zahn are scheduled to be in Albuquerque for the pre-game ceremony while Ashley will accept his inductee via videotape. In addition to the Hall of Fame enshrinement, the Isotopes will be wearing special mustard-yellow throw-back Dukes jerseys against the Storm Chasers and the game will be followed by a fireworks extravaganza (weather permitting).    `

IsoTopics: The Isotopes also play Omaha Thursday and Friday at 7:05 and close out the series with the Storm Chasers Sunday at 6:05. After four games in Nashville, the ’Topes are back home July 26-29 to face New Orleans.

Observer sports editor Gary Herron is a charter member of the Albuquerque Professional Baseball Hall of Fame’s selection committee.

… This year’s induction class brings the total of individuals in the “hall” (framed photos of previous members are in McKernan Hall at the ballpark) to 26. Two PCL championship teams are also in the hall: the 1972 Dukes and the 1981 Dukes, inducted in, respectively, 2009 and 2008.

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