Results tagged ‘ A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center ’

Bruno in Cooperstown

By Bill Francis

Tom Brunansky was surprised after looking through a pair of manila folders containing both images and stories from his 14 years in the big leagues.

Evan after a career that included 271 home runs and a World Series ring, Brunansky was amazed to find his career documented in Cooperstown.

“It’s pretty special and neat that not only my mom would collect that,” he said afterward, “but the Hall of Fame would as well.”

Brunansky, currently the hitting coach for the New Britain Rock Cats, a Double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins in the Eastern League, was with about 10 members of his team inside the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center on Wednesday morning as they checked out the clippings and photo files of the player nicknamed “Bruno.”

“Oh, it got a lot of laughs, a lot of stories, and a lot of things that after a course of a career you kind of seem to forget about,” Brunansky said of his Hall of Fame files.

In a playing career (1981-94) spent mostly with the Twins, the longtime right-fielder finished with 1,543 hits, 919 RBI, a .245 batting average and an All-Star Game selection in 1985.

For Brunansky, who will celebrate his 51st birthday on Aug. 20, the chance to come to Cooperstown arose thanks to a Rock Cats’ series against the Binghamton Mets – another Eastern League team located about an hour from the home of baseball.

“They try and make these trips for the kids who haven’t been here, and I’ve never been here, so it was obviously well worth getting up early to come on out,” he said. “We play tonight, so we’ve got an early bus, but to bring these kids out and to see part of history is pretty cool.

“I always knew the Hall of Fame was kind of neat because of all the things that were here, but to see the degree and how far they’ve gone and how much work has been put into it is amazing,” he added. “I love the cleats, I love the gloves, I love the baseballs, I love the bats – that’s the stuff I enjoy seeing.”

While he enjoyed the baseball artifacts, what Brunansky really wanted to see was the Hall of Fame plaques.

“The Plaque Gallery was kind of neat, too, because I liked going through there and seeing who I played against and who were teammates.”

One of the newest plaques on display belong to 2011 inductee Bert Blyleven, a teammate of Brunansky’s with the Twins from 1985 to 1988.

“Bert was one of the ultimate gamers,” Brunansky said. “The one thing about having Bert as a teammate is every fifth day he took the ball, gave you the best chance to win that day, and always competed.”

Bill Francis is a Library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Family in Cooperstown

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

Marcus Giamatti was a participant in the All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game held at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., on Sunday night. And not only is he an actor, having appeared in numerous movies and television series, but he also shares a surname familiar to fans of the national pastime and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

07-14-10-Francis_Giamatti.jpgMarcus Giamatti’s father was the seventh baseball commissioner, A. Bartlett Giamatti. A former president of Yale, he became president of the National League in 1986 before ascending to the game’s top position in 1988. After less than a year on the job, he passed away in 1989 at the age of 51. After his untimely death, the Hall of Fame honored his legacy with the naming of the A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center.

“I can’t believe as big a baseball fan as I am that I’ve never been to the Hall of Fame,” said Marcus Giamatti, best known  as a series regular on television’s Judging Amy (1999-2005), after the softball game. “I’ve always been working in different places and I’ve never gotten up to that part of the country, but my wife is from Corning, which is nearby, and we’re going to try to plan a trip so she can go see her relatives and we’re going to try and go to the Hall of Fame. I hope that happens within the next year or two.”

And the Giamatti Research Center is on the itinerary, too.

“It’s a great honor to him to because he was a great baseball historian and poet himself,” said Giamatti, 48, who grew up in New England. “So it means a tremendous amount to me. It’s really too bad he never knew about it. I really need to get up there to see it. He’d be so flattered and moved by it.”

Wearing the cap of his beloved Boston Red Sox, Giamatti said baseball was a love he shared with his father.

07-14-10-Francis_Research.jpg“He had a huge influence on my love of baseball. That was basically our connective link that we had, our love of baseball and the Red Sox,” Giamatti said. “I used to listen to them every night on the radio with him. I’d do my homework while he was correcting papers at the dining room table.

“He basically taught me the parallel lessons of the quest and the journey and the process of things through baseball. The adjustments you have to make, the game of failure, and sometimes the rewards, just like in life.”

Giamatti, a catcher through high school (“But I couldn’t hit”), is currently writing the afterword for a 2011 re-release of his father’s 1989 book “Take Time for Paradise: Americans and Their Games.”

And according to Giamatti, it looks like the family’s next generation will continue with a fascination for the game.

“I have one daughter, she’s 14 months old, and she watches baseball with me all the time. She calls it ballball.”

Bill Francis is a library associate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Former Atlanta Brave Brian Hunter gets his turn in Cooperstown

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Brian Hunter peered into the Braves’ locker in the Hall of Fame’s Today’s Game exhibit and stared right into history.

“Look, Smoltzie’s shoes,” said Hunter of the cleats belonging to former Braves teammate John Smoltz. “And there’s (a photo of Rafael) Furcal. And Andruw Jones’ bat. I was there with all of them.”

8-17-09-Carr_Hunter.jpgHunter was more than “there.” The nine-year major league vet, who spent parts of five seasons with the Braves, appeared in three World Series with Atlanta and played a role in the Braves’ remarkable run through the 1990s.

Hunter toured the Hall of Fame on Monday as part of a team from the Cooperstown All Star Village. Hunter, along with former Minnesota Twins farmhand Vern Hildebrandt, serve as coaches for the team.

Hunter, now 41 but still looking every bit the athlete, broke into the majors in 1991 and finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting, He hit .333 in the Braves’ win over Pittsburgh in the NLCS, then scored two runs and drove in three more while playing in all seven games of the World Series. Hunter appeared in the 1992 World Series with Atlanta, then — after being traded to Pittsburgh in following the 1993 season — wrapped up his big league career with stints with the Pirates, Reds, Mariners, Cardinals, Braves (again) and the Phillies.

It was Hunter’s first trip to the Hall of Fame, but — on paper — he’s been here since his big league debut in 1991. Hunter, just like every one of the 17,000-plus men who have played Major League Baseball, has a file in the Hall of Fame’s Library. When shown a file story recounting Hunter’s brush with a beanball, his youth baseball team let out a big “Ooohhhh.”

“This is amazing,” said Hunter while poring over a few of the three million documents in the Hall of Fame’s Library. “It’s all here.”

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Former AAGPBL pitcher makes the pilgrimage

Wiles_90.jpgBy Tim Wiles

At age 85, Jane Jacobs Badini made her first trip to Cooperstown Friday. “I will definitely be back,” said the former pitcher for the Racine Belles (1944-45, 1947) and the Peoria Redwings (1946) of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

The native of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, made the pilgrimage along with her extended family, Niece Jeannie McCrossin, her husband William McCrossin, and daughters Khloe (17) and Amanda (15).

8-10-09-Wiles_Jacobs.jpgBadini, known by her maiden name of Jane Jacobs in her ball-playing days, enjoyed the entire museum, but especially the Diamond Dreams exhibit on the history of women in baseball (including, of course the AAGPBL), and an extended visit to the A. Barlett Giamatti Research Center, where she both donated photos and clippings from her career and received copies of other photos from the Hall’s archives. She even helped identify some former teammates who were unidentified in old team photos.

Jacobs was a relief specialist, a control pitcher who specialized in what today are called breaking pitches. An interesting moment in her career came when a male manager ordered her to throw at the head of an opposing hitter. She refused, feeling that the order was unsportsmanlike. The manager benched her for ten days – except when he would get in tight spots and need to bring in his “fireman.”

These days Badini, who is retired from a career owning a dry cleaning shop which also offers ceramics, spends her time speaking to kids groups about fair play, sportsmanship, and the history of the AAGPBL, which the kids all know about because of the popular movie A League of Their Own.

Tim Wiles is the direcotr of research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

 

Former big leaguer Pankovits relishes time in Cooperstown

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

It’s not uncommon for someone to walk into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center requesting to look at a clipping or photo file on a favorite player. But rarely does someone walk in the door whose adult life is on file.

Such was the case Friday afternoon when former big league player Jim Pankovits stopped by as part of a larger visit. Pankovits is in his first year managing the New York-Penn League’s Tri-City ValleyCats, a short-season Single-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, and before Friday’s scheduled game against the Oneonta Tigers he and his team made a trip to Cooperstown.

8-1-09-Francis_Pankovits.jpg“I’d imagine most every team that comes in town to play the Tigers tries to make a trip over here and this was our only opportunity,” Pankovits said. “I think knowing the history of the game is very important for the players in their appreciation of what they’re doing and what they’re trying to achieve.”

According to Pankovits, his roster consists of about a half dozen Latin American players as well as college players selected in this year’s amateur draft.

“And I know, especially the kids from out West don’t get the opportunity to get over here, that they’re especially excited to be here,” Pankovits said. “We’re very fortunately in that the owner of our team, Bill Gladstone, is on the Board of Directors here at the Hall of Fame.”

The ValleyCats got a taste of what it’s like in Cooperstown in the summertime when they played a game against the Tigers at historic Doubleday Field last Saturday, the day before this year’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

“The hustle and bustle of the town was real exciting,” said Pankovits, “and I think the kids got a real good feel for what it’s like to come here and how special it is.”

Prior to this year, Pankovits’ only previous Hall of Fame visit came in 1985 when his Astros played the Boston Red Sox in the Hall of Fame Game.

“We had a group tour of the Hall as a team and it was my first exposure. I’ll tell you what, I was very excited, having played a long time in the minor leagues and obviously growing up a baseball fan,” Pankovits said. “I was always wondering when I’d get a chance to come back, and I’m sorry to say it took 25 years, but I guess it’s better late than never.”

8-1-09-Francis_PankovitsMug.jpgBetter late than never may characterize Pankovits’ big league playing career. Drafted by the Astros in 1976, the versatile bench player didn’t make his big league debut until 1984. He would spend five years with the Houston (1984-88) before his major league career came to an end with a two-game cup of coffee with the Red Sox in 1990.

“It took me eight years to get to the big leagues so I really appreciated being there,” Pankovits said. “We had a couple of good teams in Houston, one notably in ’86 when the Mets beat us in the playoffs. That would obviously be the highlight of my big league career, but it was a blur to be honest with you. It just goes so fast, even though it was five years. As everyone does, I look back on those experiences with a lot of enthusiasm and thanks.”

In looking back at the 1986 National League Championship Series against the Mets, Pankovits immediately recalled the famous Game 6 that went 16 innings before New York won 7-6.

“That Game 6 I’ll never forget. It seems like I can remember every pitch,” Pankovits said. “I thought we had it won winning 3-0, but they came back and tied it with three in the top of the ninth. Then they took the lead in the 14th, but Billy Hatcher hits a home run to tie it for us. Then they score three in the 16th and we score two and have the tying run on second.

“In Game 6, if we’d have won that one, Mike Scott (who would go on to win the 1986 Cy Young Award) had already beaten them twice in the series and he was scheduled to throw Game 7,” he added. “It wasn’t meant to be, I guess, but it was exciting, no doubt about it.”

Pankovits, who turns 54 on Aug. 6, finished his major league playing career with 318 games played – mostly as a second baseman – a .250 batting average in 567 at bats and a lifetime of memories.

Bill Francis is a library associate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Long enjoys Hall of Fame visit

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

Terrence Long, who became accustomed to postseason baseball during big league playing career, found time during his first trip to Cooperstown to show his young family the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Thursday.

Long, his wife and four sons made the trip from their home in Montgomery, Ala., because 9-year-old Jalon has been playing in one of the local baseball camps. According to Long, Jalon, a right fielder on his 10-and-under travel team, and his brothers are all good athletes.

“They are star players on their teams,” said Long, after looking at his clippings file at the Hall of Fame Library’s A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center. “Hopefully, I rubbed off on them in some kind of way.

6-25-09-Francis_Long.jpg“They might be a little bit better than me,” said Long. “They’ve got a lot more tools than I think I had.”

Long played for eight big league seasons from 1999 to 2006, spending time with the New York Mets, Oakland A’s, San Diego Padres, Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees. But it was his years in Oakland where both he and the team excelled.

For four straight seasons, from 2000 to 2003, with Long a starting outfielder, the A’s qualified for the postseason – only to get knocked out each time in the American League Division Series.

“I do miss it,” said the 33-year-old Long. “My first couple of years out of baseball I missed October baseball. I got a chance to play in October in four of my six full seasons, so that was a blessing. I do miss my teammates, but I really miss playing in October.”

In one of the more famous plays of recent postseason action, Long’s two-out double in the seventh inning against the Yankees nearly scored Oakland teammate Jeremy Giambi from first base in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS. The A’s had won the first two games of the five-game series, and were losing 1-0 in Game 3 when Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter picked up an errant throw from the outfield and flipped the ball to catcher Jorge Posada. Giambi, who didn’t slide, was tagged out on a close play.

“We had Eric Byrnes, who was probably the fastest guy on the team, ready to pinch-run,” recalled Long. “But I can’t… Jeremy was my buddy. It will be on TV forever, though.”

6-25-09-Francis_Long-Byrnes.jpgLong was a first round draft pick of the Mets in 1994, but didn’t establish himself in the majors until he was traded to the A’s for pitcher Kenny Rogers on July 23, 1999.

“It was exciting having been in the Mets organization and not getting to play much and then getting traded to Oakland. They gave me a chance to play and we had some good teams,” Long said. “Thanks to the Mets for drafting me and a special thanks to Billy Beane (A’s general manager) for giving me a chance to play. That started my career off.”

It was in 1999, the year Long made his big league debut with the Mets, that he became teammates with Rickey Henderson. Henderson will be inducted into the Hall of Fame along with Joe Gordon and Jim Rice on Sunday, July 26.

“I got a chance to hang out with Rickey then. It was great,” Long said. “He took care of me. He taught me a lot and that was good. He’s a great guy, teaches the game, great sense of humor. A real laid back, down to earth guy. I wish I could be here to see him get inducted.”

These days Long spends his time coaching his sons and fishing.

“Just teaching the kids the game of baseball. I enjoy it. It takes up a lot of my time,” Long said. “I never thought that I would spend eight seasons in the big leagues. Maybe one day we’ll come back and my sons will be in the majors.”

Bill Francis is a library associate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Book it

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

Every time I get a tour of part of the Museum by a staff member, I learn something new.

On Tuesday, I tagged along on a visit to our library and archives for newly appointed New York State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries, Bernie Margolis, and learned that team nicknames were usually given by newspapers and only became official around the 1960s when teams found the need to protect them to make money off T-shirts and advertisements.

Margolis administers the New York State Research Library and the Division of Library Development. He was in Cooperstown as part of a tour across the South Central Regional Library Council’s (SCRLC) 10,000 square-mile region.

5-5-09-Carr_MargolisWife.jpgThe Librarian for the Hall of Fame, Jim Gates, explained the Hall of Fame’s library archives and how they are used. Between phone calls, emails and in-person visits, the library staff handles about 50,000 requests per year. The A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center is the public area for visitors to complete research and is open to the public free of charge during normal business hours.

Margolis has a special connection to baseball, as he came from the Boston Public Library, where he served as president.

“I left Boston for New York, just like Babe Ruth left Boston for New York,” said Margolis.

The Boston Public Library has a close connection with the Boston Red Sox, and Margolis worked with them to publish a book on baseball history – a including interviews and stories about the players. It debuted at Fenway Park and Margolis was interviewed about the opening.

“Manny (Ramirez) hit a home run in the middle of the interview, so I took credit for that,” Margolis said. “Of course he was gone just two weeks later.”

During the tour, Gates showed off some interesting articles in the archive, dispelled some baseball myths and told some stories about interesting visitors to the library.

“I am overwhelmed by the scope and quantity, thoroughness and variety of the archives as well as the capacity and knowledge of the staff,” Margolis said.

Margolis learned today what I already knew about our library staff – they are the most knowledgeable baseball people on the planet.

Samantha Carr is the media relations coordinator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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