Results tagged ‘ All-Star Game ’

Star treatment

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

Brian McCann has been to Cooperstown before. But now, the 2010 All-Star Game MVP will have a little piece of himself in Cooperstown forever.

“It’s a moment I’ll never forget,” said McCann only moments after the final out was made in the 81st Major League Baseball All-Star Game on Tuesday. “You are lucky enough to be playing in one of these things and to be put in a spot to come through and actually do it … you just dream about stuff like this. This isn’t supposed to happen.”

07-15-10-Francis_McCann.jpgMcCann, the Atlanta Braves’ 26-year-old catcher, was selected the 2010 Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player after he went 1-for-2 with a bases-clearing three-run double in the seventh inning to give the National League a 3-1 lead that would remain intact throughout the remainder of the contest.

As important as the hit was for McCann, a five-time All-Star, the Senior Circuit’s first victory since 1996 also means home field advantage in the World Series.

Afterwards, McCann graciously donated the bat he used for his memorable Midsummer Classic hit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

“No way,” said McCann when asked if he thought about not parting with a bat that might still have hits left in it. “I was thrilled that they wanted it.”

There were no artifacts from the short professional career of McCann in Cooperstown when he played in the Hall of Fame Game as a Braves minor leaguer in 2004. That fact has now changed.

“Brian was overwhelmed when I approached him right after he was presented with the MVP Award on the field minutes after the game had ended,” said Hall of Fame Senior Director of Communications and Education Brad Horn. “I introduced myself and told him it was the time to add a piece of Brian McCann to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“He was very excited and very honored by the opportunity. He immediately said we could absolutely have his bat,” Horn added. “And to show the dedication that he had, when his bat wasn’t at his locker in the National League clubhouse when he first walked in, he ran back out to the dugout to try and find it.”

According to Horn, the Hall of Fame tries to commemorate every All-Star Game with an artifact from the contest’s MVP.

“It allows fans the chance to come to Cooperstown during the second half of the season,” said Horn, “and see something from the season’s most memorable game and a timeless exhibition.

“Brian played in the Hall of Fame Game and here, just a short six years later, he’s a part of history,” he added. “And part of him is now in Cooperstown forever.”

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

Destined for Cooperstown

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

It sometimes seems that things here in Cooperstown are just destined to go right.

06-22-10-Hayes_Greinke.jpgDon’t get me wrong, the staff at the Baseball Hall of Fame is extremely dedicated, very knowledgeable and good at what they do – executing plans to make the Hall of Fame perfect. But some stories take an extra little bit of chance to become truly special. My most recent example came Monday in the form of a donation by my mother of some photos of two current Royals stars, including 2009 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke.

As a native Kansas Citian, it takes a holiday or other big event to see my family. But after last year’s Hall of Fame Classic, I knew I had to get my parents to Cooperstown for the 2010 event. Not just to celebrate Father’s Day with my dad – sharing a game we both love – but to reconnect that baseball bond with my mother too, who played countless hours of catch with me in the backyard while waiting for dad to get home form work and take me to practice.

At every opportunity, I pestered them about a trip out. In late September, I went to a wedding and on the Sunday after, my family went to Kauffman Stadium. Greinke was starting and I hadn’t seen him in person all season. I’d followed his year from the scoreless streak in April to his 1-0 complete game loss in Anaheim when he had pitches touch every speed from 66 to 96 mph. I tuned in early to the All-Star Game to make sure I didn’t miss a second. I wished people at work “Happy Greinke Day” on the days he started. It was can’t miss TV and I shared it with my parents, chatting about my hometown team throughout the season.

06-22-10-Hayes_Greinke2.jpgOn that warm September day, Greinke was his usual self. He went seven innings and allowed just one run. He struck out eight, including eventual batting champ and MVP Joe Mauer twice. During the game, my mom snapped some photos with her new camera.

Before leaving Missouri over the holidays, she slipped an envelope into my bag. Inside were photos she’d printed of family and my girlfriend and I. The last couple were photos of Greinke and 2008 All-Star Joakim Soria. I was surprised. My mother has always been creative, knitting and doing flower arrangements. I’d even seen her still-life and nature photos. But her action shots were exceptional, especially since they were from Row Double-S.

Just before the start of the 2010 season, I got my parents to commit to a visit during Father’s Day. At the same time, our staff updates our  Today’s Game exhibit, outfitting the lockers with artifacts from the previous season. Shortly after the update I was reminded of the photos when I saw hanging in the Royals locker a powder blue jersey – the team’s staple attire for home day games. Greinke gave the Hall of Fame his jersey from his final home start, which turned out to be the last win of his Cy Young campaign.

06-22-10-Hayes_Soria.jpgIt had crossed my mind that my mom should donate the photos,  and now I was sure. Her photos are of Greinke wearing the same jersey that’s on exhibit. I called and told her that when they came for the Hall of Fame Classic, she should donate the photos. Worried about the quality, she wasn’t so sure.

On Monday, my mother, father and myself presented her five prints – three of Greinke and two of Soria – to photo archivist Pat Kelly. Pat gushed. The quality was professional level and they filled a void in the archives – neither player had hard copy files. The fact that Greinke is wearing the same jersey that’s in the collection sweetened the deal.

A bit of chance played into my trip in September happening in the same weekend of the Royals final home stand. Luck let the rotation fall just right. And by coincidence or fate, my family is extremely proud of my mother and we now have a special moment to cap a great weekend in Cooperstown.

Trevor Hayes is editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

54 years ago today, Murray began Hall of Fame journey

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Despite the offensive explosion in Major League Baseball during the last 20 years, this fact remains: Only 10 men in big league history have driven in more than 1,900 runs.

And just two of them – Eddie Murray and Barry Bonds – began their careers after 1960.

02-24-10-Muder_Murray.jpgBonds’ 762 home runs tell the story of many of his RBIs. But Murray – one of the most consistent run producers in the game’s history – remains underappreciated.

Murray turns 54 today, making him one of the youngest Hall of Famers (62nd out of 68) despite the fact it’s been seven years since his election. He was a first-ballot choice by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in 2003 after finishing his career with 504 home runs, 3,255 hits and eight All-Star Game selections.

Murray’s consistency was staggering. In his 21 big league seasons, Murray’s team played at least 150 games 18 times. Murray appeared in at least 150 contests in 16 of those seasons – and topped the 160-mark six times.

Consider this: Over a typical 162-game season, Murray averaged 103 RBIs – the exact number as Willie Mays, one more than Mickey Mantle.

Few players answered the bell more consistently – and as well.

Twenty-one big league seasons, 1,917 RBIs – ninth on the all-time list. It’s a standard of excellence that will remain for generations to come.

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

Jeter making more history

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

8-20-09-Carr_AparicioJeter.jpgWith an RBI double in the third inning of Sunday’s game against the Mariners, Derek Jeter passed Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio for the most hits by a shortstop. And at just 35 years old, Jeter is far from finished.

“I think I have a few more hits left in me,” Jeter said.

Through Wednesday’s game, Jeter needs only 25 hits in the Yankees’ last 41 contests to pass Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig and become the Yankees’ all-time hit leader. He already holds the Yankees record for career singles.

Offensively, Jeter’s numbers are similar to many Hall of Fame shortstops, including Cal Ripken Jr. The numbers below reflect games played at shortstop:

8-20-09-Carr_RipkenJeterChart.jpgLuke Appling and Joe Cronin, two other Hall of Fame shortstops who played almost all of their games at short, had similar career numbers to that of Ripken and Jeter. Here are their career lines, counting games they played at other positions:

 
8-20-09-Carr_ApplingCroninChart.jpg
8-20-09-Carr_ApplingCroninRipken.jpgJeter has won three Gold Glove Awards, two Silver Slugger Awards and the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year Award. In 2000, he was the MVP of the All-Star Game and the World Series. He has four World Series rings and has been named to nine All-Star Games, including starting the 2008 game at Yankee Stadium. In 2003, he was named the 11th Yankee captain.

Like all these players, Jeter has shown one attribute in his career that has allowed him to put up impressive offensive numbers – consistency.

“I think being consistent is something that gets overlooked at times, but I think every player strives to be consistent,” Jeter said. “That’s all you can do.”

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

Joe, Jim, Rickey … and Tom Burgmeier?

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

Longtime big league pitcher Tom Burgmeier’s baseball career includes almost 750 games played, over 100 saves, and one All-Star Game. But when it comes to the 2009 Hall of Fame electees, he holds a special place amongst all other players.   

7-24-09-Francis_Burgmeier.jpgWhile baserunning phenom Rickey Henderson, slugging outfielder Jim Rice and slick-fielding and powerful second baseman Joe Gordon will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this Sunday, Burgmeier has the distinction of being the only major leaguer to have been teammates of both Henderson and Rice and to have played under Gordon when he was a manager.

In his fourth season as the pitching coach for the Omaha Royals, the Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, Burgmeier reflected on his unique connection to the Class of 2009.

“Actually, we were talking about it the other day,” said Burgmeier, whose past visits to Cooperstown came via the Hall of Fame Game, first as a player with the Twins in 1977 and later as a coach with the Royals in 1999. “Somebody mentioned Joe Gordon and said, ‘Gee, you played under him and you played with the other two. I wonder if you’re the only person who did that?’”

Burgmeier enjoyed a 17-year big league playing career (1968-1984), spent mostly as a relief pitcher, with the California Angels, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox and Oakland A’s. The lefty finished with a 79-55 record, 102 saves and a 3.23 ERA.

7-24-09-Francis_Gordon.jpgA fourth-round selection by the Royals in the expansion draft, Burgmeier played under manager Joe Gordon in 1969. Following his stellar 11-year playing career with the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians, Gordon served managerial stints with the Indians (1958-1960), Detroit Tigers (1960), Kansas City Athletics (1961) and Royals (1969).

“Joe was very vibrant and was a good manager. We had a lot of fun and for an expansion team we actually won a few games, too,” said Burgmeier, of the 69-73 Royals. “He was a heck of a player and a good manager and I really enjoyed playing for him.”

Burgmeier would finish the 1969 season with a 3-1 record in 31 games. “What’s that baseball cliché? He was a players’ manager,” Burgmeier said. “What I mean is you get the players, you put them in the lineup, and if they do well, you become a good manager.”

Sometimes Gordon would talk to the players about his career as a nine-time All-Star and winner of five World Series crowns. “But I don’t think that happens as much anymore: guys sitting around the clubhouse after the game talking about old times. And that’s too bad,” Burgmeier said.

In February of 1978, after four seasons with Minnesota, Burgmeier signed as a free agent with the Red Sox. “I was with the Twins in 1974 and we were playing Boston. I had some friends of mine on the Red Sox and I was standing in the bullpen and asked them, ‘Hey, do have any good players in the minor leagues?’ I’ll never forget that they said, ‘Yeah, we have a couple kids probably be up next year. We got this kid Rice and this Freddy Lynn.’ I said, ‘Do they hit pretty good?’ And they said, ‘Yeah, they’re good minor league players. They’ll probably make the team next year.’ Well, the rest is history.”

7-24-09-Francis_Rice.jpgBurgmeier and Rice were Red Sox teammates for five seasons (1978 to 1982).

“Jim hated to come out of the lineup. Any kind of minor injury didn’t get him out of the lineup — there had to be a bone sticking out or he’d have to be bleeding to where they’d have to bandage him up,” Burgmeier said. “He was a funny guy around the clubhouse. He liked to have a good time and loved to play golf in his off days. We did that a lot on the road.

“If he was in a little slump, which everybody goes through, he’d always tell the press to talk to him at the end of the year. I remember there was one stretch he went a few weeks without hitting a home run and I remember him telling a guy, ‘Don’t talk to me now. Just talk to me at the end of the year and see how I’m doing.’”

Rice was arguably the top right-handed hitter of his era. Against Burgmeier, Rice batted .357 (5-for-14) with one homer.

“He struck fear in the hearts of many a pitcher, especially in Fenway. He (Rice) could hit them as far as anybody — right field, center field, left field,” Burgmeier recalled. “And like anybody else who’s a good hitter, it’s the same basic thing: keep the ball down, stay away from him, pitch inside a little bit. It’s a formula that has been around for 130 years.”

7-24-09-Francis_Henderson.jpgBurgmeier spent his final two major league seasons (1983 and 1984) with the Oakland A’s. During that stretch, Rickey Henderson stole 174 bases.

“Rickey was one of the best base stealers of all time. The score or who was catching or who was pitching really didn’t make a difference,” said Burgmeier, who lockered next to Henderson. “If he was going to steal, he was going to steal. And not only second, but steal third, too. The years I was there he was well into being one of the best ever as far as not being able to throw him out.”

Though Burgmeier faced Henderson only five times in his career, he got to experience the threat the future Hall of Famer posed.

“What sticks out is that because of his speed, when he got on, you knew you had to do all of the things to combat that. And even if you did, it didn’t mean that he wasn’t going to run anyway,” Burgmeier said. “You had to slide step more and throw over more. But did it stop him from running? No, he still ran. He was as fast as anybody going today.”

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

Musial always a star in St. Louis

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

It was 61 years ago – July 13, 1948 – that Stan Musial made his first All- Star appearance in the Gateway City. At only 27 years of age, the Cardinals’ star outfielder was midway through his third MVP season, in which he led the Senior Circuit in every major offensive category except home runs.

7-16-09-Berowski_Musial.jpgDuring the 1948 Midsummer Classic in St. Louis, Musial continued his dominance of major league pitching by launching a first-inning two-run home run off Senators hurler Walt Masterson. Those would be the only two runs the NL would muster that day, falling to the AL 5-2.

On Tuesday night, the 88-year-old Hall of Famer was back on the field in St. Louis for the pre-game festivities, presenting President Barack Obama with the ceremonial first pitch baseball.

When the 80th annual All-Star game action commenced, the eyes of the St. Louis faithful were on Albert Pujols. At age 29, already with two MVP awards under his belt, this modern day “Stan the Man” is on pace to have his best season yet. Unfortunately his regular season performance didn’t translate to All-Star Game competition this year, as Pujols went 0-for-3 at the plate.

Ironically it was Albert’s Cardinal teammate, Yadier Molina, who would be a catalyst for the NL, accounting for all three NL runs when his second-inning single plated David Wright and Shane Victorino. He later scored on Prince Fielder’s RBI double.

Freddy Berowski is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Stars shine in Cooperstown

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

The All-Star Game came to Cooperstown on Tuesday night.

Close to 200 fans packed the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Grandstand Theater for the annual All-Star Gala. They watched the broadcast of the 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game — a 4-3 American League victory — while sitting in the same building where baseball’s memories live forever.

7-15-09-Muder_AllStarGala.jpgFor some fans, the All-Star Gala was part of the trip of a lifetime. Amy and Traci Juhala gave their father Curt Juhala a Hall of Fame Membership for Christmas, then traveled with their dad from Bismarck, N.D., to visit the Hall of Fame for the first time.

“It just happened that we were here at the All-Star Game, so it was great we could come and watch the game,” said Amy Juhala, who was dressed in Minnesota Twins’ gear along with her sister and father. “Cooperstown is lovely, and the Hall of Fame is great. Dad just loves baseball.”

But the event also attracted local fans like Corinne Hillman, who lives in Cooperstown and works for the Hall of Fame’s education department.

“I buy tickets for every event here,” said Hillman, who was the first in line at the Grandstand Theater on Tuesday night. “I love teaching and I love baseball — what’s a better job than that?”

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

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