Results tagged ‘ All-Star Game ’

Carl Cooperstown has another historic night

Horn_90.jpgBy Brad Horn

ST. LOUIS — At this rate, he might want to consider a formal name change to Carl Cooperstown.

Crawford, better known to his Tampa Bay and American League teammates as “C.C.,” earned Most Valuable Player honors in Tuesday’s 4-3 All-Star Game in St. Louis, extending the A.L.’s unbeaten streak to 13 straight. The win assures the World Series will start in an American League city.

7-15-09-Horn_CrawfordCatch.jpgCovering ground has made Crawford a major league star, and since last October, he’s covered enough earth to orbit Cooperstown thrice. Donating an artifact from an historic achievement is a rare honor, as the Museum typically requests about 30 items per year from major league achievements.

With the donation of the cap he wore in Tuesday’s Classic, essentially the only part of Crawford now not in Cooperstown is the rising star himself.

“What is it going to be this time?” Crawford asked me last night after receiving the MVP award on the field at Busch Stadium. Beaming with a smile that shows a natural love for the game, Carl gladly handed over his cap… after a quick trip to the interview room. Next stop: Cooperstown.

At the conclusion of the World Series last October, we asked Carl for the road jersey he wore in Philadelphia. Though his Rays came up short against the Phillies, his all around dynamic play represented the spirit of baseball’s upstarts in 2008. He was all too willing then to give, as he was again last night.

7-15-09-Horn_Crawford.jpgJust six weeks into the 2009 season, Crawford ran – almost at will – against the Red Sox, stealing six bases in a game to tie a modern record. The spikes he wore in that game kept running a bit further… to Cooperstown. On the day they arrived in May, another fellow five-tool leftfielder happened to be in the Museum and inspected the spikes as they arrived.

Rickey Henderson was on his orientation visit that day and was among the first to see Carl’s spikes in their new home.

And so this week, for the third time in 10 months, Carl Crawford will be represented with an artifact at the home of baseball. 

The road from Houston’s Jefferson Davis High School to major league stardom in Tampa Bay apparently runs right through Cooperstown.

Brad Horn is the senior director of communications at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Famous faces in St. Louis

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

ST. LOUIS — The stars were out this week at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, and the Baseball Hall of Fame was on the mind of many of the most famous people in sports and entertainment:


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NASCAR driver Carl Edwards, who played in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game Sunday night: “I’m really excited to get to meet (Hall of Fame shortstop) Ozzie Smith. We’ve been trying to meet up today. He’s out there managing the game that’s going on. I hear he’s a little upset at me for stealing his back flip, but we can hopefully work that out and shake hands over it. I’m really excited to meet him.”

Actor Billy Bob Thornton, on meeting Hall of Famer Stan Musial: “I’d have to say out of all my experiences out of meeting baseball players in my lifetime when I got to meet Mr. Musial, which I have to call him that, that was probably the biggest thrill I ever had.

7-14-09-Francis_Thornton.jpg“But Bob Gibson (like Musial, a Hall of Famer) is my guy. I threw the first pitch out in 1998 here (in St. Louis), we were playing the Braves, Tom Glavine was pitching for the Braves. I’ll never forget this. I was in the clubhouse with (Cardinals manager) Tony (La Russa), (Mark) McGwire, and Bobby Knight, and we were all taking pictures together, and Gibson comes in and so we took some with him. And of course I was thrilled already, that was the first time I met him. And Tony said, ‘Bob, you’re the guy’s hero. Why don’t you catch the ball today?’ I wanted to say, ‘Tony, don’t make me throw it to him.’ So we were on the mound and Gibson knew I had been a pitcher so I had to throw him something. I learned my slider from Gibson’s instructional book in the ’60s when I was a kid. So I threw him a slider, and it was a good one, about two inches off the plate, it was a strike, and Gibson comes out and hands me the ball and he goes, ‘Where did you get that pitch?’ And I said, ‘Out of your book.’ And he goes, ‘You’re kidding me. That old book from the ’60s?’ After that he just warmed up to me just in a great way. Since then I’ve seen him a bunch of times and he’s always really gracious to me.”


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Dodgers manager Joe Torre, a National League All-Star coach, on the Class of 2009 at the Hall of Fame: “Jim Rice, I’m really pleased for him, Rickey Henderson was a no-brainer, obviously. Jim Rice waited a long time and he put some pretty impressive numbers up. I’m just happy for Jim Rice. A class act, he was a player that really was a no-nonsense guy, just got up there and did what he did. I’m really pleased for Jimmy. Rickey, his ability spoke for itself. He put all those base-stealing records and leadoff home runs in his hip pocket.”

The Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2009 – Joe Gordon, Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice – will be enshrined in Cooperstown on July 26.

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

Stars Come in All Forms

Horn_90.jpgBy Brad Horn

ST. LOUIS — The All-Star Game has come to represent so much more than just the top 30 or so players from each league who are having the best seasons to date.

7-13-09-Horn_Smith.jpgThrough an All-Star Week — featuring the XM All-Star Futures Game, the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game and the ever-popular State Farm Home Run Derby — baseball fans have more and more reasons with each passing year to become immersed in All-Star extravagance.

This year is no different. Before the “All-Stars” had even arrived in St. Louis late Sunday night, many other Stars took centerstage. Hall of Famers Bruce Sutter, Goose Gossage, Ernie Banks, Rollie Fingers and Ozzie Smith were on the diamond at Busch Stadium on Sunday evening. And fellow Hall of Famers Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Luis Aparicio, Dick Williams, Brooks Robinson, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson and Gaylord Perry were just a few members of the baseball royalty out and about downtown and at FanFest.

The biggest star on Sunday? None other than Rene Tosoni, of course.

An outfielder by trade for the Minnesota Twins’ Double-A affiliate, the not-to-far-down-the-road-from-Cooperstown New Britain (Conn.) Rock Cats, Tosoni, who hails from Coquitlam, British Columbia, was pleased to be a part of the World Team in the Futures Game on Sunday. He just wanted to get in the game. But after a 4-hour rain delay, time seemed to be running out as the game reached the final inning — the top of the 7th — with his team down 5-3. 

7-13-09-Horn_Tosoni.jpgThen, in the blink of an eye, Tosoni finds himself this All-Star Monday morning on the way back to Connecticut — with his bat from his pinch-hit, two-run double on its way to Cooperstown. 

“Wow,” uttered Tosoni moments after being presented the MVP Award on Sunday night outside the visitor dugout — and learning his bat would join other Futures Game MVPs in Cooperstown, a tradition started with the very first Futures Game MVP, Alfonso Soriano, in 1999.

Tosoni has never been to Cooperstown, but his bat — brand new, with just one hit to its resume — will soon be on display. Tosoni may not be the best known star from Sunday, but he is the quintessential All-Star among us who represents what baseball can bring you: An unexpected spot in history, on any given day.

Brad Horn is the senior director of communications at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Wakefield joins exclusive club started by Hall of Famer Satchel Paige

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

Satchel Paige called it the realization of the last of his three great dreams – to play in the major leagues, to pitch in the World Series and to be selected to the league’s All-Star Game.

For Paige, that first All-Star selection came in 1952, just days before his 46th birthday. He made his big league debut and pitched in the World Series in 1948 – just a few of many highlights that resulted in Paige being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971.

7-8-09-Berowski_Wakefield.jpgThis year, the dream of making the league’s All-Star team happened for Red Sox hurler Tim Wakefield. The 17-year-veteran was selected for his first All-Star team just days ago by manager American League skipper Joe Maddon. 

The 42 year-old Wakefield earned his selection by compiling a 10-3 mark in the first half for the Boston Red Sox.  While his ERA, WHIP and strikeout totals may not match up to those of some of his fellow All-Stars, Maddon explained Wakefield’s selection, stating: “Wakefield is having a good year, obviously, pitches in Boston and he’s had a tremendous body of work throughout his entire career… I just felt that getting him on a team was the right thing to do.”

Wakefield is only the third player in major league history to make his All-Star debut in his 40s. He follows two other pitchers: Paige in 1952 and Jamie Moyer in 2003 – who both earned their first All-Star berths at age 40.

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

Cooperstown is home to biggest of stars

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

Back in December, we did some research on the All-Star Game. The Veterans Committee had just elected Joe Gordon to the Hall of Fame, and we found that Gordon played 11 seasons and was an All-Star nine times – a pretty good ratio, but how good?

We figured that at 81.8 percent, he would be fairly high. The numbers show that Gordon was the highest among all Veterans Committee inductees – and that the percentage of seasons he was an All-Star was 13th overall among all Hall of Famers.

7-6-09-Hayes_Gordon.jpgBut en route to finding Gordon’s numbers, we found some other interesting stats concerning All-Stars and Hall of Famers. Two caveats: For purposes of this research, a season is counted for a player only if they debuted before June 1. And time spent in the armed services does not count as a season.

Hank Aaron holds the MLB record for both the most seasons as an All-Star (21) and the most selections (25). From 1959-62, two All-Star Games were played every season.

Following Aaron are Willie Mays and Stan Musial at 20 seasons and 24 games apiece. These three players and seven others have percentages above 90 (among players with at least six All-Star selections). The 90-to-99 club includes Aaron (91.3), Bill Dickey (91.7), Ted Williams (94.4), Rod Carew (94.7), Cal Ripken Jr. (95) and Mays and Musial (both at 95.2).

Only three players in the history of the Midsummer Classic have been selected to every game for which they were eligible. Lou Gehrig, who began his playing career 10 seasons before the creation of the All-Star Game, spent his last seven as All-Star (including a 1939 selection, despite playing his final game in April of that year). Joe DiMaggio spent three seasons in the military during World War II, but all of his 13 seasons on either side of his service time were All-Star years.

7-6-09-Hayes_Pujols.jpgThe only non-Hall of Famer to have been selected as an All-Star in at least 90 percent of his seasons is Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki – who is not yet eligible for the Hall of Fame. After a successful career in Japan, Ichiro debuted in the major leagues in 2001 and has been an All-Star each of the nine seasons since.

Keep your eye on Albert Pujols. The Cardinals first baseman received 5.3 million votes this year – the second highest total in the history of fan balloting. And with each All-Star selection, Pujols is inching up a very select ladder. His current percentage of 88.9 is tied with Mickey Mantle and is trailing only those 10 above 90 percent.

Listed below are the top 15 Hall of Famer percentages for seasons as an All-Star:


 
7-6-09-Hayes_ASGTable.jpgTrevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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