Results tagged ‘ All-Star ’

Carter was truly an All-Star

By Craig Muder

It was the summer of my discontent, when baseball stopped.

For almost two months in 1981, I slept on the couch in our den – seemingly uprooted from my bed due to the cataclysmic work stoppage that rocked the National Pastime. I woke up each day and flipped on the TV (we had no access to ESPN back then, so it was the national networks) to see if the strike had ended.

Finally, on July 31, it was over. The season would resume after 713 games were canceled. And it would start with the All-Star Game in Cleveland.

On August 9, baseball returned before 72,086 fans at Cleveland Stadium. Gary Carter was the hero.

Carter’s two solo home runs – one in the fifth that tied the game at one and another in the seventh that cut the American League’s lead to 4-3 – helped the National League prevail 5-4.

More importantly, it showed that baseball was stronger than any work stoppage.

I cheered for Gary Carter that day and his performance was rewarded with the All-Star Game MVP Award.

That season Carter’s Expos made their lone playoff appearance, thanks in large part to the Kid. Three years later, during one of the best seasons of his career – hitting .294 with 27 homers and a league leading 106 RBIs – Carter would again earn the All-Star Game MVP Award with another key home run.

To date, Carter is one of four players to receive the honor, joining Willie Mays, Steve Garvey and Cal Ripken.

He made baseball a better game – and the world a better place. He will be missed.

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

Puerto Rico memories

By Brad Horn

Adios Borinquen!

There’s a colloquialism here in Ponce that speaks to the bravado of this southern coast historic town in Puerto Rico…”Ponce es Ponce.”

Indeed on Monday night, “Ponce is Ponce” was on full display at a local gymnasium used mostly for volleyball, named for a great basketball player from Ponce, Juan “Pachin” Vicens.

The people of Ponce turned out in droves to see the Hall of Fame plaques and were entertained by a rousing program, featuring mayor Maria Melendez Altieri’s infectious enthusiasm in presenting proclamations to Vera Clemente, Tony Perez and Roberto Alomar. The mayor also expressed her deepest thanks to the Hall of Fame and presented us gifts to show her appreciation.

Born in Ponce and raised in nearby Salinas, Robbie was the star of the evening, returning to his birthplace in the year of his Hall of Fame induction to boisterous applause. Father Sandy Sr. was also in attendance, as was Luis Clemente, Pituka Perez (Tony’s wife) and Ponce native and former Yankees reliever Luis Arroyo, who, along with Vic Power, became the first Puerto Ricans selected for an All-Star Game in 1955.

Smiles were abundant, as both Robbie and Tony spoke passionately of their appreciation for the people of Ponce. Alomar spoke in praise of how much it means to be a native son of Ponce, while Perez talked of the memories he’s shared over the years in this community, including watching winter league games here, when his son Eduardo, managed the Ponce club.

One of the single best moments of the entire trip served as the final touch to the plaque tour. Erik Strohl, our senior director for exhibitions and collections, told Sandy Sr. that he should have the honor of placing his son’s plaque in its case for the long journey home. Known by his given name here on the island, Santos was aglow as he held Robbie’s plaque, beaming with joy only a father could understand. Kudos to Erik for providing Sandy a memory of a lifetime.

As the plaques were packed securely by Erik and Evan Chase, our security director, the expression on the faces of our hosts for the last four days was simply priceless. Proud, joyous, exuberant, thankful and honored were the words said, but not uttered, in the universal language of visual emotion. No words were needed to understand what this journey was all about.

Moments later, Jeff, Erik, Evan and I were on board our Department of Sports and Recreation van, bound for the 110-mile journey back to the north end of the island. A police escort the entire way from Ponce to San Juan spoke volumes about the importance of this outreach to the commonwealth.

There’s a shared emotion many of us have in Cooperstown on the Monday afternoon following induction weekend every year. We are always happy that we have reached the end, knowing that we have done our absolute best to deliver lifetime memories to so many people for celebration unlike any other in baseball. Yet, we have a sadness that the journey has ended far too soon.

As the sun rose this morning while we taxied on the runway at Luis Munoz Airport in San Juan bound for Charlotte and then Albany and Cooperstown, I looked out my window and was overcome with emotion. I was reminded of that post-Induction feeling we have at the end of July in Cooperstown. For the last four days on this island, we did what we as an organization does best – made the dreams of others come true. And for the first time ever, we did so with the great fans of Puerto Rico.

There’s a line spoken by Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory that motivates me everyday that I have the high honor to represent the Hall of Fame: “We are the music makers and the dreamers of the dreams.”

Understanding that baseball has the power to connect cultures, families and memories unlike anything else has never appeared more genuine than what transpired over the last four days. The people of Puerto Rico were so honored and moved by this celebration that is impossible not to be realize that for so many we encountered, this was truly a dream come true that we were able to facilitate.

“From Puerto Rico to Cooperstown. From Cooperstown to Puerto Rico.”
(in Spanish: “De Borinquen a Cooperstown. De Cooperstown a Borinquen.”)

It served as the title for our journey – in English and Spanish – and as we return home, it is crystal clear the journey doesn’t end, and it does not have boundaries created by language. Rather, it continues a cycle of baseball history celebrated for nearly a century in the universal appreciation for the game and its heroes.

We are so honored and thankful for your kindness and hospitality, to everyone we encountered and all of those who shared a memory by viewing these treasures and baseball heroes.

Gracias Puerto Rico!

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

Join the club

By Craig Muder

The numbers are there for all of them.

Sixteen Gold Glove Awards for Brooks Robinson. Seven-hundred and fifty-five home runs for Hank Aaron. And – now – nine All-Star Games for Ron Santo.

All 296 Hall of Famers have the numbers. But it’s the intangibles – the integrity, the character, the dedication – that brought them to Cooperstown.

Santo’s election to the Hall of Fame on Monday was a reflection of his intangibles. Those intangibles left a legacy still felt by his teammates, his fans and his family.

“The numbers are there,” said Santo’s Chicago Cubs teammate Billy Williams. “Everybody saw the numbers. But (the Golden Era Committee electors) talked about what he did for the community.”

Robinson and Aaron – just like Williams – were on that Golden Era Committee that elected Santo to the Hall of Fame. And character lessons were not lost on Brooks and Hank.

“I had some talent, but it was my desire that made the difference,” Robinson said. “My love for the game overrode everything else.”

Santo had that same love. So did Aaron, for whom character will always be a defining trait of a Hall of Famer.

“It’s not just the stats that make you a Hall of Famer, but it’s how you carry yourself,” Aaron said. “We owe it to the public and the kids to be examples off the field, not just on it.

“That’s what life is about, not just how much you can accumulate.”

Along the way, however, the character of Hall of Famers like Robinson and Aaron led them to Cooperstown. Now, Santo – whose life touched so many other lives – joins them on the greatest team ever.

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

Giving Thanks for Baseball and Family

By Trevor Hayes

I have post-it notes on my bathroom mirror, my front door and my computer monitor. They say things like “Understand where you are,” “Don’t forget to enjoy it,” and “Be thankful.”

When you work at the Hall of Fame – a place people mark on calendars, plan vacations to and pencil in on bucket lists – I’ve found that I sometimes overlook what makes Cooperstown so special. I think to all of us here, it sometimes becomes just going to the office. My desk is in the basement, away from the visitors and artifacts – away from the magic. So I feel like I can’t always be blamed for forgetting.

If I let myself, I could go weeks without setting foot in the actual Museum. But I don’t. In fact over the last few weeks, I’ve given tours of the Hall to friends. About a month ago it was a Royals security guard and his son. The next week, my friend Keith and his die-hard Tiger fan grandparents. Then two weeks ago it was a high school buddy visiting from New York City. It all served as a reminder of how lucky I am – better than my post-its.

The common thread was family. While my fellow Oak Park High alum was alone, he kept he wants to come back with his father. I’m thankful for my father and the time we’ve spent together here. He had surgery last Friday to remove a kidney that most likely had a cancerous cyst.

Hopefully the surgery will be the extent of his battle. But I know from my prior experiences, that one of the best medicines are memories to which you can hold close. My dad helped me move here from Kansas City in 2008. We watched playoff baseball during our first night in town and saw Robin Roberts during a Voices of the Game event, then toured the Hall the next day. My family came for Father’s Day Weekend in 2010. I played catch with my dad at Doubleday and he got to see me working on the field the same field that was hosting legends like Bob Feller, Harmon Killebrew and Ozzie Smith.

Sports – and specifically baseball – have always been a bond between us. He introduced me to athletics and Boy Scouts. I think he did a pretty good job. I’m an Eagle Scout and worked on the same summer camp staff he did. Now I work at the Hall of Fame after two years with the Royals.

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a few of the other things I’m thankful for are: The fact that I’m in Los Angeles right now with my fiancée and we could go to the beach while it might be snowing in Cooperstown; the Royals – if I get to attend my first All-Star Game in KC next summer that will make my 2012 list; and as a uniform geek the Mets and Blue Jays for ditching black. I’m thankful for a seven-game World Series – despite the Cardinals winning it. I give thanks for the game’s greats, especially my favorite Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig and my favorite Gehrig stat which I try to shoe-horn into every Memories and Dreams, social media post or even casual conversation about him. I’m thankful for stars like Justin Verlander, who can hit triple digits in the seventh and eighth; for movies like Bull Durham, Major League and one of my new favorites Moneyball (so sue me, I’m a stat geek, I loved the book, and I hope Brad Pitt wins the Oscar).

But mostly this year, I’m thankful for my family and for my dad.

Oh, I couldn’t leave it like that. That Lou Gehrig stat: Despite playing in 2,130 consecutive games without taking a day off, when they x-rayed his hands in the late 1930s, they found 17 healed fractures. I’m blown away by that.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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

Hall Monitor: Pitching and Home Runs

By Trevor Hayes

The last Hall Monitor topic of two 600 home run hitters squaring off in the same game seems so long ago after the week’s events. But to follow-up, it did happen on Sunday. Alex Rodriguez and the Yanks met Jim Thome and the Twins marked the A.L.’s first 600 vs. 600. Here’s what’s happened since:

These go to 11: Just arrived in Cooperstown: Albert Pujols’ batting gloves and bat from his 30th home run of 2011 made it to their final destination at the beginning of the week. Pujols deposited his 30th into the PNC Park bleachers on Aug. 16. That historic stroke made the man known as The Machine the first player to hit 30 or more home runs in each of his first 11 seasons.

A pair of sevens: The American League Cy Young favorite is arguably Justin Verlander, and on Monday night he extended a winning streak to seven starts for the second time this season. The Tigers’ ace also compiled seven straight victories from May 29 to June 30. Over the last 50, years only three other pitchers have had two streaks of seven or more in the same season. Each led their league in wins and earned the Cy Young Award. Fellow Tiger Denny McLain did it in the first of his back-to-back Cy Young seasons while winning 31 in 1968. Cardinals Hall of Famer Bob Gibson did it in 1970 with 23 wins and the Twins’ Frank Viola did it in 1988, winning 24.

Movin’ on up: Baseball’s active strikeout leader inched his way a little further up the all-time list on Wednesday as the Marlins’ Javier Vazquez passed Don Drysdale for 30th place. By striking out 11 Reds, the 34-year-old Vazquez now has 2,494 K’s. When Drysdale retied in 1969 he was eighth with 2,486 behind Hall of Fame names like Johnson, Young, Bunning, Spahn, Feller and Keefe. Vazquez should be able to reach 29th this season as Christy Mathewson is just 13 strikeouts away.

Rookie Backstop Power: The Tigers’ Rudy York and Matt Nokes, Red Sox Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk, the Dodgers’ Mike Piazza and the Cubs’ Geovany Soto did it – and now the Blue Jays’ J.P Arencibia has too. In a loss to Kansas City Thursday, Arencibia became the sixth rookie to hit 20 home runs as a catcher, joining good company that includes 32 All-Star selections, 14 Silver Sluggers, three Rookie of the Year Award and of course, a Hall of Famer.

A grand old game in the Bronx: Lastly we have an MLB first. Robinson Cano, Russell Martin and Curtis Ganderson literally slammed the Yankees into the record books Thursday when the three made the Bronx Bombers the first team to hit three grand slams in a game. The 22-9 drubbing of the A’s made history in a lot of ways.

History notes other than the grand trio include from yesterday’s massacre: The Yanks tied a record by having three players with at least five RBIs; they matched the record for largest winning margin by a team which trailed by at least six; they became the fourth team to score at least four runs in four consecutive innings; and Martin is just the second catcher and third Pinstriper, regardless of position, to go 5-for-5 with two home runs and five or more RBIs. He joins current Tigers backstop Victor Martinez who did it as an Indian in 2004 and fellow Yankees Joe DiMaggio (July 9, 1937) and Danny Tartabull (Sept. 8, 1992).

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

Hall Monitor: 600 vs. 600?

By Trevor Hayes

Tomorrow night could be a historic night for the American League – featuring two 600 home run hitters in the same game. Of course there are factors to keep it from happening until Sunday or even next month – and then again, the event could be postponed indefinitely.

On Monday night, Jim Thome, in back-to-back at-bats, connected for home runs No. 599 and 600, joining an elite club consisting of just seven other players – three of whom are Hall of Famers and the other four, like Thome, aren’t yet eligible.

Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Hank Aaron are responsible for the only games in which two 600 Club members were featured in the same game, all of which happening under the National League banner. The American League has never one, but it could happen this weekend in Minneapolis.

Last night, Alex Rodriguez’s Yankees started a four-game series in Minnesota against baseball’s newest edition to the elite club, Thome, and his Twins. But Rodriguez is on the disabled list. News reports say he could be in the lineup tomorrow and with the Bronx Bombers fighting for a division crown, he very well could be. He’s played in four rehab games already, but the slightest setback in clearing him for play after knee surgery could postpone his return.

Should that happen, or if Thome – a 40-year-old designated hitter, who could retire at the end of the season – gets a day off, the two teams do meet again on Sept. 19th as a makeup for the rainout on April 6th. Another factor that could stop the AL’s first 600-600 game: Thome’s name is circulating the rumor mill as a waiver trade candidate, though a move elsewhere in AL could just alter the time and location for his matchup against Rodriguez.

With only eight members of the 600 Club, it has been rare for two 600 home run hitters to be active for an extended period of time together. The inaugural member, Babe Ruth, retired almost 35 years before the Giants Mays joined him at 600 at the end of 1969. The Braves Aaron joined Mays two years later, but once Mays retired in 1973 and Aaron in 1976, it was a full 25 years before Barry Bonds launched his 600th in 2002. Sammy Sosa, wearing a Ranger’s uniform, played just one season – 2007 – before he and the Giants Bonds both hung ’em up without meeting in interleague. Next was Ken Griffey Jr. who reached 600 in 2008. During Junior’s final season last year, Alex Rodriguez reached the plateau – but two months after Griffey’s retirement from the Mariners – and that brings us to Thome.

For those curious, Mays and Aaron played in 24 games against each other after both achieved 600 home runs, including the game in which Aaron hit his 600th on April 27, 1971, off of fellow future Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. 1971 featured the most action, with the two taking the field together 13 times. With Mays as a Met they met four times in 1972 and seven times in 1973. In those 24 games, Aaron hit home runs eight times by himself, Mays had one on May 9, 1971 and they both went deep on May 8, 1971.

One last note, there have actually been three games featuring two 600 Club members on the same team: the 1971-73 All-Star Games. Both featured Aaron and Mays on the NL rosters, and the two were in the starting lineups for the 1972 and 1973 games.

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

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.

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