Results tagged ‘ American League ’

By the numbers

Strohl_90.jpgBy Erik Strohl

The Hall of Fame curatorial/exhibits team has been working on our new permanent exhibit, One for the Books, for more than a year now. Scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend 2011, it will take an in-depth look at baseball records and the stories behind them.

02-01-11-Strohl_OFTB.jpgBaseball records reflect the pinnacles of achievement in the game and allow us to note the best players throughout time, whether it is in single seasons or over whole careers. But they also tell us much more about the game itself and how it is viewed by American culture.

Some baseball records have attained an almost sacred status. Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. Babe Ruth’s 60 home runs in 1927, when he outhomered every other team in the American League. Ted Williams’ .406 batting average in 1941.

Records seem to resonate with baseball fans more than with fans of other sports, and I think this is likely because of baseball’s long history and because the compilation of statistics (and hence records) has had a prominent place in the history of the game. These magic numbers have been memorized and recited by legions of fans for generations, and I know this will continue.

Baseball is ripe with amazing feats, milestones, and records. Some of my personal favorites include:

  • Cy Young’s career record 749 complete games (yes, folks, complete games)
  • Stan Musial’s 3,630 career hits (good for fourth on the all-time hits list) can be split equally into 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 hits on the road
  •  If you took away all of Hank Aaron’s 755 career home runs (the longstanding record from 1974 until 2007), he would still have over 3,000 hits (3,016 to be exact)
  • Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn’s 59 pitching victories (the single-season record) in 1884 (he also had 73 complete games!!)

02-01-11-Strohl_Young.jpgBaseball records also provide for endless debate, and encourage us to compare the achievements of players from different eras. I think what you will find, however, is that statistics from different eras only offer an illusion of comparison. What the study of numbers and records will illustrate is the differences in the game over time and that there are countless variables throughout the history of the sport that help determine the parameters of statistics and records, from ballpark dimensions to playing rules to changes in technology.

We are very excited about the potential for this brand new exhibit and look forward to sharing it with the public. Featuring about 200 artifacts related to batting, pitching, fielding, base running, and team records, the exhibit will also utilize many new technological and interactive elements. I am positive there will be something of interest to all baseball fans, whether you want to learn about perfect games, team-winning streaks, or the home run champion before Babe Ruth.

Please plan to come to Cooperstown to see artifacts for your favorite records and record-holders and to explore this exciting topic in depth. To find out how you can support One for the Books, click here.

Erik Strohl is the senior director of exhibitions and collections for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hall Monitor: A Masher, A Freak, A Winner and A Legend

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

Just the final weekend of the regular season remains. This season has been a long and exciting haul, but it’s not quite time for reflection with milestones still falling.


10-01-10-Hayes_RuthFoxxMantle.jpgPushing to the finish
: Toronto hitting sensation Jose Bautista hasn’t quit yet. Now with 54 homers, he collected his ninth multi-homer game of 2010 last night in Minnesota. Before this year, he had just two in his career. The Jays slugger has 15 more than the next highest American League total. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only three players in AL history have finished with wider gaps than Bautista’s over Paul Konerko (39), and all three are Hall of Famers: Babe Ruth (six times), Jimmie Foxx and Mickey Mantle.

Giant talent in Tiny Tim: After fanning 11 on short rest Wednesday, Tim Lincecum may or may not get one more regular season start – pending the Giants’ plans. What is certain is that unless Roy Halladay pitches and reels off a 10-plus K start, the pitcher known as The Freak will win his third straight strikeout title. Beyond Halladay, no pitcher is within 15 of Lincecum. With his third consecutive title, Lincecum would join Randy Johnson and Hall of Famer Warren Spahn as the only National Leaguers to string together three straight since World War II. Furthermore, the Giants ace is doing it as a righty, something not done in the NL since another Hall of Famer, Dizzy Dean from 1932 to 1935.

10-1-10-Hayes_SpahnJohnson.jpgEvolving into quite the strikeout artist, Lincecum made his last start his 26th career game with 10 or more strikeouts. The fourth-year hurler broke a tie with Juan Marichal and now sits behind only Jason Schmidt (27) and Christy Mathewson (28) among Giants since 1900.

The Captain and the Mick: The winningest franchise in baseball has a new winningest player in team history. The Yankees own a .568 franchise winning percentage and once again employ the winningest player in team history. As of Sunday night, Derek Jeter passed Mickey Mantle for the most wins while wearing pinstripes. Mantle finished his career at 1,376 wins and Jeter, after adding one more win Tuesday, sits at 1,378 regular-season victories. Mantle still leads Jeter – 2,401 to 2,293 – for most total regular-season games.

50 Years since Ted hung ‘em up: The Red Sox plan to pay tribute to one of the legends of the game tonight at Fenway. A pre-game ceremony will mark the 50th anniversary of Ted Williams’ final game. During the bottom of the eighth on Sept. 28, 1960, he stepped to the plate and hit a home run to deep center field – the 521st of his career. In the top of the next inning, Williams trotted out to his position and then to an ovation from the Fenway faithful, was removed – never again to take the field as a major leaguer.

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

Hall Monitor: Vlad laps the majors

Hayes_90.jpg

By Trevor Hayes

Last week, on a ball way out of the strike zone where only he could make an opponent pay, the Rangers’ Vladimir Guerrero sent one of his signature bad-ball home runs over the fence. This particular home run came against his former mates in Anaheim, the Angels – the 30th team he’s homered against. And that round-tripper put him into a small group, as only 32 players have hit a home run against all 30 teams.

But only one of the 203 Hall of Famers who played in the major leagues – Eddie Murray – homered against every active team during his era.

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Retiring in 1997, Murray never had a chance to hit against Arizona and Tampa Bay, but he amassed home runs against 28 opponents. Murray’s march through the majors consisted of 504 home runs during 21 seasons. He played 13 years with the Orioles, four with the Dodgers, three with the Indians, two with the Mets and one with the Angels. The Twins were his most victimized team, as Murray hit 44 home runs against Minnesota – with Detroit following at 38 home runs yielded. Despite his long stint in Baltimore, he still clouted six against them. His least victimized teams were Colorado (one home run), Florida (three home runs) and a three-way tie between Philadelphia, Montreal and the Mets (four home runs).

Because the last round of expansion came so recently, few Hall of Famers have even had the chance to complete Guerrero’s feat of homering against 30 teams. Among current Hall of Famers, only Rickey Henderson, Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken Jr., Wade Boggs, Dennis Eckersley and Paul Molitor played in 1998 or beyond.

Of them, Eckersley, a pitcher, had three career home runs, Ripken and Gwynn spent their entire careers with one team – making it impossible to hit home runs against the Orioles and Padres, respectively.

Molitor and Boggs played exclusively in the American League, giving them from 1997 on to take advantage of Interleague play. Molitor played just one season with all 30 clubs, homering against 16 total teams – with one each against the Cubs and Astros and none in 11 games against Tampa Bay. Boggs retired in 1999, playing for Tampa in its first two seasons of existence while collecting just one home run against an NL club – the Expos.

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Henderson homered against 27 teams during 25 seasons with 11 teams. The speedster missed out on the Diamondbacks, Braves and Astros.

Other than Henderson, Gwynn, Ripken, Boggs, Eckersley and Molitor, Murray and Ryne Sandberg are the only Hall of Famers to participate in Interleague games – which means in order to accomplish the feat, inductees prior to them must have played for a minimum of four teams (two in each league).

In all, there are 59 Hall of Famers who played with four or more teams. Of them, 35 hit 16 or more home runs in their career – the minimum number of home runs needed to hit one against each team in the modern pre-expansion era. Of those 35, just seven played for two franchises in the AL and two in the NL: Frank Robinson, Jimmie Foxx, Murray, Orlando Cepeda, Al Simmons, Enos Slaughter and Heinie Manush.

Robinson and Slaughter came the closest, falling one team shy of homering against all clubs of their era – leaving Murray, for now, in a class by himself.

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

Nov. 25, 1981: Rollie Fingers becomes first relief pitcher in AL history to win MVP

Bielefeld_90.jpgBy Bridget Bielefeld

When Oakland A’s manager Dick Williams sent Rollie Fingers to the bullpen in 1971 after several sub-par outings as a starter, Fingers thought his short major league run had come to an end.

“Williams threw me out to the bullpen and I thought: ‘Well that’s the end of that,’” Fingers said in an interview with the New York Post. “My baseball career was over. I figured the handwriting was on the wall.”

11-25-09-Bielefeld_Fingers.jpg“No kid ever dreams of being a reliever,” Fingers further explained. “Everybody wants to be a starter, and I was no different.”

However, the transition proved to be a blessing in disguise for Fingers – who, during his 17-year major league career with the A’s, Padres and Brewers, became one of the greatest relief pitchers the game has ever seen.

The pinnacle of his illustrious bullpen career came 28 years ago today when, on Nov. 25, 1981, just days after winning his first Cy Young Award, Fingers became only the second relief pitcher in major league history to win a Most Valuable Player Award and the first to do so in the American League.

In his 14th year in the majors, Fingers posted a 6-3 record, racked up an AL leading 28 saves and sported an infinitesimal 1.04 ERA. Utilizing his fastball and sharp slider, he struck out 61 men while walking only 13 in 78 innings pitched.

Fingers was especially dominant in the second half of the ’81 season. After the Brewers got off to a lackluster start, the club rallied, emerging as second half champions and climbing to first place in the AL East.

11-25-09-Bielefeld_Chart.jpg“He’s the type of pitcher who has command of all of his pitches,” said former Brewers skipper Rene Lachemann, who managed Fingers in 1984. “He knows he’s going to get [batters] out. He gives me a lot of confidence when he’s out there.”

While the 1981 Brewers would ultimately lose in the AL Division Series, Fingers was no stranger to October success. In his career, he pitched in 16 World Series games – winning three consecutive titles with the Athletics from 1972-74.

When Fingers retired in 1985, he was the all-time saves king with 341. Today, he is 10th on the all-time list.

Fingers, along with his famed handlebar mustache, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992. Shortly after his enshrinement in Cooperstown, the Brewers retired No. 34 – Fingers’ jersey number – to commemorate his four-year tenure with the team and his MVP accomplishment.

Bridget Bielefeld was the 2009 public relations intern at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Postseason drama

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

On Tuesday, the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins met in the 12th tie-breaker play-in in major league history. The 12-inning affair also matched Game Seven of the 1924 World Series for the second-longest elimination game in major league history, a game in which 12 Hall of Famers saw on-field action.

10-9-09-Berowski_Gomez.jpgTuesday night’s game ended in dramatic fashion when Tigers closer Fernando Rodney, pitching in his fourth inning (something unheard of for a closer in this era), gave up the game-winning hit. Alexi Casilla, hitting a major league low .202 in 2009 for batters with more than 200 at-bats, drove a single to right allowing the speedy Carlos Gomez, the primary piece of the 2008 Johan Santana trade, to score the winning run from second base and secure the AL Central title for the Twins. This Tigers loss also marked the fifth time since 1900 that a team lead by as many as seven games in September and lost the lead, ultimately missing the post-season. The other teams to suffer the same fate as the Tigers: the 1934 Giants, the 1938 Pirates, the 1964 Phillies and the 2007 Mets.

The 1924 World Series between the New York Giants and the franchise that is today known as the Minnesota Twins – the Washington Senators – would take all seven games to decide. Eight future Hall of Famers competed for the Giants that day while the Senators fielded four, including Game Seven’s winning pitcher, Walter Johnson.

10-9-09-Berowski_Johnson.jpgAlready 0-2 in the Series, The Big Train played a pivotal role in this game from the time he entered in relief in the 9th inning, striking out five and allowing only three base hits until the game’s end. With one out and nobody on in the bottom of the 12th, Giants backstop Hank Gowdy dropped a foul pop-up by his Senators counterpart, Muddy Ruel. Ruel took full advantage of his second chance, driving a double to left field. Johnson was up next and he too reached base, on an error committed by future Hall of Fame shortstop Travis Jackson. Instead of a three-up, three-down inning, runners were now on first and second with one out. Light-hitting Earl McNeely, batting only .192 in the Series and already 0-for-5 in the game, proved the unlikely hero, doubling home the winning run.

Incidentally, the record for most innings played in an MLB elimination game – where both teams could be eliminated – is 13, when the Colorado Rockies defeated the San Diego Padres to become the 2007 National League Wild Card winner.

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

Sept. 9, 1992: Yount records 3,000th hit

Lawrence_90.jpgBy Thomas Lawrence

Seventeen years ago today — Sept. 9, 1992 — Robin Yount joined one of baseball’s most exclusive fraternities: The 3,000-hit club.

But for Yount, the milestone proved to be a rarity within a rarity.

9-9-09-Lawrence_Yount.jpgYount, the longtime Milwaukee Brewer, was on the verge of his 3,000th career hit in a game against Jos Mesa and the Cleveland Indians. Mesa thwarted Yount in his first three at-bats – forcing a groundout in the first and striking him out in consecutive innings in the third and fourth.

But when Yount stepped up to the plate against Mesa in the bottom of the seventh inning at Milwaukee County Stadium, the hard-driving Brewers outfielder would not be denied.

Utilizing his renowned baserunning intensity, Yount managed an infield single against Mesa – making him the 17th player to join the 3,000-hit club. He became only the second player at the time to notch his 3,000th hit on an infield single. The first was Cardinals great and Hall of Famer Lou Brock against Dennis Lamp and the Cubs on Aug.13, 1979.

Ironically, twenty-one days after Yount reached No. 3,000, George Brett did the same. Seven years later, Brett and Yount were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 1999.

Yount is still the only player to reach 3,000 hits in a Brewers uniform, as Paul Molitor – the other notable Brewer in the club – did so when he was with the Twins. In fact, Yount is only one of eight players in the history of the game to grind out all 3,000 hits with a single team; all eight are Hall of Famers.

Molitor, a teammate of Yount’s on the Brew Crew for 15 seasons, was mentored by Yount when he broke into the big leagues in 1978.

9-9-09-Lawrence_YountSlide.jpg“In retrospect, I can say playing with him (Yount) for 15 years was one of the best things that was part of my experience of being a Brewer,” said Molitor, who joined the 3,000 hit-club on Sept. 16, 1996.

Besides his legendary career totals, Yount is best remembered for his 1982 season – one when he led the Brewers to a 95-67 record and their first American League pennant.

Yount exploded onto the national scene that season, leading the major leagues in hits (210), doubles (46), slugging percentage (.578) and total bases (367). For his efforts, Yount took home the American League MVP award, a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove at shortstop.

He earned his second MVP award with the 1989 Milwaukee club when he hit .318 as the Brewers’ center fielder – making him only the third player to win MVPs at two separate positions.

Yount retired after the 1993 season with 3,142 hits and 583 doubles – which both rank 17th-best all-time.

9-9-09-Lawrence_Chart.jpgIn 1999, he became just the 34th player to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first time on the ballot.

“I gave it everything I had every time I went out there,” Yount said. “That’s what I’m most proud of.”

Thomas Lawrence was the 2009 publications intern at 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.

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