Results tagged ‘ American League ’

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.

Happy Birthday Harmon!

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder
 
The gray hair and quick smile make the nickname seem almost laughable.

Killer? This light-hearted, friendly man playing golf and shaking hands? But when he swung a bat 40 years ago, there was no one more valuable in the American League.
 
6-29-09-Muder_Killebrew.jpgHarmon Killebrew turns 73 today, and during his career was one of the most feared hitters in the AL. Killebrew topped the 40-home run mark eight times, finished with 573 home runs (fifth all-time at the time of his retirement and still ninth overall) and won the 1969 AL Most Valuable Player Award.
 
The 5-foot-11 Killebrew made up for in power what he lacked in size — yet was a limber enough fielder to play more than half of his big league games at either third base or left field. He led his Minnesota Twins to the postseason three times and was named to 13 All-Star teams.
 
Today, Killebrew remains an ardent ambassador of baseball — and one of the game’s true gentlemen.
 
But for baseball fans in the 1960s — especially those of opposing teams — Killebrew’s lethal nickname was truly appropriate.
 
Happy birthday, Harmon.

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

Perfect relief

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

When Babe Ruth retired from baseball, he was the all-time leader in home runs with 714 — 336 more than anyone else. His name still appears all over the offensive record books, more than 60 years after his death.

Ninety-two years ago today, however, Ruth’s name was recorded next to one of the rarest pitching feats in history – with a lot of help from teammate Ernie Shore.

6-23-09-Carr_Ruth.jpgOn June 23, 1917, Ruth was a starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. He took the mound during the first game of a doubleheader against the Washington Senators and faced the Senator leadoff batter Ray Morgan.

Umpire Brick Owens called ball-four and gave Morgan a base-on-balls to begin the game. Ruth rushed to the plate to argue. Owens warned Ruth that he would run him from the ballgame if he didn’t get back to the mound.

“If you chase me, I’ll punch your face,” Ruth said as reported by the Washington Post.

Subsequently, Owens tossed Ruth – and Ruth hit Owens in the head, behind his ear. After players broke up the argument and helped Ruth to the dugout, Shore came on in relief. 

Morgan was thrown out attempting to steal second, and Shore set down the next 26 straight batters, earning a 4-0 win and – at the time – a perfect game. Boston also won the nightcap, 5-0.

“We will take care of Ruth,” American League President Ban Johnson was quoted as saying.

Johnson handed Ruth a 10-game suspension, lighter than some expected – and the game was later changed to a combined no-hitter.

Less than three years later, much of Ruth’s pitching success became a distant memory when the Sultan of Swat was sold to New York – a move that resulted in birth of the Yankee dynasty.

Ruth was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 as part of the inaugural class.

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

Ellsbury pulls off Hall of Fame-like steal of home

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

On Sunday night, the Red Sox’s Jacoby Ellsbury did something that is rare in today’s game — he managed a straight steal of home off the Yankees’ Andy Pettitte. Pettitte looked devastated after it happened, and Ellsbury got a curtain call from the Fenway Park faithful after his daring dash.

The straight steal of home is rare, just like no-hitters or cycles. This season, there have been three cycles, and there were five last year. Last season there were two no-hitters. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there were 15 steals of home in 2008, with just four being straight thefts. Torii Hunter’s straight steal on Sept. 18, 2008, was the last steal of home of any kind.

4-28-09-Hayes_Ellsbury.jpgDuring the ESPN telecast, Hall of Famer Joe Morgan was asked how many times he’d performed a straight steal of home. Morgan, who ranks ninth among modern-era players with 689 stolen bases, said he’d done it maybe twice in his career. (He’s done it three times.) But after one particularly close attempt, teammate Tony Perez — another future Hall of Famer — told him not to do it anymore. Morgan listened.

Because stealing home is not an official statistic, research is considered ongoing, but the untouchable leader in steals of home is Hall of Famer Ty Cobb. He stole home a staggering 54 times in his career, including 25 straight steals. Max Carey, another Hall of Famer, is second with 33.

In Major League history, 38 men have 10 or more steals of home. Of those 38, exactly half, 19, are in the Hall of Fame.

Rk Hall of Famer Steals of Home
1) Ty Cobb 54
2) Max Carey 33
4) Honus Wagner 27
8) George Sisler 20
7) Johnny Evers 21
9) Frankie Frisch 19
9) Jackie Robinson 19
11) Tris Speaker 18
11) Joe Tinker 18
14) Rod Carew 17
14) Eddie Collins 17
18) Fred Clarke 15
18) Lou Gehrig 15
26) Sam Rice 12
28) Harry Hooper 11
32) Rabbit Maranville 10
32) Paul Molitor 10
32) Babe Ruth 10
32) Ross Youngs 10

Cobb holds the single-season record with eight during the 1912 season, whereas Pete Reiser holds the National League single-season record with seven. Carew, who stole home seven times in 1969, is the most productive home-plate thief in the post-Jackie Robinson era.

4-29-09-Hayes_Cobb.jpgRobinson, however, may have recorded the most famous steal of home. On Sept. 28, 1955, in Game 1 of the World Series, Robinson — who made stealing home and driving pitchers nuts an art form — slid under the tag of catcher Yogi Berra during an eighth-inning attempt, cutting the Yankees’ lead to 6-5. Berra immediately began arguing with home-plate umpire Bill Summers, insisting that Robinson was out — a stance he maintains to this day. The Hall of Fame catcher lost the argument, and eventually his team lost the World Series.

The Mets’ Jose Reyes, one of today’s prolific basestealers, said he’s planning a tribute to Robinson this season. After being told Jackie stole home 19 times, Reyes couldn’t believe it, but he’s been inspired and said he wants to pilfer the plate to honor Robinson’s fearlessness on the bases.

There’s an ongoing argument in baseball about the most exciting play in the game. Some people call it the triple; others say it’s a squeeze play or the inside-the-park home run. On Sunday night, Ellsbury reminded fans that the straight steal of home should be included in that conversation.

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

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