Results tagged ‘ Arizona Diamondbacks ’

Cooperstown comes to Arizona

By Steve Light

The baseball world has descended on Phoenix, Ariz., for the Mid-Summer Classic – including the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Since Friday, the masses have flocked to Major League Baseball’s annual FanFest at the Phoenix Convention Center, just blocks away from Chase Field, where they can experience the world’s largest interactive baseball fan event. Fans have taken advantage of batting cages, clinics, free autograph sessions, retail locations and of course, an exhibit put together by our curators at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

For the Hall of Fame staff in Phoenix this week, we have the unique opportunity to interact with fans here in Arizona, hear some of their favorite baseball moments and bring a bit of Cooperstown across the country to them. In addition to our exhibit, the Hall of Fame has offered live interactive programs throughout the day.

Each day at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., I’ve had the opportunity to present hands-on programs to enthusiastic FanFest attendees. At 11, our Tools of the Trade program breaks down the evolution of baseballs, bats, and gloves – using replica artifacts from the Hall of Fame’s Education Collection. As part of the program, audience volunteers are able to come on stage and work together to try to put a number of different gloves and bats in chronological order. So far, our fans have had great success in their efforts.

At 2, we shift gears a bit and delve into the science behind the National Pastime, as we conduct experiments with our audience to find the sweet spot of the bat, learn about the impact of weather and altitude on the ball and unlock the secrets of the curveball and knuckleball. In addition to these programs, fans have a chance to test their baseball knowledge during our popular Hall of Fame Trivia contest.

All in all, our FanFest experience has allowed the Hall of Fame staff a great chance to interact with fans who share our love for the National Pastime. If you are in the Phoenix area, stop on by – Fan Fest continues right up through Tuesday’s All-Star Game.

Steve Light is the manager of museum programs at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hall Monitor: Cys, Fourths, Hitters and Winners

By Trevor Hayes

Here we are, basically at the halfway point. Many point to the All-Star break as the halfway mark, though that’s not entirely true this season. Seventeen teams are slated to play their 90th game tonight. Baltimore has the fewest games played and tonight will be the Orioles’ 86th contest. Plenty of storylines are swirling with Albert Pujols’ injury, Derek Jeter’s quest for 3,000 and much more. Here’s how the last week has gone.

The Cy Young Returns: On Sunday, the Blue Jays 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay started in Toronto, wearing a Phillies uniform. The outcome was a complete game victory for Doc in his first start as an opposing pitcher since leaving the Jays. Halladay is the sixth former Cy Young to notch a complete game “W” in his first road start against the team for which he won the Cy Young Award. The others include: Hall of Famers Catfish Hunter as a Yankee a season after leaving Oakland in 1975; Tom Seaver after being traded by the Mets to the Reds in 1977; and 300-game winner Randy Johnson in 1999 as a Diamondback against the Mariners.

First-year Oriole mashers: Before this season, Frank Robinson was the only player to collect 20 home runs by the All-Star break in his first season in Baltimore. He had 21 in 1966, the same year he won the AL MVP Award and the Triple Crown. Robinson now has company as Mark Reynolds hit two home runs on Monday, giving him 20 before the break in his first season in Birdland.

Independence Day Fun: Vance Worley led the red-white-and-blue clad Phillies to a 1-0 victory on the Fourth of July. For fans in the city that is home to the Liberty Bell and Ben Franklin, they can now claim a .500 record on the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. With Hall of Famers from Chuck Klein and Mike Schmidt to Pete Alexander and Steve Carlton, in 201 July 4th games since 1883, Philadelphia’s record is now 101-100.

A fellow N.L. East red-white-and-blue team, the Nationals, also won on Monday. The team in the Nation’s Capital now sports a .633 winning percentage on the Fourth of July. At 31 wins and 18 losses, it’s the best mark for any team with at least 20 Independence Day tilts. Of course, the majority of the franchise’s wins came while playing in another country powered by Hall of Famers Gary Carter, Andre Dawson and Dick Williams – though as Les Expos de Montreal, they still wore red-white-and-blue uniforms.

Verlander matching Newhouser: Tiger All-Star Justin Verlander, who’s scheduled to throw again this weekend, has been dominant this season, especially so in his last eight starts. After Tuesday, he’s thrown at least seven innings and given up two-or-fewer runs in each of his last eight. It’s rarified air for Detroit pitchers. In 1945, future Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser put together the only other streak like Verlander’s – a nine-game string en route to one of his two MVP Awards.

Youngsters walkin’ off: Mike Stanton became the third youngest player to hit a walk-off  home run when he went yard in the bottom of the 10th on Wednesday. At 21, Stanton’s game-winner gave Florida a 7-6 win over the Phillies. Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews is the youngest, when at 20-years-old he decided a game for the Boston Braves in 1952, also beating the Phillies. Fellow Marlin Alex Gonzalez hit a walk-off homer in 1998 – also 21, but slightly younger than Stanton.

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

Eve of FanFest

By Lenny DiFranza

The All-Star Game is still five days away, but FanFest starts the entertainment tomorrow and baseball history will be there.

The Hall of Fame team is putting the finishing touches on our FanFest exhibit in Phoenix, luckily unimpeded by the remarkable dust storm that hit the city Tuesday night – a fast-moving wall of dirt that was reported as a mile high and a hundred miles wide! Safe inside the Phoenix Convention Center, the last pieces to go into place will be used for presentations.

The opportunity to explore the host city is one of the fringe benefits of working at FanFest. We’ve taken advantage of this trip by going to the Heard Museum, with exhibits demonstrating and interpreting the arts and cultures of the Native peoples of the Americas. It’s an impressive collection and inspiring for us to see how another world-class museum works.

We also visited the Arizona Latino Art and Cultural Center, a thriving studio, gallery and theater located just a block from the convention center. We’ll be bringing some new ideas with us when we return to Cooperstown.

For this year’s FanFest, we’re bringing some gems from our film archive, including highlights from the 1971 All-Star Game. Forty years ago, baseball’s best put on a memorable hitting display in Detroit, with six home runs by future Hall of Famers. We’ll also show highlights from the game 10 years later, 1981, when Gary Carter led the National League to victory. Another video program celebrates the Arizona Diamondbacks thrilling, seven-game defeat of the New York Yankees in the 2001 World Series.

Our live programs include a hands-on review of the evolution of equipment, showing examples of the bats, balls, gloves and other “tools of the trade” that major leaguers have used over the game’s many years, and giving fans a chance to take a close look at the latest innovative equipment.

Our most popular live program returns this year: Hall of Fame Trivia. Fans can test their knowledge of baseball history, compete for prizes and have a lot of fun. If you are in the area for the All-Star Game, join the festivities and stop over and see the Hall of Fame team.

Lenny DiFranza is the assistant curator of new media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Getting ready for FanFest

By Lenny DiFranza

Next week, the All-Star Game will bring baseball’s biggest stars to Phoenix, Ariz., for the game’s midsummer classic. While the players seek to entertain fans in events like the Home Run Derby, the Baseball Hall of Fame will bring baseball history to life with artifacts from the game’s greats.

The Hall of Fame team arrived in Phoenix on July 4th so we could get started early the next day. We braved a 110 degree evening to find dinner.

By the following morning, we had learned that the heat wave had passed and we could expect a seasonable 107 degrees – quite a change from the weather in Cooperstown. We spent the morning unpacking the more than 100 artifacts we shipped from Cooperstown.

The Hall of Fame has been traveling to FanFest for many years, and even though we make changes every year, we have developed a regular routine. This year was no different, and everything has gone smoothly – of course there are always surprises along the way.

Fans who visit us in Phoenix will see a Dodgers cap worn by Jackie Robinson in 1955, the year of Brooklyn’s only World Series victory. Diamondbacks items include the hat worn by Curt Schilling after 9/11 through the World Series, as well as the bat used by Luis Gonzalez to knock in the series-clinching run for Arizona’s only World Championship.

We still have a couple days to finish preparations for the video presentations and live demonstrations that fans can enjoy here July 8th through the 12th. Check back for updates about our progress and the opening of FanFest 2011.

Lenny DiFranza is the assistant curator of new media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Gonzalez shaping baseball’s stars of tomorrow

By Trevor Hayes

He doesn’t strike the average onlooker as a former Major Leaguer. But the impact Luis Gonzalez made on the game of baseball is unmistakable, his place in history is secure and – despite his unassuming looks – he is a recognizable figure for fans.

Fans know him as the offensive star of the 2001 World Champion Diamondbacks – the man with 57 home runs and the Game 7 game-winning hit off Mariano Rivera. They remember his 30 game-hitting streak (a bat from which resides in Cooperstown along with his Game 7 bat). In Arizona, he’s the first player to have his number retired and he’s now immortalized each during each D-backs home game as the racing Gonzo – a more than eight-foot tall caricature of the 19-year vet – that competes in against Mark Grace, Randy Johnson and Matt Williams.

This summer he’ll serve as the All-Star Game Ambassador when the Mid-Summer Classic heads to Chase Field in Phoenix. But on Monday, Gonzo sported a little gray stubble on his face and an Arizona T-Rex’s T-shirt while at the Hall of Fame with his son’s Little League team for the second straight year.

 

“There are a lot of hopes and dreams in baseball,” Gonzalez said. “That’s why it’s so exciting to bring the kids. It’s exciting to be able to show them your artifacts and show them you actually did something in the game.”

Gonzalez, his brother Rex and a former minor league teammate of Rex’s coach the T-Rexes who are competing in a weeklong tournament at nearby Cooperstown Dreams Park. Like last summer, Gonzalez and the T-Rexes met with Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson before touring the Museum.

Idelson briefed the team on the Hall’s history and purpose before telling them about the importance of character, integrity and good sportsmanship in baseball. After posing for a few photos with the young ballplayers, Idelson wished them luck for the remainder of their week in Cooperstown and told them to enjoy the Museum.

“It gives these young kids a chance to come out and see the history,” Gonzalez said. “When they leave here, it’s amazing to see how they appreciate everything. This is the history of the game and it means a lot to them.”

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

Hall Monitor: World Series Special

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

The World Series is upon us. The whole season comes down to this, and like the previous 105, this one is already living up to the name Fall Classic.


10-29-10-Hayes_DrysdaleKoufax.jpgTexas Three-Step?
: Just two of the previous seven teams to dig a hole like Texas’ current deficit – losing the first two games, each by at least four runs – have come back to win the World Series. The last team to create such a predicament was the 2001 Yankees, who forced a seventh game but ultimately lost to the Diamondbacks. The pair to overcome similarly lopsided losses: Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale’s 1965 Dodgers, who rallied against the Twins, and the 1996 Yankees, who defeated the Braves.

Record line: In three career postseason starts, San Francisco’s Matt Cain has given up just one run – an unearned blemish in the sixth inning of the NLDS against the Braves. Cain has compiled a 2-0 record after blanking the Rangers in Game Two. Few other players have begun their postseason careers with three straight games in which they didn’t allow an earnie. Giants legends and Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson began his postseason career with what may be the most impressive performance ever: Three straight complete game shutouts in the 1905 World Series – going on three days rest and then two days for the final two. Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt allowed two unearned runs in three starts for the 1921 Yankees- going 2-1 in his first foray into postseason play. And Jon Matlack allowed three unearned while going 2-1 in his first three games before eventually ending with a 2-2 record during the Mets’ postseason run in 1973 – his only career postseason.

10-29-10-Hayes_Mathewson.jpgCain’s 21.1 innings without an earned run to start his postseason career is the sixth longest mark. He sits behind Hoyt (34 innings), Mathewson (28 innings), Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon  (26.1 innings), Matlack  (25 innings) and another Giant Hall of Famer, Carl Hubbell  (22 innings).

End of the run: Cliff Lee went 4.2 innings and gave up seven runs in Game One on Wednesday. His numbers are so astounding because he was on an unbelievable run. Before Wednesday’s aberration, his career 1.26 postseason ERA ranked third among pitchers with at least five starts. Just Sandy Koufax and Christy Mathewson held an edge over Lee’s dominance. As it is now, he still holds a 1.96 ERA and a 7-1 record in nine starts during his playoff career.

Big hits: Nine times in World Series history, a Giant has collected four hits in a game. After his 4-for-5 night in game one, Freddy Sanchez became the latest. The previously four before him is a good group to be in: Hall of Famers Ross Youngs (1923), Fred Lindstrom (1924), Mel Ott (1933) and Monte Irvin (1951).

Pivotal Pitching: The Phils “Feared the Beard” during the NLCS, as Brian Wilson recorded a win or a save in each of the Giants victories. With three saves and a win, he’s just the fourth pitcher since saves became an official stat in 1969 to wreak that kind of havoc on an opponent. Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, with four saves and an MVP Award 1988 ALCS leads the group, followed by Mitch Williams (two wins and two saves in the 1993 NLCS) and John Wetteland (four saves and an MVP Award in the 1996 World Series).

10-29-10-Hayes_Ryan.jpgCheckup up on the stars: Milwaukee Brewers broadcaster and 2003 Ford C. Frick Award winner Bob Uecker was released from the hospital after undergoing successful heart surgery last Tuesday. The broadcaster received a valve replacement earlier this season before surgery to repair a tear at the replacement site earlier this month.

Throughout the postseason, several Hall of Famers have tossed several ceremonial first pitches. Game One of the World Series was no different with Orlando Cepeda, Monte Irvin, Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey and Gaylord Perry tossing the first ball. In Texas, Saturday’s game will likewise feature a living legend as Rangers President Nolan Ryan reprises the role after he and Fergie Jenkins took the honors in Game One and Two of the ALCS, respectively.

For a good cause: Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield was honored before Thursday’s game with the Roberto Clemente Award. Beating out nominees from the other 29 clubs in his eighth year of being nominated, Wakefield is honored for combining dedication to giving back to the community with outstanding skills on the baseball field.

Wakefield was honored by Commissioner Bud Selig, widow Clemente’s Vera Clemente and his sons Roberto Jr. and Luis. Of the 27 eligible former winners of the Award, 13 are Hall of Famers.

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

Going Gonzo for Cooperstown

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

Winning a World Series is the goal of every major league player from the time they enter the big leagues. Luis Gonzalez not only has a ring, but helped his team in dramatic fashion with a walk-off hit in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series against the premier closer of his generation, the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera.

 
07-28-10-Carr-GonzalezLuis.jpgThe 2001 World Series was special because it was the Diamondbacks’ first and the first ever to be played in Arizona – but more so because it came two months after the September 11th attacks.

“There was so much going on in the world at that time that baseball was a release for people. Especially being played in New York where the attacks took place. They could forget about all the trouble and enjoy America’s Pastime,” said Gonzalez, who is in Cooperstown this week coaching his son Jacob’s travel team at Cooperstown Dreams Park.

“Gonzo” donated the bat he used from that 2001 game to the Hall of Fame, and it is on display in the Autumn Glory exhibit on the third floor of the Museum.

“It was dramatic, in Game 7 and definitely a memorable World Series,” he said.

Gonzalez’s team is 5-1 so far this week – and the players visited the Museum on Wednesday after meeting Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson, who gave them a sneak peak at one of the newest Hall acquisitions – the cap Arizona’s Edwin Jackson wore during his June 25 no-hitter.

Gonzalez retired in 2009, and he will have his number retired by the Diamondbacks on Aug. 7 – the first player to receive that honor.

“I’ve been enjoying my time coaching my son and taking the team to Cooperstown,” Gonzalez said. “It is great to take them through the Museum so they can dream – just as I did as a kid.”

Gonzalez will be eligible for Hall of Fame election in 2014 and with five All-Star appearances, 354 home runs, 596 doubles (15th on the all-time list) and a lifetime .283 batting average over 19 seasons he is likely to get some consideration.

“The Hall of Fame is every kid’s dream when you start playing baseball,” said Gonzalez. “You just hope that I did as much as I could in the game, that I helped with community service and that I did enough on and off the field.”

Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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