Results tagged ‘ Atlanta Braves ’

Star treatment

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

Brian McCann has been to Cooperstown before. But now, the 2010 All-Star Game MVP will have a little piece of himself in Cooperstown forever.

“It’s a moment I’ll never forget,” said McCann only moments after the final out was made in the 81st Major League Baseball All-Star Game on Tuesday. “You are lucky enough to be playing in one of these things and to be put in a spot to come through and actually do it … you just dream about stuff like this. This isn’t supposed to happen.”

07-15-10-Francis_McCann.jpgMcCann, the Atlanta Braves’ 26-year-old catcher, was selected the 2010 Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player after he went 1-for-2 with a bases-clearing three-run double in the seventh inning to give the National League a 3-1 lead that would remain intact throughout the remainder of the contest.

As important as the hit was for McCann, a five-time All-Star, the Senior Circuit’s first victory since 1996 also means home field advantage in the World Series.

Afterwards, McCann graciously donated the bat he used for his memorable Midsummer Classic hit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

“No way,” said McCann when asked if he thought about not parting with a bat that might still have hits left in it. “I was thrilled that they wanted it.”

There were no artifacts from the short professional career of McCann in Cooperstown when he played in the Hall of Fame Game as a Braves minor leaguer in 2004. That fact has now changed.

“Brian was overwhelmed when I approached him right after he was presented with the MVP Award on the field minutes after the game had ended,” said Hall of Fame Senior Director of Communications and Education Brad Horn. “I introduced myself and told him it was the time to add a piece of Brian McCann to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“He was very excited and very honored by the opportunity. He immediately said we could absolutely have his bat,” Horn added. “And to show the dedication that he had, when his bat wasn’t at his locker in the National League clubhouse when he first walked in, he ran back out to the dugout to try and find it.”

According to Horn, the Hall of Fame tries to commemorate every All-Star Game with an artifact from the contest’s MVP.

“It allows fans the chance to come to Cooperstown during the second half of the season,” said Horn, “and see something from the season’s most memorable game and a timeless exhibition.

“Brian played in the Hall of Fame Game and here, just a short six years later, he’s a part of history,” he added. “And part of him is now in Cooperstown forever.”

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

Hall Monitor: Vlad laps the majors

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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.

Hall Monitor: Thin air, busy days and record books

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

Through a quarter of the season, we’re starting to stretch our legs. He’s what’s been historically notable over the last week.
 
Rockie reaching high: Rarified air is where Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez spends his time these days. On Thursday, the Colorado hurler threw seven innings, allowing just one hit while blanking the Astros. The first eight-game winner this season, he commands a 0.99 ERA through nine starts. Only 05-22-10-Hayes_Jimenez.jpgFernando Valenzuela (8-1, 0.91) during Fernandomania in 1981 and Hall of Famer Juan Marichal in 1966 (8-0, 0.69) have won eight of their first nine and posted ERAs below 1.00 since the expansion era began.

Angel all over: An inside-the-parker and the old 8-2-6-3 triple play. Angel Pagan was busy Wednesday in Washington. Playing center field for the Mets, he is only the second player to achieve the rare double feat in the last 55 years. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Phillies shortstop Ted Kazanski initiated a triple play and hit an inside-the-park homer on Sept. 25, 1955 against the New York Giants. Each of Kazanski’s play has a Cooperstown connection. His inside-the-parker was the result of an outfield collision between Hall of Famer Willie Mays and Dusty Rhodes, and the liner he caught to start a 6-4-3 triple play ended the inning, the game, the season and Hall of Famer Leo Durocher’s tenure as Giants manager. The Phils-Giants game was also the last time a team pulled a triple play and hit an inside-the-park homer in the same game. Interestingly enough, the game Pagan hit his first career inside-the-park homer also featured a triple play, when Philadelphia’s Eric Brunlett converted an unassisted triple play to end the game – a moment preserved by the Hall of Fame with Brunlett’s jersey on display in Today’s Game.

A-Rod passes Robby in style: Alex Rodriguez is now cruising towards 600 homers after passing Hall of Famer Frank Robinson last Friday. But his 587th blast was a bit unusual, as an intentional walk to load the bases preceded A-Rod’s homer. The last time he came to the plate after an intentional walk – in 2009 – he retaliated with a grand slam against the Rays in the season finale. The Twins tried it last Friday night and the result was the same.

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

Managing greatness

 
Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

Noted baseball author and historian Harold Seymour penned the book “The Golden Age of Baseball” about early 20th century baseball – a time when Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson were the stars of the game. Some would say that what we are experiencing now is the golden age of the baseball manager.

03-17-10-Berowski_LaRusaCoxTorre.jpgEntering the 2010 season, three of baseball’s five all-time winningest managers are active. At 2,552 wins, Cardinals skipper Tony LaRussa sits about three seasons away from moving into second-place all-time, ahead of New York Giants Hall of Fame manager John McGraw. Thirteen times LaRussa has piloted clubs to a playoff birth, including two World Championships.

Bobby Cox of the Braves and Joe Torre of the Dodgers, with a combined five World Series championships and 29 postseason appearances, come in at Nos. 4 and 5, respectively, on the all-time manager win list. With the exception of the strike-shortened 1994 season, Cox lead Atlanta to a first-place finish every season from 1991 to 2005, a mark that is unparalleled in Major League Baseball history.

Meanwhile, for 14 seasons beginning in 1996, Torre has lead either the Yankees or the Dodgers to the postseason with either a first-place finish or a wild-card berth.

To find the last time that three of baseball’s top five winningest managers were active in a season, we have to go back 60 years. The 1950 season was the last for Connie Mack and Joe McCarthy, and also marked the beginning of Bucky Harris’ third stint with the Washington Senators.

At 3,731 wins, no one will be closing in on Mack’s spot at No. 1 on the list anytime soon. But if history holds true it is only a matter of time before Cooperstown comes calling for LaRussa, Cox and Torre. Other than those three active skippers, the rest of the top 11 all-time winningest managers are already enshrined in Cooperstown.

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

Pagliarulo reminisces in Cooperstown

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

He turns 50 years old in 10 days, but Mike Pagliarulo looks as if he could still turn on an inside fastball and deposit it in the right field seats at Yankee Stadium.

The one-time lefty swinging slugger, who spent 11 big league seasons patrolling the hot corner for the New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers, was at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Friday as the keynote speaker for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Baseball Coaches Clinic.

03-05-10-Francis_Pagliarulo.jpgAfter the morning session, “Pags,” as he was known, talked about his life in the National Pastime. In fact, it was game that ran in the family, as his father played a few years of minor league ball and his son played ball at Dartmouth University.

“There are things that tear families apart and there are things that bring them together. I’m just glad it was baseball (bringing things together) for us,” he said. “We really don’t talk about it too much, but we like playing.”

After the Massachusetts native and lifelong Red Sox fan was selected by the Yankees in the sixth round of the 1981 amateur draft, Pagliarulo made his big league debut with the Bronx Bombers in July 1984.

“One of the great things about growing up with the Yankees and being part of that organization was the way we felt about each other. It’s a tough organization, and they made it that way on purpose because they develop players to play in New York City,” he said. “You’re not playing in some other town where nobody really cares, but in New York the fans understand the game, they know the game, so you can’t mess up out there. You have to be ready and you have to be able to play. Whether you are good or bad, you have to be able to play. The Yankees did prepare us for that.”

So after hitting 28 home runs in 1986 and 32 in ’87, it was a surprise to Pagliarulo when he was traded to the Padres in July 1989.

“I didn’t want to be traded from New York. I didn’t care how I played, I just didn’t want to be traded,” he said. “So I went out to San Diego … that’s a different world out there. I had to yell at a couple of the fans sometimes, ‘Look, I’m stinking it up. Throw something at me, yell, do something, will you?’ A beautiful place, but I liked playing in New York.

03-05-10-Francis_PagsTickets.jpgEventually finding his way to Minnesota, Pags saw his only postseason action with the 1991 Twins. Not only did he hit a 10th-inning, pinch-hit homer off Toronto’s Mike Timlin to win Game Three of the ALCS, but was also played the entirely of the classic Game Seven of the World Series, in which Minnesota’s Jack Morris, who went 10 innings, outdueled Atlanta’s John Smoltz in a 1-0 triumph.

“What a great experience that postseason was for me. I’m glad I played well, but it was just great to be a part of that. One of the best experiences of my baseball career,” Pagliarulo said. “The great thing about Game Seven was that even though it was deafening in the Metrodome – I was standing up in the dugout and (shortstop) Greg Gagne was standing right next to me and I couldn’t hear a word he was saying – when you are on the field the thing that was different I thought was the awareness that the players have.”

Pagliarulo was a participant in last year’s inaugural Hall of Fame Classic, a seven-inning legends game played at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown. And he drove in the winning run with a double.

“Being on the field brought back a lot of memories for me. The performance end of it was a little tough. Maybe I’ll get a jog in once in awhile before the game this year,” Pagliarulo joked. “It was great to see the other players, and the players really loved it. Being on the field, the fans are out, the weather’s great, you are in Cooperstown, not much beats that. I think it’s a great thing for Cooperstown and I know the guys really want to do it too.”

This second annual Hall of Fame Classic, featuring seven Hall of Famers and 20 other former big leaguers, takes place at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 20. For more information, click here.

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

2014 could mean a Brave New World in Cooperstown

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

The Class of 2014 might just mean a Brave New World at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Former Braves and Mets ace Tom Glavine officially announced his retirement on Thursday, ending stellar 22-year big league career. Glavine did not pitch at the major league level in 2009, meaning he will be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration in 2014.

02-11-10-Muder_Glavine.jpgThe numbers indicate Glavine will get strong support.

One of just 24 300-game winners in Major League Baseball history, Glavine finishes with a record of 305-203. He won two Cy Young Awards (1991 and 1998), was named to 10 All-Star Games and posted 20-or-more wins in five seasons – leading the National League lead win victories in all five years.

In the postseason, Glavine won 14 games and was the World Series MVP in 1995 when the Braves defeated the Indians in the Fall Classic.

Glavine joins a star-studded roster of players who will be eligible for the Hall of Fame for the first time in 2014. Former Braves teammate Greg Maddux, who won 355 games, is scheduled to be on the 2014 BBWAA ballot – setting up the possibility of a Braves reunion in Cooperstown.

Other candidates who are slated to become eligible in 2014 include two-time American League Most Valuable Player Frank Thomas, 270-game winner Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent, the all-time home run leader among second basemen.

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

Bobby Bragan left remarkable legacy

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

The image is a silly one, with the men pictured engaged in a pretend scream.

But for Pittsburgh Pirates manager Bobby Bragan, the passion was real. It was a fire that burned for more than 90 years – a fire that helped forge the careers of several Hall of Famers.

The photo, one of more than half a million in the Hall of Fame’s photo collection, shows Bragan and actor Joe E. Brown, the father of Pirates general manager Joe L. Brown.

01-21-10-Muder_BraganBrown.jpgJoe E. Brown was a huge baseball fan and appeared in several baseball-themed moves. Bragan, on the other hand, was a man who shaped baseball history.

Bragan passed away Thursday night at the age of 92. He played for seven seasons in the big leagues during the 1940s, finishing with a .240 average. But after retiring following the 1948 season, Bragan found his calling when Dodgers’ general manager Branch Rickey made him a minor league manager.

“Every one of my wins should have a note that says: ‘See Bobby Bragan,’” said Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams, who played for Bragan with the Dodgers’ minor league team in Fort Worth, Texas. “He disciplined me, and therefore taught me how to discipline.”

Bragan managed in the big leagues for seven seasons, starting with the Pirates in 1956 and 1957. He moved on to the Indians in 1958, then managed the Braves from 1963-66. His final record: 443-478.

But for those he touched, Bobby Bragan was one of the most influential men of their careers.

His photo – like more than 500,000 others in the Hall of Fame’s collection – will be preserved in Cooperstown forever.

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

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