Results tagged ‘ Atlanta Braves ’

Cox could be approaching a date in Cooperstown

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

Bobby Cox has set the date for his retirement. If he remains on schedule, it will likely mean a date in Cooperstown as well.

After years of speculation, the Braves skipper has announced that 2010 will be his final year as a manager. He will continue to serve the organization as a consultant beyond next season.

9-24-09-Carr_MackMcGrawCox.jpg“I’m thrilled and happy to be coming back next year,” Cox told MLB.com. “The retirement, it’s time in my life that I do that.”

Cox ranks fourth all-time on baseball’s all-time managerial wins list with 2,409. He trails only Hall of Famers Connie Mack and John McGraw, and Tony La Russa, who is not yet eligible for the Hall of Fame.

“Bobby loves the game. It’s in his blood,” La Russa said. “He always had his team ready to play.”

If he follows through on his retirement, Cox will be eligible for Hall of Fame Veterans Committee consideration in time for the Class of 2012. Among first-time eligible players up for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America election in 2012 are former Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams and long-time Braves catcher Javy Lopez.

Next year will mark Cox’s 25th year as the Braves manager, his 29th overall. Cox began his managerial career in Atlanta from 1978-1981 and then managed for four years in Toronto from 1982-1985. After a stint as general manager, Cox became the Braves skipper again in 1991.

The 68-year-old manager led the Braves to 14 straight postseason appearances (1991-2005) and a World Series crown in 1995. He has a .556 winning percentage and five NL pennants to his credit.

And he shows his passion on the diamond. Cox has been ejected from a ballgame a record 150 times.

“He’s one of the greatest – not only managers, but people,” Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “He’s a Hall of Famer.”

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

Howard entering record territory

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

Ryan Howard is one of those players who always seems to save his best work for late in the season.

9-24-09-Berowski_RuthHoward.jpgIn 2007 and ’08, the man Phillies manager Charlie Manuel calls his “Big Piece” was just that in the Phillies’ late-season surges to overtake the Mets and win the National League East. In total, Howard posted 36 home runs and 101 RBIs in just over 400 at-bats during August and September in those two seasons. And this year, the 2006 NL Most Valuable Player has already posted numbers along the same lines, hitting 16 home runs while knocking in 52 in August and September, through Wednesday. The only difference this year is that the Phillies are in cruise-control right now, 6 1/2 games up on the Braves, with the Mets not even in the rear-view mirror, already having been eliminated from postseason contention.

One of the most dominant sluggers of this era, Howard didn’t become a regular in the Phillies lineup until age 25, midway through the 2005 season, because he was blocked at first base by slugger Jim Thome. This season, however, Howard has matched many Hall of Famer milestones.

A month ago, he joined Hall of Famer Chuck Klein as the only Phillies to top the 30-home run and 100-RBI marks in four consecutive seasons. Two weeks ago, Howard became the fastest player to reach the 600-RBI plateau since Hall of Famer Ted Williams more than a half century ago. The 2009 campaign also marks Howard’s fourth straight season with at least 40 home runs and 120 RBIs, something only Ken Griffey Jr., Sammy Sosa and Hall of Famer Babe Ruth have done before.

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

Former Atlanta Brave Brian Hunter gets his turn in Cooperstown

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Brian Hunter peered into the Braves’ locker in the Hall of Fame’s Today’s Game exhibit and stared right into history.

“Look, Smoltzie’s shoes,” said Hunter of the cleats belonging to former Braves teammate John Smoltz. “And there’s (a photo of Rafael) Furcal. And Andruw Jones’ bat. I was there with all of them.”

8-17-09-Carr_Hunter.jpgHunter was more than “there.” The nine-year major league vet, who spent parts of five seasons with the Braves, appeared in three World Series with Atlanta and played a role in the Braves’ remarkable run through the 1990s.

Hunter toured the Hall of Fame on Monday as part of a team from the Cooperstown All Star Village. Hunter, along with former Minnesota Twins farmhand Vern Hildebrandt, serve as coaches for the team.

Hunter, now 41 but still looking every bit the athlete, broke into the majors in 1991 and finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting, He hit .333 in the Braves’ win over Pittsburgh in the NLCS, then scored two runs and drove in three more while playing in all seven games of the World Series. Hunter appeared in the 1992 World Series with Atlanta, then — after being traded to Pittsburgh in following the 1993 season — wrapped up his big league career with stints with the Pirates, Reds, Mariners, Cardinals, Braves (again) and the Phillies.

It was Hunter’s first trip to the Hall of Fame, but — on paper — he’s been here since his big league debut in 1991. Hunter, just like every one of the 17,000-plus men who have played Major League Baseball, has a file in the Hall of Fame’s Library. When shown a file story recounting Hunter’s brush with a beanball, his youth baseball team let out a big “Ooohhhh.”

“This is amazing,” said Hunter while poring over a few of the three million documents in the Hall of Fame’s Library. “It’s all here.”

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

Famous faces in St. Louis

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

ST. LOUIS — The stars were out this week at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, and the Baseball Hall of Fame was on the mind of many of the most famous people in sports and entertainment:


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NASCAR driver Carl Edwards, who played in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game Sunday night: “I’m really excited to get to meet (Hall of Fame shortstop) Ozzie Smith. We’ve been trying to meet up today. He’s out there managing the game that’s going on. I hear he’s a little upset at me for stealing his back flip, but we can hopefully work that out and shake hands over it. I’m really excited to meet him.”

Actor Billy Bob Thornton, on meeting Hall of Famer Stan Musial: “I’d have to say out of all my experiences out of meeting baseball players in my lifetime when I got to meet Mr. Musial, which I have to call him that, that was probably the biggest thrill I ever had.

7-14-09-Francis_Thornton.jpg“But Bob Gibson (like Musial, a Hall of Famer) is my guy. I threw the first pitch out in 1998 here (in St. Louis), we were playing the Braves, Tom Glavine was pitching for the Braves. I’ll never forget this. I was in the clubhouse with (Cardinals manager) Tony (La Russa), (Mark) McGwire, and Bobby Knight, and we were all taking pictures together, and Gibson comes in and so we took some with him. And of course I was thrilled already, that was the first time I met him. And Tony said, ‘Bob, you’re the guy’s hero. Why don’t you catch the ball today?’ I wanted to say, ‘Tony, don’t make me throw it to him.’ So we were on the mound and Gibson knew I had been a pitcher so I had to throw him something. I learned my slider from Gibson’s instructional book in the ’60s when I was a kid. So I threw him a slider, and it was a good one, about two inches off the plate, it was a strike, and Gibson comes out and hands me the ball and he goes, ‘Where did you get that pitch?’ And I said, ‘Out of your book.’ And he goes, ‘You’re kidding me. That old book from the ’60s?’ After that he just warmed up to me just in a great way. Since then I’ve seen him a bunch of times and he’s always really gracious to me.”


7-14-09-Francis_Torre.jpg
Dodgers manager Joe Torre, a National League All-Star coach, on the Class of 2009 at the Hall of Fame: “Jim Rice, I’m really pleased for him, Rickey Henderson was a no-brainer, obviously. Jim Rice waited a long time and he put some pretty impressive numbers up. I’m just happy for Jim Rice. A class act, he was a player that really was a no-nonsense guy, just got up there and did what he did. I’m really pleased for Jimmy. Rickey, his ability spoke for itself. He put all those base-stealing records and leadoff home runs in his hip pocket.”

The Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2009 – Joe Gordon, Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice – will be enshrined in Cooperstown on July 26.

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

Baseball and family a winning combination

Meifert_90.jpgBy Ken Meifert

Last month I was in Columbia, S.C., for a Hall of Fame Champions fundraising dinner hosted by John D. Baker. Hall of Famer Phil Niekro joined us for what proved to be a wonderful evening of stories, laughs and friendship.

Phil shared many wonderful stories about his career and his brother Joe, who also pitched in the major leagues. In fact, Phil and Joe Niekro have more combined wins in the major leagues than any brothers in the history of the game with Phil having 318 and Joe have 221, for a combined total of 539.

6-18-09-Meifert_Niekro.jpgPhil shared a story of giving up a home run to his brother Joe – and it just happened to be the only home run Joe hit in the majors! For anyone who has a sibling, it is easy to imagine the good natured ribbing that went on between the brothers about that home run. It was obvious as Phil told the story that he and Joe shared a very special bond that baseball served to strengthen. Family is very important to Phil, who lost his brother Joe suddenly a few years ago. Reflecting on the loss, Phil took comfort in the fact that his last words to his brother had been “I love you Joe.”

Phil’s stories about his family caused me to reflect on the way that baseball brings people together – literally how it connects families across generations. Sound familiar? It is part of the Hall’s mission to preserve history, honor excellence and connect generations. I am thankful to be part of this great Game and I am thankful for the friends that baseball has brought me – friends like our host John Baker – and so many others.

John is a Columbia native and a lifelong Braves fan. I chuckled as he recounted his parents telling him years ago that if he spent as much time on his homework as he spent following the Braves he would be an A+ student. Now, please don’t get the impression that John did not get his homework done – he is a successful real estate developer today. But I believe it was a combination of great family and friends, his faith and the lessons learned from baseball that made John the outstanding person he is today. 

As we approach Father’s Day Weekend and the Inaugural Hall of Fame Classic Weekend, I hope you will take the time to enjoy a game (The Hall of Fame Classic on Sunday) or play catch (Family Catch on Doubleday Field Saturday afternoon) with your family this weekend. Make some new memories, share some old ones, and tell them you love them.

Ken Meifert is the senior director of development for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Aaron remains a crowd pleaser

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

As he walked through the Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday, Hank Aaron was followed by gasps.

“Was that him?” asked one fan, craning his neck to get a glimpse of the man who remains the standard by which other players are judged.

4-25-09-Muder_Aaron.jpgIndeed, Henry Aaron still inspires awe among those who cherish the National Pastime. His numbers — 32 years after he retired — remain legendary. And yet Aaron has put all that into perspective — and did so again Saturday at the dedication of the Hall of Fame’s new exhibit Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream.

“The biggest achievement in my life has nothing to do with baseball,” he told the crowd moments before the ribbon cutting. “It’s establishing the Chasing the Dream Foundation, helping children chase their dreams like I did.”

Aaron, joined by his wife of 35 years, Billye, and Braves chairman emeritus Bill Bartholomay, seemed completely at ease Saturday in a limelight he often avoids. He smiled often, telling tales of how he once bought a car from future Commissioner Bud Selig (then a successful car dealer in Wisconsin) and enjoying another well deserved moment in the sun.

“I watched you hit No. 714,” said a fan to Aaron. “It was one of the greatest moments of my life.”

No doubt, others left Cooperstown on Saturday feeling the same way — having witnessed living history at the Hall of Fame.

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

The greatness of Hank Aaron

Idelson_90.jpgBy Jeff Idelson

“Here’s the pitch from Downing … swinging … there’s a drive into left-center field. The ball is gonna beeee … out of here! It’s gone! It’s 715! There’s a new home-run champion of all time, and it’s Henry Aaron.”

That was the radio call of Braves broadcaster Milo Hamilton on April 8, 1974, when Aaron broke Babe Ruth‘s long-standing home-run record. As important as that milestone was, and as immortal as Hamilton’s words have become, that singular event is precisely why Aaron ranks among baseball’s most underrated ballplayers.

4-24-09-Idelson_Aaron.jpgFans tend to remember Lou Gehrig because he died from ALS. Outside of Baltimore, Cal Ripken Jr. is remembered for “the streak.” And Aaron is often remembered for the home runs, though he accomplished so much more.

On this — the eve of the opening of Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream, our new exhibit dedicated to Aaron at the Baseball Hall of Fame — it is appropriate to consider the magnitude of what Aaron accomplished on and off the field.

Who is the all-time leader today in RBIs, total bases and extra-base hits? Hank Aaron. “The Hammer” also ranks second all time in home runs, third in hits and fourth in runs. He showed up to play every day, which is why he is among the top five all time in games played, at-bats and plate appearances.

Aaron’s also a member of the prestigious 3,000-hit club. Take away each and every one of his 755 home runs, and he still has 3,016 hits.

Said teammate Phil Niekro of Aaron’s home runs after No. 700, “It’s like the sun coming up every morning. You just don’t know what time.”

Over 23 seasons, Aaron was great, averaging 33 home runs and 100 RBIs with a .305 batting average. He was a 25-time All-Star, representing his league every year except his rookie year and final season. Aaron was in the top 10 in the Most Valuable Player voting 12 times, winning it in 1957 when the Braves won the World Series. By the way, Aaron hit .393 with three home runs and seven RBIs in the Braves’ victory over the Yankees in the Fall Classic.

4-24-09-Idelson_Aaron2.jpgNot only was he great, but Aaron was consistently awesome: He hit 20 or more home runs 20 times, drove in 100 or more runs 11 times and hit better than .300 14 times. He hit .303 with 385 home runs at home and .306 with 370 home runs on the road. His batting average never varied by more than 10 points, month to month, over his career.

The Hammer was raised in Mobile, Ala., a hotbed for talent. Hall of Famers Willie McCovey, Satchel Paige, Ozzie Smith and Billy Williams were all born in Mobile, a city with a population under 200,000.

Aaron accomplished so much with a quiet grace and dignity which he brought to the ballpark every day in a time of racial divide in America. He was also among those who integrated the South Atlantic League, and he broke Ruth’s home-run mark in the face of intense hatred and racism. It’s no surprise that his hero was Jackie Robinson, who paved Aaron’s way to the way to the Majors.

Jeff Idelson is the president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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