Results tagged ‘ Babe Ruth ’

New books on the Library shelves

By Freddy Berowski

Known as the “Master of Alternate History,” New York Times best selling author Harry Turtledove has delighted fans for decades with his fantastic “what if?” tales.

Stories such as “World War” and “Colonization,” a series of books which follow the invasion of Earth by a Race of alien lizards during World War II and the hundred years that follow (with quite a few baseball references too, including a couple of lizard middle infielders and Mickey Mantle playing in the Major Leagues against the Yankees for the Kansas City Blues) and “The House that George Built,” a novella about Babe Ruth and baseball, if the Babe never made it. 

Recently, the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library has added to its permanent collection the manuscripts for two of Harry Turtledove’s alternate history works, the aforementioned “The House that George Built” and “The Stars and Rockets.” 

The Hall of Fame Library contains more than three million documents on baseball, including a file for every player who has appeared in a major league game and thousands of books on the National Pastime.

“The House that George Built” follows an alternate timeline where the Federal League never established a presence in Baltimore in 1914, thus Orioles owner Jack Dunn never felt the need to sell Babe Ruth’s contract.  In this reality, Ruth’s role in the game’s history was flipped with that of 1920s Pacific Coast League superstar Buzz Arlett, who became the game’s “Babe Ruth” with the Babe only getting Buzz’s cup of coffee. 

“The Stars and Rockets” is a fantastical tale that connects the Roswell incident of 1947 with Joe Bauman’s 72 home run season for the Class-C Roswell Rockets in 1954, and some fans that are out of this world. 

Harry Turtledove grew up on the West Coast and began his love affair with our National Pastime when his father began taking him to Pacific Coast League games of the Hollywood Stars and Los Angeles Angels. His Major League allegiance was to the Yankees originally, but that changed when the Angels became an MLB franchise.

“I was a Yankee fan before the majors came to L.A.; I’ve pretty much but not entirely got over that, but still generally root for the AL over the NL. The AL Angels, I like.  Dunno why, but I do.  When they finally won the Series in 2002 . . . It’s very strange getting something in your 50s that you’ve wanted since you were eleven.”

In his critically acclaimed World War/Colonization series which began in the 1990s, among those characters featured were several members of the Decatur Commodores, a Three-I league minor league baseball team in 1942. Although he didn’t know it at the time, one of those ballplayers, Sam Yeager, would become the central character in all eight books.

“I thought it would be interesting” Turtledove said. “I didn’t know what all would happen to Sam when I started writing about him – I tend to work by the seat of my pants. And it gave me an excuse to research Minor League Baseball and actually do something with what I found out, so that was cool, too. Back in the day, of course, a lot more guys made careers of the minor leagues than happens now, but there are still a few.”

Although he has no current plans for a full length alternate history baseball novel, Mr. Turtledove says “I’ll go for it in a heartbeat” if he develops “any ideas along those lines that I think people would buy.” 

When he first got out of college, before finding his true calling, he tried to get a job in baseball with the Dodgers and Angels. Turtledove described the type of work he was searching for as “Something – anything – involving PR and stats, which were the kind of things a guy who wrote halfway decently and was a stat geek could do.  I struck out twice, but at least I struck out swinging.” 

Who knows, maybe in some other reality Harry Turtledove did get a job in baseball.

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

Connections in Cooperstown

By Ana Apostoleris

“Preserving History. Honoring Excellence. Connecting Generations.” This is the Hall of Fame’s mission statement, and, as a Hall of Fame public programming intern for the past two months, I’ve been able to see this succinct string of words as a daily reality.

“Connecting Generations,” especially, rings true as the Hall blends together past and future for the wide variety of visitors who come through our doors, as well as for me personally.

The Hall, of course, is largely commemorative. Baseball has a history in this country that no other sport has; here, I get to live that history every day, through patrons as well as programs. We have people in their 80s and older coming in every day, some of whom have been here more times than they can count, some of whom are making the trip for the first time in their lives. For the most part, they all have stories – I’ve met people who saw Babe Ruth play when they were young, who grew up in Boston rooting for the Braves, who remember the days before integration. They’re here to remember their childhoods and the game they watched growing up.

I also took this internship with an eye on my future. Baseball has been my lifelong passion, and as a 20-year-old college student, my ongoing goal is to get myself into the best position I can to turn my passion into a career. I see the same kind of forward thinking from visitors, usually young. We have the thousands of Little Leaguers who dream of being Major Leaguers, for whom the Hall of Fame represents the ultimate end goal. We have others whose baseball dreams come from different angles – for example, the eloquent 16-year-old who participated in our “Making Airwaves” radio recreation program, calling Hank Aaron’s 715th home run, and who later told me that his dream is to be a broadcaster and that he’d made sure his family woke up early so they wouldn’t miss the program. On a less long-term scale, these young visitors are afforded the same opportunity to explore their love of baseball and to connect with their future goals that I am.

Of course, it’s also about the present, which, as always, is the intersection between past and future. My present is contributing as much as I can to the museum while I’m here, so that visitors can make the most out of what is for some a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

It’s these 10 weeks, where I get to walk through the Plaque Gallery on my way to the office every morning and run my hand over Lou Gehrig’s plaque for luck. It’s been the opportunity to discover the history of the game I love while exploring my own future, and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my summer vacation.

Ana Apostoleris is a public programming intern in the Class of 2011 Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program. For more information on the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program, please click here http://baseballhall.org/education/internship-program/internship-program.

The Earle of Cooperstown

By Brad Horn

An American musical icon visited the home of America’s National pastime late Thursday as singer-songwriter Steve Earle toured the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, along with his band “The Dukes (and Dutchesses).”

Earle and his bandmates thoroughly enjoyed their tour on the eve of his Friday night performance in Cooperstown at nearby Brewery Ommegang, where he is headlining an Americana festival, also featuring the music of the Felice Brothers and Langhorne Slim.

For Earle, a lifelong diehard Yankees fan, despite his Texas upbringing, the trip to Cooperstown capped his affinity for the game and his fandom.

“I’m not a very good social guest at a baseball game,” Earle said as he and his bandmates viewed historic imagery in the Museum’s photo collection. “When I go to a game, I tune out everything else to focus on the action on the field. I have no problem eliminating the outside world while at a ballpark.”

Also joining the tour were Earle’s bandmate and wife, Allison Moorer, and the couple’s 18-month-old son, John Henry.

Throughout their summer musical travels, the Dukes have already caught some major baseball moments along the way, including Roy Halladay’s heat-fatigued start at Wrigley Field against the Cubs and the drama-filled Angels-Tigers clash in Detroit, featuring a near-no hitter of Justin Verlander and the ejection of Jered Weaver.

In addition to a collections visit to see the storage of three-dimensional items, Earle and the Dukes spent several hours in the Museum Thursday on a day when nearly 3,000 visitors toured Cooperstown, strolling through baseball history. Earle even got an up close view of the promissory note transaction that sent Babe Ruth from Boston to the Yankees.

Tonight, Earle and the Dukes will resume their journey down the road of Americana music, but with the inspiration of the National Game and history fueling their troubadour spirit.

Brad Horn is the senior director of communications and education at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Visiting hours

By Craig Muder

Ray Durham looked down at the photo on the table in the Hall of Fame’s archive – and his eyes lit up. Another photo was lying on top of the first picture, leaving only the lower half of the depicted player visible.

But Durham did not need a face to recognize his former White Sox teammate.

“That’s Frank!” said Durham, referring to two-time American League MVP Frank Thomas. “He’s the only guy who could hit while he was lifting his leg like that.”

In an instant, it was the mid-1990s all over again – when Durham and Thomas teamed up in Chicago to power one of the AL’s most potent offenses.

It was a trip back in time, courtesy of the magic of Cooperstown.

The 39-year-old Durham, who retired following the 2008 season after a 14-year big league career with the White Sox, A’s, Giants and Brewers that featured two All-Star Game selections, toured the Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday with his family. But he was not the only big league connection at the Museum.

JP Ricciardi, the former Blue Jays general manager, also visited the Museum with his family – including his son Dante, who is playing in a tournament this week in Cooperstown. Ricciardi, who headed up the Jays’ front office for eight seasons between 2002 and 2009, is now a special assistant to Mets general manager Sandy Alderson.

“When I was coach in the Yankees’ system in the 1980s, we lived in Oneonta (located about 20 minutes from Cooperstown, and the former home of a Yankees minor league affiliate) for a while,” Ricciardi said. “I’ve been to the Hall of Fame before, but never like this.”

Ricciardi got to hold a Babe Ruth bat as well as a Honus Wagner model, marveling at the weight of bats from the early 20th Century.

“This is incredible,” Ricciardi said. “What a day!”

From All-Stars to front-office masterminds. Just another summer day at the home of baseball.

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

Thankful to be in Cooperstown

By Craig Muder

The brain aneurysm that changed John Olerud’s life is visible today by only a small indentation on the left side of his forehead.

But the effects of that event shape Olerud’s outlook to this day – and has left the 17-year big league veteran with a deep sense of gratitude.

Olerud visited the Baseball Hall of Fame on Thursday with his wife, Kelly; two of their children, Garrett and Jessica; and his in-laws. The 42-year-old Olerud, who lives in the Pacific Northwest, made the trip to Cooperstown based on the recommendation of former teammate Ed Sprague.

“Ed told me what an incredible visit he had, getting to see all the history,” Olerud said. “I have to say: He was right.”

Olerud, looking very much like the strapping 6-foot-5, 205-pound first baseman he was with the Blue Jays, Mets, Mariners, Yankees and Red Sox from 1989-2005, marveled at Museum artifacts like a Babe Ruth bat and a Roberto Clemente cap.

He even held a bat that he donated to the Hall of Fame in 2000 after recording the first-ever hit at Detroit’s Comerica Park as a member of the Mariners.

His .295 career batting average, 2,239 hits, two All-Star Game selections and three Gold Glove Awards were enough to secure him a place on the 2011 Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame ballot. But the modest Olerud, a key member of the Blue Jays’ back-to-back World Series winners in 1992-93, downplayed his own accomplishments.

“I’m just so thankful to have had the chance to get married, have kids and play the game I love,” said Olerud, who suffered the aneurysm while he was working out at Washington State University in 1988, but recovered to debut with the Jays in 1989 after bypassing the minor leagues entirely. “When you’re playing, you don’t really think about something like the Hall of Fame because you’re just trying to help the team and keep yourself in the lineup. And now that I’m retired, I’ve been so involved with my family, it seems like that time when I played is so far away.

“But to come here and see all this, it reminds you of how fortunate you are to play baseball.”

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

Baldwin and baseball

By Bill Francis

Actor Billy Baldwin is certainly a recognizable face after starring in such films as Backdraft, Sliver and Fair Game, but on Friday he was just another fan of the New York Yankees taking in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum experience with his family.

A member of the famed acting clan that includes brothers Alec, Daniel and Stephen, Baldwin lives in Santa Barbara, Calif., but is spending part of the summer in Skaneateles, N.Y., near Syracuse. When the opportunity arose he jumped at the chance to visit Cooperstown with son Vance, a brother-in-law and two nephews.

“Last year I said, ‘We’re going to Cooperstown while we’re in Skaneateles,’ but we never got around to it,” he said while walking to lunch. “This year I said, ‘I’ll be darned if I come up here for another two or three years and we don’t get there. I am going this year.’”

Before they saw the Museum, Baldwin and his family would receive a behind-the-scenes from Senior Curator Tom Shieber, where the actor was able to hold the bat used by Ted Williams to slug his final home run. Baldwin was certainly impressive in his knowledge of the history of the national pastime, whether it be marveling at the home run prowess of Babe Ruth when measured against the other teams in the league or explaining how Joe DiMaggio’s homer production was hampered by playing his home games at Yankee Stadium. 

Baldwin, who unabashedly admits to balling his eyes out when he watches Kevin Costner play catch with his dad in Field of Dreams, also explained his love of the game that is also evident in his son.

“I don’t know how to articulate it … It’s weird because I consider myself a big baseball fan but I’m not one of those guys who sits down with a pad and pen and does all the stats of every game,” Baldwin said. “I’m a huge baseball fan and I’m a diehard Yankees fan and probably watch or listen to a portion of about 100 games a year.

“But if there’s such a thing as having a metronome for your life, for me it starts with pitchers and catchers and goes all the way through October, hopefully with the Yankees in the postseason,” he added with a grin. “In these trying times with the economy not doing well and all sorts of struggles across the country and around the globe, I don’t want to be constantly reminded of all the tough stuff that’s going on. I find that the number one anecdote for that for me is baseball.”

Thanks to a father who once was an usher at Brooklyn’s beloved Ebbets Field, the Baldwin brothers were exposed to the game at a young age. But Billy Baldwin, with a famed wrestling coach living nearby, eventually turned his attentions to the mat.

“Growing up my favorite game was baseball, and I was best at baseball, but I made a mistake when I was in 10th grade,” he recalled. “I ran with this posse of guys on my wrestling team and we all gave up everything we were doing to wrestle all year and I walked away from baseball.

“Obviously, I have the build of a small basketball player or a baseball player or a tennis player and not a wrestler,” he said jokingly. “I was a pretty good wrestler – I won more than I lost – but I was just more of a natural baseball player. I should have stuck with it.”

As for which of the Baldwin brothers was the best baseball player, Billy claimed it was pretty close between him Daniel, who he said  had “kind of like a Boog Powell type of build” before laughingly sharing stories of concussions the older sibling inflicted on him during childhood.

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

Kenny Loggins relishes Hall of Fame visit

By Jeff Ideslon

I spend a lot of time walking through the Museum with celebrities. Some have very little interest, others modest – and then there’s the serious fan, like Kenny Loggins.

The popular musician was in town Thursday to play a benefit show for Hospice at Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown, fronting his band Blue Sky Riders, which includes vocalist Georgia Middleman and bass player/guitarist Gary Burr.

The very accomplished Loggins won Best Male Pop Vocal Grammy for “This Is It” in 1980, and co-wrote the 1979 Grammy-winning Song of The Year “What A Fool Believes” with his long-time friend, Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers.

Along with his son Luke, who is entering his senior year at Santa Barbara High School and pitches for the baseball team, Loggins spent Thursday afternoon at the Hall of Fame. The two completely immersed themselves in the history of the game.

Loggins, who played youth baseball through the Babe Ruth level, played catch with all five of his children through the years. “I wanted them to know baseball like I did,” he said. “Luke has a much better temperament for the game than I did. He handles adversity well.”

Growing up in Alhambra, Calif., Loggins and his dad would sit in the kitchen and listen to Vin Scully call Dodger games on the radio. “I grew up with Koufax and Drysdale. It seemed like one of them pitched every day.”

Walking through the Hall of Fame’s collections, “Oh my God, this is in great shape,” he said, marveling at the wonderful conservation of the jersey.

Holding a Stan Musial game-used bat he looked skyward and said, “This is my day. ‘The Man’ was unbelievable.” I explained to Loggins that Musial was a five-tool player – he could hit for power and average, run, throw and catch. I asked him if he knew any five-tool musicians.

Without even thinking, he answered exactly as Graham Nash did two years ago when I asked him the same question: “Prince.” Loggins added Stevie Wonder and Nash added Stephen Stills.

After seeing Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson sweaters, Loggins asked where he could get one. “I wish these were still in vogue. These are beautiful,” he said.

Finally, while holding the bat Ted Williams used for his 521st and final home run, he noticed that part of the Louisville Slugger trademark was the word, ‘powerized.’ “Do you think I could get my guitar powerized?” he asked his Burr and me.

After seeing artifacts from Willie Mays, Orel Hershiser, and so many other, he softly said to no one in particular, “You forget how short a baseball career is. ” How true.

Two hours later, Loggins concluded, “This Museum is incredibly well done. It is interactive and exciting, and chock full of great contextual information. It plays well to my son Luke, who’s in high school and also to older folks, like Gary and me. The experience really took me back in time, right back to my childhood.”

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

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