Results tagged ‘ Babe Ruth ’

Forty years ago, Rick Wise made history

By Bill Francis

Rick Wise was the starting second baseman for The Knucksies in the 2011 Hall of Fame Classic on Sunday, but exactly 40 years ago today he was the toast of baseball.

On June 23, 1971, the 25-year-old Wise pitched a no-hitter and added two home runs to lead the visiting Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-0 over the Cincinnati Reds at Riverfront Stadium. In his nine-inning stint, the righty faced just 28 batters, walked one (Dave Concepcion with one out in the sixth inning), struck out two, and raised his record to 8-4 on the way to a 17-win season.

After serving as an instructor during Saturday’s Legends for Youth Skills Clinic at Doubleday Field, Wise talk about that memorable day from four decades ago.

“I was coming off the flu and I felt very weak,” said Wise, after taking a seat in the third base dugout. “And it was hot, too. It was Cincinnati and the heat was coming off the carpet there. Man, it was smoking. But I think it sweated it out of me. I remember warming up and it seemed like the ball was stopping about halfway to the catcher. I said to myself, ‘Man, I better locate my pitches because this team with Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez can do some severe damage with their hitters.’

“But I had a good tempo and they were putting the ball in play early. I only made 94 pitches that day and it has an hour and 53 minutes. And only six balls were hit out of the infield, and I wasn’t a groundball pitcher either. I was a fly ball pitcher.”

Now 65, Wise ended his 18-year big league playing career in 1982 before embarking on a couple dozen seasons as a coach at almost every level of baseball before retiring in 2008. Sporting a ring given to members of the 1975 American League champion Boston Red Sox (Wise was the wining pitcher in Game 6 of the ’75 World Series in which Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk hit his memorable home run), he delighted in stating that he is one of the few people to appear in a Little League World Series, a Babe Ruth League World Series and Major League Baseball World Series. 

Proud of his hitting, Wise finished the 1971 season twice hitting two home runs in a game.

“But that was the National League game. My first nine years were in the National League – seven with the Phillies and two with the Cardinals – and I had 15 home runs after nine years,” Wise recalled.  “Then I went to the American League for six years and never picked up a bat again. My final team was San Diego but by that time my skills were completely diminished as far as hand-eye coordination.”

According to Wise, when he was coaching in the New York-Penn League, he brought his Auburn, N.Y. team from nearby Oneonta to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and donated from his no-hitter game the bat, his glove and a ball to the Cooperstown institution. The bat can currently be seen in the Museum’s newest exhibit, One for the Books: Baseball Record and the Stories Behind Them.

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

A different kind of hit record

By Samantha Carr

Baseball and music have a rich history together. The Hall of Fame honored that history at the 2010 Induction Ceremony by celebrating John Fogerty’s classic baseball song “Centerfield.”

That tradition will continue this year when Terry Cashman’s hit “Talkin’ Baseball (Willie, Mickey and the Duke)” will be honored during Hall of Fame Weekend 2011. On Friday, a musical group a little newer to the scene got their first taste of Cooperstown.

The Baseball Project is a musical group that formed in 2007 to perform songs about baseball. The group is made up of Steve Wynn (also of Dream Syndicate), his wife Linda Pitmon, Scott McCaughey (also of The Minus 5) and Mike Mills of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee R.E.M.

“The song ideas are flowing,” said Wynn during their visit to the Hall of Fame.

The Baseball Project will be performing tonight at Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown and had to make a stop at baseball heaven as part of the trip. The group and some of their crew received a “backstage” tour of the Hall of Fame and were able to go into the Museum’s collections storage to see some artifacts not currently on display.

“I feel like I could really hit something with this,” said Mills when he felt the weight of the bat Ted Williams used to record his last hit.

The group got to see the trombone case from the baseball classic, “The Natural,” as well as items like a ball signed by astronauts.

“Baseball is all weaved in with American culture, so there are all kinds of items that relate,” said Mills.

McCoughey’s favorite artifact was a Babe Ruth jersey he got to hold and be photographed with.

“My dad’s favorite player was Ruth, so this is pretty cool,” he said.

The group, who released their second album Volume 2: High and Inside in March, checked out artifacts like a jersey worn by the Braves manager Billy Southworth made of satin to show up better under lighting during night games and even some snare drums used by the Brooklyn Dodgers Symphony Band.

One thing is for sure – the band finally got the official answer to a lyrical question they have had for years about the baseball classic “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” when they got to view the original sheet music in the Hall of Fame’s collection.

“Now we know the real lyrics – it’s never get back, not ever.”

Don’t be surprised if the group is inspired by their trip to Cooperstown to write a hit that is honored at a Hall of Fame Weekend in the near future.

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

At home at the Hall

By Craig Muder

Joe Morgan and Phil Niekro walked into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Friday like two old friends returning home.

Niekro, with his ever-present smile and twinkling eyes; Morgan, with his deep baritone ringing out against the Museum walls.

Time, as always, stands still in Cooperstown.

But Morgan and Niekro were on hand to help the Hall of Fame look toward the future with the opening of the Museum’s new One for the Books exhibit. Friday evening featured a sneak preview of the groundbreaking salute to records, and Saturday will bring the official opening along with a 1 p.m. Voices of the Game program with Morgan, Niekro and Cal Ripken at Cooperstown Central School. A handful of tickets remain for the event and can be purchased at the Museum on Saturday.

Morgan, Vice Chairman of the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors, still reacts with wonder during his trips to Cooperstown.

“I had never really been here until I was elected in 1990, but now every time I come I see something different,” Morgan said. “It’s just amazing to see all the artifacts in person. I really get a little chill inside when I see Babe Ruth’s bat or Ted Williams’ jersey.

“I’m still amazed every time I come here.”

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

A “bench”-mark record

By Bill Francis

Working at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, you never know who you might bump into, whether it be a star or a journeyman. In this case, it was Jeff Manto, your prototypical journeyman, a ballplayer who spent time with eight different big league teams over a nine-year career.

But unlike most who have toiled at the end of a major league roster, Manto had one three-game stretch in which he accomplished something that few in the game can lay claim to. As a member of the Baltimore Orioles in 1995, Manto tied a major league record, joining such legendary names as Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Jimmie Foxx, Mike Schmidt, Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols, when he became the 20th player to hit four home runs in four consecutive at-bats.

Manto was awestruck when he and his family visited the Museum in November 1997 for another look at the bat he used for his rare feat, an artifact that at the time was on exhibit.

“I’ve got my youngest child with me and I want to make sure I get a picture with her with the bat,” said Manto some 14 years ago. “Plus, it’s nice to get away from home (the Philadelphia suburb of Langhorn) and Cooperstown is a great place to visit. We had a five-hour drive with the kids, but we lucked out and we had a van with videos, so we survived.”

According to Manto, currently the roving minor league hitting instructor for the Chicago White Sox, it was “truly humbling” when the Hall of Fame initially asked for the bat.

“In 1995 when the Hall of Fame called down to Baltimore to ask for the bat, I almost got goose bumps,” Manto recalled. “To be a part of the Hall of Fame, and to reach some kind of immortality in the game that you love, is something special that I’ll cherish for a long time. Hopefully, my family beyond me will cherish it also.”

While names like Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Cy Young and Nolan Ryan dominate the national pastime’s record book, it was great to see the look on the face of a utility player with 164 career hits, 31 homers and a .230 batting average who made the pilgrimage to Cooperstown in order to share his shining moment on the diamond with the ones closest to him.

More stories like this can be found in the Museum’s new exhibit, One for the Books: Baseball Records and the Stories Behind Them, which opens on Saturday.

Bill Francis is a Library Associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hall Monitor: Crushing, Curses and the Killer

By Trevor Hayes

Things have settled down for me a bit with our publication season, which means the return of my favorite stat-based blog feature, the Hall Monitor. There’s been a lot already this season that has made 2011 special, including Braves icon Chipper Jones setting career marks by collecting his 1,500th RBI and passing Mickey Mantle on switch-hitters RBI leader board. We’ve had lots of great pitching, including two no-hitters – Francisco Liriano’s cap and game ball made it to the Hall earlier this week – and several near misses. So here’s what’s been going lately:

Giambi’s first three: Jason Giambi, the former Yankee-A’s All-Star slugger turned Rockies part-timer, collected his first three homer game last night to lead Colorado over Philly 7-1. Showing he’s still got some power in the tank, Giambi pulled a comparison to Stan the Man. Stan Musial at 41 years old is the oldest player to hit three home runs in a game, beating out Giambi, who at age 40 years, 131 days is now the second-oldest player to do it.

With 416 homers before Thursday’s contest, he also has the highest total before his fiDerek Jeterrst three homer game in Major League history aside from Babe Ruth, who had 522 career dingers before his first three home run performance. Coincidentally enough, Ruth also collected his first three home run game against Philadelphia – but playing in the AL, it was against the A’s not the Phillies.

Another feather in his cap: Derek Jeter likes hitting against the Birds and this week he added one more feat to his growing list of accomplishments on his journey to reach 3,000 hits. With career hit No. 300 against the Orioles, the Yankees captain became the first player with 300 hits against one franchise since Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn retired after the 2001 season. Mr. Padre had at least 300 against Atlanta, Cincinnati, Houston and San Francisco.

Fall Classic mixing and matching: Interleague Play, which begins tonight, always brings some interesting matchups, from the geographic rivals like the 2000 World Series Subway Series rematch of Mets-Yankees, the Bay Bridge Series re-matching the 1989 Fall Classic combatants in Oakland and San Francisco or the I-70 Series 1985 rematch of St. Louis and Kansas City.

But this year brings a rare pairing of the formerly cursed Red Sox hosting the still-cursed Cubs. The Northsiders will be back in Fenway for the first time since the 1918 World Series – which began a drought of 86 years without a title the following year. Saturday night will pair the two in throwback uniforms and several icons from the teams will be around Beantown like Bill Buckner

Mourning the Killer: The Hall of Fame and the baseball community lost a great man and an incredibly talented ballplayer this week with the passing of Harmon Killebrew. His funeral service was held today in Peoria, Ariz., with several Hall of Famers in attendance including 2011 Electee Bert Blyleven, Rod Carew, Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, Frank Robinson and Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson. Next Thursday, Twins fans will have their chance to show their love for Killebrew with a public Memorial Service at Target Field in Minnesota starting at 7 p.m.

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

Star treatment

By Craig Muder

His signature television role has James Denton portraying a plumber, a man accustomed to behind-the-scenes areas in buildings.

But when Denton – one of the stars of the ABC hit television series “Desperate Housewives” – visited the Baseball Hall of Fame on Thursday, his tour of the Museum archives left him with an unaccustomed sense of wonderment.

“This is amazing,” said the 48-year-old Denton, who has played Mike Delfino on ‘Desperate Housewives’ since it first debuted in 2004. “Just to have a look around… We’re going to stay until they throw us out.”

Denton visited the Museum with his brother, David Denton, and friends Mike Petty and Robert Diehl – each of whom refer to him as “Jamie.” Dressed in a polo shirt and jeans, the chiseled Denton is a lifelong baseball fan who is also part owner of the Orange County Flyers of the independent Golden Baseball League.

“The closest I ever got to the Hall of Fame before this was when I played Sandy Koufax in a movie,” Denton said. “Let me tell you, it was a lot easier making people believe that I was a left-handed pitcher than it was convincing them I was a Jewish kid from Brooklyn.”

Denton, who grew up in Tennessee and now roots for the Minnesota Twins, showed off a keen knowledge of history during his tour, asking about subjects ranging from Babe Ruth to former broadcaster-turned-President Ronald Reagan.

But many of the Museum’s artifacts – like a Gil Hodges jersey and a Honus Wagner bat – left the talented actor virtually speechless.

“We’re never going to forget this day,” Denton said. “The history here is just something else.”

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

Enter Sandman

Light_90.jpgBy Steve Light

03-16-11-Light_Rivera.jpgMy favorite record seems to get further out of reach for all who might one day chase it each October. That’s because the man who owns it, keeps raising (or is it lowering?) the bar when the autumn chill returns to the Bronx, year after year.

As all baseball fans know – seasons come and go, and teams change. Players grow old, or leave, or are traded away. Next year’s team might very well look nothing like the last. But as a Yankees fan, it seems like Mariano Rivera never changes. I feel like I’ve followed Rivera my whole life. He broke in with the Yankees in 1995, when I was just 12, and became a dominating pitcher one year later.

So many of his career moments are engrained into my memory: I remember the sinking feeling as I watched Luis Gonzalez’s blooper in 2001 and the euphoric feeling I felt as Mo sprinted to the mound and collapsed with joy as Aaron Boone rounded the bases in 2003. I even had the chance to fulfill a life-long dream and witness the Yankees clinch the AL pennant in 2009 at Yankee Stadium, with Mo, of course, on the mound. Now in 2011, can I be blamed for assuming that the Yankee’s 9th inning will always belong to him?

03-16-11-Light_Yankee.jpgWhen Mo finally calls it quits – which given recent performances could be many years away – he will undoubtedly leave the game as one of the greatest postseason performers in baseball history. Numbers don’t lie, and Rivera’s record-setting postseason ERA of 0.71 serves as a testament not only to his excellence, but his consistency.

Rivera, who will soon kick off his 17th season in a major league uniform, is the closest thing baseball has to a sure thing: Batters know what he’s throwing, and fans know the game is already over.  In the postseason, his achievements are nothing short of stunning. He has recorded his historic 0.71 ERA over the course of 139.2 innings. To put that into perspective, throughout his career Mo has averaged 79 innings per season. That means he has recorded a 0.71 ERA over nearly two full regular seasons worth of postseason ball. In other words, as good as Mariano is in regular season play (2.23 ERA), he is one and a half runs per game better in the postseason.

On the postseason ERA leader board, Mo keeps company with some impressive names: the top ten includes Hall of Famers Eddie Plank, Sandy Koufax, Christy Mathewson, and yes, Babe Ruth. One may strongly suspect that when Rivera finally leaves the mound, it won’t be long before they keep him company here in Cooperstown as well. This, however, is one Yankee fan who hopes that those days are still many years away.

It’s memories like these that will be brought to life in the Hall of Fame’s new One for the Books. The exhibit opens Memorial Day Weekend in Cooperstown.

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

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