Results tagged ‘ Babe Ruth ’

By the numbers

Strohl_90.jpgBy Erik Strohl

The Hall of Fame curatorial/exhibits team has been working on our new permanent exhibit, One for the Books, for more than a year now. Scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend 2011, it will take an in-depth look at baseball records and the stories behind them.

02-01-11-Strohl_OFTB.jpgBaseball records reflect the pinnacles of achievement in the game and allow us to note the best players throughout time, whether it is in single seasons or over whole careers. But they also tell us much more about the game itself and how it is viewed by American culture.

Some baseball records have attained an almost sacred status. Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. Babe Ruth’s 60 home runs in 1927, when he outhomered every other team in the American League. Ted Williams’ .406 batting average in 1941.

Records seem to resonate with baseball fans more than with fans of other sports, and I think this is likely because of baseball’s long history and because the compilation of statistics (and hence records) has had a prominent place in the history of the game. These magic numbers have been memorized and recited by legions of fans for generations, and I know this will continue.

Baseball is ripe with amazing feats, milestones, and records. Some of my personal favorites include:

  • Cy Young’s career record 749 complete games (yes, folks, complete games)
  • Stan Musial’s 3,630 career hits (good for fourth on the all-time hits list) can be split equally into 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 hits on the road
  •  If you took away all of Hank Aaron’s 755 career home runs (the longstanding record from 1974 until 2007), he would still have over 3,000 hits (3,016 to be exact)
  • Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn’s 59 pitching victories (the single-season record) in 1884 (he also had 73 complete games!!)

02-01-11-Strohl_Young.jpgBaseball records also provide for endless debate, and encourage us to compare the achievements of players from different eras. I think what you will find, however, is that statistics from different eras only offer an illusion of comparison. What the study of numbers and records will illustrate is the differences in the game over time and that there are countless variables throughout the history of the sport that help determine the parameters of statistics and records, from ballpark dimensions to playing rules to changes in technology.

We are very excited about the potential for this brand new exhibit and look forward to sharing it with the public. Featuring about 200 artifacts related to batting, pitching, fielding, base running, and team records, the exhibit will also utilize many new technological and interactive elements. I am positive there will be something of interest to all baseball fans, whether you want to learn about perfect games, team-winning streaks, or the home run champion before Babe Ruth.

Please plan to come to Cooperstown to see artifacts for your favorite records and record-holders and to explore this exciting topic in depth. To find out how you can support One for the Books, click here.

Erik Strohl is the senior director of exhibitions and collections for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Cooperstown credentials

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

When all-time saves king Trevor Hoffman announced his retirement on Wednesday, it marked the end of a brilliant career.

It also started the clock running on his Hall of Fame candidacy, which is scheduled to begin in 2016.

01-12-11-Muder_Hoffman.jpgIt seems like a long time from now. But by the time we reach fifth United States presidential election of the new millennium, the Hall of Fame may be in the midst of a historic run of inductees.

Since the Baseball Writers’ Association of America began electing Hall of Fame candidates in 1936, 44 players have won election in their first year of eligibility. This includes the first five of Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner in 1936, but does not represent the elections of Lou Gehrig (elected by acclimation) in 1939 or Roberto Clemente (elected by special election) in 1973.

Starting in 1936, the BBWAA has conducted 68 Hall of Fame elections. And only once – 1989-90 – have at least two first-ballot candidates been elected in back-to-back years. Those elections featured Johnny Bench and Carl Yastrzemski in 1989, followed by Joe Morgan and Jim Palmer in 1990.

But beginning in 2013, the BBWAA could easily select multiple first-ballot candidates in four straight elections.

Two years from now, the Hall of Fame ballot will feature players like Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling for the first time. The following year, in 2014, Tom Glavine, Jeff Kent, Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina and Frank Thomas will debut on the ballot.

01-12-11-Muder_Hoffman2.jpgIn 2015, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz are all eligible for the first time. And in 2016, Hoffman will join Ken Griffey Jr. on the ballot.

Since the selection of the first class, the 1999 election marked the only time as many as three first-ballot candidates were elected in the same year. In that time, only seven other elections (1962, 1982, 1989, 1990, 2001, 2004, 2007) featured as many as two first-ballot electees.

But with the above list featuring the likes of four 300-game winners, three members of the 500-home run club, a member of the 3,000-hit club and the all-time saves leader, we could see a couple years with three-or-more electees and as many as four years with multiple enshrines.

Predicting the BBWAA vote is never easy. But the talent set to become Hall of Fame-eligible in the next five years in undeniable.

As for 2017 and beyond, consider the likes of Chipper Jones, Mariano Rivera, Ivan Rodriguez, Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel – all of whom are likely to retire in the next few seasons. The streak could easily reach five or six years with multiple first-ballot electees.

Bottom line: Baseball was filled with shining stars in the 1990s and 2000s. And thanks to those players, Cooperstown is going to be one busy place this decade.

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

The oldest major leaguer

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

Art Mahan was born 13 months before Babe Ruth made his big league debut.

By the time Mahan died – on Tuesday at the age of 97 – Mahan had lived to see baseball evolve from a simple game to a national treasure.

Mahan, who played in 146 games for the Phillies in his only big league season in 1940, was the fourth-oldest living major leaguer at the time of his death. Ranking first on that chart is Tony Malinosky, who played 35 games for Brooklyn in 1937 and today stands at 101 years and 63 days old.

But Malinosky has a ways to go before he can lay claim to being the oldest major leaguer ever. 

12-09-10-Berowski_Hilltop.jpgThe Sept. 7, 1911 New York Times said of Chet “Red” Hoff’s major league debut against the Washington Senators: “Pitcher Hoff was in the game long enough to have his picture taken.”

This contemporary account is contrary to most published reports nearly 90 years later, largely based on the tales told by Hoff himself. But after a lifetime – the longest lifetime of any former big league player – Chet Hoff earned the right to tell a few stories.  

Chester Cornelius Hoff was born May 8, 1891 in Ossining, N.Y., and lived 107 years, 4 months and 9 days, making him the longest living major leaguer. He pitched in five games his rookie season, going straight from the sandlots of Ossining to the top of the hill in New York City, playing for the Highlanders who would become the Yankees in 1913. He even met up with Ty Cobb that season, but not in his major league debut. 

In the years shortly before his death, Hoff recalled his debut, getting the call from his manager Hal Chase in the ninth inning of a blow-out game, and striking out Cobb on three straight pitches. Hoff claimed he didn’t know who he had faced until the next day when he read the newspaper and was stunned when he read a headline “Hoff Strikes out Ty Cobb.”

12-09-10-Berowski_Cobb.jpgHoff’s actual debut came on Sept. 6, throwing a scoreless frame in a 6-2 loss against the Washington Senators. Hoff got his action against the Tigers 12 days later. The Sept. 19, 1911 New York Times stated, “Hoff pitched the last four innings and did good work.”

In his four innings of one-run ball, Hoff faced Ty Cobb and according to the Times, “fooled Ty with a roundhouse curve, which crossed the center of the plate for the third strike”. It was a rare two-strikeout day for the legendary Cobb, who also fanned in his first at bat of the day against Yankee ace Russ Ford.

Hoff pitched in 12 games for the Highlanders and Yankees over the course of three seasons and compiled an 0-2 record, with a 3.89 ERA. Hoff pitched one season for the St. Louis Browns, 1915, and went 2-2 with a 1.24 ERA. He retired from professional baseball in 1918, but his love for the game never diminished. 

He returned home to Ossining, where he went to work as a paper cutter for Rand-McNally, continued to play semi-pro ball on weekends and continued to follow the Yankees. Chet Hoff’s story made national news when he turned 100 and appeared on The Today Show in 1993. He followed up that appearance with some appearances for his old ballclub, including an appearance alongside Gene Michael and Willie Randolph at a ceremony dedicating a plaque on the site of Hilltop Park, the Yankees original home, where Hoff made his major league debut. 

Hoff passed away on Sept. 17, 1998.

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

Hall Monitor: A Masher, A Freak, A Winner and A Legend

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

Just the final weekend of the regular season remains. This season has been a long and exciting haul, but it’s not quite time for reflection with milestones still falling.


10-01-10-Hayes_RuthFoxxMantle.jpgPushing to the finish
: Toronto hitting sensation Jose Bautista hasn’t quit yet. Now with 54 homers, he collected his ninth multi-homer game of 2010 last night in Minnesota. Before this year, he had just two in his career. The Jays slugger has 15 more than the next highest American League total. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only three players in AL history have finished with wider gaps than Bautista’s over Paul Konerko (39), and all three are Hall of Famers: Babe Ruth (six times), Jimmie Foxx and Mickey Mantle.

Giant talent in Tiny Tim: After fanning 11 on short rest Wednesday, Tim Lincecum may or may not get one more regular season start – pending the Giants’ plans. What is certain is that unless Roy Halladay pitches and reels off a 10-plus K start, the pitcher known as The Freak will win his third straight strikeout title. Beyond Halladay, no pitcher is within 15 of Lincecum. With his third consecutive title, Lincecum would join Randy Johnson and Hall of Famer Warren Spahn as the only National Leaguers to string together three straight since World War II. Furthermore, the Giants ace is doing it as a righty, something not done in the NL since another Hall of Famer, Dizzy Dean from 1932 to 1935.

10-1-10-Hayes_SpahnJohnson.jpgEvolving into quite the strikeout artist, Lincecum made his last start his 26th career game with 10 or more strikeouts. The fourth-year hurler broke a tie with Juan Marichal and now sits behind only Jason Schmidt (27) and Christy Mathewson (28) among Giants since 1900.

The Captain and the Mick: The winningest franchise in baseball has a new winningest player in team history. The Yankees own a .568 franchise winning percentage and once again employ the winningest player in team history. As of Sunday night, Derek Jeter passed Mickey Mantle for the most wins while wearing pinstripes. Mantle finished his career at 1,376 wins and Jeter, after adding one more win Tuesday, sits at 1,378 regular-season victories. Mantle still leads Jeter – 2,401 to 2,293 – for most total regular-season games.

50 Years since Ted hung ‘em up: The Red Sox plan to pay tribute to one of the legends of the game tonight at Fenway. A pre-game ceremony will mark the 50th anniversary of Ted Williams’ final game. During the bottom of the eighth on Sept. 28, 1960, he stepped to the plate and hit a home run to deep center field – the 521st of his career. In the top of the next inning, Williams trotted out to his position and then to an ovation from the Fenway faithful, was removed – never again to take the field as a major leaguer.

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

Billy Ball a hit in Cooperstown

 
Odell_90(2).jpgBy John Odell

Billy Crystal has spent a lifetime – professionally and personally – in love with baseball.

On Friday, he got the guided tour of a lifetime at the Hall of Fame.

 
10-01-10-Odell_CrystalBilly.jpgCrystal, in Cooperstown for Friday’s Hall of Fame tribute to the HBO film 61*, visited the Hall of Fame archive for the first time. The award-winning actor, who brought 61* to life in 2001 as the film’s director and co-executive producer, donated several artifacts from 61* to the Hall of Fame, including a bound shooting script.

Later, Crystal got to see Hall of Fame treasures like the bat Roger Maris used to hit home run No. 61 on Oct. 1, 1961 and a bat Mickey Mantle used during his 1956 Triple Crown season. Both players have a special meaning for Crystal, whose meticulous adaptation of their story resulted in a timeless cinematic production.

Crystal also got a tour of the Museum’s National Baseball Library, where he examined day-by-day records of the 1961 season – charting Mantle and Maris’ pursuit of Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record – and a Library file on his own career, documenting his 2008 Spring Training at-bat with the Yankees as well as his work on 61*.

As he began his tour, a Hall of Fame staffer said to Crystal: “Have a great day!”

Crystal – sounding just like his baseball-fan character Mitch Robbins in the movie City Slickers - replied: “I already am!”

John Odell is the curator of history and research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

From Cooperstown to Cortland

Horn_90.jpgBy Brad Horn

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan was very happy Wednesday after his team’s morning practice in Cortland, N.Y. Ryan’s sunny disposition could have been the result of the Jets’ play on the football field, but Ryan was also thrilled to receive a special artifact from the home of baseball in Cooperstown.

Cortland is just 80 miles west of Cooperstown, and I had the chance Wednesday to hand-deliver a specially made green and white, personalized bat – complete with the Hall of Fame logo – to the Jets’ head coach, whose team trains for three weeks each summer at the State University of New York’s Cortland campus. The bat was a thank-you for his visit – along with several members of the Jets’ team, front office and coaching staff – during Training Camp 2009.

08-18-10_Horn_Ryan.jpgMy visit was prompted by a last-minute personnel meeting on Aug. 8 of this year, the team’s lone off day at Training Camp, after which plans for a return visit to the Hall of Fame had to be canceled.

“Where’s my Cooperstown Day?” Ryan asked, thoroughly bummed that he missed the chance to visit Cooperstown and the Museum once again during Training Camp 2010.

With only two days remaining on the Jets’ Cortland schedule, Rex’s visit may have to wait until 2011. But his desk will have a special Cooperstown treasure throughout the football season to remind him of the great trip through baseball history he and his team shared in 2009.

When Rex first saw his new bat, he noted that it wasn’t quite as heavy as the 35-ounce Babe Ruth model he held at the Museum last year.

“It doesn’t have notches like the Ruth bat, either,” said Ryan, referring to the 28 notches representing home runs Ruth hit with the bat that now resides in Cooperstown.

With that, Ryan slung the bat over his shoulder – looking a little Bambino-esque – as he headed back to his office and toward the 2010 season.

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

Hall Monitor: the durable Jamie Moyer

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

Let’s get it out of the way so we can start dissecting what it means: Jamie Moyer has allowed more home runs than any other player in the history of the game.

O06-29-10-Hayes_MoyerSea.jpgn Sunday during the bottom of the third inning, Toronto’s Vernon Wells hit the first pitch he saw from Moyer into the left field seats – the 506th home run allowed during Moyer’s 24-year career. The home run moved Moyer into sole possession of the record and past fellow Philles legend, Hall of Famer Robin Roberts.

In baseball history, 25 men have hit 500 home runs. Only Moyer and Roberts have given up that many, so Moyer is in good company. Roberts held or shared the all-time home runs allowed title for 52 years and 321 days. The Hall of Famer won 286 games, compiled up a .539 winning percentage and finished his 19-year career with a 3.41 career ERA. He was a workhorse with 305 complete games in 609 starts. He pitched 4,688 innings.

Just below Roberts on the homers-allowed list are Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins (484), Phil Niekro (482) and Don Sutton (472). Among the home runs allowed top ten, there are six Hall of Famers, six 3,000-striekout pitchers, five 300-game winners and no one under 4,000 innings pitched.

06-29-10-Hayes_Roberts.jpgThe record speaks to the longevity of Moyer’s career. In the same game Moyer gave up the record-breaking home run, he threw his 4,000th inning. Just 28 men since 1901 have logged that many innings. Nineteen of them are in the Hall of Fame, and five others are named Bert Blyleven, Roger Clemens, Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux.

Looking at Moyer’s stats, you come to the conclusion that if he’s pitched 24 seasons and registered 4,005 inning in the majors, he had to be doing something right. To this point, Moyer has collected 267 wins, 2,393 strikeouts and owns a .571 winning percentage in 682 career games. He’s fourth in the National League in wins this season at nine and fifth in shutouts and complete games, despite being the oldest player in the majors for the last three years. He owns a pair of 20-win seasons and he’s only led the league in home runs allowed once.

Moyer’s age, 47,  shows his ability to re-invent himself to find ways to get hitters out and be effective – and has been an underlying storyline to his career for the last few years. This season he recorded a complete game victory in his 264th career win. The victory was also his 100th since turning 40. Only two pitchers prior to Moyer had won 100 games on the north side of 40, Niekro (121) and Jack Quinn (104). Moyer is now at 103 and still going strong.

06-29-10-Hayes_MoyerBal.jpgLefties like Moyer have a penchant for hanging on. He’s hung on long enough to see his son was drafted (this season by the Twins in the 22nd round). He’s hung on long enough to face a 20-year-old rookie who was born in 1990 – Moyer’s fifth major league season. Starlin Castro got a hit off Moyer, creating the largest age gap between a hitter and pitcher since 21-year-old Tim Foli got a hit off Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm at 49 in 1972.

One last age note related to Moyer. Since 1901, Only Satchel Paige, Wilhelm, Quinn, Niekro, Kaiser Wilhelm and Nick Altrock pitched at 47 or older. Paige was in a one-game stunt with the Kansas City A’s to make him the oldest player at 58, but his last real season was at 46. Hoyt Wilhelm and Quinn both pitched at 49, appearing in 16 and 14 games respectively. At 48, Wilhelm had similar number (20 appearances), while Quinn threw 87 innings in 42 games. Also at 48, Niekro made 26 starts, pitching 138 innings. Niekro, Quinn and Hoyt Wilhelm were all effective at 47.

So the question becomes, how much longer will Jamie Moyer go?

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 61 other followers