Results tagged ‘ Babe Ruth ’

Jayhawk flies into Cooperstown

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

The man and his son stood in the center of the Hall of Fame’s Giamatti Research Center on Tuesday afternoon – awed by history like hundreds of others who made the pilgrimage to baseball’s holy shrine in Cooperstown.

06-16-10-Muder_Owens.jpgBut for Jayhawk Owens and his son Walker, the trip was a little more personal.

Owens, a catcher for the Colorado Rockies from 1993-96, and his son were in town as part of a local youth baseball tournament. Owens, 41, brought Walker to the Hall of Fame for a little history lesson.

After learning about the Hall of Fame and its mission, father and son got a look at some of the Library’s files – including one on Owens himself.

“It’s amazing to think I’m even in here in a file,” said Owens, who played in 132 big league games during his four-year career as a catcher. “How many players are in the Hall of Fame? Two-hundred and ninety-two? That’s pretty rare.”

Walker, meanwhile, savored the chance to read Babe Ruth’s file – gazing in wonder at documents written almost 100 years ago.

For his dad, however, it was another Library document – the National League’s day-by-day register for 1947 – that stood out.

“Look at that: April 15, 1947, the day Jackie Robinson broke into the majors,” said Owens of the hand-recorded statistics that marked each day in the 1947 NL schedule. “All those games, recorded in this book. I never knew anything like this existed.”

It’s history – like that of Jayhawk Owens – preserved forever in Cooperstown.

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

Lucky 10,000

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

Colby Lessmann became a fan of the Hall of Fame on Facebook last week because he wanted to stay in touch. Little did he know that by clicking the “Become a fan” button on www.facebook.com/baseballhall, he’d be getting more than updates on his News Feed.

04-15-10-Hayes_Kauffman.jpgLessmann just happened to be Facebook fan number 10,000 – a mark the Hall reached in just over a year after launching on Opening Day 2009. To honor him, the Hall of Fame has given away an individual membership. As a Member, Lessmann receives a subscription to the Hall’s bi-monthly Memories and Dreams magazine, a Hall of Fame Yearbook, complimentary admission, a Tom Seaver membership card and lapel pin and a 10 percent discount and free shipping on all purchases through the Hall of Fame store at www.baseballhall.org/shop.

A baseball-lifer, Lessmann has been a fan since his early childhood, continuing to play the game through college and now as an amateur at age 37. He grew up four hours north of Kansas City and watched the glory years of the Royals, led by Hall of Famer George Brett. Many of Brett’s heroic feats serve as Lessmann’s greatest baseball moments.

“Back in the 80′s my family and I went to a Royals game,” Lessmann said of his favorite memory. “It turned out Brett had been injured, but he pinch hit in the ninth inning. When he came out on deck the crowd went crazy. He came up and jacked a home run over the right field wall and the stadium went wild.”

04-15-10-Hayes_Brett.jpgAn ardent Royals fan, he’s been to at least one game in K.C. each year since 1979, but growing up in Iowa also provided the chance to easily travel to games in Minnesota and Chicago. As an adult he’s taken that passion to a new level and vowed to visit every major league stadium.

“Of course, it is getting more difficult because they keep building new stadiums,” Lessmann said. Among his conquests have been the brand new Target Field, Safeco Field, Chase Field, AT&T Park, Comerica Park, Great American Ballpark and 16 others past and present.

He’s also writing on the history of baseball in his hometown of Sioux City, Iowa. And After doing some research for the book through the Library, Lessmann sought out the Hall’s Facebook page.

“The Research Center at the Hall of Fame helped me out., (so I) wanted to be a fan to show my appreciation for a great museum and research facility” he said. “I have visited the Hall of Fame a few years ago and plan to go back in the future. I went probably 10 years ago when I was in northern New York State.  My favorite memory was viewing all of the old memorabilia of Ruth, Gehrig and other greats. It is a great experience that any baseball fan should pursue.”

Now as both a Facebook fan and a Hall of Fame member, he can continue re-living the great moments in baseball history with his connection to the game. Make sure you don’t miss out on the Facebook action at www.facebook.com/baseballhall.

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

Old rumors become new at Hall of Fame Library

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

Rumors are nothing new to baseball.

But no matter how unsubstantiated they may be or at least may seem to be, they had to come from somewhere. Earlier this week we saw yet another example: Albert Pujols, arguably the biggest name in the game, considered in a trade for Ryan Howard, the slugging St. Louis native.

03-19-10-Hayes_DiMaggioWilliams.jpgBoth stars balked. They say haven’t heard anything and the clubs aren’t saying anything. When the report surfaced, it also spawned references to Joe DiMaggio for Ted Williams, another famous non-deal.

In 1946, the Yankees and the Red Sox both denied the idea – in the media at least. Combing through the Library at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, you can find a number of items about what could have been – a blockbuster that would “set the American League on its ear!” as Richard Ben Cramer put it in the DiMaggio biography “The Hero’s Life.”

The Sporting News headlines just before and during the 1946 World Series show both teams denying interest. But after trading Joe Gordon – another future Hall of Famer – to Cleveland, accounts hint the Bombers needed an overhaul with the Yankee Clipper on the trading block.

The dynamics of DiMaggio for Williams were much simpler than Howard for Pujols. Both pull hitters could have easily taken advantage of their new parks: Williams hitting into the short porch in right wearing pinstripes, and DiMaggio banging hits and lofting flies over the Green Monster in crimson stockings.

Gossip started swirling before the Series started, but denial on both sides all-but-signaled the death of the story. In the Oct. 16, 1946, Sporting News, Red Sox management said Williams wasn’t for sale while the Yankees expressed a lack of interest.

03-19-10-Hayes_DiMaggioWilliams2.jpgThat set the stage for one of the most inconspicuous conversations in baseball history at Toots Shor’s in New York City. Sometime in December 1946, the future Hall of Fame executives of the two rivals sat down for a long night at the tavern. After several hours, Yankee owner Larry MacPhail proposed the swap to Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey. MacPhail said DiMaggio could play next to his brother, Dom, and let fly over the Monster – just 315 feet away. Yawkey suggested Williams could crush Ruth’s record aiming at stands just 296 feet away. Before the night ended, the two shook – DiMaggio for Williams, straight up.

But the next morning, Yawkey called MacPhail to nix the deal. According to the book “The Era” by Roger Kahn, Yawkey said: “I can’t do it. They let Babe Ruth out of Boston. If I let Williams go, the fans will crucify me.”

Some versions of the story, like the one in “Emperors and Idiots” by Mike Vaccaro, say Yawkey tried to salvage the deal by asking for “the kid catcher from Newark” but MacPhail declared: “You’re out of your mind,” to throw in Yogi Berra, who would also be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

It goes to show that you can never be sure about baseball rumors. Howard for Pujols? It could happen. DiMaggio for Williams almost did.

Trevor Hayes is the 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.

Birthday Sunday

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

On Jan. 31, the Hall of Fame will wish Happy Birthday to three of our own. 

Ernie Banks will turn 79. Although his beloved Cubbies, a perennial second-division team during his tenure there, never made it to the World Series, it was not because of Mr. Cub, who did everything he could year after year to try to get them there. A 12-time All-Star and two-time NL MVP, Banks hit more than 500 home runs and drove in more than 1,600 runs in his 19 seasons playing first base and shortstop with Chicago’s North-Siders.

01-29-10-Berowski_BanksRyanRobinson.jpgAlso celebrating his birthday is the all-time Major League strikeout king, and current president of the Texas Rangers, Nolan Ryan. The Ryan Express will celebrate his 63rd birthday. Although his birthday is officially January 31, Ryan seems to have received an early birthday present when his ownership group was recently selected to purchase his home state’s AL franchise, the Texas Rangers. 

Rounding out the trio of birthday boys is Jackie Robinson. The only man with his uniform number retired across Major League Baseball, Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947. Although he passed away in 1972, Jackie Robinson will be remembered by many on what would have been his 91st birthday.

There are 292 Hall of Famers and 365 days in a calendar year, yet there are more than a dozen dates on the calendar that celebrate the birthday of three Hall of Famers. In fact, May 14 is the day of the year with the most Hall of Famer birthdays: Ed Walsh, Earle Combs, Tony Perez, JL Wilkinson and Alex Pompez. 

October is the month that has the most Hall of Famer birthdays – 36. And three Hall of Famers passed away on their birthday – Joe Tinker, Gabby Hartnett and Bucky Harris. 

A pair of baseball’s former home run kings will have the anniversaries of their births marked next week. Hank Aaron will turn 76 Feb, 5, and Feb. 6 will mark 115th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s birth.

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

Big stars — and a little fun

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

INDIANAPOLIS — The man with the “GTS” monogram on his sweater looked around the room, then asked: “Where’s my cameraman?”

Camera in hand — and with far less photography skills than worthy of the event — I darted over to the two gentlemen in the chairs. They had just wrapped up Sunday’s afternoon Veterans Committee for Executives and Pioneers meeting at Baseball’s Winter Meetings in Indianapolis, and they wanted to capture their moment.

12-07-09-Muder_RobertsSeaver.jpgJust two guys, 597 major league victories — and a whole lot of little boy in both of them.

“I’m keeping this one,” said George Thomas Seaver, who couldn’t resist the chance to pose with fellow Hall of Famer Robin Roberts. “How many wins do we have here?”

Let’s see: 286 for Roberts, 311 for Seaver. Then, two of the best right-handed pitchers in history began doing what every pitcher does: They compared hitting statistics.

“I had four career stolen bases, and was never caught,” said Seaver.

“You got me there,” said Roberts. “I only had three steals. But I did something not even Babe Ruth did: I hit home runs from both sides of the plate.”

Seaver was duly impressed — so much so that the three-time Cy Young Award winner dropped into his best “We’re Not Worthy” pose, saluting the switch-hitting Roberts from the carpeted floor.

In a flash, the two friends were on their way — ready to pick up the conversation this summer in Cooperstown during the July 23-26 Hall of Fame Weekend. Two of baseball’s greatest, still in love with the game they played.

A moment to remember.

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

Night at the Museum: Extra Innings

Light_90.jpgBy Steve Light

On Friday evening the Hall of Fame stayed open a little bit late for a group of young baseball players from Newtown, Conn. In fact, it never closed. The nine and ten-year-old ballplayers and their parents and coaches had a night to remember as they took part in the Hall’s Extra Innings Overnight program.

11-16-09-Light_Overnight.jpgArriving after the Museum had closed for the general public, the first task before each family was deciding which alcove in the Hall of Fame Gallery would serve as their sleeping quarters for the night. As a father and son Red Sox fan pairing searched out Carlton Fisk’s plaque, three Yankee fans settled for sleeping under Joe DiMaggio’s plaque once they found that they had been beaten to the “First Five Alcove” and Babe Ruth.

With the sleeping arrangements made, the group made their way upstairs to get their visit started with a special showing of The Baseball Experience in the Grandstand Theater. They then had the whole museum to themselves for the next two hours. It was difficult to tell who was more excited, the kids who had never been to the Hall of Fame or many of the parents whose last visit to Cooperstown came when they were just 10 years of age.

The group made their way through the museum, completing the Discovery Tour to claim their free pack of baseball cards. On the third floor the kids paused to take part in special activities. In Sacred Ground, they went on a cross-country virtual tour of ballparks old and new, while in the Education Gallery they learned how they put their knowledge of science to use each time they step to the plate. The evening closed out with a snack and entertainment in the Bullpen Theater. By 11:30, our guests were tired and it was time to sleep where baseball’s immortals live.

A light breakfast and one last look around the Hall of Fame Gallery and our visitors were on their way before the museum opened Saturday morning. But they didn’t stray too far, as many planned to take advantage of their free admission to visit the Museum Store and find out what the Hall looks like under the light of day.

This Friday, we welcome a group of members of the Hall of Fame for yet another after-hours experience of a lifetime. The Hall offers its Extra Innings Overnight program several times a year in March and November. You can visit our event calendar to find our upcoming dates, or call (607) 547-0312 for more information.

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

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