Results tagged ‘ Baltimore Orioles ’

Mike McCormick visits Hall of Fame

By Bill Francis

Mike McCormick had experienced much in his baseball career, from making his big league debut 55 years ago at the age of 17, to capturing the 1967 National League Cy Young Award, and surrendering Hank Aaron’s 500th career home run. But it wasn’t until this week that the longtime left-handed pitcher visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

“It’s the first time that I’ve been to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and shame on me,” McCormick said on Thursday afternoon. “I’ve heard about it, obviously, my whole career and honored to be in it in different ways, not as an elected person. It’s been a wonderful day so far and we’re looking forward to the rest of it.”

The 72-year-old McCormick is a native Californian who moved with his wife to Pinehurst, N.C. eight years ago. Now retired, he spends time on the golf course and keeping up with his beloved Giants thanks to a cable television baseball package. He was visiting Cooperstown with one of his daughters, her husband, and their two children. Soon after the family arrived, they were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum.

“You come in as the average citizen and you see the exhibits but you don’t see what’s behind those exhibits,” McCormick said. “They have some incredible things that they shared with my family and me that, had it not been under the conditions, we wouldn’t even be aware that such things existed.”

After a heralded prep career in a Los Angeles suburb in which he posted records of 49-4 in American Legion and 34-4 in high school, McCormick spent 16 seasons (1956-71) as a major league hurler. Because of the rules at the time, his reported $50,000 signing bonus from the New York Giants demanded he stay on the big league roster for his first two professional seasons.

“I wanted to be a baseball player,” McCormick recalled. “And all at once I was thrust into it at 17 and it was whole different world, let me tell you. I grew up real fast.”

While McCormick spent most of his time with the Giants, first in New York and then with San Francisco after the franchise moved in 1958, he also saw time with the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Senators, New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals. His career, which ended with a 134-128 won-loss record, was highlighted by his 22 wins in 1967 that helped him capture the senior circuit’s top pitching prize.

“When I was healthy, I don’t want to say I was the best but I was among the best. I just had a struggle staying healthy,” McCormick said. “I went my first six years feeling fine then all at once I ran into a sore shoulder which set me back the next three years. I stayed in the major leagues but I was really a nonproductive individual. Then I got to Washington and re-established that I had some value, where I had three or four good years, one of which one was the Cy Young Award year. But then I had back problems and had to succumb to a back operation.”

Walking through the Plaque Gallery, McCormick not only saw the bronze likenesses of such former teammates as Willie Mays, Gaylord Perry, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal and Orlando Cepeda, but also legendary opponents like Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Stan Musial and Mickey Mantle.

“I’ve been blessed to have played with and against the finest in the game,” McCormick said. “I pitched in both leagues in the 1950s and ‘60s, an era I consider one of baseball’s best ever.”

Before continuing on his first-ever Hall of Fame visit, McCormick added, “It’s an incredible place. I would tell everybody that has an opportunity that this is the place to come.”

Bill Francis is a library associate at 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.

Bo Knows Records

By Trevor Hayes

I’ve been a Royals fan for most of my life. Ever since my family moved back to Kansas City in 1993, I’ve cheered for the Boys in Blue.

Unfortunately, Bo Jackson was already gone by the time I fell in love with the Royals. His last season in K.C. was 1990. But I remember seeing his larger-than-life persona everywhere. Even in rural Oklahoma, where baseball and football weren’t on my attention landscape, Bo was there.

Between Nike’s “Bo Knows” campaign, his Heisman Trophy, playing in the NFL “as a hobby” and his All-Star Game MVP Award, Jackson’s exploits became folk legends. He’s like Paul Bunyan and John Henry wrapped in to one when people talk about his run, literally up the wall in Baltimore, or his throw from the warning track in left to gun down Harold Reynolds at the plate in the Kingdom.

Video of him doing amazing things in Royals Powder Blue is engrained in my mind. But I’ve only seen the man in the person twice. The first time was in 1994 – the last season of his career. Jackson was on the warning track, chatting with fans before a June Angels-Royals matchup at Kauffman Stadium. The photo I have from that night shows a massive man – even after hip replacement surgery. He was an impressive sight.

Looking back at the box scores, Jackson only played in two of the three games that series. My memory is fuzzy as to which game I went to, so I may not have even seen him play. But the record of his career will lives on, not just in my mind, but in baseball lore.

In fact, among his more amazing accomplishments, one feat actually made it into the record books – since steps taken on a wall while parallel to a field and number of astonishing outfield assists to create plays at the plate aren’t official stats.

In July and August of 1990, Jackson tied the record for home runs in consecutive at-bats. It’s an interesting story, as most Bo legends are. On July 17, 1990, Jackson connected for home runs in his first three at-bats, pounding Yankees starter Andy Hawkins to the tune of seven RBI. He hit one in the first inning with Hall of Famer George Brett on base, connected for another blast in the top of the third – scoring Brett again – and hit his third in three trips to the plate in the fifth, scoring Brett a third time and adding Kevin Seitzer to his runs batted in. Even the Yankee crowd had to applaud. Brett called the performance colossal.

But in the bottom of the sixth, fellow two-sport star Deion Sanders came up with the Yanks threatening. A run had just scored and with a man on third, the Royals were up 8-5. Sanders hit a fly to deep right-center and Jackson started tracking it. Jackson’s diving stab missed the ball and the Yankees’ speedy rookie circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run. Jackson was removed from the game and put on the disabled list the next day with a partially dislocated left shoulder, missing out on his chance for the coveted four home runs in a single game.

But Bo wouldn’t rest without setting some kind of record. The first ball he saw in his first at-bat back from the DL, he hit for a monstrous shot at then-Royals Stadium on Aug. 26th. Estimated at 450 feet, he said he saw the ball’s threads on the offering from imposing Seattle ace Randy Johnson.

Twenty-five batters have hit home runs in four consecutive at-bats, but I can almost guarantee none did it quite like the iconic Jackson. I saw him for the second time in person on Opening Day this spring in Kansas City. Impeccably dressed in a suit, he still looked like a man who could do amazing things. While Jackson’s specific record won’t be included in the Hall of Fame’s new One for the Books, the story behind his achievement is what the Hall’s new exhibit is all about, which makes me excited for the opening on May 28th.

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

Soaking it all in

By Samantha Carr

There are 292 bronze plaques in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and 203 of them are players.

This July, Pat Gillick will become the 32nd baseball executive to be inducted and just the fourth team architect following Ed Barrow, Branch Rickey and George Weiss. He spent 50 years in baseball as an executive with the Blue Jays, Orioles, Mariners and Phillies, building three World Series championship teams.

“These gloves look like hockey gloves,” said Gillick after seeing some artifacts of mitts used in the late 1800s.

Fitting, coming from a man who spent his most productive years in hockey country as Toronto’s general manager.

Gillick toured the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Tuesday during his orientation of Cooperstown to get ready for Hall of Fame Weekend 2011. Gillick’s wife Doris joined him on a walk through the Museum, led by Erik Strohl, the Hall of Fame’s senior director of exhibits and collections.

Gillick spent the day meeting with Hall of Fame staff and becoming familiar with the Hall of Fame and surrounding area to prepare for his induction. On July 24th, he will be joined by Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven as the class of 2011 on stage at the Clark Sports Center for the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

His bronze plaque will be unveiled and he will deliver a speech in front of family and friends, thousands of fans and members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, where the men who have created baseball history will be on stage to welcome him to the team.

Before the pressure and emotion of the weekend is upon him, Gillick used Tuesday to reflect on the game he has spent his life dedicated to.

“That’d be different, to wear a sweater instead of a jacket,” Gillick said to his wife when they viewed a warm-up sweater worn by Hall of Fame Yankees manager Miller Huggins in 1925.

Gillick soaked in the baseball history, chatting with baseball writers about changes to the game like the handles of bats and the style of play.

“There have been a lot of guys with high leg kicks,” said Gillick. “But not in the last 15 years or so. I can only think of a couple of guys. Everyone is trying to simplify and get back to basics.”

Gillick is a part of baseball history and will soon know what it feels like to be among legends, enshrined in the Plaque Gallery next to the other giants of the game.

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

Pirate captain

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

02-11-11-Muder_TannerPIT.jpgWhen I was 10 years old, Chuck Tanner could do no wrong.

 Tanner, who passed away Friday, was the first manager of my childhood. I have no memories of Bill Virdon or Danny Murtaugh, who both led my Pirates to the postseason in the 1970s. But starting in 1977, Tanner was the leader of my team.

He always looked at the bright side.

The Bucs fell short of the 1978 National League East title after a spirited stretch run. Tanner kept smiling.

His mother passed away just before Game 5 of the 1979 World Series – with the Pirates down 3-1. Tanner kept going.

The Lumber Company teams of the 1970s got older, and the Bucs fell out of contention in the 1980s. Tanner kept believing.

The 1985 Pirates lost 104 games with a lineup more ancient than their manager. Tanner kept pushing.

Finally, he was let go after that terrible ’85 season. He spent the next three years with the Braves, then returned home to New Castle, Pa., unofficially serving as the Pirates’ number one fan.

After so many years of watching Tanner do a pretty convincing impersonation of Norman Vincent Peale, it was easy to peg him as an eternal optimist. But Tanner was so much more.

    02-11-11-Muder_TannerCWS.jpg

  • A decent big league outfielder, who homered on the first major league pitch he ever saw and played for eight seasons
  • A super-intense young manager with the White Sox, who kept the Pale Hose competitive throughout the early 1970s
  • A visionary of bullpen use, who was credited by Hall of Famer Goose Gossage for shaping his career
  • And a World Series winner, who led a diverse 1979 Pirates team to a glorious championship

But for me, it’s much simpler. Chuck Tanner will always be the manager – the first one I remember, and the one everyone else is judged against.

Somewhere, someone is smiling right now – thinking of Chuck Tanner. Who could ask for a better legacy.

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

Home run trip

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

01-31-11-Carr_Lopez.jpgIn March 2008, I was finishing up my Master’s Degree and found out that my baseball hero, Javy Lopez, was attempting to make a comeback with the Atlanta Braves, my favorite team. More importantly, Lopez would appear in Spring Training.

When I told my mom the news, she simply said, “We have to go!”

I had never seen Lopez play in person, although I had been to a Braves game and Spring Training before. I either caught the team on his rest day or after he had left as a free agent. So I had to settle for watching him take BP and getting a wave before the game.

We left the winter of upstate New York for the sunny ballfields of Florida, scheduled to watch 5 games in 7 days. For a kid who grew up playing softball in New York, there is something about seeing the dirt and grass for the first time that makes you feel good. Baseball season is here.

At our first game at Champion Stadium at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Hall of Fame legend Phil Niekro brought the lineup card to the umpire at home plate for the Braves.

Standing in awe as the knuckleballer waved to the crowd, little did I know that a short time later I would consider Niekro one of our guys at the Hall of Fame – someone who I would meet and get to know in Cooperstown.

01-31-11-Carr_Niekro.jpgMy parents and I spent the week enjoying the sunshine and catching ballgames each day. We’d keep score, eat hot dogs and argue over who was going to be better this year, the Braves or my parents’ favorite team, the Yankees.

In the first at-bat I would ever see Lopez take, he homered over the left field fence. As I jumped up and cheered, my parents and I both figured it was for me. I had patiently waited to watch him all these years.

Although Lopez retired before completing Spring Training and ended his comeback bid, I could now say I saw him play. As we headed back to the winter-like north, I couldn’t help but think that most 22-year olds can think of a better way to spend a spring break than a week in Florida with their parents. But not me. It was the trip of a lifetime with memories I will keep forever of both my baseball hero and sharing the game with the two people who taught me to love it.

What could be better than that?

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

Hall Monitor: Hot Winter Meetings

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

The temperatures in Orlando weren’t that warm, but plenty of big splashes and a flurry of other news made for a week of sizzling Hot Stove action. With Spring Training approaching, many names have changed places, giving them opportunity to put a new mark of the narration of the game.


12-10-10-Hayes_Gillick.jpgWerth Announcing
: On Monday, Pat Gillick was announced as the first new Inductee for the Hall of Fame Class of 2011, which only seems fitting coming a day after the announcement of Jayson Werth signing with Washington. The two are connected because Gillick brought Werth to Philadelphia after the struggling outfielder was cut by the Dodgers in December of 2006. That signing was one of a number of moves by Gillick and the Phillies that led to their 2008 World Title – the third of Gillick’s career.

Not Gonzo in San Diego: The first major splash once the Winter Meetings began was the Red Sox’s signing of Adrian Gonzalez, who will join a storied tradition of hitters in Boston, including fellow San Diego native Ted Williams. But Gonzalez will leave behind an unfinished assault on most of the Padres offensive records.

Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn is the hit king in Southern Cali, besting Gonzalez by 2,285 base knocks. But over his five seasons in San Diego, Gonzalez had been steadily building his case as the most powerful Padre. He leaves San Diego two home runs shy of the team’s all-time record of 163 by Nate Colbert. He currently ranks fifth on the doubles list, three two-baggers behind another Hall of Famer, Dave Winfield. And with an average season in 2011, he would have passed Phil Nevin for third on the Padres RBI list, behind only Gwynn and Winfield.


12-10-10-Hayes_ApplingFox.jpgTwo Grand in Pale Hose
: Frank Thomas missed by 41 games, but with his new deal Paul Konerko should be able to reach 2,000 games played for the White Sox. Wednesday, Konerko signed on for three more years in the Southside and sits just 232 games away from the mark. To this point, only Hall of Famers Luke Appling (2,422 games) and Nellie Fox (2,115 games) have topped the two-grand threshold for the Sox – one of the eight original AL clubs.

Burning up the base paths: It would appear that the Red Sox newest outfielder might have his sights set on his new team’s stolen base record. Carl Crawford, who signed with Boston Thursday, has stolen 409 bases during his nine years, with only nine of those coming in his first season in the Majors. The Red Sox record is 300, held by Harry Hooper who played in Boston from 1909 to 1920. The second and third place slots are filled by a pair of Hall of Famers in Tris Speaker (267 steals from 1907-15) and Carl Yastrzemski (168 steals from 1961-83).

Aside from his talents on the bases, Crawford’s power-speed combination will be unique to the Sox. Last year he compiled at least 100 runs, 30 doubles, 10 triples and 15 home runs. Nomar Garciaparra reached those numbers in 1997 and 2003. To find another Boston player to achieve that combination, you have to go back 70 years to 1940 when a 21-year-old Ted Williams did it.


12-10-10-Hayes_Smith.jpgAnother Week, Another Cooperstown-worthy show
: This week, 2010 Hall of Fame Inductee Whitey Herzog sits down on Inside Studio 42 with Bob Costas. Herzog and Costas will talk about the Cardinals teams of the 1980s, Whiteyball and the state of the game today. Also stopping by will be fellow Cardinal Hall of Famer, the Wizard of Oz, Ozzie Smith. The show airs at 8 p.m. ET on MLB Network.

Last respects: Possibly the most beloved broadcaster in the Northwest, Ford C. Frick Award winner Dave Niehaus will be honored Saturday with a ceremony at Safeco Field. Gates open at 12 p.m. PT and the ceremony will be carried live on six different outlets in the Pacific Northwest region. Niehaus’ son and daughter will be on hand for the ceremony, which will also feature video tribute from fellow Frick Award winners Vin Scully, Jon Miller, Joe Garagiola and Marty Brennaman.

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 63 other followers