Results tagged ‘ Baltimore Orioles ’

Twin careers

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Charley Walters walked into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Friday like hundreds of other tourists.

But unlike most other visitors, Walters found a piece of his own history inside the Museum walls.

05-14-10-Muder_Walters.jpgWalters, a sports columnist for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, stopped in Cooperstown to visit the home of baseball. An award-winning journalist, Walters is also a former big leaguer – having pitched in six games with the Minnesota Twins in 1969.

“It wasn’t much of a career,” Walters said.

Nonetheless, a clippings file detailing Walters’ baseball life is preserved at the Hall of Fame – just like each of the more than 17,000 other men who have played Major League Baseball. And the Museum’s photo archive also contains shots of Walters – a fact that shocked the former fastballer from Minneapolis.

“I can’t believe you have this one,” said Walters of a photo of himself in uniform with the Washington Senators, a team he was traded to in 1970 but for which Walters never appeared in a regular-season game. “I didn’t even know this existed.”

Walters signed with the Twins in 1966 following a tryout camp and made Minnesota’s Opening Day roster in 1969. He debuted on April 11 of that year against the Angels, and was unscored upon in his first five appearances before being charged with four runs in one-and-a-third innings on May 14 against Baltimore – his last big league game.

“I had a great fastball, but no curve,” Walters said. “Billy Martin (the Twins manager in 1969) loved me, though, because I threw hard and threw inside.”

Walters spent the rest of the 1969 season in the minors, but did pick up $1,600 (a quarter playoff share) when the Twins won the American League West. He was traded to the Senators in the spring of 1970 in a deal for outfielder Brant Alyea.

“I always wanted to be a journalist, so when my playing career was done I went back to the University of Minnesota and got my degree,” said Walters, who went on to become a beat writer for the Twins. “I always thought being a baseball writer was like a fairy tale: Every day was a new adventure.”

For Walters, however, the real adventure came Friday in Cooperstown.

“This is just wonderful, seeing all the history here,” Walters said. “It’s incredible to see something like this photo of me in the Hall of Fame.”

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

A trip through time

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Whitey Herzog leaned forward in his chair to get a closer look at the outfielder crashing into the Yankee Stadium fence.

“I ended up with 57 stitches, but I caught that ball,” said Herzog. “To this day, Yogi still reminds me that he would have had 359 career home runs if I had just let it go.”

04-27-10-Muder_Herzog.jpgThe photo, part of the collection of more than 500,000 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, showed Herzog as a Baltimore Oriole right fielder in 1961 as he robbed Yogi Berra of a hit. It will be a one of many stories told again this summer as Berra – along with more than 50 other living Hall of Famers – helps welcome Herzog into the Hall of Fame.

Herzog took his Hall of Fame Orientation Tour on Monday in preparation for his July 25 induction. Along with Andre Dawson and Doug Harvey, Herzog will be enshrined as the Class of 2010 in Cooperstown.

Monday’s tour gave Herzog a chance to look behind the scenes at the Hall of Fame, and the former reserve outfielder for the Senators, Athletics, Orioles and Tigers seemed overwhelmed when he considered his surroundings.

“You know, I got a bigger bonus than Mickey Mantle when I signed with the Yankees,” said Herzog, who began his playing career in 1949 as a Yankee farmhand. “That’s the only time I ever made more money than Mickey.”

However, as a manager, Herzog had few peers and was widely regarded as one of the best in the game. Herzog led his team’s to six postseason berths in 18 seasons, winning National League pennants in 1985 and 1987 with the Cardinals and the 1982 World Series with the Redbirds.

He is just the 19th former big league manager elected to Cooperstown.

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

Classic dream fulfilled

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

A defensive whiz on par with the game’s greatest of all time, longtime center fielder Paul Blair fielded numerous questions pertaining to his distinguished big league career when he recently sat down for an interview with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

03-29-10-Francis_Blair1.jpgIn Cooperstown on March 20 to greet visitors in line to buy tickets for the second annual Hall of Fame Classic, the 66-year-old Blair will trade in his beloved golf clubs for another chance to get out on the field in the June 20 legends game. Tickets for the Classic are on sale at www.baseballhall.org or by calling 1-866-849-7770.

During a 17-year big league career, spent mainly with the great Baltimore Orioles teams of the late 1960s and 1970s, the eight-time Gold Glove Award winner and four-time World Series champion was known for his play in center field. But, surprisingly, Blair was a shortstop until he signed his first professional contract.

“I went to my first spring training the manager said, ‘Everybody go to their positions.’ Seven guys went to short – I was going to be the eighth shortstop,” Blair recalled. “They had two in left, two in center and one in right, and I saw (the player in right field) running and throwing and I knew I could beat him out, so I went to right field and became an outfielder. It just came natural to me for some reason.”

Known as the premier center fielder of his era, Blair was renowned for how shallow he played.

03-29-10-Francis_Blair3.jpg“What I tried to do was play where most of the balls were going to be hit. I didn’t play guys like Harmon Killebrew and Reggie Jackson or the big home run hitters right behind second base, but most guys can’t hit the ball straightaway center field out of the ballpark. If they hit balls to center field they are basically going to be line drives or high pops,” Blair said. “The line drives are not going to go out of the ballpark, so what I tried to do was take some of those line drives away. I wanted to be the best center fielder, head and shoulders, over anybody on my team. That way those pitchers would make the manager play me.”

Raised in Los Angeles, Blair was a Dodgers fan but Hall of Fame center fielder Willie Mays of the hated San Francisco Giants was his idol.

“Whenever the Giants played the Dodgers, I would hope Mays would get four hits but the Dodgers would win,” Blair said. “When I was growing up I used to do the basket catch even though I was at shortstop, but when I became a professional I thought I better do my own thing and not copy Willie because if I ever droped one then it’s going to be heck to pay.”

A star athlete in high school, Blair’s decision to pursue baseball as a profession was influenced by another Hall of Famer.

“I guess that came from Jackie (Robinson),” Blair said. “As long as I can remember, since I was eight years old, I wanted to be a major league baseball player. That was my one desire, my one goal, and I was just fortunate that I had some athletic ability.”

Blair became a regular with the O’s at the tender age of 21 in 1965 and appeared in the postseason six times with Baltimore over his 13 seasons with the club.

03-29-10-Francis_Blair2.jpg“Our whole thing, and it came from (Hall of Fame manager) Earl (Weaver) and he was the catalyst of those ball clubs, is that you went out there and you played great defense, you pitched well, and you played the whole game,” Blair said. “The team came first. You did everything you possibly could to help win a ballgame.

 “We already had a very good ball club but then (future Hall of Famer) Frank (Robinson) came in 1966 that really put us over the top. He was that big gun that all the other pitchers had to concentrate on. The rest of us just had to do our thing. When Frank said, ‘Let’s go,’ we just followed him.”

Looking back on his baseball career, Blair says that he is proudest of the fact that he got to play in the big leagues for 17 years.

“It’s a very big achievement for me because that’s something I always wanted to do, and it’s the only thing I ever want to do,” Blair said. “The bonus was winning the eight Gold Gloves and the four World Series championships.

“I was very fortunate being on the teams that I played on. I played on 10 first place teams. Every time I went to spring training I knew I had a chance to be in a World Series. I wound up getting in eight playoffs, six World Series, and we won four of them. Hopefully I did my part and contributed to us winning. That was very important to me.”

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

Classic stories from Paul Blair

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

The gold ring on his pinkie finger sparkled in the morning sun as Paul Blair signed one autograph after another.

03-19-10-Muder_Blair.jpgSome remembered Blair as the Gold Glove centerfielder of the 1960s and 70s Baltimore Orioles. Others recalled him as the super-sub on the New York Yankees’ title teams of 1977 and 1978.

But all the fans who lined up to purchase tickets for the Hall of Fame Classic on Saturday enjoyed listening to Blair’s stories – and eagerly anticipated his appearance in the Father’s Day legends game at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown.

Blair, who will join Hall of Famers Gary Carter, Bob Feller, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Harmon Killebrew, Phil Niekro and Ozzie Smith at the June 20 Classic, posed for pictures and signed balls and caps for fans waiting to purchase tickets at the Baseball Hall of Fame. The four-time World Series champion was easily identifiable with his 1978 World Series ring, but admitted that the 1966 title he won as a member of the Orioles is his favorite baseball memory.

“We beat the Dodgers, not by scoring a bunch of runs but by playing winning baseball,” said Blair, an eight-time Gold Glove centerfielder. “We shut them out for the final 33 innings of that World Series because our pitchers had two goals when they went to the mound: Don’t walk anyone, and keep the ball in the ballpark. They knew if they did that, we’d make the plays behind them.”

03-22-10-Muder_Blair2.jpgBlair’s fifth-inning home run in Game 3 of the 1966 World Series provided the only run in a 1-0 Orioles’ win, putting Baltimore up 3-games-to-0 and effectively clinching the Series. He would finish his 17-year big league career with two All-Star Game appearances and more than 1,500 hits. Only seven players have ever won more Gold Gloves for their outfield play.

This summer, however, Blair expects to man the infield at the Hall of Fame Classic on Father’s Day.

“I started as an infielder, and that’s where I’m playing now,” said the 66-year-old Blair, who today carries a six handicap on the golf course. “I’m looking forward to coming back in June.”

Participants the Hall of Fame’s Membership Program can purchase tickets for the June 20 Hall of Fame Classic exclusively through March 28 by calling 1-866-849-7770 or visiting www.baseballhall.org. For more information about becoming a Member, please visit http://www.baseballhall.org.

Any tickets remaining on March 29 will be made available to the general public.

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

Pagliarulo reminisces in Cooperstown

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

He turns 50 years old in 10 days, but Mike Pagliarulo looks as if he could still turn on an inside fastball and deposit it in the right field seats at Yankee Stadium.

The one-time lefty swinging slugger, who spent 11 big league seasons patrolling the hot corner for the New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers, was at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Friday as the keynote speaker for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Baseball Coaches Clinic.

03-05-10-Francis_Pagliarulo.jpgAfter the morning session, “Pags,” as he was known, talked about his life in the National Pastime. In fact, it was game that ran in the family, as his father played a few years of minor league ball and his son played ball at Dartmouth University.

“There are things that tear families apart and there are things that bring them together. I’m just glad it was baseball (bringing things together) for us,” he said. “We really don’t talk about it too much, but we like playing.”

After the Massachusetts native and lifelong Red Sox fan was selected by the Yankees in the sixth round of the 1981 amateur draft, Pagliarulo made his big league debut with the Bronx Bombers in July 1984.

“One of the great things about growing up with the Yankees and being part of that organization was the way we felt about each other. It’s a tough organization, and they made it that way on purpose because they develop players to play in New York City,” he said. “You’re not playing in some other town where nobody really cares, but in New York the fans understand the game, they know the game, so you can’t mess up out there. You have to be ready and you have to be able to play. Whether you are good or bad, you have to be able to play. The Yankees did prepare us for that.”

So after hitting 28 home runs in 1986 and 32 in ’87, it was a surprise to Pagliarulo when he was traded to the Padres in July 1989.

“I didn’t want to be traded from New York. I didn’t care how I played, I just didn’t want to be traded,” he said. “So I went out to San Diego … that’s a different world out there. I had to yell at a couple of the fans sometimes, ‘Look, I’m stinking it up. Throw something at me, yell, do something, will you?’ A beautiful place, but I liked playing in New York.

03-05-10-Francis_PagsTickets.jpgEventually finding his way to Minnesota, Pags saw his only postseason action with the 1991 Twins. Not only did he hit a 10th-inning, pinch-hit homer off Toronto’s Mike Timlin to win Game Three of the ALCS, but was also played the entirely of the classic Game Seven of the World Series, in which Minnesota’s Jack Morris, who went 10 innings, outdueled Atlanta’s John Smoltz in a 1-0 triumph.

“What a great experience that postseason was for me. I’m glad I played well, but it was just great to be a part of that. One of the best experiences of my baseball career,” Pagliarulo said. “The great thing about Game Seven was that even though it was deafening in the Metrodome – I was standing up in the dugout and (shortstop) Greg Gagne was standing right next to me and I couldn’t hear a word he was saying – when you are on the field the thing that was different I thought was the awareness that the players have.”

Pagliarulo was a participant in last year’s inaugural Hall of Fame Classic, a seven-inning legends game played at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown. And he drove in the winning run with a double.

“Being on the field brought back a lot of memories for me. The performance end of it was a little tough. Maybe I’ll get a jog in once in awhile before the game this year,” Pagliarulo joked. “It was great to see the other players, and the players really loved it. Being on the field, the fans are out, the weather’s great, you are in Cooperstown, not much beats that. I think it’s a great thing for Cooperstown and I know the guys really want to do it too.”

This second annual Hall of Fame Classic, featuring seven Hall of Famers and 20 other former big leaguers, takes place at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 20. For more information, click here.

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

Ripken artifacts added to Museum timeline

 
Odell_90(2).jpgBy John Odell

Our second floor timeline exhibition at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum uses baseball’s dynasties to tell the history of the game. On Wednesday, we added two items to the 1960s-1980s Orioles case, both related to one of baseball’s best-known players, Cal Ripken.

03-04-10-Odell_Install.jpgThe first artifact is alternate orange jersey worn by Ripken in 1989, a year famous to Bird fans for the “Why Not?” Orioles. That year, Ripken was named to his seventh of 19 All-Star teams and won his fifth of eight Silver Slugger honors as the O’s carried an unlikely, exciting run for the division crown into the final games of the season. Hall of Famer Frank Robinson also won Manager of the Year honors in 1989 for his handling of the young squad, which the year before had opened the season with 21 consecutive losses.

The second item is a baseball with the following inscription:

Happy Birthday Dwight
5-30-82
Presidents should be tossing
1st balls, not catching them
Cal Ripken, Jr.

Batting eighth in the lineup and playing third base, Cal Ripken knocked this ball foul, where it was caught by the president of the Orioles booster club, who was attending the game on his birthday. After the game, he had Cal inscribe it.

Of course, it was only years later that the significance of the game became clear: May 30, 1982 was the first game of Ripken’s famed consecutive games played streak. While everyone in baseball was aware of the streak once it became news, it is only by the greatest of luck that someone managed to preserve this memento from the start of the famed record. On loan to the Hall from Ripken Baseball, Inc., the ball is being displayed with the inscription turned down, to minimize the damaging effect that light has on the ink.

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

Gift of gloves

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

10-1-09-Carr_Jeter.jpgFirst Cal Ripken broke Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig‘s “unbreakable” record of consecutive games played. Now, Derek Jeter has passed him for the lead on the all-time Yankees hit list.

It only seems fitting that Gehrig’s records have been broken by players who are respected for their character almost as much as he was.

Gehrig’s hit record lasted seven decades despite having his career cut short because of a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease that would claim his life and later bear his name. Gehrig retired at age 35 in 1939.

“Lou Gehrig, being a former captain and what he stood for, you mention his name to any baseball fan around the country, it means a lot,” Jeter said. “I think passing him makes it stand out that much more.”

Jeter donated his batting gloves from the historic game on Sept. 11 – when he recorded his 2,722nd hit as a Yankee – to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and they are currently being accessioned into the Museum. The Yankees captain has four World Series rings, 10 All-Star Game selections and three Gold Gloves during his 15 seasons in the Bronx.

10-1-09-Carr_JeterHit.jpgHe has six seasons of 200-plus hits and ranks 49th on the all-time hit list. At age 35 and healthy, Jeter has a good chance to add to that number and continue making history. He currently sits No. 1 in franchise history in at-bats (8,593), second in stolen bases (300), third in games played (2,136), fourth in runs scored (1,574) and doubles (438) and fifth in career batting average (.317).

Of the 30 major league teams, over half have Hall of Famers for their all-time hits leader. The list includes players like Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Stan Musial.

Gehrig may no longer top the Yankees list, but his legacy in pinstripes will not soon be forgotten. The Baseball Hall of Fame will honor Gehrig, Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson during Character and Courage Weekend Oct. 10-12 in Cooperstown.

Samantha Carr is the media relations coordinator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 61 other followers