Results tagged ‘ Bert Blyleven ’

Catch a Moment in Time

By Craig Muder

Less than 24 hours after Saturday’s Hall of Fame Classic, the sun fired up Doubleday Field for another perfect day in Cooperstown.

All that tangibly remained of the June 16 legends game were some lines in the dirt: Bert Blyleven’s spike marks on the mound, the outline of Military All-Star Ryan Hurtado’s diving catch on the left field warning track.

On Sunday morning families gathered at historic Doubleday Field to have an old-fashioned game of catch – a fitting treat for Father’s Day. (Carter Kegelman/National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

The echoes, however, still sounded.

Then, a new noise: The brushing of soles against the ground as parents, grandparents and children arrived for Sunday’s Family Catch. As the gates opened, they walked expectantly onto the grass, bringing with them the aroma of sun screen and leather gloves. Finding a space on the field, they began the ancient ritual of a game of catch.

Fathers and sons, moms and daughters, granddads and grandmas. It was a fitting Father’s Day scene in baseball’s hometown, where generations connect everyday.

Throughout Hall of Fame Classic Weekend – at Friday’s Youth Skills Clinic, at Saturday’s parade and game, at Sunday’s Family Catch at Doubleday Field – the National Pastime brought folks together, a centrifugal force that crosses time and culture. That force is what brings fans back to Cooperstown.

In five weeks, it will once again be on display for the world during the July 20-23 Hall of Fame Weekend. The moment will be for Barry Larkin and Ron Santo – the Class of 2012 – but the celebration will be for everyone who loves baseball.

Thank you, Cooperstown.

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

Bruno in Cooperstown

By Bill Francis

Tom Brunansky was surprised after looking through a pair of manila folders containing both images and stories from his 14 years in the big leagues.

Evan after a career that included 271 home runs and a World Series ring, Brunansky was amazed to find his career documented in Cooperstown.

“It’s pretty special and neat that not only my mom would collect that,” he said afterward, “but the Hall of Fame would as well.”

Brunansky, currently the hitting coach for the New Britain Rock Cats, a Double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins in the Eastern League, was with about 10 members of his team inside the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center on Wednesday morning as they checked out the clippings and photo files of the player nicknamed “Bruno.”

“Oh, it got a lot of laughs, a lot of stories, and a lot of things that after a course of a career you kind of seem to forget about,” Brunansky said of his Hall of Fame files.

In a playing career (1981-94) spent mostly with the Twins, the longtime right-fielder finished with 1,543 hits, 919 RBI, a .245 batting average and an All-Star Game selection in 1985.

For Brunansky, who will celebrate his 51st birthday on Aug. 20, the chance to come to Cooperstown arose thanks to a Rock Cats’ series against the Binghamton Mets – another Eastern League team located about an hour from the home of baseball.

“They try and make these trips for the kids who haven’t been here, and I’ve never been here, so it was obviously well worth getting up early to come on out,” he said. “We play tonight, so we’ve got an early bus, but to bring these kids out and to see part of history is pretty cool.

“I always knew the Hall of Fame was kind of neat because of all the things that were here, but to see the degree and how far they’ve gone and how much work has been put into it is amazing,” he added. “I love the cleats, I love the gloves, I love the baseballs, I love the bats – that’s the stuff I enjoy seeing.”

While he enjoyed the baseball artifacts, what Brunansky really wanted to see was the Hall of Fame plaques.

“The Plaque Gallery was kind of neat, too, because I liked going through there and seeing who I played against and who were teammates.”

One of the newest plaques on display belong to 2011 inductee Bert Blyleven, a teammate of Brunansky’s with the Twins from 1985 to 1988.

“Bert was one of the ultimate gamers,” Brunansky said. “The one thing about having Bert as a teammate is every fifth day he took the ball, gave you the best chance to win that day, and always competed.”

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

Family pack

By Craig Muder

Sandy Alomar Sr. bounded up the steps to the first tee on Saturday, looking – except for his graying hair – much like the gritty middle infielder who played 15 big league seasons from 1964-78.

At 67 years old, the father of Roberto Alomar hasn’t slowed down a bit. And while celebrating his son’s induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend, Sandy Sr. is determined to enjoy every minute of the experience.

Sandy Sr. has renewed many friendships this weekend at the Hall of Fame as he prepares to watch Roberto be inducted at 1:30 p.m. ET Sunday in Cooperstown. He spent Saturday morning on the golf course at the Baseball Hall of Fame Invitational, blasting drives down the center of the fairway.

“It’s been a terrific weekend,” Sandy Sr. said. “I am proud to be here for my son.”

Bert Blyleven, who along with Pat Gillick and Roberto Alomar comprises the Class of 2011, also had family in the Invitational: His son Todd Blyleven and his brother Joe Blyleven.

“It’s great to be here with my family,” Blyleven said. “It’s just an amazing feeling.”

It’s about to get even better – during weekend that is all about family and Cooperstown.

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

Heroes welcome

By Craig Muder

The telltale signs were all there on Thursday.

Former major leaguers Paul Blair and Ron Blomberg, signing autographs along Main Street.

SUVs streaming in and out of the village, carrying the likes of Bill Mazeroski, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan as they arrive for their annual July visit to Central New York.

Fans craning their necks on the sidewalks, hoping for a glimpse of greatness.

Hall of Fame Weekend is here. Let the celebration begin.

By night’s end on Thursday, almost all of the 50-plus Hall of Famers scheduled to return to Hall of Fame Weekend will have arrived in Cooperstown. On the hottest day of the year in Otsego County, the “cool” factor was in full force as the game’s greatest stars made their way back to the home of baseball.

On Friday, the action begins in earnest as Ozzie Smith hosts the annual PLAY Ball Museum fundraiser with his Hall of Fame friends Rod Carew, Andre Dawson and Whitey Herzog. Saturday features the new Hall of Fame Spotlight Series from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Doubleday Field, followed by the new Awards Presentation at 4:30 p.m. The Parade of Legends wraps up a full day of fun at 6 p.m. on Main Street.

Then, the feature attraction: The 2011 Induction Ceremony at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Clark Sports Center. Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Pat Gillick – the Class of 2011 – arrived in town midweek to soak in every minute. In just three days, they will have experienced the crowning moment of their professional careers.

It will be over in a heartbeat, baseball’s best weekend. But today, it’s all about anticipation.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for 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.

What a difference the lights make

By Samantha Carr

It is no secret that Bert Blyleven loves the game of baseball.

“There is no better feeling than taking a mound against a major league hitter and trying to throw a ball to the catcher’s mitt before he hits it a country mile,” Blyleven said.

Blyleven shared his passion with fans at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Thursday during his orientation visit when he took part in an impromptu Museum program for lucky fans in Cooperstown. Blyleven took time off from his job as a Twins’ TV color analyst to visit the Museum in preparation for his election as part of the Class of 2011.

After playfully leading the crowd through some stretching exercises, a relaxed and honest Blyleven let his personality shine, sharing stories from his career and interacting with the audience.

“I still miss that baseball in my hand,” said Blyleven. “That may be why I’m so interested in the history of the ball and how it’s changed.”

Blyleven got a first hand look at baseball history this week as he toured the Museum in advance of his Induction on July 24 as part of Hall of Fame Weekend 2011. And all that history brought back memories of chasing foul balls at Anaheim Stadium near where he grew up in Garden Grove, Calif.

“My friend and I would bike down to the stadium and go to the season-ticket holder gate,” said Blyleven. “We would politely ask fans for extra tickets and it would only take about 10-15 minutes before someone would hand us a couple extras. We were young kids who were just fans of the game.”

Blyleven and his friends would chase foul balls down the right field line and collect as many as they could. Once the game was over, the fans exited and only the writers were left in the ballpark, he would hide in the bathroom while field staff cleaned the stadium and turned the lights off.

“When we knew it was just the writers left we would come out of the bathroom, jump the small fence and run into one of the dugouts,” he said. “The lights were all off and it was dark. We would sit there and fantasize about playing on that field. Of course we would look around and try to collect anything else we could find; I had a ton of old rosin bags from that stadium.”

When the writers filed out of the press box, Blyleven and his buddies knew they would not be seen.

“We would run out onto the field and pick a position,” he said. “As a high school pitcher, I’d run to the mound. I’d pretend to wind up and deliver the pitch and everyone would run out to right field and catch the imaginary fly ball.”

Less than a year later, Blyleven was a 19-year old right-hander, had been drafted by Minnesota and called up to the big leagues. On July 9, 1970 Blyleven took that same mound, starting for the Twins in his first game against the California Angels, with his parents and friends all in attendance. This time with the lights on.

“I remember I couldn’t move,” he said. “My legs wouldn’t let me. So I stepped off the mound with both feet and picked up the rosin bag and thought to myself, ‘Gee, I have a lot of these at home’.”

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

Blyleven revels in Hall of Fame tour

By Craig Muder

The fan in the Red Sox cap got to within 20 feet of the Cooperstown visitor when he stopped dead in his tracks, eyes wide-eyed and mouth agape.

A moment later, Bert Blyleven approached the gentleman with a smile and his hand extended.

“How are you today?” Blyleven asked.

“I’m great,” the fan replied. “You know, Bert, it’s about time you got into the Hall of Fame.”

With that, the fan was gone – and Blyleven continued his stroll down the Main Street sidewalk. A Hall of Fame pitcher, and a down-to-earth person.

Blyleven took his Orientation Tour with his wife Gayle on Tuesday, preparing for his July 24 induction in Cooperstown as a member of the Class of 2011. Before touring the Museum and the archive, he took a short stroll over to Doubleday Field – reminiscing about his trip to Cooperstown in 1980 for the Hall of Fame Game while a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

On the way back to the Museum, Blyleven – dressed in a Twins windbreaker (he has broadcast Twins games on TV for the last 16 years) and blue jeans – chatted with fans on Main Street and even stopped by a few stores.

On his tour, Blyleven cheerily greeted fans lucky enough to be visiting the Hall of Fame on a once-in-a-lifetime day.

“I want to learn about Cy Young; I want to see a baseball used by Walter Johnson,” Blyleven said of his Hall of Fame brethren. “Walter Johnson had 110 shutouts? Are you kidding? How do you do that?”

Blyleven had 60 shutouts himself, powering a Hall of Fame career that included 287 wins and 242 complete games. But it was the majesty of the moment that impacted Blyleven the most on Tuesday.

“I got to play a kids’ game for 23 years in the big leagues,” Blyleven said. “That’s what this is all about, right? A kid’s dream is to be here in Cooperstown.

“If you love baseball, you have to come here. This is a baseball fan’s dream come true.”

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

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