Results tagged ‘ Bert Blyleven ’

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.

Hello Larry…and welcome spring

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

It was 31 springs ago, a glorious one for fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

I was 11, and my family took a trip to Florida that March to watch the Bucs begin defense of their 1979 World Championship. It was my first taste of the magic of Spring Training.

01-28-11-Muder_BlylevenStargell.jpgThere was no game at Bradenton’s historic McKechnie Field that day, so we wandered over a few streets to Pirate City. With its dorm-like housing and seemingly innumerable practice fields, it was the perfect place to learn baseball.

Of course, future Hall of Famers like Willie Stargell and Bert Blyleven were a bit past the learning stage and were nowhere to be seen. The prolific Pirates farm system, however, featured future major leaguers like Vance Law and Joel Skinner – both of whom were in camp as non-roster invitees.

But the player I remember most that day was Larry Andersen.

My father and I were standing behind home plate, with just a screen between us and the diamond. Suddenly, I heard the “crack-crack-crack” of cleats on cement. And before I could fully turn around to get a good look, there was Andersen – seemingly a giant at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds – brushing by me while never breaking stride.

I turned back around, getting a glimpse of his number – 52 – and the uncommon spelling of his last name sewn onto his jersey. And then he was gone, off to another day of work on the diamond.

01-28-11-Muder_McKechnie.jpgAt that moment, I considered myself the biggest Pirates fan on the planet. And the fact that I had no idea who Larry Andersen was left me momentarily dazed. But I decided that he must have been some imposter – a player with no past or future who would never see a big league day in a Pittsburgh uniform.

Of course, I was right: Andersen never played for the Pirates. But I was also wrong – because within a year, Larry Andersen had developed into a excellent big league reliever with the Mariners.

The lesson for me was clear: Don’t blink, because greatness can brush by you like a stranger in a crowd.

Andersen went on to appear in 677 MLB games after that March 1980 day (he appeared in 22 as an Indians prospect between 1975 and 1979 for a big league total of 699), but may be best remembered as the player the Red Sox acquired when they sent Jeff Bagwell to the Astros in 1990.

But for me, Larry Andersen always brings back memories of a warm day in Bradenton.

Welcome, Baseball. Bring your cheer. Only two weeks until pitchers and catchers report.

Our long, cold winter is nearly over.

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

Talking baseball in any language

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

01-06-11-Muder_Blyleven.jpgAfter 14 years of waiting for his call to Cooperstown, Bert Blyleven learned how to relax at election time.

So during his first full day as a Hall of Famer on Thursday, the Dutchman reveled — and poked a little fun — at his moment in the sun.

“I guess they figured it was (the year) twenty-eleven, so it was Bly-leven time,” said the 287-game winner who was born in Zeist, Holland. “I’m just glad they finally got it right.”

Blyleven’s Class of 2011 teammate at the Hall of Fame, Roberto Alomar, was clearly humbled by his election. After falling just eight votes short in 2010, Alomar charged passed the hallowed 90-percent mark in this election.

“The last year was difficult,” Alomar said. “But it was all worth it.”

01-06-11-Muder_Alomar.jpgThe media turnout for Thursday’s press conference in New York City was robust — especially among Spanish-language outlets. Alomar enthusiastically provided responses in his native language and acknowledged the influence his home country, Puerto Rico, on his career.

Blyleven, however, was unable to provide answers in Dutch — drawing a hearty laugh from the writers when the suggestion was made..

“Hey let me answer that,” Blyleven said when a reporter queried Alomar in Spanish.

No, the Dutchman doesn’t speak Spanish. But he and Alomar let everyone know what a thrill it was for them to join baseball’s best in Cooperstown.

In any language, Cooperstown  translates into immortality.

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

Election excitement

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

It’s January in Secaucus, N.J., so you wouldn’t figure the air would be buzzing with baseball talk.

But at MLB Network studios on Wednesday, the atmosphere was electric as Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson prepared to announce the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Class of 2011.

01-05-11-Muder_MLBNetwork.jpgThe Network brought out its heavy hitters for the announcement, with Bob Costas, Harold Reynolds and Peter Gammons headlining a star-studded cast of announcers and analysts. For the better part of an hour prior to the 2 p.m. Magic Hour, everyone — talent, producers and crew — speculated about the results of the BBWAA vote.

For folks accustomed to making the chaos of a live TV show run like clockwork, it might have been the most exciting and nervous hour of the year.

Once the announcement came that Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven were elected to Cooperstown, everyone shifted into overdrive — filling the air with stats, highlights and predictions for 2012 and beyond. MLB Network’s Barry Larkin, who received the most votes (361, 62.1 percent) of any player not elected, was hooked up via satellite and magnanimously said what an honor it was just to be on the ballot.

This time next year, Barry may be making quite a different on-air speech.

Now, the Network starts its planning for the July 24 Induction Ceremony in Cooperstown — carried live on MLBN. It’s an incredible weekend — the best one on the baseball calendar.

But you get the feeling that the folks at MLBN now understand what news reporters already know: There’s nothing quite like the magic of Election Day.

Craig Muder is the director of communications 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.

On the road at TwinsFest

DiFranza_90.jpgBy Lenny DiFranza

I spent the last weekend of January representing the Baseball Hall of Fame at TwinsFest in the Metrodome, one of baseball’s largest fan fests. It’s great to celebrate the National Pastime in the dead of winter as the baseball world turns its attention from hot stove planning to spring training.

02-08-10-DiFranza_TwinsFest.jpgTwinsFest, a fundraiser for the Minnesota Twins Community Fund begun in 1989, has raised millions of dollars for local organizations. Many fans stopped by our spot in right field to see the artifacts we brought and to say hello, weigh Bert Blyleven’s chances for election to the Hall next year, talk about trips to Cooperstown and sign up for our membership program.

Many Twins fans, young and old, enjoyed over 50 artifacts from the Hall’s collection, like Ty Cobb’s small glove, Lou Gehrig’s jersey from his final season in pinstripes and a tunic from a 1940s Michigan team in the women’s pro league, the AAGPBL. But the most popular items were from Twins history, including the ball Dave Kingman hit into the Dome’s roof in 1984, the ball Gene Larkin knocked into left-center to win the 1991 World Series, hometown hero Joe Mauer’s bats from each of the three seasons he won the AL batting crown and the Hall of Fame plaque of Harmon Killebrew.

Many current Twins were on hand such as Mauer, Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan and new Twin Jim Thome, as well as former greats Blyleven, Rod Carew, Paul Molitor, Jack Morris and Tony Oliva. Bob Feller had Frank Howard and Denny McLain at his booth, while Fergie Jenkins led Rollie Fingers and other players raising money for Haitian relief.
 
02-08-10-DiFranza_TwinsFest2.jpgThough the Twins have hosted the Hall at TwinsFest for many years, it was my first trip to the Twin Cities. I was impressed by the friendly folks and fantastic food. I only got lost a few times in the downtown skyways and enjoyed a tour of the Twins new outdoor home, Target Field, which looks like a great place to see a game.

After a thrilling season last year and a new ballpark in 2010, I sensed a lot of excitement from the Twins and their fans. It turned out to be one of the biggest TwinsFests they’ve ever had.

Our thanks to Jackie Hoff and the team from the Science Museum of Minnesota, who installed the exhibit and showed me the ropes. The Twins’ staff was great, especially Heidi Sammon, Glo Westerdahl, and their new curator, Clyde Doepner. I hope the Twins and their fans have a great 2010.

Lenny DiFranza is the assistant curator for new media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hall of Fame Eve

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

It’s Hall of Fame Eve in Cooperstown, the day before the annual Baseball Writers’ Association of America election.

01-05-10-Muder_HendersonRice.jpgAnd just like on Christmas Eve, you can bet there’s going to be a few people who have trouble sleeping tonight.

Take Andre Dawson. The leading returning vote-getter from the 2009 BBWAA election (at 67 percent) is on the ballot for the ninth time after missing election by just 44 votes a year ago.

Or how about Bert Blyleven? The curveball maestro received 62.7 percent of the vote last year, falling just short of the 75 percent needed for election. For Blyleven, this marks his 13th time on the BBWAA ballot – leaving him two more chances (if he needs them) after this election.

01-05-10-Muder_ResultsBox.jpgThen there’s Roberto Alomar, who’s making his BBWAA ballot debut. The 12-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner could become just the 45th player to be elected in his first year of eligibility.

How about Lee Smith and Jack Morris, who both received a little less than half of the vote last year? Or ballot newcomers Andres Galarraga, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez and Fred McGriff? All are likely to receive support.

It all happens tomorrow. They’ll wake up and head downstairs with their expectations in hand. But instead of looking for the presents under the tree, they’ll wait for a phone call that will totally change their lives.

If the call comes, they’ll once again know the joy of being a kid on Christmas morning.

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

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