Results tagged ‘ Billy Martin ’

End of an era

 
Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

In the 1990s, the Braves came into households all across the nation each night on TBS and became America’s Team. I was one of those youngsters who tuned in almost every night to root on the Braves… and Bobby Cox is largely the reason why.

10-12-10-Carr_Cox.jpgRetiring at the end of the season, Cox managed his final game last night as the Braves were eliminated from the NLDS by the San Francisco Giants. It seems fitting that they showed a feisty disposition and flair for the dramatic all season – winning games on late inning home runs and clawing their way back for come from behind wins, much like their manager Bobby Cox who’s been ejected more than any other Major League manager in history. But they just couldn’t close it out this year.

“They’ve come a long way with this team,” Cox said. “They played their hearts out, and I’ll miss them.”

In the top of the seventh inning, Cox made the walk he’s made so many times before to the mound to remove a starting pitcher and bring on relief. But as he approached the mound, veteran righty Derek Lowe pled his case and soon Cox jogged back to the dugout without asking for the ball.

It couldn’t have been a more emblematic moment for the man eternally called a “player’s manager”.

10-12-10-Carr_CoxPlayer.jpg“The guys wanted so bad to get Bobby back to the playoffs,” said Chipper Jones, who has played 2,261 games for Cox, the second-most player/manager duo in history behind Hall of Famers Honus Wagner and Fred Clarke. “And once we got a chance to go to the playoffs, we wanted so bad to get him back to the World Series. All those things contributed to the grit and guts this team played with all year.”

The Braves players had T-shirts made up for the playoffs that said 11 for 6. It takes 11 wins to become World Champions and the Braves would do it all for Cox’s No. 6.

“He is one of a kind,” Braves closer Billy Wagner said. “There will never be another Bobby Cox, who has so much influence not just on your life, but your career. Even when you played against him, you were a fan of the Braves.”

Cox spent 25 years as the Braves skipper and four more in Toronto. He has also served as the Braves’ general manager and between playing and coaching, spent 50 years in baseball. He finished his career fourth all-time in regular season games (4,508) and wins (2,504). The Braves’ playoff appearance this year is a record setting 16th appearance for Cox. He has won four Manager of the Year Awards and one World Series in 1995 which came in the middle of a 14-year division title run.

In 2010, the Braves won 91 games during the regular seasons. It’s the 15th time that a Bobby Cox-managed team has won at least 90 games in a season. Only 2 other managers in major-league history had that many 90-win seasons: John McGraw (16) and Joe McCarthy (15) – both Hall of Famers.

Bobby Cox will be eligible for Hall of Fame induction when Expansion Era Committee next considers managers for the Class of 2014. That same year will feature two Cox-era Braves players: Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. All three have Hall of Fame credentials on their list of career accomplishments.

10-12-10-Carr_CoxWS.jpgOf course Lou Piniella and Cito Gaston managed their final regular-season games this year and Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa’s future statuses remains unclear. They would all join the list in 2014 as their first eligible election. To date, there have been only two instances of three former World Series-winning managers sharing the same final major-league season.

In 1950, the managerial careers of Connie Mack (Philadelphia Athletics), Joe McCarthy (Red Sox) and Eddie Dyer (Cardinals) all came to an end. Mack and McCarthy went on to Hall of Fame election. The other year in which three World Series winning managers left the major-league stage was 1988, with Dick Williams (Mariners), Billy Martin (Yankees) and Chuck Tanner (Braves). Williams was inducted in 2008.

Despite the end of the Braves season last night, fans stayed in the stadium not to watch the Giants celebrate but to chant “Bobby, Bobby” until their favorite skipper came out of the dugout to doff his cap. In the press conference following the game, Cox found it hard to keep it together and his emotions got the best of him as he reflected on his career in baseball.

Many fans on the other side of the television had a similar reaction. As a kid growing up during the 1990s, Bobby Cox helped make me a baseball fan. The only way to sum it up is to say: Thanks, Bobby!

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

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.

Championing the Classic

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

At 49, Mike Pagliarulo almost blends in with the crowd.

Wearing blue jeans and sneakers, the former big league third baseman strolled into Cooper Park next to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday and drew little attention. But quickly, the fans in the ticket line for the Hall of Fame Classic noticed it: The World Series ring Pagliarulo won in 1991 as as a member of the Minnesota Twins.

 
4-18-09-Muder_Pags.jpgAnd suddenly, the buzz started.

Pagliarulo, who spent 11 seasons in the major leagues with the Yankees, Padres, Twins, Orioles and Rangers, visited the Hall of Fame on Saturday in advance of the June 21 Hall of Fame Classic. Pagliarulo will play third base during the Classic as well as sign autographs and share memories from his big league career.

On Saturday, he thrilled fans with his homespun advice and easy-going style.

Really, what I’m most proud about my big league career is that it allowed me to put my kids through college,” Pagliarulo said. “But when you come (to Cooperstown), you think about all the game gave to you. That’s why this is such a special place.”

After visiting with fans in the ticket line, Pagliarulo entertained more than 100 Museum fans in a 30-minute question-and-answer session. Ironically, his biggest baseball thrill came not on the field — but at the Yankees’ Old Timers Day 24 years ago.

I walked into the locker room, and Joe DiMaggio was at my locker. And he just started talking to me,” Pagliarulo said. “Then, Billy Martin and Mickey Mantle came in — and Mickey gets me in a headlock and drags me into the trainers room. God forbid I hit him back! That’s Mickey Mantle!
 
“I don’t remember anything on the field that day. But I remember the time in the clubhouse.”

Pagliarulo will join Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins, Paul Molitor, Phil Niekro and Brooks Robinson at the June 21 Classic — along with about 20 other former major leaguers, including George Foster, Jim Kaat, Bill Lee, Steve Rogers and Lee Smith. More participants will be announced at www.baseballhall.org next week.

For ticket information, call 1-866-849-7770 or visit www.baseballhall.org.

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

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