Results tagged ‘ Boston Red Sox ’

Festival of Baseball Fun

By Samantha Carr

Under beautiful sunny skies, baseball fans from around the country spent Saturday afternoon at Doubleday Field for the inaugural Classic Fest during Hall of Fame Classic Weekend.

Whether it was competing in a trivia game, being fitted for a balloon animal hat, or learning about baseball card collecting, families were enjoying the day and celebrating Father’s Day Weekend on the legendary diamond.

Seven-year-old friends Victoria Marrero and Samantha Shilling met in the morning at the Legends for Youth Skills Clinic. Marrero hails from Brooklyn and Shilling is from Maryland, but you’d never guess these two weren’t best friends.

“We just met this morning,” said Marrero.

Former major leaguers took the field at 9 a.m. to share their baseball knowledge with youngsters.

“We learned how to pitch and hit,” said Shilling.

By 1 p.m. the girls had ladybug balloon bracelets and tried out their skills at the MLB Network Strike Zone, where fans could test their pitching accuracy. Fans got to meet Pappy, the mascot for the Tri-City ValleyCats and even some former major leaguers like Dave Henderson who showed off his 1989 World Series ring.

“Are you fast?” Henderson asked a young fan who replied in the affirmative. “Then I can’t let you try on my ring – because I won’t be able to catch you.”

Henderson joked with fans and posed for pictures along side other players like Steve Grilli, John Doherty and Frank Catalanotto.

A table dedicated to the making of a baseball taught fans that there are 369 yards of string wrapped inside a ball, which would measure almost four football fields. Fans were able to compare a ball from the late 1800s that used lemon peel stitches to a current major league baseball.

“They call is a lemon peel because all the stitches end in a point and you could peel it like a lemon,” said Jennifer Rodger, a member of the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the Hall of Fame for the summer.

Near the infield, Bill “Spaceman” Lee was entertaining fans of all ages, preparing for his role tomorrow when he joins six Hall of Famers and 25 former major leaguers in the position of Designated Humorist in the Hall of Fame Classic.

“Hitting and pitching, that’s all I do,” said Lee. “It’s the running part that I don’t want to do – it’s starting to hurt at my age.”

A jokester known for his wacky antics, Lee pitched for 14 seasons in the majors from 1969-82 and is the third-winningest lefty in Red Sox history. At age 63, Lee became the oldest person to pitch in and win a minor league game on September 5, 2010 when he made an appearance for the Brockton Rox. Lee donated his cap from the game to the Hall of Fame.

“I may need that back because they want me to play another year,” said Lee. “Last year I was day-to-day, but this year I told them I am hour-to-hour.”

Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media 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.

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.

A record for the fans

Wilson_90.jpgBy Julie Wilson

When the Boston Red Sox open the 2011 season, the team, the city of Boston, and Red Sox Nation will continue to build on a record that they set back in 2008.

03-02-11-Wilson_Fenway.jpgThe record for most consecutive sellouts by a team is one that truly belongs to the fans. Red Sox fans have had plenty of reasons to keep coming back since the streak began in 2003. Two World Series titles and the notoriety of keeping the 600-plus game streak alive should be enough to draw the crowds in spite of their somewhat disappointing 2010 season.

As a kid growing up in Cleveland, I experienced firsthand the joy of being a part of the previously held record of 455 games. From June 12,1995 until April 4th, 2001, I was a junior high schooler and then a high school student who could not get enough of the Indians, and I was far from alone in a city desperate for a championship. There was an incredible aura surrounding the city of Cleveland as each night 40,000 or more fans packed the stands at Jacobs Field.

If you didn’t have tickets before the season started, you needed to know someone, or even know someone who knew someone, if you wanted a shot at getting into a game. In spite of the constant struggle to get tickets, my father made sure that we at least made it to Opening Day each season, and often finagled a way to get tickets to a handful of other games throughout each year.

03-02-11-Wilson_Jacobs.jpgIn total, some 19,324,248 fans passed through the gates during those seven magical seasons. Knowing that my dad and I likely account for about 100 of these individuals gives me an enormous sense of pride. Cleveland fans have not had much to celebrate in recent years and yet we keep coming back. Maybe not at the rate of 40,000 a night, but the love is certainly still there.

Each time I set foot in the renamed Progressive Field, I still get a tingle down my spine from the retired number “455–The Fans” that hangs out above right center field. There is no record that is more meaningful to me as one of the faithful who contributed to that streak.

It’s memories like these that will be brought to life in the Hall of Fame’s new One for the Books exhibit. The exhibit opens Memorial Day Weekend in Cooperstown.

Julie Wilson is the manager of school programming for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

A wild night

Wiles_90.jpgBy Tim Wiles

I will always remember exactly where I was when Mark McGwire hit his 62nd home run, eclipsing the record held by Roger Maris for 37 years.

02-22-11-Wiles_McGwire.jpgThe date was Sept, 8, 1998, and I was one of 33,409 lucky people sitting in Fenway Park, watching a terrific matchup between David Cone of the Yankees and Pedro Martinez of the Red Sox.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first ever matchup between two pitchers with 18 or more victories and with winning percentages of at least .783 (Cone 18-5). Martinez was at .818. (18-4)

There was a charged playoff atmosphere, despite the fact that the first-place Yankees entered the game at 100-41, 18.5 games ahead of their archrivals, who themselves were 22 games above .500 at 82-60. The Red Sox, who had won the night before, were trying to stave off a Yankee clincher in their home park.

The game was tight, and was tied 1-1 going into the Yankee eighth. 

The leadoff hitter was Joe Girardi. I always enjoyed watching Joe play, as we had grown up together and been basketball teammates in Peoria, Ill. He singled to lead off the inning.

02-22-11-Wiles_Fenway.jpgFrom my vantage point down the right field line, I thought I saw Girardi take off on a steal attempt, not out of the question for a catcher with better than average wheels, but certainly an exciting gambit in a tie game on the road. Subsequent research tells me I was watching first base too closely – he actually took off on a wild pitch.

As Girardi popped up from his slide into second, Fenway Park erupted in a standing ovation. I watched him jerk his head in several directions trying to figure out why the Boston fans were so happy that he had safely arrived at second.

Then both his eyes and mine landed on the scoreboard in center field, which said something like “Mark McGwire has just hit his 62nd home run, breaking Roger Maris’ record. Congratulations, Mark!”

Girardi went on to score and the Yankees took a 3-1 lead en route to a 3-2 victory. Their victory in the third and final game of the series the next night clinched the pennant.

It’s moments like these that will be brought to life in the Hall of Fame’s new One for the Books exhibit. The exhibit opens Memorial Day Weekend in Cooperstown.

Tim Wiles is the director of research at 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.

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.

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