Results tagged ‘ Boston Red Sox ’

Hall Monitor: Strength, splits, speed and supremacy

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

As we enter the final week of the regular season, the mark that 2010 will leave on the game’s history is quickly being finished. But just as quickly, the marks of yesteryear are being revisited.


09-24-10-Hayes_Dawson.jpgFriendly Confines
: Last night, Juan Uribe joined 2010 Hall of Famer Andre Dawson as the last two players to hit a pair of home runs in one inning at Wrigley. Uribe’s grand slam and a two-run shot in the second helped the Giants dismantle the Cubs 13-0. Exactly 25 years ago today, Dawson provided a pair of three-run homers in the fifth in a 17-15 Expos victory.

Short Power: Only three players playing primarily shortstop during their careers have hit more than 300 home runs. The Padres’ Miguel Tejada, who has played 94 percent of his career at short, connected for his 300th last night. He joined Alex Rodriguez and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. Ripken hit 431 homers, playing 77 percent of his games at short before moving to the hot corner late in his career. Rodriguez – who topped the 600 homer mark last month – had 345 home runs before playing almost exclusively at third with the Yankees, but he’s still logged 55 percent of his career at short. Often regarded as a shortstop, Hall of Famer and 500-home run club member Ernie Banks actually logged more games at first base with 45 percent of his games at shortstop.


09-24-10-Hayes_Carlton.jpgEnding a drought
: The Phillies had been without a 20-game winner since Hall of Famer Steve Carlton in 1982. Roy Halladay snapped the streak when he won his 20th game on Tuesday against the Braves. Only teams that have active streaks longer than the one Halladay broke. Like Carlton, the Padres last 20-game winner was a Hall of Famer: Gaylord Perry won 21 in 1978. The last pitcher to win 20 for the Nationals/Expos was Ross Grimsley, also in 1978. 

Comfy in St. Lou: After Sunday’s win against the Padres at Busch Stadium, Cards starter Adam Wainwright improved his home record to 12-3 with a 1.78 ERA. Rookie Jamie Garcia has been slightly better in St. Louis with a 1.74 home ERA. The last two Cards to qualify for the ERA title with home ERAs under 2.00 were Hall of Famers Steve Carlton and Bob Gibson. Carlton edged Gibson with a 1.92 ERA to Gibson’s 1.94 at Busch in 1969.


 
09-24-10-Hayes_InfieldChart.jpgThree to 100
: Robinson Cano’s two RBI Saturday at Baltimore pushed the 2010 Bombers into select company. Cano, along with teammates Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, have each driven in 100 runs this season. Never before have three Yankee infielders done it in a single season, though six other groupings of players have – five of which included at least one Hall of Famer. The Red Sox have had three different infields with the achievement – accomplishing it in 1937, 1940 and 1950. Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr and Jimmie Foxx were each a part of two Sox groups, with all three on the 1940 team. Charlie Gehringer and Hank Greenberg were two of the Tigers three 100-RBI infielders in 1934, while Lou Boudreau and Joe Gordon were on the 1948 Indians squad which pulled off the feat. The only previous group without a Hall of Famer is the 2001 A’s of Eric Chavez, Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada – all three of whom are still active.

Johnny Quick: Johnny Damon is second player to reach 100 career triples this season. He began the season as the active leader – tied with Jimmy Rollins at 95 – but 09-24-10-Hayes_Kaline.jpgRays speedster Carl Crawford passed Damon for the active lead earlier this season and broke 100 last month. Since 1901, 108 Major League players have reached 100 triples. Of them, 52 are Hall of Famers, while four are not yet eligible. Since 1950, just 22 players have compiled 100 triples, of which eight are in the Hall of Fame.

Mr. Tiger in Detroit: Al Kaline’s book “Six: A Salute to Al Kaline,” released earlier this year, contains over 150 pages of articles and never-before-seen photographs and captures what the 1980 Hall of Fame inductee has meant to the franchise, his teammates, fans and the baseball world. As a special treat, Kaline will sign copies at Comerica Park prior to the team’s final home game of the season Sunday against the Twins.

Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Path to Cooperstown

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

Despite playing his entire 16-year career in Boston with the Red Sox, Hall of Famer Jim Rice grew up in Anderson, S.C. – and is more accustomed to the quiet life in the South.

So this week’s trip to Cooperstown proved the perfect mini-vacation for the Class of 2009 Hall of Famer.

“It is a great time of the year to come to Cooperstown because it is laid back,” Rice said Tuesday before the 28th Annual Otesaga Hotel Seniors Open and Pro-Am Golf Tournament at Leatherstocking Golf Course in Cooperstown. “It’s not as fast-paced as Induction Weekend. You can come here and play a round of golf.”

09-07-10-Carr_Rice.jpgRice is serving as the celebrity host for the Pro-Am, while top pros from around the country will compete in the Seniors Open, which runs Wednesday through Friday, Sept. 8-10. The Seniors Open continues to be known as one of the country’s premier non-PGA tournaments.

“I played here two or three times when I was with the Red Sox,” said Rice, who also played the course during Hall of Fame Weekend 2009, when he received his bronze plaque.

Proceeds from the traditional post-Labor Day event benefit Pathfinder Village, located in nearby Edmeston, a residential community dedicated to children and adults with Down syndrome.

“I went to visit Pathfinder Village yesterday,” said Rice. “We were talking about Down syndrome, but there is no ‘down’ syndrome. There is no worry. All they want is love. They are baseball fans and NASCAR fans. They just want to blend in.”

Pathfinder Village opened in 1980 with seven homes and a school. Since then, the Village has added more homes and programs, all with the goal of providing fulfillment for those who have Down syndrome.

“It is more of an adult situation,” said Rice. “The residents cook and clean and have responsibilities and really learn to be apart of society in their own environment. What they are doing over there is outstanding. I think if you go over there you will really appreciate what this tournament is all about.”

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

Countdown to immortality

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

With his career’s ultimate moment a mere 48 hours away, Andre Dawson showed he is still one of the game’s top clutch performers.

“Come Monday, I’m going to look in the mirror and know I’m a Hall of Famer,” Dawson said on Friday and he prepared for Sunday’s Induction Ceremony and celebrated with family and friends in Cooperstown. “I’m very excited, and my family is very excited.”

07-23-10-Muder-Dawson.jpgFighting off a cold but looking like he could still throw runners out at third base from the right field corner at Wrigley Field, the ever-relaxed Dawson put the finishing touches on his Induction Speech on Friday in preparation for Sunday’s Class of 2010 Induction Ceremony. Dawson will join Whitey Herzog and Doug Harvey as members of the Class of 2010 when they are inducted at 1:30 pm EDT on Sunday in Cooperstown. The ceremony is free and open to the public and will be broadcast live on MLB Network.

On Saturday, Dawson will participate in the annual Hall of Famers golf tournament in Cooperstown – with former Expos teammate Tim Raines as his guest on the links.

On Sunday, another former teammate – Warren Cromartie – will come to Cooperstown with busloads of Montreal fans to celebrate Dawson’s induction.

Yet with all the commotion, Dawson remains rock-solid and ready to roll.

“Lot of Expos fans in town, lot of Cubs fans in town,” said Dawson, who played for Montreal and Chicago as well as Boston and Florida. “It’s amazing to look down Main Street and see all those fans.”

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

 

No-spin zone

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

The brotherhood of big league knuckleball pitchers is relatively small, but one of its former practitioners could be seen floating through the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Monday.

Steve Sparks made a name for himself tossing a baseball with no spin to bewildered hitters during a nine-year big league career spent with the Milwaukee Brewers (1995-96), Anaheim Angels (1998-99), Detroit Tigers (2000-03), Oakland A’s (2003) and Arizona Diamondbacks (2004). The right-hander made the trip from his home outside Houston in Sugar Land, Texas, with his 14-year-old son Blake.

07-20-10-Francis_Sparks.jpg“Blake and I have talked about coming to the Hall of Fame for four or five years now,” Spark said. “He’s going into high school next year and just thought with his schedule this might be our last chance for awhile, so we decided to make the trip this year.

“His sisters are in camp for the month of July so this is a chance for him and me to get out and do something by ourselves.”

This was Sparks’ first trip to the Hall of Fame.

“I’d never been here before, so I was very anxious. It’s a dream come true just seeing all the artifacts. I’ve always been enthralled by the game’s history,” Sparks said. “I grew up reading books about the history of the game, and I work with Fox Sports in Houston doing the pre- and post-game shows for the Houston Astros, so I’ve stayed in it and I’ve always enjoyed it. So for Blake and me to enjoy this together has been a lot of fun.”

Sparks, who turned 45 on July 2, ended his major league with a 59-76 record, highlighted by a 14-9 mark with the 2001 Tigers, and a 4.88 ERA.

“I was in my 40s and I just felt like I was ready to be home with my family,” Sparks said. “And the hitters let me know it was time to get out of the game, too.”

While the Hall of Fame boasts two knuckleball pitchers – Hoyt Wilhelm and Phil Niekro – the game has seen at least 250, but fewer than 90 who threw it regularly. This year, only Boston’s Tim Wakefield, R.A. Dickey of the Mets and Los Angeles Dodger Charlie Haeger are regulars at it.

Sparks was your regular fastball, curveball, slider, changeup pitcher before the Brewers approached him about making a radical change.

“I played professionally for 19 years but my first five or six years I was a conventional pitcher,” Sparks said. “I was kind of stalling out at the Double-A level, and the Milwaukee Brewers, the team I was with in the minor leagues at that point, felt like I might be a good candidate for the knuckleball because being shorter in stature helps (he’s 6-feet tall) and also I had pretty clean mechanics.

“They gave me a three-year plan and I started back over in Single-A, and by the end of that three years I was knocking on the door.”

According to Sparks, it was a lot of trial and error in the beginning, but eventually a coach hooked him up with big league knuckleballer Tom Candiotti.

“I had about five pages worth of questions to ask him over the telephone,” Sparks said. “And then actually got a chance to meet him at the Houston Astrodome at the tail end of one of his seasons with the Dodgers and that was very beneficial. It’s a very close fraternity of knuckleball pitchers, and Candiotti, for myself, was probably the most helpful. He was kind of a hybrid knuckleball pitcher, where he threw a lot of curves and sliders and fastballs, and that’s what I did a lot.

“The biggest luxury for me at the major league level was the bounce back factor. You didn’t have to rely on velocity three or four days after you pitched. You could go out there, and as long as you had good feel and took the spin off the ball you had a chance to be successful.”

And while Sparks played with and against a number of Hall of Famers over the years, he grew up in Tulsa, Okla., with fellow pitcher Tom Seaver as his favorite player.

“In 1969 I was five years old and my father taught me how to read the box scores,” Sparks said. “That was the year the Mets had their miracle season, Tom Seaver was the best player on that team at that time, and that’s who I stuck with.”

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

Family in Cooperstown

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

Marcus Giamatti was a participant in the All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game held at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., on Sunday night. And not only is he an actor, having appeared in numerous movies and television series, but he also shares a surname familiar to fans of the national pastime and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

07-14-10-Francis_Giamatti.jpgMarcus Giamatti’s father was the seventh baseball commissioner, A. Bartlett Giamatti. A former president of Yale, he became president of the National League in 1986 before ascending to the game’s top position in 1988. After less than a year on the job, he passed away in 1989 at the age of 51. After his untimely death, the Hall of Fame honored his legacy with the naming of the A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center.

“I can’t believe as big a baseball fan as I am that I’ve never been to the Hall of Fame,” said Marcus Giamatti, best known  as a series regular on television’s Judging Amy (1999-2005), after the softball game. “I’ve always been working in different places and I’ve never gotten up to that part of the country, but my wife is from Corning, which is nearby, and we’re going to try to plan a trip so she can go see her relatives and we’re going to try and go to the Hall of Fame. I hope that happens within the next year or two.”

And the Giamatti Research Center is on the itinerary, too.

“It’s a great honor to him to because he was a great baseball historian and poet himself,” said Giamatti, 48, who grew up in New England. “So it means a tremendous amount to me. It’s really too bad he never knew about it. I really need to get up there to see it. He’d be so flattered and moved by it.”

Wearing the cap of his beloved Boston Red Sox, Giamatti said baseball was a love he shared with his father.

07-14-10-Francis_Research.jpg“He had a huge influence on my love of baseball. That was basically our connective link that we had, our love of baseball and the Red Sox,” Giamatti said. “I used to listen to them every night on the radio with him. I’d do my homework while he was correcting papers at the dining room table.

“He basically taught me the parallel lessons of the quest and the journey and the process of things through baseball. The adjustments you have to make, the game of failure, and sometimes the rewards, just like in life.”

Giamatti, a catcher through high school (“But I couldn’t hit”), is currently writing the afterword for a 2011 re-release of his father’s 1989 book “Take Time for Paradise: Americans and Their Games.”

And according to Giamatti, it looks like the family’s next generation will continue with a fascination for the game.

“I have one daughter, she’s 14 months old, and she watches baseball with me all the time. She calls it ballball.”

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

Future history

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

It has been a decade since Hank Conger visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His bat is staying for good.

 Conger came away with Most Valuable Player honors for the 2010 Futures Game held at Angel Stadium on Sunday afternoon. He donated the bat he used to club a three-run home run with two out in the fifth inning off of Henderson Alvarez that gave his U.S. Team a 5-1 lead on the way to a 9-1 victory over the World Team.

Conger, a switch-hitting Angel farmhand playing catcher for the Triple-A Salt Lake City squad, finished the game batting 1-for-3. 

“It’s awesome,” said Conger in the winning team’s clubhouse after the game, referring to being asked to donate his bat. “It’s a great honor. I wasn’t really expecting it, to be honest.”

The Hall of Fame has made it a point over the years to ask for an artifact from the game’s MVP honoree.

“The Futures Game showcases the greatest minor leaguers,” said Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson, “and by being able to represent them and document them in Cooperstown before they make that final step in a lot of ways talks about the journey of all major league players.”

It was Idelson who first approached Conger, who grew up 15 miles from Angels Stadium in Huntington Beach, Calif.,about the possible donation.

“I was like, ‘Really, you want my bat?’” said Conger with a laugh. “This whole event has been great, so to have that be in the Hall of Fame is just unbelievable.”

Conger knows of the Hall of Fame firsthand, having visited back in the summer of 2000 as a 12-year-old when his travel baseball team from California played in one of the Cooperstown-area baseball camps.

“I loved Cooperstown,” Conger said. “I was really expecting something different. You think its going to be in a big city, but there was just so much green. Even for me as a little kid I thought it was an awesome view.

“The Hall of Fame, just looking at everything that was in there, the jerseys, the plaques, for any baseball fans it’s a must.”

Asked if had any more hits left in the bat, Conger smiled and said: “For the Hall of Fame, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to give that one up.

“And I’ll get to tell everybody for the rest of my life that I have something in the Hall of Fame.”

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

Hall Monitor: Prodigies, perfection and the past

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes


06-11-10-Hayes_Waner.jpgPirate Prodigy:
Not since 1928 has a Pirate had as many hits at his one-year anniversary as center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Currently riding a .302 average, the 23-year-old celebrated passed the one year mark since his major-league debut last week. He had 185 hits, the most by a Buc since Hall of Famer Lloyd Waner collected 225 in his first year.

Rare day for the all-time leader: Ivan Rodriguez has caught 2,322 games – the all-time leader among catchers after having passed greats like Johnny Bench, Gary Carter and Carlton Fisk. But only three times in his career has Pudge caught a pitcher who racked up 14 strikeouts like Stephen Strasburg did on Tuesday in Washington. Strasburg joins Jeremy Bonderman in 2004 and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan in 1991 as the only pitchers to dominate their opponents that much with Rodriguez behind the plate. Pudge’s Astros jersey from the game in which he broke the games caught record last season is on display in the Museum in the Today’s Game exhibit.


06-11-10-Hayes_BanksWilliamsDawson.jpgCubbies and 300:
One-hundred and twenty-seven players have hit 300 home runs in the history of the majors. Wednesday, Derek Lee added his name to that list and this afternoon, Alfonso Soriano clubbed his 300th. Both join an impressive group of names to do so while playing on the North-side. Six other players have belted No. 300 with the Cubs including Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Andre Dawson. The most recent before Lee was Sammy Sosa who the 300th of 609 career home runs in June of 1999.

Boston’s newest Fenway attraction: Two Hall of Famers and two other Red Sox legends were honored this week, as the team dedicated a new statue Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky and Ted Williams. The four were staples in the Sox lineups in the 1940s and into the 50s. All four were All-Stars and all four served in the military during World War II. The lifelong friends and Sox legends had their story told in David Halberstam’s book The Teammates – Portrait of a Friendship. The new statue is a tribute to their legacy and features the four standing shoulder to shoulder holding bats. It is outside Fenway’s Gate B at Van Ness and Ipswich.

06-11-10-Hayes_Stearnes.jpgPerfection and the Hall-aday: Roy Halladay threw the major’s 20th perfect game on May 29, beating Marlins ace Josh Johnson 1-0 in the process. The two matched up again Thursday and Johnson got the win. 1965 marks the last time a perfect pitcher faced his opponent again in the same season, as Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax and Chicago’s Bob Hendley squared off in back-to-back starts. Koufax mastered the Cubs on Sept. 9, and like Halladay in a 1-0 win, but like Johnson, Hendley got the win in the rematch.

Remembering the past: The Tigers will play host to a weekend long celebration of the Negro leagues, highlighted by their 16th annual Negro Leagues Tribute Game, Saturday. The Tigers will don Detroit Stars uniforms while the Pirates will pay homage to the Pittsburgh Crawfords. During the series, Hall of Famer Turkey Stearnes – a former Star – will be recognized with a video about his plaque, which was dedicated at Comerica Park in 2007. Stearnes’ grandson will throw one of the ceremonial first pitches, while Stearnes daughters will perform the national anthem. Former Negro leaguers Frank Crosson, Joe Douse, Buck Duncan, Bee-Bop Gordon, Bill Hill, Gene Johnson, Cecil Kaiser, Alton King, Bullet Moore and Schoolboy Teasley will be on hand throughout the weekend.

Trevor Hayes is editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 61 other followers