Results tagged ‘ Branch Rickey ’

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.

Love Pat

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Pat Gillick has spent a lifetime on the telephone, wheeling and dealing as one of baseball’s best general managers.
 
But when the call of a lifetime came on Monday, Gillick was left somewhat speechless.
 
12-06-10-Muder_Gillick.jpgGillick, a three-time World Series-winning general manager, appeared genuinely moved and more than a little stunned after learning he had been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. In his debut on the Hall’s ballot that considers executives, Gillick received 13 of 16 votes (81.25 percent) to clear the 75-percent threshold necessary for induction.
 
He joins a ridiculously select group of men elected to the Hall of Fame whose primary job was general manager. The others: Branch Rickey, who invented the farm system and integrated the majors; Ed Barrow, who built the first Yankees dynasty in the 1920s; and George Weiss, who created and maintained the Yankees dynasty that won 15 American League pennants and 10 World Series championships between 1947 and 1964.
 
“I’m just thrilled that (the Committee) decided to elect me,” Gillick said. “I was honored just to be on the ballot.”
 
Gillick’s voice cracked with emotion repeatedly during Monday’s press conference. He thanked everyone from the scouts to the media, deflecting credit to those around him.
 
It was Gillick, however, who brought the front-office leadership to the Blue Jays, Orioles, Mariners and Phillies — leadership that resulted in 20 winning seasons in his 27 seasons as general manager. Of his seven losing seasons, five came in his first five years with the Jays when they were a fledgling expansion team.
 
After the press conference, Gillick spent more time on the phone — this time with media from around the nation. He looked completely at ease, as if he was simply chatting with another GM while mapping out his next trade. But after more than a half century in baseball, Gillick has earned the right to relax.
 
His legacy — one of hard work, fair play and championships — is secure in Cooperstown.

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

Bobby Bragan left remarkable legacy

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

The image is a silly one, with the men pictured engaged in a pretend scream.

But for Pittsburgh Pirates manager Bobby Bragan, the passion was real. It was a fire that burned for more than 90 years – a fire that helped forge the careers of several Hall of Famers.

The photo, one of more than half a million in the Hall of Fame’s photo collection, shows Bragan and actor Joe E. Brown, the father of Pirates general manager Joe L. Brown.

01-21-10-Muder_BraganBrown.jpgJoe E. Brown was a huge baseball fan and appeared in several baseball-themed moves. Bragan, on the other hand, was a man who shaped baseball history.

Bragan passed away Thursday night at the age of 92. He played for seven seasons in the big leagues during the 1940s, finishing with a .240 average. But after retiring following the 1948 season, Bragan found his calling when Dodgers’ general manager Branch Rickey made him a minor league manager.

“Every one of my wins should have a note that says: ‘See Bobby Bragan,'” said Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams, who played for Bragan with the Dodgers’ minor league team in Fort Worth, Texas. “He disciplined me, and therefore taught me how to discipline.”

Bragan managed in the big leagues for seven seasons, starting with the Pirates in 1956 and 1957. He moved on to the Indians in 1958, then managed the Braves from 1963-66. His final record: 443-478.

But for those he touched, Bobby Bragan was one of the most influential men of their careers.

His photo – like more than 500,000 others in the Hall of Fame’s collection – will be preserved in Cooperstown forever.

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

Historic homers

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

This past week, a couple of today’s top sluggers surpassed marks set by two of the top stars of yesteryear.

On Thursday, 29-year-old Ryan Howard became the quickest player to reach the 200-home run plateau when he clubbed his 200th in only his 658th major league game. Howard eclipsed the mark set by Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner on Aug. 3, 1950, when Kiner took Cubs hurler Johnny Schmitz deep for his 200th round-tripper in career game number 706.

7-22-09-Berowski_KinerHoward.jpgKiner was two years younger than Howard when he established his mark. But while Howard’s big blasts have come for a very successful Phillies club, Kiner’s bombs came for a Pittsburgh club who struggled in the National League’s second division. After Kiner led the league in home runs for the seventh straight season in 1952, with the Pirates finishing last for the second time in three seasons, Pirates general manager Branch Rickey – another future Hall of Famer – rejected his request for a pay increase, stating: “We would have finished last without you”.

Rickey traded Kiner to the Cubs as part of a 10-player deal only 41 games into the 1953 season, and with that trade proved his statement true as the Pirates once again finished last. Kiner was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975.

7-22-09-Berowski_RamirezSchmidt.jpgMeanwhile, Manny Ramirez moved into sole possession of 15th place on Major League Baseball’s all-time home run list on Monday, passing Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle with his 537th career long ball.

The Mick hit his 536th-and-final home run off of Boston’s Jim Lonborg on Sept. 20, 1968. Eight days later, the 36-year-old Mantle would have the final at bat of his career, a first-inning ground out to short, also against Lonborg.

Manny’s 537th was a second-inning, two-run shot off the Reds’ Micah Owings. In the last season and a half, the 37-year-old Ramirez has passed no less than eight other Hall of Famers on the home run list, including Lou Gehrig and Ted Williams. Up next for Manny: the No. 14 spot currently occupied by Philadelphia Phillies Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt, who hit 548 career homers. 

Freddy Berowski is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Jackie Robinson Day

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

All Major Leaguers wore the No. 42 yesterday in honor of one man. It’s amazing to me that a number can be retired throughout a sport to honor just one person. But then the accomplishments of Jackie Robinson are far beyond amazing.

I recently finished reading Jonathan Eig’s book Opening Day, about Robinson’s first season in the Majors. Let me just say this — I knew what he accomplished was hard, but I really had no clue. The truth about Robinson’s first season goes way beyond anything I ever knew beforehand.

The hatred he faced in the early part of the season is nothing I can even comprehend. Death threats — something Hank Aaron also received while chasing the Babe — were just the tip of it. 4-16-09-Hayes_Mets42.jpgHe had really had no friends other than his wife and infant son. Players threatened to stop playing, thinking the game would continue without Robinson and other black players.

I was born after the Civil Rights Movement, so for me to try to understand the environment is tough. The book, however, gave me a good clue. One of Eig’s main sources was Jackie’s widow, Rachel Robinson. Between the research Eig did in newspapers and interviews with Rachel, the book painted a picture for me that I can more fully appreciate.

I had the good fortune to say hello and shake Rachel’s hand in November when the Hall of Fame dedicated the Character and Courage statues in the lobby of the Museum. Eig was also there that day and participated in a Voices of the Game event with Roberto Clemente‘s sons. I learned that day that baseball can mean so much more. The game follows the ebb and flow of the nation.

A lot of things have been said about why Branch Rickey signed Robinson. Regardless of the original reason, Robinson became an icon not just for African-Americans but for people throughout the country. He was Martin Luther King Jr. before the Civil Rights Movement had a face. Malcolm X charted Robinson’s batting average while listening to Red Barber on the radio.

The Robinsons were celebrated but were also outcasts. They lived a fairly secluded life, but Jackie may have been the most recognizable face in America — and most certainly was the most recognizable African-American next to Joe Louis.

His success that first season proved a color line should have never been drawn. He carried the team for parts of the season, and he made thousands of people instant Dodger fans. His style of play made the game a thrill ride. It was aggressive, it was fast-paced and it was exciting.

Babe Ruth changed the game with the home run, but Jackie Robinson revolutionized it. He opened the door, and talent flooded through. Larry Doby was in the Majors by July. Dan Bankhead joined the Dodgers for the playoff push. But Jackie was first. He faced unreal circumstances and showed he could flourish. The bravery, skill and spirit he displayed are attributes that we can admire.

Robinson deserves every bit of appreciation we can gather. He is immortalized here at the Hall of Fame in the Plaque Gallery. The month of November has been designated Character and Courage Month to celebrate Robinson and two players he shared those characteristics with — Clemente and Lou Gehrig. Their statues in the lobby serve as year-round reminders of traits we should all aspire to exhibit. The entrance to the Mets’ new ballpark, Citi Field, was dedicated to him. The Jackie Robinson Rotunda replicates the entrance to Ebbets Field where Jackie broke the color barrier. His No. 42 hangs in every ballpark, and yesterday it was on the back of every player to take the field.

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

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