Results tagged ‘ California Angels ’

Bo Knows Records

By Trevor Hayes

I’ve been a Royals fan for most of my life. Ever since my family moved back to Kansas City in 1993, I’ve cheered for the Boys in Blue.

Unfortunately, Bo Jackson was already gone by the time I fell in love with the Royals. His last season in K.C. was 1990. But I remember seeing his larger-than-life persona everywhere. Even in rural Oklahoma, where baseball and football weren’t on my attention landscape, Bo was there.

Between Nike’s “Bo Knows” campaign, his Heisman Trophy, playing in the NFL “as a hobby” and his All-Star Game MVP Award, Jackson’s exploits became folk legends. He’s like Paul Bunyan and John Henry wrapped in to one when people talk about his run, literally up the wall in Baltimore, or his throw from the warning track in left to gun down Harold Reynolds at the plate in the Kingdom.

Video of him doing amazing things in Royals Powder Blue is engrained in my mind. But I’ve only seen the man in the person twice. The first time was in 1994 – the last season of his career. Jackson was on the warning track, chatting with fans before a June Angels-Royals matchup at Kauffman Stadium. The photo I have from that night shows a massive man – even after hip replacement surgery. He was an impressive sight.

Looking back at the box scores, Jackson only played in two of the three games that series. My memory is fuzzy as to which game I went to, so I may not have even seen him play. But the record of his career will lives on, not just in my mind, but in baseball lore.

In fact, among his more amazing accomplishments, one feat actually made it into the record books – since steps taken on a wall while parallel to a field and number of astonishing outfield assists to create plays at the plate aren’t official stats.

In July and August of 1990, Jackson tied the record for home runs in consecutive at-bats. It’s an interesting story, as most Bo legends are. On July 17, 1990, Jackson connected for home runs in his first three at-bats, pounding Yankees starter Andy Hawkins to the tune of seven RBI. He hit one in the first inning with Hall of Famer George Brett on base, connected for another blast in the top of the third – scoring Brett again – and hit his third in three trips to the plate in the fifth, scoring Brett a third time and adding Kevin Seitzer to his runs batted in. Even the Yankee crowd had to applaud. Brett called the performance colossal.

But in the bottom of the sixth, fellow two-sport star Deion Sanders came up with the Yanks threatening. A run had just scored and with a man on third, the Royals were up 8-5. Sanders hit a fly to deep right-center and Jackson started tracking it. Jackson’s diving stab missed the ball and the Yankees’ speedy rookie circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run. Jackson was removed from the game and put on the disabled list the next day with a partially dislocated left shoulder, missing out on his chance for the coveted four home runs in a single game.

But Bo wouldn’t rest without setting some kind of record. The first ball he saw in his first at-bat back from the DL, he hit for a monstrous shot at then-Royals Stadium on Aug. 26th. Estimated at 450 feet, he said he saw the ball’s threads on the offering from imposing Seattle ace Randy Johnson.

Twenty-five batters have hit home runs in four consecutive at-bats, but I can almost guarantee none did it quite like the iconic Jackson. I saw him for the second time in person on Opening Day this spring in Kansas City. Impeccably dressed in a suit, he still looked like a man who could do amazing things. While Jackson’s specific record won’t be included in the Hall of Fame’s new One for the Books, the story behind his achievement is what the Hall’s new exhibit is all about, which makes me excited for the opening on May 28th.

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

What a difference the lights make

By Samantha Carr

It is no secret that Bert Blyleven loves the game of baseball.

“There is no better feeling than taking a mound against a major league hitter and trying to throw a ball to the catcher’s mitt before he hits it a country mile,” Blyleven said.

Blyleven shared his passion with fans at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Thursday during his orientation visit when he took part in an impromptu Museum program for lucky fans in Cooperstown. Blyleven took time off from his job as a Twins’ TV color analyst to visit the Museum in preparation for his election as part of the Class of 2011.

After playfully leading the crowd through some stretching exercises, a relaxed and honest Blyleven let his personality shine, sharing stories from his career and interacting with the audience.

“I still miss that baseball in my hand,” said Blyleven. “That may be why I’m so interested in the history of the ball and how it’s changed.”

Blyleven got a first hand look at baseball history this week as he toured the Museum in advance of his Induction on July 24 as part of Hall of Fame Weekend 2011. And all that history brought back memories of chasing foul balls at Anaheim Stadium near where he grew up in Garden Grove, Calif.

“My friend and I would bike down to the stadium and go to the season-ticket holder gate,” said Blyleven. “We would politely ask fans for extra tickets and it would only take about 10-15 minutes before someone would hand us a couple extras. We were young kids who were just fans of the game.”

Blyleven and his friends would chase foul balls down the right field line and collect as many as they could. Once the game was over, the fans exited and only the writers were left in the ballpark, he would hide in the bathroom while field staff cleaned the stadium and turned the lights off.

“When we knew it was just the writers left we would come out of the bathroom, jump the small fence and run into one of the dugouts,” he said. “The lights were all off and it was dark. We would sit there and fantasize about playing on that field. Of course we would look around and try to collect anything else we could find; I had a ton of old rosin bags from that stadium.”

When the writers filed out of the press box, Blyleven and his buddies knew they would not be seen.

“We would run out onto the field and pick a position,” he said. “As a high school pitcher, I’d run to the mound. I’d pretend to wind up and deliver the pitch and everyone would run out to right field and catch the imaginary fly ball.”

Less than a year later, Blyleven was a 19-year old right-hander, had been drafted by Minnesota and called up to the big leagues. On July 9, 1970 Blyleven took that same mound, starting for the Twins in his first game against the California Angels, with his parents and friends all in attendance. This time with the lights on.

“I remember I couldn’t move,” he said. “My legs wouldn’t let me. So I stepped off the mound with both feet and picked up the rosin bag and thought to myself, ‘Gee, I have a lot of these at home’.”

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

Hall Monitor: Vlad laps the majors

Hayes_90.jpg

By Trevor Hayes

Last week, on a ball way out of the strike zone where only he could make an opponent pay, the Rangers’ Vladimir Guerrero sent one of his signature bad-ball home runs over the fence. This particular home run came against his former mates in Anaheim, the Angels – the 30th team he’s homered against. And that round-tripper put him into a small group, as only 32 players have hit a home run against all 30 teams.

But only one of the 203 Hall of Famers who played in the major leagues – Eddie Murray – homered against every active team during his era.

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Retiring in 1997, Murray never had a chance to hit against Arizona and Tampa Bay, but he amassed home runs against 28 opponents. Murray’s march through the majors consisted of 504 home runs during 21 seasons. He played 13 years with the Orioles, four with the Dodgers, three with the Indians, two with the Mets and one with the Angels. The Twins were his most victimized team, as Murray hit 44 home runs against Minnesota – with Detroit following at 38 home runs yielded. Despite his long stint in Baltimore, he still clouted six against them. His least victimized teams were Colorado (one home run), Florida (three home runs) and a three-way tie between Philadelphia, Montreal and the Mets (four home runs).

Because the last round of expansion came so recently, few Hall of Famers have even had the chance to complete Guerrero’s feat of homering against 30 teams. Among current Hall of Famers, only Rickey Henderson, Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken Jr., Wade Boggs, Dennis Eckersley and Paul Molitor played in 1998 or beyond.

Of them, Eckersley, a pitcher, had three career home runs, Ripken and Gwynn spent their entire careers with one team – making it impossible to hit home runs against the Orioles and Padres, respectively.

Molitor and Boggs played exclusively in the American League, giving them from 1997 on to take advantage of Interleague play. Molitor played just one season with all 30 clubs, homering against 16 total teams – with one each against the Cubs and Astros and none in 11 games against Tampa Bay. Boggs retired in 1999, playing for Tampa in its first two seasons of existence while collecting just one home run against an NL club – the Expos.

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Henderson homered against 27 teams during 25 seasons with 11 teams. The speedster missed out on the Diamondbacks, Braves and Astros.

Other than Henderson, Gwynn, Ripken, Boggs, Eckersley and Molitor, Murray and Ryne Sandberg are the only Hall of Famers to participate in Interleague games – which means in order to accomplish the feat, inductees prior to them must have played for a minimum of four teams (two in each league).

In all, there are 59 Hall of Famers who played with four or more teams. Of them, 35 hit 16 or more home runs in their career – the minimum number of home runs needed to hit one against each team in the modern pre-expansion era. Of those 35, just seven played for two franchises in the AL and two in the NL: Frank Robinson, Jimmie Foxx, Murray, Orlando Cepeda, Al Simmons, Enos Slaughter and Heinie Manush.

Robinson and Slaughter came the closest, falling one team shy of homering against all clubs of their era – leaving Murray, for now, in a class by himself.

Trevor Hayes is editorial production manager at 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.

History Every Day

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

Each week of the baseball season is full of history. Here’s a look back at some of the week’s milestones.


8-6-09-Hayes_JacksonThome.jpgReggie’s Next:
White Sox slugger Jim Thome belted two home runs Wednesday night, putting him at 561 in his career. After collecting the 44th multi-homer game of his career – third this season – he is now just two shy of Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson for 12th all-time. The soon-to-be 39-year-old (Aug. 27) has hit seven homers in his last 21 games.

Another Record in the Bag: Tuesday night’s two-hit game for Ichiro Suzuki was the 600th of his nine-year big league career. During the live-ball era, only Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby comes close to collecting that many in a nine year span. “The Rajah” totaled 581 multi-hit games from 1920-1928 and 1921-1929.

Albert, the Grand: Hall of Famer Ernie Banks has company in the National League records books now. Albert Pujols’ 10th-inning grand slam to defeat the Mets on Tuesday was his fifth this season. That ties Banks’ 54-year-old NL record set for grannies in a single season.

Melk-Man Delivers: While cycles are typically rare in baseball, they haven’t been this season (MLB.com lists 286 cycles and 263 no-hitters in baseball history). The Yankees Melky Cabrera became the fifth player to collect one in 2009 on Sunday. He’s the first Bomber since Tony Fernandez in 1995 to record one and first since Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle on July 23, 1957 to do it in a nine inning game. Cabrera joins Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio (May 20, 1948) as the last two Yankees to hit for the cycle on the road.


8-6-09-Hayes_Schmidt.jpgHall of Famer Sightings:
Philadelphia and Baltimore will be hosting events with Hall of Famers over the next week. Friday night, Hall of Famers Jim Bunning, Steve Carlton, Robin Roberts, Mike Schmidt will be at Citizens Bank Park to honor Ford C. Frick winner, Harry Kalas who passed away earlier this season. Kalas’ name will be placed alongside other Phillies greats on the team’s Wall of Fame.

On Monday, Hall of Fame manager and ex-Oriole Dick Williams will be on Eutaw Street at Camden Yards greeting fans and signing autographs. Williams played 13 seasons in the majors before starting his managerial career, including three stints in the Orioles system.

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

Joe, Jim, Rickey … and Tom Burgmeier?

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

Longtime big league pitcher Tom Burgmeier’s baseball career includes almost 750 games played, over 100 saves, and one All-Star Game. But when it comes to the 2009 Hall of Fame electees, he holds a special place amongst all other players.   

7-24-09-Francis_Burgmeier.jpgWhile baserunning phenom Rickey Henderson, slugging outfielder Jim Rice and slick-fielding and powerful second baseman Joe Gordon will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this Sunday, Burgmeier has the distinction of being the only major leaguer to have been teammates of both Henderson and Rice and to have played under Gordon when he was a manager.

In his fourth season as the pitching coach for the Omaha Royals, the Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, Burgmeier reflected on his unique connection to the Class of 2009.

“Actually, we were talking about it the other day,” said Burgmeier, whose past visits to Cooperstown came via the Hall of Fame Game, first as a player with the Twins in 1977 and later as a coach with the Royals in 1999. “Somebody mentioned Joe Gordon and said, ‘Gee, you played under him and you played with the other two. I wonder if you’re the only person who did that?'”

Burgmeier enjoyed a 17-year big league playing career (1968-1984), spent mostly as a relief pitcher, with the California Angels, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox and Oakland A’s. The lefty finished with a 79-55 record, 102 saves and a 3.23 ERA.

7-24-09-Francis_Gordon.jpgA fourth-round selection by the Royals in the expansion draft, Burgmeier played under manager Joe Gordon in 1969. Following his stellar 11-year playing career with the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians, Gordon served managerial stints with the Indians (1958-1960), Detroit Tigers (1960), Kansas City Athletics (1961) and Royals (1969).

“Joe was very vibrant and was a good manager. We had a lot of fun and for an expansion team we actually won a few games, too,” said Burgmeier, of the 69-73 Royals. “He was a heck of a player and a good manager and I really enjoyed playing for him.”

Burgmeier would finish the 1969 season with a 3-1 record in 31 games. “What’s that baseball clich? He was a players’ manager,” Burgmeier said. “What I mean is you get the players, you put them in the lineup, and if they do well, you become a good manager.”

Sometimes Gordon would talk to the players about his career as a nine-time All-Star and winner of five World Series crowns. “But I don’t think that happens as much anymore: guys sitting around the clubhouse after the game talking about old times. And that’s too bad,” Burgmeier said.

In February of 1978, after four seasons with Minnesota, Burgmeier signed as a free agent with the Red Sox. “I was with the Twins in 1974 and we were playing Boston. I had some friends of mine on the Red Sox and I was standing in the bullpen and asked them, ‘Hey, do have any good players in the minor leagues?’ I’ll never forget that they said, ‘Yeah, we have a couple kids probably be up next year. We got this kid Rice and this Freddy Lynn.’ I said, ‘Do they hit pretty good?’ And they said, ‘Yeah, they’re good minor league players. They’ll probably make the team next year.’ Well, the rest is history.”

7-24-09-Francis_Rice.jpgBurgmeier and Rice were Red Sox teammates for five seasons (1978 to 1982).

“Jim hated to come out of the lineup. Any kind of minor injury didn’t get him out of the lineup — there had to be a bone sticking out or he’d have to be bleeding to where they’d have to bandage him up,” Burgmeier said. “He was a funny guy around the clubhouse. He liked to have a good time and loved to play golf in his off days. We did that a lot on the road.

“If he was in a little slump, which everybody goes through, he’d always tell the press to talk to him at the end of the year. I remember there was one stretch he went a few weeks without hitting a home run and I remember him telling a guy, ‘Don’t talk to me now. Just talk to me at the end of the year and see how I’m doing.'”

Rice was arguably the top right-handed hitter of his era. Against Burgmeier, Rice batted .357 (5-for-14) with one homer.

“He struck fear in the hearts of many a pitcher, especially in Fenway. He (Rice) could hit them as far as anybody — right field, center field, left field,” Burgmeier recalled. “And like anybody else who’s a good hitter, it’s the same basic thing: keep the ball down, stay away from him, pitch inside a little bit. It’s a formula that has been around for 130 years.”

7-24-09-Francis_Henderson.jpgBurgmeier spent his final two major league seasons (1983 and 1984) with the Oakland A’s. During that stretch, Rickey Henderson stole 174 bases.

“Rickey was one of the best base stealers of all time. The score or who was catching or who was pitching really didn’t make a difference,” said Burgmeier, who lockered next to Henderson. “If he was going to steal, he was going to steal. And not only second, but steal third, too. The years I was there he was well into being one of the best ever as far as not being able to throw him out.”

Though Burgmeier faced Henderson only five times in his career, he got to experience the threat the future Hall of Famer posed.

“What sticks out is that because of his speed, when he got on, you knew you had to do all of the things to combat that. And even if you did, it didn’t mean that he wasn’t going to run anyway,” Burgmeier said. “You had to slide step more and throw over more. But did it stop him from running? No, he still ran. He was as fast as anybody going today.”

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

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