Results tagged ‘ Christy Mathewson ’

Managing greatness

 
Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

Noted baseball author and historian Harold Seymour penned the book “The Golden Age of Baseball” about early 20th century baseball – a time when Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson were the stars of the game. Some would say that what we are experiencing now is the golden age of the baseball manager.

03-17-10-Berowski_LaRusaCoxTorre.jpgEntering the 2010 season, three of baseball’s five all-time winningest managers are active. At 2,552 wins, Cardinals skipper Tony LaRussa sits about three seasons away from moving into second-place all-time, ahead of New York Giants Hall of Fame manager John McGraw. Thirteen times LaRussa has piloted clubs to a playoff birth, including two World Championships.

Bobby Cox of the Braves and Joe Torre of the Dodgers, with a combined five World Series championships and 29 postseason appearances, come in at Nos. 4 and 5, respectively, on the all-time manager win list. With the exception of the strike-shortened 1994 season, Cox lead Atlanta to a first-place finish every season from 1991 to 2005, a mark that is unparalleled in Major League Baseball history.

Meanwhile, for 14 seasons beginning in 1996, Torre has lead either the Yankees or the Dodgers to the postseason with either a first-place finish or a wild-card berth.

To find the last time that three of baseball’s top five winningest managers were active in a season, we have to go back 60 years. The 1950 season was the last for Connie Mack and Joe McCarthy, and also marked the beginning of Bucky Harris’ third stint with the Washington Senators.

At 3,731 wins, no one will be closing in on Mack’s spot at No. 1 on the list anytime soon. But if history holds true it is only a matter of time before Cooperstown comes calling for LaRussa, Cox and Torre. Other than those three active skippers, the rest of the top 11 all-time winningest managers are already enshrined in Cooperstown.

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

Oct. 14, 1905: Christy Mathewson throws third shutout in Series to lead Giants to title

Bielefeld_90.jpgBy Bridget Bielefeld

Long before Reggie Jackson earned the title “Mr. October” for his dominance in the Fall Classic, Christy Mathewson’s 1905 World Series performance epitomized postseason supremacy.

Mathewson, dubbed “Big Six” by teammates, was coming off a stellar regular season for the New York Giants. At 31-9, he led the National League in wins, strikeouts (206) and ERA (1.28).

10-14-09-Bielefeld_Mathewson.jpgHis efforts propelled the Giants to the top of the NL leader board and earned the team a coveted place in the 1905 Fall Classic against Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics. The postseason appearance marked the first for the 25-year-old pitcher.

In Games 1 and 3, Mathewson stifled the A’s – pitching a combined 18 shutout innings and striking out 14 men. The A’s were pushed to the precipice of defeat in Game 4, as the Giants increased their lead in the Series 3-games-to-1.

Game 5 was slated for Oct. 14, 1905, and Mathewson, on two days rest, was scheduled to take the mound once again. In a blistering one hour and 35 minutes, Mathewson utilized his famed fadeaway pitch and blanked the A’s 2-0 – throwing his third complete game shutout in a mere five days. No pitcher has ever matched that feat in a World Series.

With the victory, the Giants locked up the World Series, topping the A’s four-games-to-one.

“Mathewson was the greatest pitcher who ever lived,” Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack said. “He had knowledge, judgment, perfect control and form. It was wonderful to watch him pitch – when he wasn’t pitching against you.”

10-14-09-Bielefeld_Chart.jpgThe Bucknell University alum holds the record for most National League wins with 373 – along with Grover Cleveland Alexander – and is third on the all-time list behind only Cy Young and Walter Johnson.

“Mathewson pitched against Cincinnati yesterday,” writer Damon Runyon once said. “Another way of putting it is that Cincinnati lost a game of baseball. The first statement means the same as the second.”

Those winning ways earned Mathewson a spot in the Hall of Fame in 1936. Along with Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner, they make up the first class of inductees.

Bridget Bielefeld was the 2009 public relations intern at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Moments that make the Game

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

For some baseball fans, stats can be the lifeblood of the season, but we can’t forget that the individuals in this game and the moments they create make it worth watching.


8-14-09-Hayes_Mantle.jpgRemembering the Mantles:
The Hall of Fame’s condolences go out to the Mantle family. On Monday, Mickey Mantle‘s wife, Merlyn passed away at the age of 77. Merlyn, who married Mickey after his rookie season in 1951, suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. She passed just three days before the 14th anniversary of Mickey’s death on Thursday. The three-time MVP and Yankee legend died in 1995 of liver cancer at the age of 63. They were married 43 years and will be buried next to each other at Sparkman Hillcrest Memorial Park in Dallas.

Ninth = Second: Alex Rodriguez passed Harmon Killebrew earlier this week with his 574th home run, moving into sole possession of ninth on the all-time list. Rodriguez’s total is the second highest among active players (behind Ken Griffey Jr.) and by passing the Killer, he is behind Babe Ruth‘s 708 bombs in American League history.


8-14-09-Hayes_Guerrero.jpgJoining a select club:
On Monday, Vladimir Guerrero smashed his 399th and 400th career homers, becoming the 45th player in baseball history to reach the mark. More impressively however, Guerrero currently sports a .322 career batting average. Only five players hit 400 home runs and finished their careers with a .320 average or better. They are Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig and Stan Musial. Not bad company to keep.

Throwback weekend: The Mets will honor their city’s National League heritage when the Giants come to town this weekend. Throughout the series, the Mets will don white jerseys featuring a blue “NY,” hearkening back to the days of the New York Giants, who wore similar uniforms in 1904, 1907 and 1917-1918. The Giants moved to San Francisco after 1957, but won five World Championships and 14 pennants in New York. During their 75 years in Manhattan, the Giants/Gothams fielded 46 Hall of Famers including 10 who bear the team’s logo on their plaque like Carl Hubbell, Monte Irvin, Christy Mathewson and John McGraw.

8-14-09-Hayes_1929Athletics.gifOn Sunday, the Athletics franchise will celebrate the 80th anniversary of its 1929 World Championship. Oakland will exchange their trademark green and gold for Philly A’s blue and white to mark the occasion. Four Hall of Famers played for the 1929 champs including Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, Mickey Cochrane and Lefty Grove. They were run by longtime manager Connie Mack, who steered them to a 104-46 record and a victory of the Cubs in the Series. Relatives of Foxx and Mack will be on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitches.

To see the uniforms being used as a basis for this weekend’s throwbacks, check-out the online Hall’s uniform exhibit: Dressed to the Nines.

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

Thinking Spring

Idelson_90.jpgBy Jeff Idelson

Thank goodness for Spring Training. It means baseball has finally returned and the regular season is just around the corner.

I recently spent a week in Arizona. Can’t believe there are 14 teams there now, and when the Reds migrate west next spring, there will be an even split between Florida and Arizona. It seems like only yesterday when almost every team was in the Sunshine State.

I had a chance to reminisce about my Yankees Spring Training memories a couple of weeks ago when Gov. Charlie Crist invited me to speak at the recently rejuvenated annual Florida Baseball Dinner at Tropicana Field in St. Pete.

Sitting on the dais with Hall of Famers Tony Perez, Bill Mazeroski, Al Kaline, Mike Schmidt, Phil Niekro and Wade Boggs brought back great thoughts about my five springs in Ft. Lauderdale from 1989-93. There’s nothing better than 10 weeks in Florida to beat the cold, dreary New York winters.

 In Arizona, I was based in Scottsdale, which is conveniently located in close proximity to the Giants, Brewers, Angels, A’s and Cubs Spring Training facilities. I spent my time visiting with team owners, Hall of Famers, current players, media members and fans.

3-18-09-Idelson_Arizona.jpgFor instance, White Sox owner Jerry Reinsorf is on the Hall of Fame Board of Directors. After lunch with Jerry, his general manager, Kenny Williams, and his special assistant, Dennis Gilbert, at the team’s new facility in Glendale, the Sox played the Dodgers. Jerry, Dennis and I watched the game from Jerry’s suite, and Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, a native New Englander like me, joined us in the eighth inning, just in time to see his Dodgers rally from a two-run deficit to win in their last at-bat.

My visit was a chance to catch Frank and Dennis up on the inner-workings of the Hall of Fame. The silver lining for me was watching White Sox first-round draft pick Gordon Beckham, picked eighth overall out of the University of Georgia, play shortstop and show why he’ll likely soon join Alexei Ramirez (whose swing reminds me a lot of Alfonso Soriano) in the middle of the infield. Keep an eye on Beckham. He won’t be wearing uniform No. 80 for long.

Reality hit home when I realized that Beckham was born Sept. 16, 1986, 12 days before the Red Sox clinched the pennant while I was working for them after recently graduating from Connecticut College. Nothing like a dose of reality …

Later in the week, I headed over to Scottsdale Stadium with friend Rick Swig, one of our Hall of Fame Champions from the Bay Area. I also had a chance to spend some time in the Giants clubhouse and speak with Randy Johnson, Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum.

Lincecum and I first met in January when I presented him with his 2008 National League Cy Young Award at the Baseball Writers dinner. I presented him with plaque postcards of our only two Hall of Famers from Washington state — Ryne Sandberg and Earl Averill. I told him that I doubted he would need inspiration, but if he ever did, to take a look at these two legends’ plaques. He has the build of Juan Marichal, the delivery of Goose Gossage, the dominance of Sandy Koufax and the velocity of Bob Feller.

Zito loves the history of the game. We talked quite a bit about the Museum and our collections, as well as Bruce Hurst, one of his favorite players growing up in San Diego. I said to him, “I thought your 12-6 curveball looked familiar.” Hurst was his model and used his devastating out pitch to perfection in Fenway Park when I worked in Boston.

3-18-09-Idelson_Johnson.jpgWith Johnson five wins away from 300, I wanted to be sure he has us in his thoughts when he reaches the magical milestone. He’s always been generous, and I know he won’t disappoint us when he reaches that plateau. I told him that I doubted anyone would ever get to 300 wins again, unless the economy got so bad that teams were forced to scale back to smaller rosters and the old three-man rotations returned.

Randy also loves the history of the game and a signed Christy Mathewson book has a spot in his library.

While in the Giants clubhouse, I also exchanged pleasantries with Mike Murphy, the wonderful clubhouse manager who’s been there since the club went west, as well as the two Willies — Mays and McCovey. Both guys were in great spirits and were looking forward to coming back for Hall of Fame Weekend.

During the game, I sat with Cubs scout Gary Hughes and USA Today national writer Bob Nightengale, two longtime friends, in scout seats, right behind home plate. The Rockies and Giants were playing. I had no idea Sal Fasano was still playing, catching for the Rockies.

Dinners are meant for catching up with Hall of Famers and friends. Dinner with Robin Yount and his brother Larry, George Brett, White Sox vice chairman Eddie Einhorn and longtime Hall supporter Bob Crotty was a lot of fun. Robin dragged us to a restaurant he liked. “The general manager’s from Milwaukee. How could it be bad?” Robin said. He was right. It was terrific. He also let us know about his new product endorsement — Robinade — a form of lemonade sold only in Wisconsin and promoted in commercials by Bob Uecker. “Flying off the shelves,” he quipped.

I also caught up with three of our Cubs Hall of Famers — Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams and Sandberg — for dinner one night. They all feel good about the Cubs in 2009.

Toward the end of my stay, we had a day-long event for our Champions — those who support the Museum with an annual contribution of $5,000 or more. The day, put together and co-hosted by A’s team doctor and Hall of Fame Champion Elliott Schwartz and his wife, Patti, consisted of going to see the A’s and Mariners play, where A’s GM Billy Beane talked to our group for a while. “I lockered next to Rickey Henderson in 1980,” remembered Beane. “I was sent down to Triple-A for three weeks and then was recalled. ‘Where were you?’ said Henderson upon my return,” Beane laughed.

Dinner that night was wonderful, with Hughes, Nightengale, Marty Lurie, who handles A’s pregame, and A’s announcer Ken Korach joining us and sharing stories. Williams and his wife, Shirley, were our guests of honor. “Good, better, best,” said Billy. “Never let it rest, ’til good is better and better is best.”

Lots of laughs, lots of baseball, lots of fun.

Over and out.

Jeff Idelson is the president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. 

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