Results tagged ‘ Cincinnati Reds ’

Hall Monitor: Perfection, Civil Rights in Cincy and one cycle?

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

The last week has been a historical one in many respects and will certainly go down as an important one in the 2010 memory bank.
 
Tex and Lou: The Sox-Yankees feud adds a new layer each year. This year’s latest notable? Mark Teixeira’s three-homer game on Saturday matched Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig’s as the only Yankees’ three-homer effort against Boston. Gehrig’s barrage came in an 11-4 win at Fenway Park on June 23, 1927. Since 1920, Bronx Bombers have recorded 22 games with three or more homers.


05-14-10-Hayes_Cycles.jpgJust one cycle
: On May 14, 2009, the majors had already witnessed three cycles with a fourth to come in a little more than a week. This season only Milwaukee’s Jody Gerut has accomplished the feat, with his cycle last Saturday. Last season a record-tying eight cycles were hit, artifacts of which can be seen – along with Gerut’s bat from the first home run in Citi Field history – in the Today’s Game exhibit at the Hall of Fame.

Third knuckler to 2,000: With his fourth-inning K of Vernon Wells on Wednesday, Tim Wakefield achieved his 2,000th major-league strikeout. Phil Niekro and Charlie Hough are the only other knucklers above the 2,000-mark, with the Hall of Famer at 3,342 and Hough at 2,362. At the age of 43 years, 283 days, Wakefield became the second-oldest pitcher to reach the 2,000-strikeout mark. The only older pitcher to reach the milestone was Jamie Moyer at 44 years, 145 days in 2007.


05-14-10-Hayes_MBuehrle.jpgFollowing Perfection
: Dallas Braden’s media whirlwind is over and his artifacts are in Cooperstown, so what’s next after tossing the major’s 18th regular-season perfect game last Sunday? Less than a year ago, Mark Buehrle threw a perfecto against the same Tampa Bay Rays Braden faced – making it the shortest time span separating a pair of perfect games since Worcester’s Lee Richmond against Cleveland (the first perfect game) and Providence’s Hall of Famer John Montgomery Ward versus Buffalo, which happened within a week in 1880 – and then retired the 17 batters he faced in his next start. Coupled with the final batter of his start prior to the perfect game, Buehrle set the record for consecutive hitters retired. Braden has his chance to keep perfection going tonight against the Angels in a 10:05 ET start in Los Angeles. “To have something of mine taking up space in that beautiful Hall is pretty nice,” said Braden, who visited Cooperstown a few years ago.

Celebrating Civil Rights: Hall of Famer Joe Morgan will be back in Cincinnati this weekend for the annual Civil Rights Game – which this year features the Cardinals and Reds. The former second baseman for the Big Red Machine is helping kick off the event with a roundtable discussion on the state of race relations. Also among the festivities held at the Freedom Center and the Reds Hall of Fame are a meet-and-greet event with former Negro leagues players and a special exhibition of Jackie Robinson artifacts, including a game-worn jerseys, a Robinson bat and a ticket stub from the April 15, 1947, game in which Robinson broke the color barrier for the Dodgers.

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

Ichiro, Phat Albert become Hall of Fame-eligible

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Someday – 10 to 15 years from now – Monday will be known as the day it became official. The day when the clock started ticking. The day two legends truly began their journey to Cooperstown.

04-07-10-Muder_Pujols.jpgMonday was the day that Albert Pujols and Ichiro Suzuki first became eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Now, don’t go marking calendars just yet. Phat Albert and Ichiro have a lot of baseball left to play, and their Hall of Fame eligibility doesn’t officially begin until they’ve been retired for five years. At 36, Ichiro looks like he could play for at least 10 more years. And Pujols just turned 30, leaving him with a real chance to take a crack at 700 home runs and 3,000 hits in the latter part of this decade.

But barring the totally unforeseen, Ichiro and Albert are headed for Cooperstown. And on Opening Day, they cleared their primary eligibility hurdle when they appeared in a game in their 10th season of Major League Baseball.

Both Pujols and Suzuki broke into the majors in 2001, and both became instant stars. Each won their respective league’s Rookie of the Year awards that season, and it’s been virtually a non-stop success ride from there.

04-07-10-Muder_Suzuki.jpgIchiro has been named to nine straight All-Star Games, has won nine straight Gold Gloves in right field and was the AL MVP in 2001. He set the all-time single-season hit record in 2004 with 262 base hits, and owns nine straight 200-hit seasons – another big league record.

Pujols has been named to eight All-Star Games, has won three NL MVPs (including the last two in a row), owns a Gold Glove at first base and helped the Cardinals win the 2006 World Series.

But until Monday – when Pujols led his Cardinals over the Reds with two home runs and Ichiro went 1-for-4 for the Mariners in their win against the A’s, the pair had not satisfied the Hall of Fame requirement of playing at least 10 big league seasons.

It would appear to be the last hurdle on a path that will likely take both to Cooperstown.

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

Classic dream fulfilled

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

A defensive whiz on par with the game’s greatest of all time, longtime center fielder Paul Blair fielded numerous questions pertaining to his distinguished big league career when he recently sat down for an interview with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

03-29-10-Francis_Blair1.jpgIn Cooperstown on March 20 to greet visitors in line to buy tickets for the second annual Hall of Fame Classic, the 66-year-old Blair will trade in his beloved golf clubs for another chance to get out on the field in the June 20 legends game. Tickets for the Classic are on sale at www.baseballhall.org or by calling 1-866-849-7770.

During a 17-year big league career, spent mainly with the great Baltimore Orioles teams of the late 1960s and 1970s, the eight-time Gold Glove Award winner and four-time World Series champion was known for his play in center field. But, surprisingly, Blair was a shortstop until he signed his first professional contract.

“I went to my first spring training the manager said, ‘Everybody go to their positions.’ Seven guys went to short – I was going to be the eighth shortstop,” Blair recalled. “They had two in left, two in center and one in right, and I saw (the player in right field) running and throwing and I knew I could beat him out, so I went to right field and became an outfielder. It just came natural to me for some reason.”

Known as the premier center fielder of his era, Blair was renowned for how shallow he played.

03-29-10-Francis_Blair3.jpg“What I tried to do was play where most of the balls were going to be hit. I didn’t play guys like Harmon Killebrew and Reggie Jackson or the big home run hitters right behind second base, but most guys can’t hit the ball straightaway center field out of the ballpark. If they hit balls to center field they are basically going to be line drives or high pops,” Blair said. “The line drives are not going to go out of the ballpark, so what I tried to do was take some of those line drives away. I wanted to be the best center fielder, head and shoulders, over anybody on my team. That way those pitchers would make the manager play me.”

Raised in Los Angeles, Blair was a Dodgers fan but Hall of Fame center fielder Willie Mays of the hated San Francisco Giants was his idol.

“Whenever the Giants played the Dodgers, I would hope Mays would get four hits but the Dodgers would win,” Blair said. “When I was growing up I used to do the basket catch even though I was at shortstop, but when I became a professional I thought I better do my own thing and not copy Willie because if I ever droped one then it’s going to be heck to pay.”

A star athlete in high school, Blair’s decision to pursue baseball as a profession was influenced by another Hall of Famer.

“I guess that came from Jackie (Robinson),” Blair said. “As long as I can remember, since I was eight years old, I wanted to be a major league baseball player. That was my one desire, my one goal, and I was just fortunate that I had some athletic ability.”

Blair became a regular with the O’s at the tender age of 21 in 1965 and appeared in the postseason six times with Baltimore over his 13 seasons with the club.

03-29-10-Francis_Blair2.jpg“Our whole thing, and it came from (Hall of Fame manager) Earl (Weaver) and he was the catalyst of those ball clubs, is that you went out there and you played great defense, you pitched well, and you played the whole game,” Blair said. “The team came first. You did everything you possibly could to help win a ballgame.

 “We already had a very good ball club but then (future Hall of Famer) Frank (Robinson) came in 1966 that really put us over the top. He was that big gun that all the other pitchers had to concentrate on. The rest of us just had to do our thing. When Frank said, ‘Let’s go,’ we just followed him.”

Looking back on his baseball career, Blair says that he is proudest of the fact that he got to play in the big leagues for 17 years.

“It’s a very big achievement for me because that’s something I always wanted to do, and it’s the only thing I ever want to do,” Blair said. “The bonus was winning the eight Gold Gloves and the four World Series championships.

“I was very fortunate being on the teams that I played on. I played on 10 first place teams. Every time I went to spring training I knew I had a chance to be in a World Series. I wound up getting in eight playoffs, six World Series, and we won four of them. Hopefully I did my part and contributed to us winning. That was very important to me.”

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

Tales from the Cactus League

Idelson_90.jpgBy Jeff Idelson

I am so glad Spring Training is here, even if it was warmer in Cooperstown than in the desert for a few of the days I visited Arizona last week. Boy did I miss baseball. And in my job, I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to rub elbows with so many of the game’s greats, bringing them closer to the Hall of Fame.

 
03-12-10-Idelson_KoufaxPalmer.jpgI got to see the Giants, Brewers, White Sox, Mariners, Indians, Reds, Royals and Rangers all play.

It was great to see the two reigning Cy Young award winners – Tim Lincecum and Zack Greinke – pitch. I brought Tim plaque postcards of Sandy Koufax and Jim Palmer. Why? They are the only Hall of Famers to win back-to-back Cy Young Awards. Perhaps they will help inspire Tim, not that he needs inspiration.

Before the Cactus League opener in Peoria, I visited my friends in the Mariners clubhouse: Head athletic trainer Rick Griffin and I talked about the health of his players; Ken Griffey Jr. told me he expected Ichiro to get twice as many regular season hits as he would – including spring training.  “I’m aiming for 150 hits,” said Junior.  “Have you seen Ichiro get hot?  You turn around, and he’s gone 15-for-25. If anyone can get 300 hits, it’s him.” I don’t doubt Griffey’s sense of logic, having seen Ichiro play so many times.

 Did you ever take an advanced or AP class in high school? I took AP Baseball last week with Professor Ryan. Nolan and I sat together for the Rangers-Royals game, where he gave me a breakdown of every player on the field. I had a similar experience a few days later with White Sox owner and Hall of Fame Board member Jerry Reinsdorf, who invited me to sit with him, his vice chairman, Eddie Einhorn, and his special assistant, Dennis Gilbert, the former agent for George Brett. I now know where the White Sox’s strengths and weaknesses lie. Bobby Brett, George’s brother, joined us.

03-12-10-Idelson_Ryan.jpgWe held our annual Cactus League Champions event in Goodyear, where the Indians and Reds train. It’s a great complex. The Indians were very generous in hosting our Champions, those who support us with an annual donation of $5,000 or more.

Team President Paul Dolan and assistant GM Chris Antonetti addressed our group and let them know what to expect from the Indians this year. After the game, we all had dinner with Bob Feller and Fergie Jenkins, where they regaled the group with stories, photos and autographs.

Speaking of dinners, Billy Williams, Ryne Sandberg, Fergie and their wives joined me for dinner the night before. We toasted to a good 2010 Cubs team and the Williams’ 50th wedding anniversary. Quite a feat for the Williamses, a lovely couple.

On my first night in Arizona, I was joined by Mickey Morabito and Steve Vucinich from the A’s, Gary Hughes, the Cubs scout, Roland Hemond, the long-time Bill Veeck disciple who works for the Diamondbacks, and veteran writers Bob Nightengale, of USA Today, and Spink Award winner Tracy Ringolsby. We get together each spring to talk about scouting and the game today. We used to dine each year at the Pink Pony, a popular old-school steakhouse on North Scottsdale Road that finally closed its doors. We miss the Pony.

03-12-10-Idelson_CactusLeague.jpgOn my final evening, I hosted the dinner to end all dinners, at Don & Charlie’s, a popular Scottsdale hangout with great steaks and ribs. We had a large group that included Bob Uecker, Rollie Fingers, Robin Yount and his brother Larry, George Brett and his guest Joe Randa, Mike Murphy, the Giants’ clubhouse man since Day One in San Francisco, Brad Ziegler, my friend who pitches in the A’s bullpen, Jerry, Eddie and Dennis from the White Sox, and Bob Crotty, who is a generous Hall of Fame supporter and owner of Green Diamonds Gallery in Cincinnati, an exquisite baseball gallery of artifacts and art.

Just before we were getting ready to sit down to dinner, Uecker calls me from his cell phone to let me know he invited two other mutual friends – Bob Costas and Joe Torre.

We had a great dinner and talked about the Dodgers impending trip to Taiwan, told Yogi stories, heard all about the Olympics, and tried to recollect if Torre and Fingers ever faced each other. “Did I ever face you?” Joe asked? “I can’t recall,” was Rollie’s response.

So, I emailed Freddy Berowski in the Hall of Fame Library. Sorry Joe: You faced Rollie one time in the regular season, on May 1, 1977, and struck out. You also faced him in the 1973 All-Star Game and popped out in the 9th. None-the-less, you remain one the game’s greatest players, managers and ambassadors and it’s hard to imagine you won’t be in Cooperstown one day.

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

Oct. 28, 1953: Barber makes New York switch

Lawrence_90.jpgBy Thomas Lawrence

Perching in his beloved “Catbird Seat,” Red Barber always called it like he saw it.

“Get to the park early. Do your homework. Be prepared. Be accurate. He was a stickler for that,” said Vin Scully, speaking about his mentor Barber – the long-time voice of the Reds, Brooklyn Dodgers and Yankees.

After spending five years with Cincinnati (1934-38) and 15 with the Dodgers (1939-53), Barber took a job with the Yankees 56 years ago Wednesday – on Oct. 28, 1953. It was just 22 days after those same Yankees defeated his Dodgers in the World Series.

10-28-09-Lawrence_Barber.jpgWalter Lanier “Red” Barber was born on Feb. 17, 1908, in Columbus, Miss., and was a fearless professional and baseball fan from the start.

While attending the University of Florida in Gainesville, Barber got his start in broadcasting in 1930, which led to his hiring by the Reds and his first game on April 17, 1934. Only it wasn’t just his first broadcast – it was the first big league game he’d been to.

Barber wasn’t afraid to try new things behind the mic, revolutionizing phrases like “rhubarb,” “can of corn” and “the bases are F.O.B.” – which stood for “Full of Brooklyns.”

He was there when Bobby Thomson hit the shot heard round the world, when Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier and when Don Larsen tossed his perfect game for the Yankees in 1956. Barber was also there on Aug. 26, 1939, when his Dodgers took on the Reds in the first ever televised game.

It was his professionalism, his originality and his candor that made him the first recipient of the Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award in 1978 – along with fellow Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen.

Since then other transcendent voices of the game like Vin Scully (1982), Jack Buck (1987), Harry Caray (1989) and Harry Kalas (2002) have taken home the Frick Award.

Thomas Lawrence was the 2009 publications intern 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.

Oct. 7, 1950: Ford gets first of six rings

Lawrence_90.jpgBy Thomas Lawrence

The Chairman of the Board emphatically shut the door on Philly’s 59 years ago today — Oct. 7, 1950.


10-7-09-Lawrence_FordPitch.jpgWhitey Ford
, dubbed the “Chairman of the Board” by teammates, is the all-time World Series leader in wins (10) and strikeouts (94). It all began in Game 4 of the 1950 Fall Classic, as his Yankees were looking for a sweep of manger Eddie Sawyer’s Philadelphia Phillies.

On a Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, in front of more than 68,000 fans, Ford had the ball opposite Phils hurler Bob Miller with a chance to earn the Bombers’ 13th World Series title.

Ford, as a rookie, went a sterling 9-1 with a 2.81 ERA in 1950 – finishing second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting to the Red Sox’ Walt Dropo.

The Yankees were defending champions, after taking the ’49 series against cross-town rival Brooklyn under new manager Casey Stengel.

Ford might not have had Game 7 pressure on him, with the Yankees’ three-game cushion, but nonetheless the rookie faced a daunting task at the age of 21. And while it didn’t hurt to have future Hall of Famers like Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto and Johnny Mize on his side, Ford was fearless every time he toed the rubber.

10-7-09-Lawrence_Ford.jpg“He was my banty rooster,” said Stengel. “He used to puff his chest out, like this, and walk out to the mound against any of those big pitchers.”

Despite that “rooster” persona, Ford was a pensive pitcher who chose deception over brute force. Ford promptly demoralized the Phils on Oct. 7, twirling 8.2 innings of brilliant baseball – giving up only two unearned runs.

A native of New York City, Ford went on to those record-setting 10 World Series wins as well as a fantastic postseason ERA of 2.71.

Ford not only owned October in the win column, but the 20th century as well. His 236-106 record makes him the most consistent victor — among pitchers with at least 200 wins — during those years, with a .690 winning percentage.

10-7-09-Lawrence_NYYSeriesChart.jpg“I don’t care what the situation was, how high the stakes were… it never bothered Whitey Ford,” said Yankee great Mickey Mantle. “He pitched his game. Cool. Crafty. Nerves of steel.”

In fact, Ford harnessed those “nerves of steel” to toss 33 consecutive scoreless innings in World Series play, another signature “Chairman” mark. Ford also had seven complete games in the Classic, good for fifth all-time, and was part of six Yankees championship teams.

Ford was welcomed into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1974.

Thomas Lawrence was the 2009 publications intern at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers