Results tagged ‘ Cy Young ’

Blyleven revels in Hall of Fame tour

By Craig Muder

The fan in the Red Sox cap got to within 20 feet of the Cooperstown visitor when he stopped dead in his tracks, eyes wide-eyed and mouth agape.

A moment later, Bert Blyleven approached the gentleman with a smile and his hand extended.

“How are you today?” Blyleven asked.

“I’m great,” the fan replied. “You know, Bert, it’s about time you got into the Hall of Fame.”

With that, the fan was gone – and Blyleven continued his stroll down the Main Street sidewalk. A Hall of Fame pitcher, and a down-to-earth person.

Blyleven took his Orientation Tour with his wife Gayle on Tuesday, preparing for his July 24 induction in Cooperstown as a member of the Class of 2011. Before touring the Museum and the archive, he took a short stroll over to Doubleday Field – reminiscing about his trip to Cooperstown in 1980 for the Hall of Fame Game while a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

On the way back to the Museum, Blyleven – dressed in a Twins windbreaker (he has broadcast Twins games on TV for the last 16 years) and blue jeans – chatted with fans on Main Street and even stopped by a few stores.

On his tour, Blyleven cheerily greeted fans lucky enough to be visiting the Hall of Fame on a once-in-a-lifetime day.

“I want to learn about Cy Young; I want to see a baseball used by Walter Johnson,” Blyleven said of his Hall of Fame brethren. “Walter Johnson had 110 shutouts? Are you kidding? How do you do that?”

Blyleven had 60 shutouts himself, powering a Hall of Fame career that included 287 wins and 242 complete games. But it was the majesty of the moment that impacted Blyleven the most on Tuesday.

“I got to play a kids’ game for 23 years in the big leagues,” Blyleven said. “That’s what this is all about, right? A kid’s dream is to be here in Cooperstown.

“If you love baseball, you have to come here. This is a baseball fan’s dream come true.”

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

By the numbers

Strohl_90.jpgBy Erik Strohl

The Hall of Fame curatorial/exhibits team has been working on our new permanent exhibit, One for the Books, for more than a year now. Scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend 2011, it will take an in-depth look at baseball records and the stories behind them.

02-01-11-Strohl_OFTB.jpgBaseball records reflect the pinnacles of achievement in the game and allow us to note the best players throughout time, whether it is in single seasons or over whole careers. But they also tell us much more about the game itself and how it is viewed by American culture.

Some baseball records have attained an almost sacred status. Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. Babe Ruth’s 60 home runs in 1927, when he outhomered every other team in the American League. Ted Williams’ .406 batting average in 1941.

Records seem to resonate with baseball fans more than with fans of other sports, and I think this is likely because of baseball’s long history and because the compilation of statistics (and hence records) has had a prominent place in the history of the game. These magic numbers have been memorized and recited by legions of fans for generations, and I know this will continue.

Baseball is ripe with amazing feats, milestones, and records. Some of my personal favorites include:

  • Cy Young’s career record 749 complete games (yes, folks, complete games)
  • Stan Musial’s 3,630 career hits (good for fourth on the all-time hits list) can be split equally into 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 hits on the road
  •  If you took away all of Hank Aaron’s 755 career home runs (the longstanding record from 1974 until 2007), he would still have over 3,000 hits (3,016 to be exact)
  • Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn’s 59 pitching victories (the single-season record) in 1884 (he also had 73 complete games!!)

02-01-11-Strohl_Young.jpgBaseball records also provide for endless debate, and encourage us to compare the achievements of players from different eras. I think what you will find, however, is that statistics from different eras only offer an illusion of comparison. What the study of numbers and records will illustrate is the differences in the game over time and that there are countless variables throughout the history of the sport that help determine the parameters of statistics and records, from ballpark dimensions to playing rules to changes in technology.

We are very excited about the potential for this brand new exhibit and look forward to sharing it with the public. Featuring about 200 artifacts related to batting, pitching, fielding, base running, and team records, the exhibit will also utilize many new technological and interactive elements. I am positive there will be something of interest to all baseball fans, whether you want to learn about perfect games, team-winning streaks, or the home run champion before Babe Ruth.

Please plan to come to Cooperstown to see artifacts for your favorite records and record-holders and to explore this exciting topic in depth. To find out how you can support One for the Books, click here.

Erik Strohl is the senior director of exhibitions and collections for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hall Monitor: Playoff Pleasures

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

10-8-10-Hayes_Larsen.jpgThe regular season is done. That means October is upon us and there is no better time to see greatness than during Autumn’s Glory.

Busy at the Hall: With the regular season over and the postseason heating up, donations are rolling into Cooperstown. On Sept. 19, Bobby Abreu clocked his 20th homer of the season, giving him nine seasons with at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Only Barry and Bobby Bonds – at 10 each – have more 20/20 seasons. To commemorate the achievement, his bat is now in Cooperstown.

Also announced this week following his historic pitching performance on Wednesday, Roy Halladay’s jersey and a ball from the no-hitter will be making their way to join the artifacts from his May 29th perfect game and the items on display from Don Larsen’s 1956 perfecto – the only other no-hitter in postseason history.


10-8-10-Hayes_Sutton.jpgNot to be outdone
: Tim Lincecum of the Giants, whose 1.78 September team ERA is the lowest in the Divisional Era, proved his mettle yesterday. Like Halladay, pitching in his first postseason game, Lincecum was brilliant. The two-time Cy Young winner struck out a postseason record 14 Braves, as he tossed a complete game two-hitter. Lincecum’s mark tied Joe Coleman (1972), John Candelaria (1975), Mike Boddicker (1983) and Mike Scott (1986) for the major league record in a postseason debut.

Walking-off into infamy: Halladay threw his gem against the best offense in the National League, the Cincinnati Reds – a team which punched its first ticket to the postseason since 1995 in dramatic fashion last Tuesday. With the score tied at two, Jay Bruce smashed the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the ninth into batter’s eye grass in left-center field at Great American Ballpark. The walk-off was the fifth game-ending home run to clinch a postseason berth.

The others include Steve Finley’s grand slam for the Dodgers in 2004, Alfonso Soriano’s first career hit that sent the 1999 Yankees on to postseason glory and the famous “Shot Heard Round the World” by Bobby Thomson for the 1951 Giants. The only Hall of Famer walk-off postseason clincher came from Hank Aaron, in the 11th inning for the 1957 Milwaukee Braves.


10-8-10-Hayes_Bresnahan.jpgTrend Tracker
: Twenty-year-old rookie Jayson Heyward drew a walk against Lincecum, one of just three Braves to reach base against the Giants ace. Heyward’s walk was just an extension of the 91 he racked up during the regular season – a number surpassed at his age by only Hall of Famers Mel Ott (113 in 1929) and Ted Williams (107 in 1939).

Also look for Tampa Bay catcher John Jaso. The lefty-swinging backstop only stole four bases this season, but batted leadoff 45 times in his 88 starts. Hitting .272 with a .380 on-base percentage, if the Rays stay alive, he may get a start there again. If he hits leadoff against right-handed Colby Lewis on Saturday, he would join just two other catchers to start in the one-hole in the postseason. The others are noted speedster Jason Kendall for the 2006 Oakland A’s and Hall of Famer Roger Bresnahan for the 1905 New York Giants.

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

Destined for Cooperstown

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

It sometimes seems that things here in Cooperstown are just destined to go right.

06-22-10-Hayes_Greinke.jpgDon’t get me wrong, the staff at the Baseball Hall of Fame is extremely dedicated, very knowledgeable and good at what they do – executing plans to make the Hall of Fame perfect. But some stories take an extra little bit of chance to become truly special. My most recent example came Monday in the form of a donation by my mother of some photos of two current Royals stars, including 2009 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke.

As a native Kansas Citian, it takes a holiday or other big event to see my family. But after last year’s Hall of Fame Classic, I knew I had to get my parents to Cooperstown for the 2010 event. Not just to celebrate Father’s Day with my dad – sharing a game we both love – but to reconnect that baseball bond with my mother too, who played countless hours of catch with me in the backyard while waiting for dad to get home form work and take me to practice.

At every opportunity, I pestered them about a trip out. In late September, I went to a wedding and on the Sunday after, my family went to Kauffman Stadium. Greinke was starting and I hadn’t seen him in person all season. I’d followed his year from the scoreless streak in April to his 1-0 complete game loss in Anaheim when he had pitches touch every speed from 66 to 96 mph. I tuned in early to the All-Star Game to make sure I didn’t miss a second. I wished people at work “Happy Greinke Day” on the days he started. It was can’t miss TV and I shared it with my parents, chatting about my hometown team throughout the season.

06-22-10-Hayes_Greinke2.jpgOn that warm September day, Greinke was his usual self. He went seven innings and allowed just one run. He struck out eight, including eventual batting champ and MVP Joe Mauer twice. During the game, my mom snapped some photos with her new camera.

Before leaving Missouri over the holidays, she slipped an envelope into my bag. Inside were photos she’d printed of family and my girlfriend and I. The last couple were photos of Greinke and 2008 All-Star Joakim Soria. I was surprised. My mother has always been creative, knitting and doing flower arrangements. I’d even seen her still-life and nature photos. But her action shots were exceptional, especially since they were from Row Double-S.

Just before the start of the 2010 season, I got my parents to commit to a visit during Father’s Day. At the same time, our staff updates our  Today’s Game exhibit, outfitting the lockers with artifacts from the previous season. Shortly after the update I was reminded of the photos when I saw hanging in the Royals locker a powder blue jersey – the team’s staple attire for home day games. Greinke gave the Hall of Fame his jersey from his final home start, which turned out to be the last win of his Cy Young campaign.

06-22-10-Hayes_Soria.jpgIt had crossed my mind that my mom should donate the photos,  and now I was sure. Her photos are of Greinke wearing the same jersey that’s on exhibit. I called and told her that when they came for the Hall of Fame Classic, she should donate the photos. Worried about the quality, she wasn’t so sure.

On Monday, my mother, father and myself presented her five prints – three of Greinke and two of Soria – to photo archivist Pat Kelly. Pat gushed. The quality was professional level and they filled a void in the archives – neither player had hard copy files. The fact that Greinke is wearing the same jersey that’s in the collection sweetened the deal.

A bit of chance played into my trip in September happening in the same weekend of the Royals final home stand. Luck let the rotation fall just right. And by coincidence or fate, my family is extremely proud of my mother and we now have a special moment to cap a great weekend in Cooperstown.

Trevor Hayes is editorial production manager at 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.

Career saves

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

 
03-11-10-Berowski_JohnT.jpgWill Carroll, author of the definitive book on baseball injuries Saving the Pitcher, puts it in the simplest terms: “Since the invention of the breaking ball, there has been no more significant development in baseball than Tommy John surgery.”

Pioneered by Dr. Frank Jobe in 1974, ulnar collateral ligament surgery has saved the careers of hundreds of ballplayers. More commonly known as “Tommy John surgery,” named after the first ballplayer to undergo the procedure, Tommy John himself was given full recovery odds of about one percent. The surgery was a success and added 14 seasons, and 164 more wins, to John’s career. Today, full recovery rates hover at around 90 percent.

The ulnar collateral ligament or UCL is the primary medial stabilizer of the elbow joint – in simple terms, it affects one’s ability to throw a baseball. Tommy John surgery involves removing a tendon from another body part, usually the opposite arm or knee, and using a figure 8 pattern to connect the humerus and ulna bones, replacing the ligament. 

03-11-10-Berowski_Molitor.jpgIf it weren’t for Dr. Jobe’s pioneering procedure, there might only be 291 Hall of Famers instead of 292. On March 22, 1984, in a spring training game against the Cubs, Brewers third baseman Paul Molitor suffered an injury to his right elbow. That injury resulted in Dr. Jobe performing his patented surgery on Molitor, removing a tendon from Molly’s left forearm and using it to replace the ligament in his right elbow. Thanks to the surgery, Molitor was able to add 2,410 hits to his resume over the next 14 seasons, ultimately earning enshrinement in Cooperstown in 2004.

It was revealed only days ago the Joe Nathan of the Minnesota Twins suffered a tear in the UCL of his throwing arm. No pitcher has recorded more saves than the Twins’ stopper over the last six seasons. But if surgery is necessary, Nathan would likely miss the entire 2010 campaign. 

Over the last decade or so a number of star players, notably late-inning relievers, have had to go under the knife for Tommy John surgery – some with potential Hall of Fame credentials.  Ace relievers John Franco, John Smoltz and Billy Wagner have all undergone the procedure and came back strong.

To date, however, no Hall of Fame pitcher has undergone Tommy John surgery during his career.

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

2014 could mean a Brave New World in Cooperstown

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

The Class of 2014 might just mean a Brave New World at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Former Braves and Mets ace Tom Glavine officially announced his retirement on Thursday, ending stellar 22-year big league career. Glavine did not pitch at the major league level in 2009, meaning he will be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration in 2014.

02-11-10-Muder_Glavine.jpgThe numbers indicate Glavine will get strong support.

One of just 24 300-game winners in Major League Baseball history, Glavine finishes with a record of 305-203. He won two Cy Young Awards (1991 and 1998), was named to 10 All-Star Games and posted 20-or-more wins in five seasons – leading the National League lead win victories in all five years.

In the postseason, Glavine won 14 games and was the World Series MVP in 1995 when the Braves defeated the Indians in the Fall Classic.

Glavine joins a star-studded roster of players who will be eligible for the Hall of Fame for the first time in 2014. Former Braves teammate Greg Maddux, who won 355 games, is scheduled to be on the 2014 BBWAA ballot – setting up the possibility of a Braves reunion in Cooperstown.

Other candidates who are slated to become eligible in 2014 include two-time American League Most Valuable Player Frank Thomas, 270-game winner Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent, the all-time home run leader among second basemen.

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

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