Results tagged ‘ Dave Concepcion ’
Rick Wise was the starting second baseman for The Knucksies in the 2011 Hall of Fame Classic on Sunday, but exactly 40 years ago today he was the toast of baseball.
On June 23, 1971, the 25-year-old Wise pitched a no-hitter and added two home runs to lead the visiting Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-0 over the Cincinnati Reds at Riverfront Stadium. In his nine-inning stint, the righty faced just 28 batters, walked one (Dave Concepcion with one out in the sixth inning), struck out two, and raised his record to 8-4 on the way to a 17-win season.
“I was coming off the flu and I felt very weak,” said Wise, after taking a seat in the third base dugout. “And it was hot, too. It was Cincinnati and the heat was coming off the carpet there. Man, it was smoking. But I think it sweated it out of me. I remember warming up and it seemed like the ball was stopping about halfway to the catcher. I said to myself, ‘Man, I better locate my pitches because this team with Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez can do some severe damage with their hitters.’
“But I had a good tempo and they were putting the ball in play early. I only made 94 pitches that day and it has an hour and 53 minutes. And only six balls were hit out of the infield, and I wasn’t a groundball pitcher either. I was a fly ball pitcher.”
Now 65, Wise ended his 18-year big league playing career in 1982 before embarking on a couple dozen seasons as a coach at almost every level of baseball before retiring in 2008. Sporting a ring given to members of the 1975 American League champion Boston Red Sox (Wise was the wining pitcher in Game 6 of the ’75 World Series in which Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk hit his memorable home run), he delighted in stating that he is one of the few people to appear in a Little League World Series, a Babe Ruth League World Series and Major League Baseball World Series.
Proud of his hitting, Wise finished the 1971 season twice hitting two home runs in a game.
“But that was the National League game. My first nine years were in the National League – seven with the Phillies and two with the Cardinals – and I had 15 home runs after nine years,” Wise recalled. “Then I went to the American League for six years and never picked up a bat again. My final team was San Diego but by that time my skills were completely diminished as far as hand-eye coordination.”
According to Wise, when he was coaching in the New York-Penn League, he brought his Auburn, N.Y. team from nearby Oneonta to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and donated from his no-hitter game the bat, his glove and a ball to the Cooperstown institution. The bat can currently be seen in the Museum’s newest exhibit, One for the Books: Baseball Record and the Stories Behind Them.
Bill Francis is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
By Trevor Hayes
Awards, prizes, honors. No matter what you call them, they serve as validation for a year of hard work on the diamond.
First up were the Gold Glove Awards on Tuesday and Wednesday and the Silver Sluggers yesterday.
Rolen along: Reds third baseman Scott Rolen won his eighth Gold Glove on Wednesday. Now only two third basemen have won the award more than Cincy’s man at the hot corner, Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson (16) and Mike Schmidt (10).
Meanwhile the New Red Machine, which reached the playoffs for the first time since 1995, placed two other Reds among this season’s Gold Glove winners. Second baseman Brandon Phillips earned his second award and pitcher Bronson Arroyo won his first. The last time Cincinnati had more than one Gold Glove was over four straight years when the quartet of center fielder Cesar Geronimo, shortstop Dave Concepcion and future Hall of Famers Johnny Bench (catcher) and Joe Morgan (second baseman) won the awards from 1974 to 1977.
Joining the greats: Ichiro Suzuki has played 10 years in the majors and his numbers seem automatic: 10 All-Star selections, 10 200-hit seasons, 10 seasons with 30-plus stolen bases, 10 seasons with an average over .300 and now 10 Gold Gloves. Among outfielders, only two men have more Gold Gloves and just three others have received 10 trophies from Rawlings. Matching Ichiro at 10 apiece are Andruw Jones, Ken Griffey Jr., and Hall of Famer Al Kaline. But Ichiro is still looking up at Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente, who each earned the award 12 times.
Carl among select in left: Also on Tuesday, the Rays’ Carl Crawford won his first Gold Glove – and he did it as a left fielder. Over the last three decades in the American League, center fielders have dominated the Gold Glove Awards, with right fielders earning sporadic recognition (aside from Ichiro Suzuki’s 10 straight). Since 1958, when the Award was separated by league, nine men have earned 18 Gold Gloves as a left fielder – seven of which went to Carl Yastrazemski. Over the last 30 years, just four men have taken home the honor. The last before Crawford was Darin Erstad in 2000. Before him were Hall of Famers Dave Winfield (two straight in 1982 and 1983) and Rickey Henderson (1981).
“Fly away”: 2008 Ford C. Frick Award winner Dave Niehaus passed away Wednesday night at the age of 75. For fans in the Seattle area, there will be an open house at Safeco Field from noon to 3 p.m. PT Saturday for fans to gather and reflect upon the Voice of the Seattle Mariners. There will be no formal program, but fans are invited to sign a remembrance book for the Niehaus family. There is also an online tribute page for available at www.mariners.com/dave, where fans can post messages and see highlights of his career.
No. 5 on Studio 42: Bob Costas’ MLB Network show Studio 42, which revisits baseball great moments through interviews with key players and Hall of Famers alike, premieres tonight. The first episode will feature George Brett, who will join Costas in an hour-long conversation starting at 8 p.m. ET to talk about his career. Topics will include Brett’s chase for .400, the pine tar incident, the Royals 1985 Championship along with their rivalry with the Yankees and more. Included during the program will be thoughts on Brett from fellow Hall of Famer and longtime nemesis on the diamond, Goose Gossage – the bulldog relief pitcher who faced Brett during several memorable battles.
Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
By Bill Francis
Former big league pitcher Jack Billingham, a witness to some of the game’s greatest moments of the 1970s, has been walking through the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum the past few days.
Billingham — along with his wife, Jolene, and his sister and brother-in-law — has been touring the country in a pair of RVs over the past three weeks, making stops, among other places, in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Detroit. The brief stay in Cooperstown isn’t Billingham’s first: The 6-foot-4 right-hander, now retired and living in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., made the trip in 1969 to participate in the Hall of Fame Game as a member of the Houston Astros.
During this visit, Billingham and his group spent Monday morning getting a behind-the-scenes tour of the baseball institution from Senior Curator Tom Shieber. The 13-year veteran, who spent time with the Dodgers (1968), Astros (1969-71), Reds (1972-77), Tigers (1978-80) and Red Sox (1980), looked at both his clipping and photo files in the Library before viewing some of the Museum’s vast archives.
“Growing up, you always heard about the Hall of Fame, but I wasn’t a Hall of Fame candidate, and I knew that from the start,” Billingham said with a chuckle.
Though he might not have had the resume of some of his more celebrated teammates, the sinkerballer ended his career with 145 wins, winning at least 10 games for 10 consecutive years.
“You thought of the Hall of Fame in terms of who you were playing with,” Billingham said. “When I came up as a rookie, I was playing with Don Drysdale. I went to Spring Training with Sandy Koufax. Walter Alston was my manager in 1968, and I came up in the Minor Leagues with Tommy Lasorda when he became a manager. And then I go over to Houston, and I tell people all the time I played with Joe Morgan three years in Houston when he was an All-Star player, but when he came to Cincinnati, he became a Hall of Famer.”
After he was traded to the Reds from the Astros with Morgan prior to the 1972 campaign, Billingham became a stalwart moundsman of Cincinnati’s famed Big Red Machine of the mid-1970s, when his teammates included future Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Tony Perez and Morgan, as well as manager Sparky Anderson.
“We had Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Davey Concepcion, an All-Star lineup,” Billingham said. “You knew you were playing with special guys who would be in the Hall of Fame.”
The Big Red Machine cemented its reputation by winning consecutive World Series titles in 1975 and ’76.
“The World Series is exciting and great, and it’s a dream to be there, but you have to win to make a name for yourself. We were there in 1972 [against the Oakland A's] and didn’t win,” Billingham said. “Then we played Boston in 1975 — it went seven games. A lot of people think it was one of the better World Series ever played. But we won. And I think the thing that really put the mark on us and really made our name is when in 1976, we played the Yankees and swept them in four games.”
Billingham’s star shined the brightest in the Fall Classic. He posted a 2-0 record and a 0.36 ERA in 25 1/3 innings pitched. Billingham still holds the record for lowest career World Series ERA with a minimum of 25 innings pitched.
“I think [the record] was just being at the right place at the right time. You go through streaks pitching. I was just on,” Billingham said. “I wasn’t a strikeout pitcher, so I needed gloves behind me. And though we were known as the Big Red Machine as far as scoring runs and hitting the ball, we also could catch the ball. Up the middle is where you make your defense, and we had guys like Davey Concepcion, Joe Morgan, Cesar Geronimo and Johnny Bench. We had the best at that time.”
Billingham also became the answer to a trivia question when he surrendered Hank Aaron‘s 714th career home run on April 4, 1974. The bat and ball from Aaron’s 714th home run are now on display in the Hall of Fame’s new exhibit, Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream.
“It was almost like being in the World Series; there was so much press there. Everybody wants to interview you — ‘How do you feel? How will you feel if you give up 714? If Hank comes up, and you’re leading by nine runs, would you throw one right down the middle so he could hit it out?’ — so I was aware of it, but it didn’t bother me,” Billingham said.
“Once the game started, you just get in your own little world. You know Hank Aaron is up there. He came up with two men on in the first inning. We’re playing at home, and there are 40,000 fans in Cincinnati booing me because they want to see Hank Aaron hit. I was 3-1, and I wasn’t going to back off, and tried to throw a fastball sinker on the outside part of the plate. And when you’re behind in the count, and you have a good hitter up there, that’s when you get in trouble. And he hit the ball, a three-run homer. But like I told everybody, I had one of the best seats in the house, and we won the ballgame when it was all over with.”
Looking back on his long professional baseball career, Billingham admitted the game meant everything to him.
“It was my life,” he said. “I started playing the day I got out of high school, and I played 20 years. I got 13 years in the big leagues. I played with some great players. I have nothing but great memories.”
Bill Francis is a library associate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.