Results tagged ‘ Detroit Tigers ’

Hall Monitor: Vlad laps the majors

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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.

A trip through time

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Whitey Herzog leaned forward in his chair to get a closer look at the outfielder crashing into the Yankee Stadium fence.

“I ended up with 57 stitches, but I caught that ball,” said Herzog. “To this day, Yogi still reminds me that he would have had 359 career home runs if I had just let it go.”

04-27-10-Muder_Herzog.jpgThe photo, part of the collection of more than 500,000 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, showed Herzog as a Baltimore Oriole right fielder in 1961 as he robbed Yogi Berra of a hit. It will be a one of many stories told again this summer as Berra – along with more than 50 other living Hall of Famers – helps welcome Herzog into the Hall of Fame.

Herzog took his Hall of Fame Orientation Tour on Monday in preparation for his July 25 induction. Along with Andre Dawson and Doug Harvey, Herzog will be enshrined as the Class of 2010 in Cooperstown.

Monday’s tour gave Herzog a chance to look behind the scenes at the Hall of Fame, and the former reserve outfielder for the Senators, Athletics, Orioles and Tigers seemed overwhelmed when he considered his surroundings.

“You know, I got a bigger bonus than Mickey Mantle when I signed with the Yankees,” said Herzog, who began his playing career in 1949 as a Yankee farmhand. “That’s the only time I ever made more money than Mickey.”

However, as a manager, Herzog had few peers and was widely regarded as one of the best in the game. Herzog led his team’s to six postseason berths in 18 seasons, winning National League pennants in 1985 and 1987 with the Cardinals and the 1982 World Series with the Redbirds.

He is just the 19th former big league manager elected to Cooperstown.

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

Grapefruit stories

Idelson_90.jpgBy Jeff Idelson

I’m sitting in Tampa International Airport awaiting the one non-stop Southwest Airlines flight back to Albany, having just concluded my Grapefruit League spring training jaunt. My Spring Training mission each year is to visit with those who are close to the Museum – current players and management, Hall of Famers, owners and supporters.

03-24-10-Idelson_DawsonPerez.jpgHaving spent eight years combined in the Red Sox and Yankee front offices before being hired in Cooperstown in 1994, my knowledge was limited to Florida Spring Training: the Yankees were in Ft. Lauderdale and the Red Sox in Winter Haven. Since, I have traveled to the desert, too.

The differences are stark: The air is markedly drier in Arizona, because of the elevation. The ballparks in Arizona are surrounded by mountains; most of the ones in Florida, by water. Thirteen of 15 ballparks in Arizona are within 60 miles of each other. In Florida, they span across the state. I spent seven nights in one hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona; I was in six different places in six nights in Florida and flew in and out of airports across the state from each other.

The one similarity? I had a game rained out in each state.

I had a chance to visit with a number of our Hall of Famers. Andre Dawson and I had dinner in North Miami Beach, near his home. He’s already made great progress on his speech and is getting ready for Induction. “I’ll try not to get too emotional,” the stoic “Hawk” told me. I let him know that if he did not get emotional, I would be worried. Almost every speech I have heard since 1994 has been emotional. 

Hall of Fame Chairman Jane Clark, Ken Meifert from the Hall, and I, saw Mike Schmidt and his wife Donna in Palm Beach Gardens. We talked about a variety of topics, from baseball to bull riding to music to living in Florida. Mike is very excited about our inaugural Hall of Fame Classic Golf tournament in June, in which he will participate. He was thrilled to know that a number of the 28 spots available are already filled.

03-24-10-Idelson_Jupiter.jpgLast Saturday, we hosted our Hall of Fame Champions in Jupiter. John and Kathy Greenthal became the first Champions in Hall of Fame history to attend events in both Spring Training states. Jim and Tina Collias made the trip over from Naples to Jupiter, and Dan Glazer also joined us. Hall of Fame Board member Bill DeWitt, owner of the Cardinals, was generous in hosting us for his team’s game with the Mets. Spring Training games are usually not that interesting, but this one featured the Mets scoring three runs in the 9th, the last on an Ike Davis game-tying home run, only to have Ruben Gotay lead off the bottom of the 9th with a walk-off home run.

Speaking of walk-off home runs, we dined with Dennis and Jennifer Eckersley after the game. I asked Dennis what he thought of Doug Harvey. “He was behind the plate for Kirk Gibson’s home run in the 1988 World Series,” Dennis reminded me, as I began to suffer the symptoms of foot-in-mouth disease. He still thought Harvey was an excellent arbiter. 

I headed across the state to Yankee camp and saw many old friends in the clubhouse before the game: Billy Connors, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage, Steve Donohue, the team athletic trainer, Joe Girardi, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, whom we drafted when I worked for the team. The game was rained out as Gene Michael, his minor league teammate and Tigers broadcaster, Jim Price, and I had lunch. Also saw Tiger friends Dave Dombrowski and Al Aliva in the dining room and learned more about the Tigers.

Dinner that night was with Wade and Debbie Boggs and Reggie Jackson. Eddie Fastook, the team’s traveling security director and a long-time friend, also joined us. 

Unbeknownst to me, Boggs grew up a big Reggie Jackson fan, even wearing No. 9 in honor, the number Reggie wore early in his career in Oakland. Wade told the story of how in the mid 1980s, Reggie gave him one of his bats to use in 1985. “I used it for 33 straight games and hit five home runs,” said Wade. “I loved that bat and then I broke it on a Dave Stieb pitch,” a dejected Wade recalled.

03-24-10-Idelson_Zimmer.jpgThe next morning, I visited City of Palms Park in Fort Myers to see the Red Sox and the Rays. I met up with Don Zimmer, who is very bullish on the Rays this year. “The best club we’ve had in my seven years with them,” Zim said.

Zim told me how much he admired Dawson and Ryne Sandberg when he managed the Cubs. “Two guys who led by example,” he said. “The other players watched these guys and saw greatness in the making.”

I told Don I would be seeing Jim Rice and Bob Montgomery later that day. 

“Monty was the best hit-and-run guy I ever had,” recalled Zim. “I remember in a game with Cleveland, the bases were loaded. They had a sinker-baller on the mound so I rolled the dice and gave (coach) Eddie Yost the hit-and-run sign on a 3-2 count. Monty put the bat on the ball and we stayed out of the double play. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy, but I really thought it would work, and it did.”

Rice later told me that he believed Thurman Munson and Lou Piniella were among the best hit-and-run guys he saw when he played.

I concluded my trip with dinner at Carlton and Linda Fisk’s home in the Sarasota area. We had a wonderful visit and a great dinner. Pudge joked about how some of the evenings in Florida this year were as cold as those he experienced growing up in New Hampshire.

I’ve had my fill. Let the regular season begin.

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

Nov. 25, 1981: Rollie Fingers becomes first relief pitcher in AL history to win MVP

Bielefeld_90.jpgBy Bridget Bielefeld

When Oakland A’s manager Dick Williams sent Rollie Fingers to the bullpen in 1971 after several sub-par outings as a starter, Fingers thought his short major league run had come to an end.

“Williams threw me out to the bullpen and I thought: ‘Well that’s the end of that,'” Fingers said in an interview with the New York Post. “My baseball career was over. I figured the handwriting was on the wall.”

11-25-09-Bielefeld_Fingers.jpg“No kid ever dreams of being a reliever,” Fingers further explained. “Everybody wants to be a starter, and I was no different.”

However, the transition proved to be a blessing in disguise for Fingers – who, during his 17-year major league career with the A’s, Padres and Brewers, became one of the greatest relief pitchers the game has ever seen.

The pinnacle of his illustrious bullpen career came 28 years ago today when, on Nov. 25, 1981, just days after winning his first Cy Young Award, Fingers became only the second relief pitcher in major league history to win a Most Valuable Player Award and the first to do so in the American League.

In his 14th year in the majors, Fingers posted a 6-3 record, racked up an AL leading 28 saves and sported an infinitesimal 1.04 ERA. Utilizing his fastball and sharp slider, he struck out 61 men while walking only 13 in 78 innings pitched.

Fingers was especially dominant in the second half of the ’81 season. After the Brewers got off to a lackluster start, the club rallied, emerging as second half champions and climbing to first place in the AL East.

11-25-09-Bielefeld_Chart.jpg“He’s the type of pitcher who has command of all of his pitches,” said former Brewers skipper Rene Lachemann, who managed Fingers in 1984. “He knows he’s going to get [batters] out. He gives me a lot of confidence when he’s out there.”

While the 1981 Brewers would ultimately lose in the AL Division Series, Fingers was no stranger to October success. In his career, he pitched in 16 World Series games – winning three consecutive titles with the Athletics from 1972-74.

When Fingers retired in 1985, he was the all-time saves king with 341. Today, he is 10th on the all-time list.

Fingers, along with his famed handlebar mustache, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992. Shortly after his enshrinement in Cooperstown, the Brewers retired No. 34 – Fingers’ jersey number – to commemorate his four-year tenure with the team and his MVP accomplishment.

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

Postseason drama

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

On Tuesday, the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins met in the 12th tie-breaker play-in in major league history. The 12-inning affair also matched Game Seven of the 1924 World Series for the second-longest elimination game in major league history, a game in which 12 Hall of Famers saw on-field action.

10-9-09-Berowski_Gomez.jpgTuesday night’s game ended in dramatic fashion when Tigers closer Fernando Rodney, pitching in his fourth inning (something unheard of for a closer in this era), gave up the game-winning hit. Alexi Casilla, hitting a major league low .202 in 2009 for batters with more than 200 at-bats, drove a single to right allowing the speedy Carlos Gomez, the primary piece of the 2008 Johan Santana trade, to score the winning run from second base and secure the AL Central title for the Twins. This Tigers loss also marked the fifth time since 1900 that a team lead by as many as seven games in September and lost the lead, ultimately missing the post-season. The other teams to suffer the same fate as the Tigers: the 1934 Giants, the 1938 Pirates, the 1964 Phillies and the 2007 Mets.

The 1924 World Series between the New York Giants and the franchise that is today known as the Minnesota Twins – the Washington Senators – would take all seven games to decide. Eight future Hall of Famers competed for the Giants that day while the Senators fielded four, including Game Seven’s winning pitcher, Walter Johnson.

10-9-09-Berowski_Johnson.jpgAlready 0-2 in the Series, The Big Train played a pivotal role in this game from the time he entered in relief in the 9th inning, striking out five and allowing only three base hits until the game’s end. With one out and nobody on in the bottom of the 12th, Giants backstop Hank Gowdy dropped a foul pop-up by his Senators counterpart, Muddy Ruel. Ruel took full advantage of his second chance, driving a double to left field. Johnson was up next and he too reached base, on an error committed by future Hall of Fame shortstop Travis Jackson. Instead of a three-up, three-down inning, runners were now on first and second with one out. Light-hitting Earl McNeely, batting only .192 in the Series and already 0-for-5 in the game, proved the unlikely hero, doubling home the winning run.

Incidentally, the record for most innings played in an MLB elimination game – where both teams could be eliminated – is 13, when the Colorado Rockies defeated the San Diego Padres to become the 2007 National League Wild Card winner.

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

Sept. 23, 1984: Anderson becomes first skipper with 100-win seasons in both leagues

Lawrence_90.jpgBy  Thomas Lawrence

Sparky Anderson had a knack for making good teams better. The result was four 100-win seasons – and a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Twenty-five years ago today, on Sept. 23, 1984, Anderson’s eventual world champion Detroit Tigers won their 100th game of the season. Not only did this give Anderson his fourth 100-win season, but it also made him the first manager to do so in both leagues. Since then, Whitey Herzog and Tony La Russa have joined that exclusive club.

9-23-09-Lawrence_Anderson.jpgSparky did it with the 1970 Cincinnati Reds the first time, and led the Reds to 100 wins twice more (1975 and 1976) before bringing his winning ways to the Motor City.

“Sparky’s got style and charisma…” said his former outfielder Champ Summers, who played for him in both Cincinnati and Detroit, “…and knows how to manage and get the best out of his players.”

Against the Yankees on that September day in 1984, Anderson’s Tigers pulled out a 4-1 win led by a six-inning, scoreless performance by starter Jack Morris. The win was Morris’ 19th and final regular-season win of his 1984 All-Star campaign.

Solo homers by third baseman Marty Castillo and slugging right fielder Kirk Gibson also helped Detroit’s cause.

9-23-09-Lawrence_Chart.jpgIt was Anderson’s 1,338th win out of an eventual 2,194, which is sixth all-time behind current titans Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, as well as John McGraw and all-time leader Connie Mack. When Anderson retired, he was third on the all-time wins list.

In his years as skipper, Anderson took home five league pennants, three World Series rings and two Manager of the Year awards – with the 1984 and 1987 Tigers.

Anderson retired after the 1995 season and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000.

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

New acquisition helps tell story of replacement players

Cox_90.jpgBy Matt Cox

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum tells the story of the greatest players to ever take the field. But the Museum is also dedicated to preserving the entire history of the National Pastime.

That’s where a recent donation comes in.

8-31-09-Cox_ReplacementBall.jpgBy early 1995, the stalemate between players and Major League Baseball, which led to the cancellation of over 900 baseball games during the 1994 season, was threatening the start of a new season. Teams recruited replacement players from outside the Major League Baseball Players Association to prepare for the scheduled campaign.

The introduction of replacement players created a division among fans, the media and others associated with the game. Some saw the strikebreakers as ushering in what then sports commentator Keith Olbermann called, “a post-apocalyptic nuclear vision of baseball,” while to others it was simply players trying to fulfill boyhood dreams. Despite the controversy, most replacement players never played a major league game. Federal judge Sonia Sotomayor, who was recently appointed to the United States Supreme Court, issued a preliminary injunction against Major League Baseball and the strike ended on April 2, 1995, one day before the start of the season.

Even though the 1995 season would see the return of Major League Players Association members before a regular season game was played, history was still made.

8-31-09-Cox_Runnells.jpgThis baseball was signed by members of the Detroit Tigers replacement team during spring training 1995. Spring training that year was particularly chaotic as more players were brought in for tryouts than usual and many used fake names to avoid harassment from disgruntled fans. Among the 19 signatures on the ball is that of Tom Runnells, the interim manager for the Tigers. Runnells, who had previously managed the Montreal Expos, was the manager for Detroit’s Triple-A team, the Toledo Mud Hens. When Tigers manager Sparky Anderson refused to work with replacement players, Runnells was called up to the big leagues. When the strike ended, he went back to managing minor league teams, but has recently made it back to the majors as bench coach for the Colorado Rockies.

The ball was donated by Karen and John Schenkenfelder, who received it from Willy Finnegan, a business associate who quit his job as a bond trader to play for the Tigers. Finnegan was a pitcher for University of Nevada-Las Vegas and a handful of minor league teams in the 1980s, but never played for a major league club. Then in 1995, the Tigers invited the 35-year-old Finnegan to spring training as a replacement player. Finnegan jumped at the opportunity – and fondly remembers the younger players calling him “Pops” and having a cup of coffee with Hall of Famer Al Kaline on his first day in camp.

The stories to be preserved are not always milestones or records to be documented in Cooperstown. This particular ball will be a useful tool in examining labor issues and the relationship between fans and ballplayers. It will be on display this fall in the new acquisitions case, located in the Cooperstown Room here at the Hall of Fame.

Matt Cox was a curatorial intern in the Class of 2009 Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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