Results tagged ‘ Doubleday Field ’

Catch a Moment in Time

By Craig Muder

Less than 24 hours after Saturday’s Hall of Fame Classic, the sun fired up Doubleday Field for another perfect day in Cooperstown.

All that tangibly remained of the June 16 legends game were some lines in the dirt: Bert Blyleven’s spike marks on the mound, the outline of Military All-Star Ryan Hurtado’s diving catch on the left field warning track.

On Sunday morning families gathered at historic Doubleday Field to have an old-fashioned game of catch – a fitting treat for Father’s Day. (Carter Kegelman/National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

The echoes, however, still sounded.

Then, a new noise: The brushing of soles against the ground as parents, grandparents and children arrived for Sunday’s Family Catch. As the gates opened, they walked expectantly onto the grass, bringing with them the aroma of sun screen and leather gloves. Finding a space on the field, they began the ancient ritual of a game of catch.

Fathers and sons, moms and daughters, granddads and grandmas. It was a fitting Father’s Day scene in baseball’s hometown, where generations connect everyday.

Throughout Hall of Fame Classic Weekend – at Friday’s Youth Skills Clinic, at Saturday’s parade and game, at Sunday’s Family Catch at Doubleday Field – the National Pastime brought folks together, a centrifugal force that crosses time and culture. That force is what brings fans back to Cooperstown.

In five weeks, it will once again be on display for the world during the July 20-23 Hall of Fame Weekend. The moment will be for Barry Larkin and Ron Santo – the Class of 2012 – but the celebration will be for everyone who loves baseball.

Thank you, Cooperstown.

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

Birthday Wishes to a Friend of Cooperstown

By Tim Wiles

Happy 104th birthday to Jacques Barzun, one of the most important men in baseball history. It was Barzun, the eminent French-American sociologist and historian who wrote “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball.”

Barzun’s quote has been repeated thousands of times in other sources since he first penned the words in an essay in his book “God’s Country and Mine,” way back in 1954. The book is just one of over 40 that Barzun has written or edited.

Barzun was a frequent visitor to Cooperstown during the 1980s and 1990s—not, as one might expect, because he wanted to visit the home of baseball, but rather because he is an avid opera lover and historian. He was a featured speaker at the Glimmerglass Opera’s annual Gala Weekend from 1993-2003. After that visit, he gave up travelling and returned to his adopted home in San Antonio.

But he certainly hasn’t lost his love of baseball. On one of his final visits, we welcomed him to the Hall of Fame, gave him a special tour, and presented him with a ceremonial bat inscribed both with his name and his famous quote. I was lucky enough to lead that tour, and the photo you see is from that day.

One of his local friends accompanied us on the visit, and remembers it fondly. “He certainly liked Cooperstown, and looked forward to his annual visit,” said the friend (who wishes to remain anonymous). In fact, said the friend, “After he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom…” (by fellow Texan and baseball lover George W. Bush) “…he said something to the effect of ‘Yes, that’s nice, but you should have been with me at the Baseball Hall of Fame.’” Receiving the bat, his friend said, “Thrilled him, as it would a kid.”

While Barzun’s quote is notably famous, it is always truncated beyond the point of its full meaning. Lovers of the small town aspect of Cooperstown, who might just sit on a warm spring afternoon, watching the high school team play at Doubleday Field, will like the full quote: “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball, the rules and the realities of the game, and should do it first by watching some high school or small town teams.”

Barzun’s scholarly books include two on the Glimmerglass Opera, now known as the Glimmerglass Festival. He is also the subject of a new biography, “Jacques Barzun: Portrait of a Mind,” by Michael Murray.

Happy Birthday, Jacques Barzun!

Tim Wiles is the director of research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Giving Thanks for Baseball and Family

By Trevor Hayes

I have post-it notes on my bathroom mirror, my front door and my computer monitor. They say things like “Understand where you are,” “Don’t forget to enjoy it,” and “Be thankful.”

When you work at the Hall of Fame – a place people mark on calendars, plan vacations to and pencil in on bucket lists – I’ve found that I sometimes overlook what makes Cooperstown so special. I think to all of us here, it sometimes becomes just going to the office. My desk is in the basement, away from the visitors and artifacts – away from the magic. So I feel like I can’t always be blamed for forgetting.

If I let myself, I could go weeks without setting foot in the actual Museum. But I don’t. In fact over the last few weeks, I’ve given tours of the Hall to friends. About a month ago it was a Royals security guard and his son. The next week, my friend Keith and his die-hard Tiger fan grandparents. Then two weeks ago it was a high school buddy visiting from New York City. It all served as a reminder of how lucky I am – better than my post-its.

The common thread was family. While my fellow Oak Park High alum was alone, he kept he wants to come back with his father. I’m thankful for my father and the time we’ve spent together here. He had surgery last Friday to remove a kidney that most likely had a cancerous cyst.

Hopefully the surgery will be the extent of his battle. But I know from my prior experiences, that one of the best medicines are memories to which you can hold close. My dad helped me move here from Kansas City in 2008. We watched playoff baseball during our first night in town and saw Robin Roberts during a Voices of the Game event, then toured the Hall the next day. My family came for Father’s Day Weekend in 2010. I played catch with my dad at Doubleday and he got to see me working on the field the same field that was hosting legends like Bob Feller, Harmon Killebrew and Ozzie Smith.

Sports – and specifically baseball – have always been a bond between us. He introduced me to athletics and Boy Scouts. I think he did a pretty good job. I’m an Eagle Scout and worked on the same summer camp staff he did. Now I work at the Hall of Fame after two years with the Royals.

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a few of the other things I’m thankful for are: The fact that I’m in Los Angeles right now with my fiancée and we could go to the beach while it might be snowing in Cooperstown; the Royals – if I get to attend my first All-Star Game in KC next summer that will make my 2012 list; and as a uniform geek the Mets and Blue Jays for ditching black. I’m thankful for a seven-game World Series – despite the Cardinals winning it. I give thanks for the game’s greats, especially my favorite Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig and my favorite Gehrig stat which I try to shoe-horn into every Memories and Dreams, social media post or even casual conversation about him. I’m thankful for stars like Justin Verlander, who can hit triple digits in the seventh and eighth; for movies like Bull Durham, Major League and one of my new favorites Moneyball (so sue me, I’m a stat geek, I loved the book, and I hope Brad Pitt wins the Oscar).

But mostly this year, I’m thankful for my family and for my dad.

Oh, I couldn’t leave it like that. That Lou Gehrig stat: Despite playing in 2,130 consecutive games without taking a day off, when they x-rayed his hands in the late 1930s, they found 17 healed fractures. I’m blown away by that.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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

Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson visits Hall of Fame

By Craig Muder

Rick Anderson has mentored some of the finest American League hurlers in the last decade as the Minnesota Twins’ pitching coach.

But on Thursday, Anderson got to see the work of some of best pitchers in any league as he toured the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Anderson, 54, visited the Hall of Fame with his wife Rhonda and daughter Ashley. The Anderson family has spent the last few days traversing the northeast in advance of a reunion of the 1986 World Champion New York Mets this weekend in New York City.

Anderson made his big league debut with the Mets in 1986, going 2-1 with a 2.72 earned-run average in 15 games that year. He helped the Mets win 108 regular-season games en route to the world championship.

“It’s great to get together with the guys and see how they all are doing,” Anderson said. “A lot of us still in the game keep in touch, like (Braves pitching coach) Roger McDowell, (Mets minor league manager) Tim Teufel and (Red Sox hitting coach) Dave Magadan.”

Anderson’s professional pitching career began just up the road from Cooperstown in Little Falls, N.Y., in 1978 with the Class A Little Falls Mets. That year, Anderson pitched for the big league club in the Hall of Fame Game when the Mets played the Tigers at Doubleday Field.

Anderson wrapped up his big league pitching career with the Royals in 1987 and 1988 after going to Kansas City in the David Cone trade before the 1987 season. He was named the Twins pitching coach before the 2002 season, overseeing two Cy Young Award-winning seasons by Johan Santana and four-time All-Star closer Joe Nathan as the Twins advanced to the playoffs six times in 10 seasons.

In 2004, Anderson returned to Cooperstown with the Twins for a Hall of Fame Game against the Braves.

“We’ve been here before, but it’s such a great place we wanted to come back on our way to the city,” Anderson said. “It’s just wonderful, all the history here. It really is a special place.”

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

A little Kittle history

By Craig Muder

Ron Kittle spent 10 big league seasons as a prolific power hitter, and even today – at 53 years old – that power is still evident in a firm grip and muscular shoulders.

But as Kittle toured the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, the former outfielder with the White Sox, Yankees, Indians and Orioles was more focused on the game off the field than anything he did on the baseball diamond.

Kittle, who hit 176 big league homers from 1982-91, was in Cooperstown on business when he stopped by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for his first behind-the-scenes visit. Kittle had been to the home of baseball previously, including a 1988 trip as a member of the Cleveland Indians for the Hall of Fame Game at Doubleday Field.

“There was no score, and I came up to pinch hit late in the game,” Kittle said. “I told (Cubs catcher) Jody Davis that I was going to hit a home run to end this thing, and I did. But Ryne Sandberg came up in the bottom of the ninth and homered – On a check swing! – to tie the game.”

The game was called after nine innings with the score tied at 1, leaving both Kittle and Sandberg with a memorable moment. But it was not Kittle’s first brush with a Hall of Famer. Passing by a photo of Sandy Koufax in the Hall’s archive on Wednesday, Kittle recounted his days as a Dodgers’ minor leaguer.

“I came into the Dodgers’ organization with Mike Scioscia as a catcher,” said Kittle, who was signed by the Dodgers as an amateur free agent in 1977. “Down in Spring Training, they had strings across the batter’s box to teach pitchers control, and this guy got on the mound and started throwing to me and putting it right where he wanted. After he finished, someone said: ‘Don’t you know who that was? That was Sandy Koufax.’ I’ll never forget that.”

On Wednesday, Kittle took home more memories after learning about the Hall of Fame’s commitment to preserve baseball history.

“I love hearing stories about things that go on behind the scenes,” Kittle said. “And to see all this is incredible.”

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

Heroes welcome

By Craig Muder

The telltale signs were all there on Thursday.

Former major leaguers Paul Blair and Ron Blomberg, signing autographs along Main Street.

SUVs streaming in and out of the village, carrying the likes of Bill Mazeroski, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan as they arrive for their annual July visit to Central New York.

Fans craning their necks on the sidewalks, hoping for a glimpse of greatness.

Hall of Fame Weekend is here. Let the celebration begin.

By night’s end on Thursday, almost all of the 50-plus Hall of Famers scheduled to return to Hall of Fame Weekend will have arrived in Cooperstown. On the hottest day of the year in Otsego County, the “cool” factor was in full force as the game’s greatest stars made their way back to the home of baseball.

On Friday, the action begins in earnest as Ozzie Smith hosts the annual PLAY Ball Museum fundraiser with his Hall of Fame friends Rod Carew, Andre Dawson and Whitey Herzog. Saturday features the new Hall of Fame Spotlight Series from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Doubleday Field, followed by the new Awards Presentation at 4:30 p.m. The Parade of Legends wraps up a full day of fun at 6 p.m. on Main Street.

Then, the feature attraction: The 2011 Induction Ceremony at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Clark Sports Center. Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Pat Gillick – the Class of 2011 – arrived in town midweek to soak in every minute. In just three days, they will have experienced the crowning moment of their professional careers.

It will be over in a heartbeat, baseball’s best weekend. But today, it’s all about anticipation.

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

Special service

By Scot Mondore

One of the things I enjoy most about my job is that the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is fun – and it makes people happy when they are here. As with most museums, our visitors come from all walks of life – including those who are retired, or even in the prime of their career.

I had the great fortune to meet one such individual who is in the prime of his career on Thursday. This young man is from a small town not to far from Cooperstown – a little town called Wells Bridge, N.Y. Nicholas Zorda been to Cooperstown before, visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame numerous times, including as a member of the Otego, N.Y., American Legion baseball team during the 1998 and 1999 seasons. He was a first baseman for the team and had the opportunity to play on historic Doubleday Field.

On Thursday, he visited the Hall of Fame with many members of his family, including his wife Kristy, two-year-old daughter Cali, and four-year-old son, Cooper, who incidentally is named after one of his favorite towns – Cooperstown. He was also accompanied by his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and colleagues – this was not the typical baseball fan visit, but a special visit, because Navy Career Counselor First Class Nicholas Zorda chose to reenlist for three more years in the United States Navy in a little ceremony in the Hall of Fame Plaque Gallery.

Petty Officer First Class Zorda could have stayed at his office and reenlisted, but he wanted to share this moment with everyone who means so much to him, in a place that means so much to him. A lifelong St. Louis Cardinals supporter, Nicholas is a big fan of Bob Feller who also served in the Navy, as well as Stan Musial – an icon of the Cardinals’ rich tradition.

He was happy to be here, and we were happy to have him.

Scot Mondore is the director of licensing and sales at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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