Results tagged ‘ ESPN ’

Carter was truly an All-Star

By Craig Muder

It was the summer of my discontent, when baseball stopped.

For almost two months in 1981, I slept on the couch in our den – seemingly uprooted from my bed due to the cataclysmic work stoppage that rocked the National Pastime. I woke up each day and flipped on the TV (we had no access to ESPN back then, so it was the national networks) to see if the strike had ended.

Finally, on July 31, it was over. The season would resume after 713 games were canceled. And it would start with the All-Star Game in Cleveland.

On August 9, baseball returned before 72,086 fans at Cleveland Stadium. Gary Carter was the hero.

Carter’s two solo home runs – one in the fifth that tied the game at one and another in the seventh that cut the American League’s lead to 4-3 – helped the National League prevail 5-4.

More importantly, it showed that baseball was stronger than any work stoppage.

I cheered for Gary Carter that day and his performance was rewarded with the All-Star Game MVP Award.

That season Carter’s Expos made their lone playoff appearance, thanks in large part to the Kid. Three years later, during one of the best seasons of his career – hitting .294 with 27 homers and a league leading 106 RBIs – Carter would again earn the All-Star Game MVP Award with another key home run.

To date, Carter is one of four players to receive the honor, joining Willie Mays, Steve Garvey and Cal Ripken.

He made baseball a better game – and the world a better place. He will be missed.

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

He got the message

By Craig Muder

Barry Larkin discovered exactly what it means to be a Hall of Famer Monday afternoon.

“I got the call to say I had been elected,” Larkin said. “And the next thing I knew I had 400 text messages to respond to. I’m down to 298 now.”

It will take Larkin weeks to respond to all the congratulatory notes he received after becoming the 24th shortstop elected to the Hall of Fame. His phone was filled with messages from ESPN co-workers like Karl Ravech and former teammates like Hall of Famer Tony Perez.

But the one message that almost didn’t get through belonged to a special fan.

“My daughter told me someone had called for me… She said it was Ben or Bub…,” Larkin said. “I said: ‘You mean Bud? Bud Selig?’ I couldn’t believe the Commissioner took time to call.

“It’s wonderful how many people have called or sent messages. You just can’t believe the outpouring of support.”

The incredibly humble Larkin is a favorite throughout the baseball community for his skill on the field and character off it. Few generate the universally positive reaction he draws, and it seems all of Cincinnati is celebrating the election of their hometown hero.

The Class of 2012 couldn’t be classier.

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

Van Gundys’ Visit

By Bill Francis

Despite the fact that Stan and Jeff Van Gundy have made their names in basketball, the brothers’ affection for a game that uses a much smaller ball was evident with their visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Wednesday.

“We’ve been meaning to come here for awhile,” said Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, who also brought with him his 16-year-old son Michael. “With work schedules and we both have families and other things around it was hard, but finally Jeff just said, ‘Get a date and I’ll go,’ so we came up with a date.”

While Stan was making his first visit to Cooperstown, Jeff Van Gundy, who coached the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets prior to his current gig broadcasting the NBA for ABC/ESPN, thinks he might have come years ago, adding, “I think I was here before once when I was in high school but now I’m not totally clear.”

But what was clear was how much the siblings were enjoying their Hall of Fame visit.

“It’s just unbelievable,” Stan Van Gundy said. “We’ve been baseball fans since we were little kids and been meaning to come here for years and years and years. It’s incredible how much stuff is here and how much history is here. You really feel connected to it. There’s just an overwhelming amount of … things.”

With a father who was a basketball coach, the Van Gundy brothers were exposed to that game from an early age. But as Stan explained, baseball brought with it a special family dynamic.

“We’re all involved in basketball and so we weren’t really together at a lot of games. We were watching my dad’s team or watching Jeff play a game or watching me play a game or whatever, but baseball’s something you can do together,” Stan said. “And it’s been the same way with me and my son. He may come to my games or I might go to his games but we’re rarely at a basketball game together. Baseball we can share. It’s a family experience. I remember going to baseball games with my family, so I think that’s been a big part of it.”

For Jeff Van Gundy, an A’s fan whose family lived in the Bay area in the 1970s, an early baseball memory comes from the 1972 World Series between Oakland pitcher Rollie Fingers and Reds batter Johnny Bench.

“I still remember vividly (A’s manager) Dick Williams walking out to the mound and calling for an intentional walk and they throw the strike. It was one of the great memories of my life,” Jeff said. “And I can still remember that we used to go out for a dollar and sit in the bleachers (in Oakland).”

Having lived in Florida for many years, Stan Van Gundy now roots for the Marlins.

“The 2003 World Series with the Marlins, we were living in Miami and got to know some of those guys,” Stan said. “And probably my biggest baseball memory is Jeff Conine throwing J.T. Snow out at home plate in the first round of the playoffs. The only time a play at the plate ended a series. And J.T. Snow tries to run Pudge Rodriguez over and he comes up with the ball.

“Baseball’s so many memories for all of us. And to be here, where there’s memories from the entire history of the game… It’s really overwhelming.”

While the National Football League settled its lockout this week, the National Baseball Association is currently embroiled on one of its own. When asked for their thoughts on the current impasse, Stan Van Gundy politely demurred, explaining that he could be fined by the league for making a comment. But brother Jeff was under no restrictions.

“I think it’ll work out eventually,” Jeff said. “Obviously it’ll involve compromise, the owners will win, and it will start late. And it will harm everybody and everything. What’s always forgotten in these is the person who is just striving to live paycheck to paycheck and gotten laid off. That’s the unfortunate thing about all these things. We talk about what’s in it for the owners or for the players but we often forget so many of the other people that are impacted by these types of lockouts.”

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

Sweet music

By Craig Muder

It was the day before Induction Sunday, so this moment in the first-base dugout at Doubleday Field was a rare chance to sit down.

One-hundred yards away, the Hall of Fame Awards Presentation was just getting started. On the stage was Terry Cashman, telling the assembled crowd about how he came to write his classic piece of baseball nostalgia “Talkin’ Baseball (Willie, Mickey and The Duke).”

I was tired, I was hot (Saturday featured another day of 90-plus degree temperatures in Cooperstown) and I was thinking about the next item on my to-do list.

And then Terry Cashman started to sing.

The Whiz Kids had won it; Bobby Thomson had done it; and Yogi read the comics all the while…

I have never felt tears well up that quickly.

We’re talking baseball; Kluszewski, Campanella…

Suddenly, it was 1981 all over again. I was 12 years old, in love with this game and its history, and Terry Cashman was signing to me. I decoded each line of the song like it was a treasure.

Talkin’ baseball; The Man and Bobby Feller…

The first time I heard that song, I knew there were kindred spirits out there. Others felt the same love, and Cashman had captured that feeling. In the days before the internet and when ESPN was in its infancy, the song was a unifying force.

The Scooter, The Barber and the Newk; They knew them all from Boston to Dubuque…

All the controversies, trials and quibbling, it’s all just background noise. This game can still be perfect; and the memory of it can still make me cry.

It was all on display this weekend in Cooperstown.

Especially Willie, Mickey and The Duke…

Thank you, Terry, for giving us fans our piece of history. And thank you for coming to Cooperstown.

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

Glanville’s journey

By Samantha Carr

Growing up playing Strat-O-Matic, waffle ball and stick ball, Doug Glanville learned to love the game of baseball from his brother.

“I give a lot of credit to my brother for teaching me the game and developing a passion for the game that I still have today,” said Glanville.

With his slight frame and athletic build, fans could easily believe that this was the same player who stole 168 bases during his nine-year major league career. Glanville will show off that speed when he takes the field along with six Hall of Famers and 20 other former major leaguers for the Hall of Fame Classic on Sunday.

But on Friday, fans got to listen to Glanville share stories from his life and career that are written in his book, The Game from Where I Stand: A Ballplayer’s Inside View during an Authors’ Series event at the Hall of Fame.

Glanville, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with an engineering degree which he finished up after being drafted his junior year of college, currently writes a column for the New York Times called “Heading Home,” works for ESPN and is on the Executive Board of Athletes Against Drugs. He played for the Cubs, Phillies and Rangers from 1996-2004.

“Heading Home” was really a human column that gained a lot of positive feedback and sparked the book deal. The book focuses on real elements like Glanville playing through his father’s illness and the transition that ballplayers make when they finish their career and go back to the real world.

“That transition is the moment you realize the game is no longer an option, or you choose to make a change form what everyone around you knows you for,” said Glanville. “I like to say it is when chasing the dream becomes running from the nightmare. And for ballplayers retirement happens at like 34 or 35, so they have to mature a lot faster in a kid’s game.”

Glanville has successfully made that transition. He will be chasing around his 3-year-old at home when he hears from friends that are still in the game.

“My challenges are a little different from Jimmy Rollins – who is trying to hit a slider,” he said.

Now, Glanville wants to see the human element come back to baseball. And on Father’s Day, he will entertain the crowd with his skills for families to enjoy.

“My goal is to share my human experience. So inspire people by being human,” he said. “That is the best thing about this game, you don’t have to be a superhero to play it – it can give everyone possibility.”

Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Splitt’s perfect delivery never wavered

By Trevor Hayes

Sports are a distraction and escapism from the world. But they can teach us, too. Athletes show us what it means to do out best and serve as role models for ideals like character, courage, perseverance and dedication.

Wednesday morning when I got to work, a co-worker informed me that Paul Splittorff had passed away. I wasn’t shocked, but I am still deeply saddened. Nine days ago, the Royals announced that the longtime broadcaster and club leader in victories had oral cancer and melanoma.

There’s no way I can write something better or more comprehensive about the passing of Splittorff than what the fine folks at the Kansas City Star and with the Royals have already produced.

What I can say is that it was a pleasure to have Splitt in my life and relate what he meant to me. I worked for the Royals in 2007 and 2008 and got the chance to meet the “Ole Lefthander” a few times. Unfortunately, in 2008 when I worked in the press box, he was taking a hiatus from broadcasting after an illness robbed him of his voice. During the 2008 Big 12 basketball season, Splitt – who called it all from Royals baseball to college basketball and high school football – was forced to take a break from broadcasting due to a virus that also caused him to lose weight.

Ever determined – a trait that he exhibited from day one in the Royals organization – he worked his way back to the booth and was doing analysis on Opening Day in 2009. His speech slurred and voice shaky, he left the team during the middle of an early season road trip. It was too much, too soon. Ultimately, he never fully returned to his year-round second career, but he was always working to get there.

Last season he worked mostly on pre- and post-game shows, which I unfortunately couldn’t see living out of the K.C. market. Even up to the announcement of his battle with cancer on May 16, Splitt was still working – almost 27 years after moving seamlessly from the field to the booth.

He retired in July 1984 – I was born in November of that year – to make room for the Royals young staff to grow despite earning a spot on the team with a club high 13 wins the season before. He was a workhorse. A career .537 win percentage and 166 victories with a 3.81 ERA and 88 complete games – his numbers aren’t flashy. In 1990 he didn’t receive a vote from the BBWAA for Hall of Fame election – but he is a Kansas City legend: a 1987 Inductee to the Royals Hall of Fame, the team’s first 20-game winner and its leader in victories since 1975.

The closest I ever came to seeing him pitch is from video highlights and that ESPN miniseries “The Bronx is Burning” from a years back. A generation older friends and family can tell me all about his dominance on the mound and the numerous memorable matchups with the hated Yankees in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

I joined the Splittorff bandwagon in 1993 when my family moved to Kansas City – nine years after his 14-season playing career came to a close. K.C.’s Ford C. Frick Award winner, Denny Mathews, never broadcast on TV much and as a typical kid growing up in the 1990s, I watched more TV than was good for me – which included hours of Royals baseball. So maybe more so than Denny, Splitt’s voice and a combination of Dave Armstrong, Bob Davis and Fred White formed the soundtrack to my childhood summers.

People always say they feel like their favorite team’s broadcasters are like family because they feel like they spend so much time with them. Splitt was drafted in 1968 before the team ever played a game, transitioned to broadcasting immediately after his retirement in 1984 and was still on Royals TV broadcasts this season. Kansas City – myself included –spent a lot of time with Splitt.

So to the three Paul Splittorffs I know – the one with the high-leg kick, coke-bottle lenses and pinpoint accuracy from old highlights; the one whose voice is the background to several nights spent playing or doing homework in front of the TV; and the one who I was humbled to meet as I started my professional career – I will always remember you. And more importantly, I will never forget the lessons you taught me with your steady delivery, on and off the field.

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

Election Morning

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

They appeared as if by magic, strolling down the hotel corridor one-by-one on an overcast Florida morning.

At dawn Sunday, it was just another meeting room. But by mid-morning, it had turned into a who’s who of Hall of Famers, executives and media members.

The Expansion Era Committee was ready to convene.

12-05-10-Muder_Herzog.jpgWe’ll know the results at 10 a.m. ET on Monday, when the voting results are revealed. Eight players, three executives and one manager were considered by the Committee – and any candidates receiving 75 percent of the vote will be enshrined in Cooperstown as part of the Class of 2011.

For those candidates, the next few hours will undoubtedly be filled with anticipation.

Last year at this time in Indianapolis, Whitey Herzog was being considered by a Hall of Fame committee. This year in Orlando, Herzog is a member of the Expansion Committee – entering the meeting room relaxed and confident after his inspiring Induction Speech this summer.

“Being enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame,” said Herzog on July 25 in Cooperstown, “is like going to heaven before you die.”

Johnny Bench was the first of the Committee members to arrive on Sunday, and was quickly followed by ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian and Hall of Famer Jim Palmer. Kurkjian later found Committee member Frank Robinson and greeted him with a handshake before the two entered the conference room.

Altogether, the 16-member Committee of Bob Elliott, Bill Giles, David Glass, Andy MacPhail, Eddie Murray, Ross Newhan, Tony Perez, Jerry Reinsdorf, Ryne Sandberg, Ozzie Smith, Tom Verducci, Bench, Herzog, Kurkjian, Palmer and Robinson faced a challenging morning as they considered 12 worthy candidates. But these are men accustomed to facing – and meeting – challenges.

After the meeting, the Committee members went their separate ways. In a flash, their job was done. And yet the results will live on forever – as history was made Sunday, whatever the voting outcome.

For now, we – the fans, the baseball world and the candidates – wait.

Tomorrow, we’ll know. For unlike the Presidential election 10 years ago, this Florida ballot promises to produce a clear-cut result.

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

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