Results tagged ‘ Felix Hernandez ’
By Craig Muder
One at a time, they approached the podium at the New York Hilton. Men of great fame, accustomed to honors and accolades.
And one at a time, they looked to their right – 30 feet away in the audience at the New York City Baseball Writers’ Association of America dinner on Saturday night. And they acknowledged the great Willie Mays.
Ron Gardenhire, skipper of the Minnesota Twins and the 2010 American League Manager of the Year. Bud Harrelson, the glue that held the 1969 Miracle Mets together at shortstop. John Denny, the 1983 National League Cy Young Award winner.
Each told similar versions of the same tale, separated by only geography and time. Mays was their hero, the player who inspired them to what they became.
As more than one said: The greatest living ballplayer.
It was a chance to celebrate the Giants’ Hall of Famer, who will turn 80 this spring yet still elicits kid-like awe from three generations of baseball fans. For many, just sharing dinner with Mays was an experience they’ll never forget.
Mays, however, was far from the only star in the room. The best of the best from the 2010 season received their hardware Saturday night, joined at the head table by luminaries like 2011 Hall of Fame electee Pat Gillick, 2012 HOF hopeful Barry Larkin, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.
It was the coda to the 2010 season, the official start of 2011. In 22 days, pitchers and catchers will begin to report to camps in Florida and Arizona. And the journey will begin anew.
It will be tough to top the heroics of 2010. Cy Young performances by Roy Halladay and Felix Hernandez. MVP seasons by Josh Hamilton and Joey Votto. And farewell campaigns from legendary managers Bobby Box, Lou Piniella and Joe Torre.
But come January of 2012, the magic will return at the BBWAA dinner. Maybe not with the bonus of an appearance by Willie Mays, but with the joy that is reborn with every fresh season on the diamond.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
By Trevor Hayes
Not much is left of 2010 and even less remains of the baseball season. With the Rookies of the Year, Cy Youngs and Manager of the Year Awards doled out this week, two awards remain – the League MVPs. The remnants of the season that was haven’t stopped a flurry of action building toward 2011.
Classic impact: Monday saw a pair of new-bloods honored with the Rookie of the Year Awards. And for the third time in history, both players helped lead their club to the World Series. The Giants’ Buster Posey and Rangers’ Neftali Feliz were the first pair since Fernando Valenzuela and Dave Righetti in 1981 for the Yankees and Dodgers. The first pair was Gil McDougald and Hall of Famer Willie Mays in 1951 for the Yankees and Giants, respectively.
Seven is Three’s Company: Your National League Cy Young Award winner, author of two no-hitters – one a perfect game and the other the second ever thrown in the postseason – is Roy Halladay. The Doc’s second Cy Young shows he is among the game’s elite, but he remains five behind the all-time lead in that category. His team however, just became one of only three teams with at least seven Cy Young Awards. Hallday is joined in Phillies history by Hall of Famer Steve Carlton (four), Steve Bedrosian and John Denny (one each).
Interestingly enough, the other two clubs with seven are also NL teams. The Braves racked up seven with Greg Maddux (three), Tom Glavine (two), Hall of Famer Warren Spahn and John Smoltz (one each). And the Dodgers out-rank all major league teams with nine Cy Young Award winners: Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax (three) and Don Drysdale (one), along with Eric Gagne, Orel Hershiser, Mike Marshall, Don Newcombe and Fernando Valenzuela (one each).
Nine years is a heck of a start: Minnesota’s Ron Gardenhire won his first Manager of the Year Award, and Twins fans think it’s about time. Gardy had previously finished second in voting five times. His teams have won 90 games five times and he is the first manger in history to win six division titles in his first nine years. With 803 career wins, only five managers had more wins in their first nine seasons than Gardenhire. All five now call Cooperstown home: Sparky Anderson (863), Al Lopez (836), Joe McCarthy (828), Earl Weaver (812) and Frank Chance (810). Current Angels manager Mike Scioscia, also had exactly 803 wins through his first nine seasons.
Hot Stove action: While the heat really turns up around the Winter Meetings, a least one big trade has already gone down. All-Star utility man Omar Infante is taking his talents to South Beach while slugging second baseman Dan Uggla shifts to Atlanta. Losing an All-Star who can play almost any position on the field is big, but the Braves may have picked up a steal. Uggla owns the third-best batting average of anyone at Turner Field since it opened in 1997 at .354. Only Albert Pujols and Barry Bonds have hit better.
But batting average aside, Uggla’s best skill is his power. He’s the first second baseman to produce four 30-home run seasons, let alone consecutively. And among the first five years of any middle infielder’s career, Uggla’s 154 home runs are tops. Three MVP-wining Hall of Famers round out the top five, with 500-home run club member Ernie Banks second (136), Joe Gordon third (125) and Cal Ripken Jr. fifth (108). Nomar Garciaparra is fourth with 117.
King Felix’s Mariners vs. Lefty’s Phils: Announced Thursday was the American League Cy Young winner, Seattle’s Felix Hernandez. The honor continues a trend of moving away from wins in the voting. In fact, the AL wins leader has won only five of the last nine Cy Young Awards.
With the lowest win total for a Cy Young winner ever, King Felix and his team set a new precedent. Previously, Steve Carlton’s 1972 Phillies were the worst team to boast a Cy Young winner. While the Hall of Fame lefty lead the league with an incredible 27 wins, his Phillies won 59 games – a .378 win percentage. This season, run support torpedoed Hernandez, who went 13-12, while Seattle posted a winning percentage of .377.
Catching up with the Hall of Famers: Drafted in 1978 and debuting in 1981 with the Phillies, Ryne Sandberg is returning to Philadelphia. After four seasons managing in the Cubs’ farm system, the 2010 Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year was hired to manage the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate. Starting next season, Ryno will head the Lehigh Valley IronPigs as he continues his quest to pilot a big league club.
Stan Musial made news this week as the Cardinals legend was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. The St. Louis faithful campaigned all season to get Stan the Man the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Also, two more Hall of Famers grace Studio 42 with Bob Costas tonight. Legendary hitters Tony Gwynn and Rod Carew will drop by to talk baseball and the art of hitting with the veteran broadcaster at 8 p.m. ET on MLB Network.
Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
By Brad Horn
As Hall of Fame skipper Earl Weaver was known to have said during his managerial career for the Orioles, “Nobody likes to hear it because it’s dull, but the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same — pitching.”
No one could argue Earl on that point and have a realistic shot to win the debate. Consider Saturday’s World Baseball Classic semifinal at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The Venezuelan roster boasted 22 players currently active on Major League teams. The Koreans? Just one. Still, just 20 minutes into the first of two Classic semifinals, it was clear the Korean team had a significant mental edge and a superior starter over the Venezuelans, jumping to a 5-0 lead after the first half inning.
By the time the dust cleared Saturday night at Chavez Ravine, the Koreans swung a mighty stick with a 10-2 victory to advance to Monday’s Classic final against Japan.
Pitching had a large role in Saturday’s contest. Korean pitcher Suk Min Yoon dazzled, baffling Venezuelan sluggers and surrendering just six hits thorugh his first six innings against a lineup of potent bats featuring Bobby Abreu, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez, among others.
Even though the Venezuelan team fell short to the Koreans on Saturday, ending its Classic bid, humility in defeat and graciousness permeated the Venezuelan clubhouse following the loss.
As we in Cooperstown strive to document and preserve the game’s history, the collection of artifact donations from current-day stars as these historic moments unfold is critical to our ability to tell the story in a timely manner for our visitors. We hope to represent all four semifinal teams in Cooperstown from the 2009 Classic through artifact donations from the teams and their players, and Saturday, Venezuelan stars Cabrera and Felix Hernandez were more than willing to help us commemorate this historic event.
Shortly after the loss, Cabrera donated the helmet he wore in the tournament to us. Excited for the opportunity of having his first item in Cooperstown, Cabrera didn’t think twice in handing his helmet to me. The pain was evident, though, in his eyes, after falling short in a quest for the Classic title. A powerful sense of national pride was visible in members of all four of the semifinal teams here in Los Angeles. The Venezuelans are very proud countrymen, and returning to their Major League camps and going home early surely was not their plan on this night.
Also after the loss, the Venezuelan team donated the cap worn by Hernandez in his two wins during Classic tournament play. If one word summed up King Felix in this Classic, it was excellence. His pitching line reads like a masterpiece: 2-0 in 8 2/3 scoreless innings, with five hits, six walks and 11 strikeouts. Opponents hit just .172 in his two starts. If I’m a Mariners fan, I have to be hopeful about this ace heading to Opening Day.
Sunday, the artifact chase continued with an acquisition from the USA. Prior to last night’s game, the Hall of Fame received the bat from David Wright, whose ninth-inning, game-winning base hit on Wednesday night propelled the U.S. past Puerto Rico, punching its first semifinal ticket in Classic play. It will be the first artifact from Wright’s young career to make its way to Cooperstown.
Today, we’ll also solicit artifact donations from both teams in the finals. The only things constant in baseball are winning and losing, but we’ll be hoping for continued generosity from the international baseball world so that these treasures can be viewed for generations, only in Cooperstown.
Brad Horn is the senior director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.