Results tagged ‘ Frank Robinson ’

Hall Monitor: Thin air, busy days and record books

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

Through a quarter of the season, we’re starting to stretch our legs. He’s what’s been historically notable over the last week.
 
Rockie reaching high: Rarified air is where Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez spends his time these days. On Thursday, the Colorado hurler threw seven innings, allowing just one hit while blanking the Astros. The first eight-game winner this season, he commands a 0.99 ERA through nine starts. Only 05-22-10-Hayes_Jimenez.jpgFernando Valenzuela (8-1, 0.91) during Fernandomania in 1981 and Hall of Famer Juan Marichal in 1966 (8-0, 0.69) have won eight of their first nine and posted ERAs below 1.00 since the expansion era began.

Angel all over: An inside-the-parker and the old 8-2-6-3 triple play. Angel Pagan was busy Wednesday in Washington. Playing center field for the Mets, he is only the second player to achieve the rare double feat in the last 55 years. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Phillies shortstop Ted Kazanski initiated a triple play and hit an inside-the-park homer on Sept. 25, 1955 against the New York Giants. Each of Kazanski’s play has a Cooperstown connection. His inside-the-parker was the result of an outfield collision between Hall of Famer Willie Mays and Dusty Rhodes, and the liner he caught to start a 6-4-3 triple play ended the inning, the game, the season and Hall of Famer Leo Durocher’s tenure as Giants manager. The Phils-Giants game was also the last time a team pulled a triple play and hit an inside-the-park homer in the same game. Interestingly enough, the game Pagan hit his first career inside-the-park homer also featured a triple play, when Philadelphia’s Eric Brunlett converted an unassisted triple play to end the game – a moment preserved by the Hall of Fame with Brunlett’s jersey on display in Today’s Game.

A-Rod passes Robby in style: Alex Rodriguez is now cruising towards 600 homers after passing Hall of Famer Frank Robinson last Friday. But his 587th blast was a bit unusual, as an intentional walk to load the bases preceded A-Rod’s homer. The last time he came to the plate after an intentional walk – in 2009 – he retaliated with a grand slam against the Rays in the season finale. The Twins tried it last Friday night and the result was the same.

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

Classic dream fulfilled

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

A defensive whiz on par with the game’s greatest of all time, longtime center fielder Paul Blair fielded numerous questions pertaining to his distinguished big league career when he recently sat down for an interview with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

03-29-10-Francis_Blair1.jpgIn Cooperstown on March 20 to greet visitors in line to buy tickets for the second annual Hall of Fame Classic, the 66-year-old Blair will trade in his beloved golf clubs for another chance to get out on the field in the June 20 legends game. Tickets for the Classic are on sale at www.baseballhall.org or by calling 1-866-849-7770.

During a 17-year big league career, spent mainly with the great Baltimore Orioles teams of the late 1960s and 1970s, the eight-time Gold Glove Award winner and four-time World Series champion was known for his play in center field. But, surprisingly, Blair was a shortstop until he signed his first professional contract.

“I went to my first spring training the manager said, ‘Everybody go to their positions.’ Seven guys went to short – I was going to be the eighth shortstop,” Blair recalled. “They had two in left, two in center and one in right, and I saw (the player in right field) running and throwing and I knew I could beat him out, so I went to right field and became an outfielder. It just came natural to me for some reason.”

Known as the premier center fielder of his era, Blair was renowned for how shallow he played.

03-29-10-Francis_Blair3.jpg“What I tried to do was play where most of the balls were going to be hit. I didn’t play guys like Harmon Killebrew and Reggie Jackson or the big home run hitters right behind second base, but most guys can’t hit the ball straightaway center field out of the ballpark. If they hit balls to center field they are basically going to be line drives or high pops,” Blair said. “The line drives are not going to go out of the ballpark, so what I tried to do was take some of those line drives away. I wanted to be the best center fielder, head and shoulders, over anybody on my team. That way those pitchers would make the manager play me.”

Raised in Los Angeles, Blair was a Dodgers fan but Hall of Fame center fielder Willie Mays of the hated San Francisco Giants was his idol.

“Whenever the Giants played the Dodgers, I would hope Mays would get four hits but the Dodgers would win,” Blair said. “When I was growing up I used to do the basket catch even though I was at shortstop, but when I became a professional I thought I better do my own thing and not copy Willie because if I ever droped one then it’s going to be heck to pay.”

A star athlete in high school, Blair’s decision to pursue baseball as a profession was influenced by another Hall of Famer.

“I guess that came from Jackie (Robinson),” Blair said. “As long as I can remember, since I was eight years old, I wanted to be a major league baseball player. That was my one desire, my one goal, and I was just fortunate that I had some athletic ability.”

Blair became a regular with the O’s at the tender age of 21 in 1965 and appeared in the postseason six times with Baltimore over his 13 seasons with the club.

03-29-10-Francis_Blair2.jpg“Our whole thing, and it came from (Hall of Fame manager) Earl (Weaver) and he was the catalyst of those ball clubs, is that you went out there and you played great defense, you pitched well, and you played the whole game,” Blair said. “The team came first. You did everything you possibly could to help win a ballgame.

 “We already had a very good ball club but then (future Hall of Famer) Frank (Robinson) came in 1966 that really put us over the top. He was that big gun that all the other pitchers had to concentrate on. The rest of us just had to do our thing. When Frank said, ‘Let’s go,’ we just followed him.”

Looking back on his baseball career, Blair says that he is proudest of the fact that he got to play in the big leagues for 17 years.

“It’s a very big achievement for me because that’s something I always wanted to do, and it’s the only thing I ever want to do,” Blair said. “The bonus was winning the eight Gold Gloves and the four World Series championships.

“I was very fortunate being on the teams that I played on. I played on 10 first place teams. Every time I went to spring training I knew I had a chance to be in a World Series. I wound up getting in eight playoffs, six World Series, and we won four of them. Hopefully I did my part and contributed to us winning. That was very important to me.”

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

Ripken artifacts added to Museum timeline

 
Odell_90(2).jpgBy John Odell

Our second floor timeline exhibition at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum uses baseball’s dynasties to tell the history of the game. On Wednesday, we added two items to the 1960s-1980s Orioles case, both related to one of baseball’s best-known players, Cal Ripken.

03-04-10-Odell_Install.jpgThe first artifact is alternate orange jersey worn by Ripken in 1989, a year famous to Bird fans for the “Why Not?” Orioles. That year, Ripken was named to his seventh of 19 All-Star teams and won his fifth of eight Silver Slugger honors as the O’s carried an unlikely, exciting run for the division crown into the final games of the season. Hall of Famer Frank Robinson also won Manager of the Year honors in 1989 for his handling of the young squad, which the year before had opened the season with 21 consecutive losses.

The second item is a baseball with the following inscription:

Happy Birthday Dwight
5-30-82
Presidents should be tossing
1st balls, not catching them
Cal Ripken, Jr.

Batting eighth in the lineup and playing third base, Cal Ripken knocked this ball foul, where it was caught by the president of the Orioles booster club, who was attending the game on his birthday. After the game, he had Cal inscribe it.

Of course, it was only years later that the significance of the game became clear: May 30, 1982 was the first game of Ripken’s famed consecutive games played streak. While everyone in baseball was aware of the streak once it became news, it is only by the greatest of luck that someone managed to preserve this memento from the start of the famed record. On loan to the Hall from Ripken Baseball, Inc., the ball is being displayed with the inscription turned down, to minimize the damaging effect that light has on the ink.

John Odell is the curator of history and research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

The grand game

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

7-30-09-Berowski_LazzeriRobinson.jpgThere are 289 members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  Only two of them have hit two grand slams in one game: Tony Lazzeri and Frank Robinson.

But one day after Rickey Henderson, Jim Rice and Joe Gordon took their rightful place in Cooperstown, Senior Circuit batters launched an attack on several grand slam records.

The Washington Nationals’ Josh Willingham hit a record-tying two grand slam home runs in back-to-back innings. Willingham’s eight RBI on the day matched a franchise high, and it was the third time in National League history that a batter has had two grand slams in a game, the last being Fernando Tatis with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1999.

7-30-09-Berowski_Willingham.jpgWhen Tatis clubbed his two grand slams on April 23, 1999, they both came in the same inning. Even more amazing is that the third inning blasts came off of the same pitcher, the Dodgers’ Chan Ho Park. Ironically, Tatis was one of three National Leaguers to hit grand slams Monday when his eighth-inning, pinch-hit shot off recently recalled Franklin Morales propelled the Mets to victory over the wild-card leading Colorado Rockies.

Alfonso Soriano added to the fireworks on Monday when his 13th-inning walk-off grand slam led the surging, first place Chicago Cubs past one of their division rivals, the Houston Astros.

According to David Vincent of the SABR Home Run Log, the National League mark of four grand slams in one day was established on  May 21, 2000.  On that day Shawn Green and Adrian Beltre of the Los Angeles Dodgers, J.T. Snow of the San Francisco Giants and Brian Hunter of the Philadelphia Phillies connected for bases-loaded round-trippers.

Coincidentally, the only time four grand slams were hit on the same day in the American League was also in 2000, when Ben Grieve, Joe Oliver, Richie Sexson and Jose Macias went deep with the bags full on July 22.

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

A second Brooks glove in Cooperstown

By John Odell

Brooks Robinson was known for his work with the leather. His play at the hot corner set a standard to which all third basemen are compared. His uncanny ability to pick up ground balls also led to comparisons to a vacuum cleaner.

3-25-09-Odell_BRobinsonGlove.jpgWe just installed a new acquisition: Robinson’s 1966 glove, recently donated by the family of a fan of both Brooks and the Hall of Fame.

1966 was a great year for Orioles named Robinson. While Frank enjoyed his trade to the Birds by winning the Triple Crown and the American League Most Valuable Player Award, Brooks was the All-Star Game MVP, finished second in the season’s AL MVP tally and won the seventh of his 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards. Together they led the O’s to the world championship.

This is the second of Robinson’s gloves in our collection. The glove he wore while winning the 1970 World Series MVP Award had long been a popular artifact in the Museum, but it only recently returned from a six-year tour of the country as part of Baseball As America, seen by 2.5 million visitors in 15 cities. That glove was then added to the Museum’s World Series exhibit, Autumn Glory.

John Odell is the curator of history and research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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