Results tagged ‘ Gold Glove ’

50 years ago, Kirby Puckett began Hall of Fame journey

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

It should have been a milestone birthday, with friends and family gathered around Kirby Puckett to celebrate the big 5-0.

Instead, it is a reminder of what the baseball world lost with the premature death of the ebullient Puckett – and a chance to remember a player whose spirit will never die.

03-15-10-Muder_Puckett.jpgSunday marked the 50th anniversary of Puckett’s birth. The 2001 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee died in 2006 of complications from a stroke.

In between, Puckett lit up the baseball landscape with his smile, enthusiasm and all-around play in center field for the Minnesota Twins.

“He deserved the best,” said former Twins star Tony Oliva. “I know he was the best.”

Puckett was the third pick overall in the 1982 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft and became the Twins’ starting center fielder in 1984. Two years later, after four home runs in his first 1,248 big league at-bats, Puckett hit 31 home runs and drove in 96 runs while hitting .328. He won his first of six Gold Gloves that year for his defensive play.

“I was nervous when I got to the big leagues, but I was never afraid,” Puckett said. “Like every ballplayer and every human being, I failed lots of times throughout my career. But I understood how to overcome and recognize the true power of learning from failure.”

In all, Puckett played 12 major league seasons before glaucoma in his right eye forced his retirement at age 35. He led the American League in hits four times, was named to 10 All-Star teams and helped the Twins win World Series titles in 1987 and 1991.

In 2001 in his first year eligible, he was elected to the Hall of Fame after receiving 82.1 percent of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America vote.

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

Hall of Fame Eve

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

It’s Hall of Fame Eve in Cooperstown, the day before the annual Baseball Writers’ Association of America election.

01-05-10-Muder_HendersonRice.jpgAnd just like on Christmas Eve, you can bet there’s going to be a few people who have trouble sleeping tonight.

Take Andre Dawson. The leading returning vote-getter from the 2009 BBWAA election (at 67 percent) is on the ballot for the ninth time after missing election by just 44 votes a year ago.

Or how about Bert Blyleven? The curveball maestro received 62.7 percent of the vote last year, falling just short of the 75 percent needed for election. For Blyleven, this marks his 13th time on the BBWAA ballot – leaving him two more chances (if he needs them) after this election.

01-05-10-Muder_ResultsBox.jpgThen there’s Roberto Alomar, who’s making his BBWAA ballot debut. The 12-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner could become just the 45th player to be elected in his first year of eligibility.

How about Lee Smith and Jack Morris, who both received a little less than half of the vote last year? Or ballot newcomers Andres Galarraga, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez and Fred McGriff? All are likely to receive support.

It all happens tomorrow. They’ll wake up and head downstairs with their expectations in hand. But instead of looking for the presents under the tree, they’ll wait for a phone call that will totally change their lives.

If the call comes, they’ll once again know the joy of being a kid on Christmas morning.

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

Gift of gloves

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

10-1-09-Carr_Jeter.jpgFirst Cal Ripken broke Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig‘s “unbreakable” record of consecutive games played. Now, Derek Jeter has passed him for the lead on the all-time Yankees hit list.

It only seems fitting that Gehrig’s records have been broken by players who are respected for their character almost as much as he was.

Gehrig’s hit record lasted seven decades despite having his career cut short because of a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease that would claim his life and later bear his name. Gehrig retired at age 35 in 1939.

“Lou Gehrig, being a former captain and what he stood for, you mention his name to any baseball fan around the country, it means a lot,” Jeter said. “I think passing him makes it stand out that much more.”

Jeter donated his batting gloves from the historic game on Sept. 11 – when he recorded his 2,722nd hit as a Yankee – to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and they are currently being accessioned into the Museum. The Yankees captain has four World Series rings, 10 All-Star Game selections and three Gold Gloves during his 15 seasons in the Bronx.

10-1-09-Carr_JeterHit.jpgHe has six seasons of 200-plus hits and ranks 49th on the all-time hit list. At age 35 and healthy, Jeter has a good chance to add to that number and continue making history. He currently sits No. 1 in franchise history in at-bats (8,593), second in stolen bases (300), third in games played (2,136), fourth in runs scored (1,574) and doubles (438) and fifth in career batting average (.317).

Of the 30 major league teams, over half have Hall of Famers for their all-time hits leader. The list includes players like Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Stan Musial.

Gehrig may no longer top the Yankees list, but his legacy in pinstripes will not soon be forgotten. The Baseball Hall of Fame will honor Gehrig, Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson during Character and Courage Weekend Oct. 10-12 in Cooperstown.

Samantha Carr is the media relations coordinator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Sept. 9, 1992: Yount records 3,000th hit

Lawrence_90.jpgBy Thomas Lawrence

Seventeen years ago today — Sept. 9, 1992 — Robin Yount joined one of baseball’s most exclusive fraternities: The 3,000-hit club.

But for Yount, the milestone proved to be a rarity within a rarity.

9-9-09-Lawrence_Yount.jpgYount, the longtime Milwaukee Brewer, was on the verge of his 3,000th career hit in a game against Josť Mesa and the Cleveland Indians. Mesa thwarted Yount in his first three at-bats – forcing a groundout in the first and striking him out in consecutive innings in the third and fourth.

But when Yount stepped up to the plate against Mesa in the bottom of the seventh inning at Milwaukee County Stadium, the hard-driving Brewers outfielder would not be denied.

Utilizing his renowned baserunning intensity, Yount managed an infield single against Mesa – making him the 17th player to join the 3,000-hit club. He became only the second player at the time to notch his 3,000th hit on an infield single. The first was Cardinals great and Hall of Famer Lou Brock against Dennis Lamp and the Cubs on Aug.13, 1979.

Ironically, twenty-one days after Yount reached No. 3,000, George Brett did the same. Seven years later, Brett and Yount were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 1999.

Yount is still the only player to reach 3,000 hits in a Brewers uniform, as Paul Molitor – the other notable Brewer in the club – did so when he was with the Twins. In fact, Yount is only one of eight players in the history of the game to grind out all 3,000 hits with a single team; all eight are Hall of Famers.

Molitor, a teammate of Yount’s on the Brew Crew for 15 seasons, was mentored by Yount when he broke into the big leagues in 1978.

9-9-09-Lawrence_YountSlide.jpg“In retrospect, I can say playing with him (Yount) for 15 years was one of the best things that was part of my experience of being a Brewer,” said Molitor, who joined the 3,000 hit-club on Sept. 16, 1996.

Besides his legendary career totals, Yount is best remembered for his 1982 season – one when he led the Brewers to a 95-67 record and their first American League pennant.

Yount exploded onto the national scene that season, leading the major leagues in hits (210), doubles (46), slugging percentage (.578) and total bases (367). For his efforts, Yount took home the American League MVP award, a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove at shortstop.

He earned his second MVP award with the 1989 Milwaukee club when he hit .318 as the Brewers’ center fielder – making him only the third player to win MVPs at two separate positions.

Yount retired after the 1993 season with 3,142 hits and 583 doubles – which both rank 17th-best all-time.

9-9-09-Lawrence_Chart.jpgIn 1999, he became just the 34th player to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first time on the ballot.

“I gave it everything I had every time I went out there,” Yount said. “That’s what I’m most proud of.”

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

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