Results tagged ‘ Hank Greenberg ’

Greenberg’s Glory

Muder_90By Craig Muder

With 40 Hall of Famers ready to come home to Cooperstown in a few weeks, there’s a wonderful spirit in the air in Central New York.

But thanks to some tireless work by author John Rosengren, the spirit of one more legend – former Tigers and Pirates star Hank Greenberg – has come to life at the home of baseball.Greenberg-Book

Rosengren’s biography “Hank Greenberg: Hero of Heroes” was published this spring by New American Library and is available at booksellers throughout the country. The 392-page work is a must-read for fans of the slugging first baseman, who later became a respected general manager.

Rosengren documents Greenberg’s entire life, which began on Jan. 1, 1911 in New York City. The son of Jewish immigrants from Romania, Hyman Greenberg was the third child of David and Sarah – his name was recorded on his birth certificate as “Henry” by mistake. By the time he reached his early 20s, “Hank” had become one of the most famous Jews in America – a symbol of pride for his race.

Rosengren meticulously documents Greenberg’s battle with prejudice and his own conscience as he established himself as one of baseball’s most dangerous hitters. He brings to life Greenberg’s pursuit of Babe Ruth’s record of 60 home runs in the 1938 season, when Greenberg fell just short with 58 round-trippers. And readers get an inside look at a man driven to perfection – who was his own harshest critic despite two American League Most Valuable Player Awards, four AL home run crowns and four RBI titles.

“Hank was no longer being asked to carry his team,” Rosengren wrote. “He was being prevailed upon to carry his people.”

One of the most influential Jewish athletes of all-time – and a man who inspired countless Jewish children to strive for greatness – Greenberg is often underrepresented in the analysis of baseball’s greatest sluggers. But despite losing the equivalent of more than four prime seasons during World War II, Greenberg still hit 331 home runs and drove in 1,276 runs in what amounted to nine-and-a-half full campaigns. His career slugging percentage of .605 ranks sixth all time (only Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx and Barry Bonds rank higher), as does his career on-base plus slugging (OPS) average of 1.017.

Greenberg was also the first major leaguer to re-enlist in the armed forces following the Dec. 7, 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor, having been honorably discharged from the Army after serving eight months in 1941.

Greenberg was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1956 and called it his “greatest” thrill in baseball.

Rosengren captures all this and more in a volume that brings Hank Greenberg back to life. A fitting tribute to a man whose greatness transcended the game.

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

Memories of Bob

By Craig Muder

The gray-haired gentlemen emerged from the entrance foyer at the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday – and no introductions were necessary.

Bob Feller, their father, could be seen in their faces. And even though it’s been more than a year since Bob passed away, the visit of his sons Steve and Bruce brought the memories to life in Cooperstown.

Steve and Bruce stopped by the Hall of Fame on Wednesday to donate two documents to the Museum’s Library. One was an original scorecard from their father’s legendary Opening Day no-hitter on April 16, 1940. The other: Bob Feller’s original contract with the Indians, hand-written on the back of stationery from a Des Moines, Iowa, hotel and signed by Feller and scout Cy Slapnicka.

“These were both in Dad’s house when he passed, squirreled away in the attic,” Steve Feller said. “We remember the scorecard hanging in our rec room when we were kids.”

The scorecard documents the only game in big league history where all players on one team started and finished the game with the same batting average: All White Sox batters were hitting .000 after the game.

But the contract is equally fascinating. The deal gave Feller a $1 bonus, and provided that he would visit his “folks” anytime he wanted during the 1936 season, plus provided that he could play basketball in his off hours. The deal indicated that Feller would start the season playing for a team in Fargo, N.D., but the fireballing phenom went right to the majors to begin his career.

During their stop in the Museum, the Feller brothers took a look at their Dad’s Hall of Fame plaque as well as others located nearby.

“Elmer Flick – he used to come to my baseball games in Solon (Ohio),” said Steve Feller of his youth baseball days. “And Hank Greenberg – we played with his sons.”

It was all part of a unique childhood with an iconic father.

“These belong here – in Cooperstown,” said Bruce Feller of his father’s documents. “Dad would have wanted it that way, and so do we.”

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

Prepare 4 October in Cooperstown: Detroit Tigers

By Trevor Hayes

While the heartbeat of baseball can be found in Cooperstown throughout the year, there’s no better time to reconnect with the National Pastime than when legends are being made. As the postseason approaches, fans all over the country can connect with the Hall of Fame to get in the fall spirit.

The Tigers’ 2011 resurgence has brought the team’s legends of yesteryear – like Cobb, Greenberg and Kaline – together with the stars of today like Cabrera and Verlander. Tiger fans might not be able to make it to Oakland this weekend to see their team continue its march toward the division crown, but Cooperstown offers a chance to follow along from afar while celebrating the team’s legacy in person.

And there is plenty to see for Bengal Believers at the Hall of Fame. To date, 25 Hall of Famers have worn Detroit’s Old English D, including 10 who entered the Hall of Fame sporting that signature D on their plaques.

While he’s preceded in history by Hall of Fame exec Ed Barrow and teammate Sam Crawford, Ty Cobb was the first Tiger elected to the Hall of Fame – having been a part of the inaugural class of 1936. Cobb, who led the Tigers to pennants in 1907, 1908 and 1909, won an MVP Award in 1911 (at the time a player could only win one during his career) with an other-worldly batting average of .420. He’s well represented in the Hall of Fame both in the Museum’s Baseball Timeline and in the newest exhibit One for the Books. Artifacts like the 1909 and 1911 Honeyboy Evans trophies, awarded to the all-time career batting leader for batting titles in those seasons, as well as sliding pads worn by the former all-time leader in stolen bases, are on exhibit in Cooperstown. Other artifacts from Cobb in the two exhibits include bats used during a career in which he won 11 batting titles; spikes worn during his career; and even a glove used by the stellar-fielding star, who holds the major league record for most games played in the outfield with 2,934.

The Tigers’ 1930s and 40s dynasty has a section devoted to it in the Timeline, marking the achievements of Hall of Famers like Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Mickey Cochrane and Hal Newhouser. From 1934 to 1945, this core group took Detroit to the World Series four times, winning in 1935 and 1945. The ’36 team holds the franchise record by fielding a lineup of four future Hall of Fame players and player/manager Cochrane. Found within the exhibit about these Motown Mashers are Cochrane’s catcher’s mitt; Gehringer’s bronzed second baseman glove; a home run ball from Greenberg’s 1940 league-leading campaign; a cap and jersey worn by Newhouser; and a number of awards, trophies and trinkets given to the group.

Between Fall Classic appearances in 1945 and 1968, notable Hall of Famers like third baseman and batting wizard George Kell, future senator and ace pitcher Jim Bunning and Mr. Tiger himself – Al Kaline – joined the team. Representing this trio in the Timeline are a pair of silver bats awarded to Kell for batting titles in 1943 (in the Interstate League) and 1949; Bunning’s spikes from his first career no-hitter – thrown at Fenway on July 20, 1958; and a uniform from Kaline who helped lead the Tigers back to the Fall Classic in 1968 when they topped the Cardinals to become World Champions. This group is also represented in One for the Books by Kaline’s 3,000th hit bat and the glove worn by 1968 and 1969 Cy Young Award winner, Denny McLain, who in 1968 became the first big leaguer to win 30 games in a season since 1934.

After Kaline retired, the torch passed to veteran manager Sparky Anderson, who after having won two World Series titles with the Cincinnati Reds, helmed a 1980s Tigers team poised to make some noise. In 1984, they won the World Series – and reached the ALCS again in 1987. Those teams have a spot in Cooperstown with Kirk Gibson’s 1987 batting helmet, Lou Whitaker’s 1984 championship jersey, Alan Trammel’s 1983 Gold Glove jersey, and Jack Morris 1984 no-hitter cap appearing in the Timeline alongside a 1984 Series cap from Sparky.

Recent Detroit squads have plenty of artifacts at the Hall of Fame, celebrating their success. Since winning the AL pennant in 2006, the Tigers have generously donated items found in Today’s Game such as: Bats from 2006 ALCS MVP Placido Polanco and ALCS Game Four walk-off home run slugger Magglio Ordonez, (in ¡Viva Baseball!); a jersey from Curtis Granderson, who joined Willie Mays and Frank Schulte as the only players with at least 20 doubles, triples, home runs and steals in a single season in 2007.

Other items within the Hall’s walls include a piece of the Tiger Stadium outfield wall (in Sacred Ground); and in Today’s Game the cap worn by Brian Moehler on April 11, 2000, when he became the first pitcher to start a game at Comerica Park; and the spikes from Armando Galarraga’s near perfect game on June 2, 2010, while first base from the game resides in One for the Books.

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

Hall Monitor: Big Macs, Pitching Phils and a big Hall of Famer Day

By Trevor Hayes

It’s been a couple of busy weeks – sorry for slacking on our weekly Cooperstown Chatter update from around the Majors. It was a great Father’s Day in Upstate New York and it’s been a great week since.

The Shields Sunshine Express: James Shields has dominated the Marlins this season. On May 22, he threw nine scoreless innings and struck out 13. On Father’s Day, he yet again took advantage of the Fish, striking out 10 in another nine innings of scoreless ball. Since 1990, Shields feat of two nine-inning, 10-or-more K starts against the same team has been accomplished just three other times: Hideo Nomo stymied the Giants twice in 1995, David Cone also got the Giants twice in 1992 and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan shut down the White Sox in 1990.

Old Big Mac: For the second time in Major League history, there is an 80-plus year old serving as skipper. On Monday, 80-year old Jack McKeon was named interim manager of the Marlins. McKeon joins the Tall Tactician, Hall of Famer Connie Mack, as the only octogenarians to lead big league clubs. Mack ended his career at 87 in 1950, his 50th season leading the Philadelphia Athletics.

Monday’s change at the top in Miami came with McKeon’s Florida squad losing its 19th game in 20 contests. During the slide, 10 of the defeats have been by one run – becoming the second team to go 1-19 over 20 games with 10 one-run losses. The other was the 1943 Philadelphia Athletics, managed by the then 80-year old Mack.

Master-Lee: Cliff Lee’s Tuesday night start continued his Phabulous, Phanatical Phillie pitching with a second straight shutout. In June, he is 4-0 with a 0.27 ERA in four starts and has a chance to run the table with one more scheduled start on the 28th. Since World War II, only four Phils have finished a month with a sub-1.00 ERA, with the last being Hall of Famer Jim Bunning’s 0.87 in August 1967.

With back-to-back shutouts, Lee is the first pitcher to accomplish the feat since 2004 and just the fourth in the last 35 seasons. Should Lee throw a third straight shutout, he would join Robin Roberts in 1950 as the only Phillies pitchers to go back-to-back-to-back in the live ball era.

Speedy Weeks: The A’s have a promising young speedster. Jemile Weeks scored three runs and stole two bases at Citi Field on Tuesday. Just three other Oakland rookies have put together that kind of day since the the A’s moved to Oakland:: Felix Jose (July 11, 1990), Luis Polonia (June 20, 1987) and all-time steals, all-time runs leader, Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson (Sept. 14, 1979).

Around the Majors: There are two major events on the Hall of Fame calendar this weekend. They’ll be taking place in Detroit and the Bronx.

In Detroit on Sunday afternoon, Sparky Anderson’s iconic No. 11 will take its rightful place on the Comerica Park wall alongside the team’s seven other retired numbers. In the Tigers 111-year history, Charlie Gehringer (2), Hank Greenberg (5), Willie Horton (23), Al Kaline (6), Hal Newhouser (16) and Jackie Robinson (42) have had numbers retired. Anderson will be represented by members of his family, including his three children.

Also on Sunday in New York, the Yankees will hold their 65th Old-Timers’ Day with over 50 retired former Yanks on hand. Among those will be Hall of Fame family members Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Goose Gossage, Helen Hunter (widow of Jim “Catfish” Hunter) and Reggie Jackson.

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

Hall Monitor: Strength, splits, speed and supremacy

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

As we enter the final week of the regular season, the mark that 2010 will leave on the game’s history is quickly being finished. But just as quickly, the marks of yesteryear are being revisited.


09-24-10-Hayes_Dawson.jpgFriendly Confines
: Last night, Juan Uribe joined 2010 Hall of Famer Andre Dawson as the last two players to hit a pair of home runs in one inning at Wrigley. Uribe’s grand slam and a two-run shot in the second helped the Giants dismantle the Cubs 13-0. Exactly 25 years ago today, Dawson provided a pair of three-run homers in the fifth in a 17-15 Expos victory.

Short Power: Only three players playing primarily shortstop during their careers have hit more than 300 home runs. The Padres’ Miguel Tejada, who has played 94 percent of his career at short, connected for his 300th last night. He joined Alex Rodriguez and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. Ripken hit 431 homers, playing 77 percent of his games at short before moving to the hot corner late in his career. Rodriguez – who topped the 600 homer mark last month – had 345 home runs before playing almost exclusively at third with the Yankees, but he’s still logged 55 percent of his career at short. Often regarded as a shortstop, Hall of Famer and 500-home run club member Ernie Banks actually logged more games at first base with 45 percent of his games at shortstop.


09-24-10-Hayes_Carlton.jpgEnding a drought
: The Phillies had been without a 20-game winner since Hall of Famer Steve Carlton in 1982. Roy Halladay snapped the streak when he won his 20th game on Tuesday against the Braves. Only teams that have active streaks longer than the one Halladay broke. Like Carlton, the Padres last 20-game winner was a Hall of Famer: Gaylord Perry won 21 in 1978. The last pitcher to win 20 for the Nationals/Expos was Ross Grimsley, also in 1978. 

Comfy in St. Lou: After Sunday’s win against the Padres at Busch Stadium, Cards starter Adam Wainwright improved his home record to 12-3 with a 1.78 ERA. Rookie Jamie Garcia has been slightly better in St. Louis with a 1.74 home ERA. The last two Cards to qualify for the ERA title with home ERAs under 2.00 were Hall of Famers Steve Carlton and Bob Gibson. Carlton edged Gibson with a 1.92 ERA to Gibson’s 1.94 at Busch in 1969.


 
09-24-10-Hayes_InfieldChart.jpgThree to 100
: Robinson Cano’s two RBI Saturday at Baltimore pushed the 2010 Bombers into select company. Cano, along with teammates Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, have each driven in 100 runs this season. Never before have three Yankee infielders done it in a single season, though six other groupings of players have – five of which included at least one Hall of Famer. The Red Sox have had three different infields with the achievement – accomplishing it in 1937, 1940 and 1950. Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr and Jimmie Foxx were each a part of two Sox groups, with all three on the 1940 team. Charlie Gehringer and Hank Greenberg were two of the Tigers three 100-RBI infielders in 1934, while Lou Boudreau and Joe Gordon were on the 1948 Indians squad which pulled off the feat. The only previous group without a Hall of Famer is the 2001 A’s of Eric Chavez, Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada – all three of whom are still active.

Johnny Quick: Johnny Damon is second player to reach 100 career triples this season. He began the season as the active leader – tied with Jimmy Rollins at 95 – but 09-24-10-Hayes_Kaline.jpgRays speedster Carl Crawford passed Damon for the active lead earlier this season and broke 100 last month. Since 1901, 108 Major League players have reached 100 triples. Of them, 52 are Hall of Famers, while four are not yet eligible. Since 1950, just 22 players have compiled 100 triples, of which eight are in the Hall of Fame.

Mr. Tiger in Detroit: Al Kaline’s book “Six: A Salute to Al Kaline,” released earlier this year, contains over 150 pages of articles and never-before-seen photographs and captures what the 1980 Hall of Fame inductee has meant to the franchise, his teammates, fans and the baseball world. As a special treat, Kaline will sign copies at Comerica Park prior to the team’s final home game of the season Sunday against the Twins.

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

Hall Monitor: Middle infielders, whiffs and luminaries

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

The regular season has just two weeks left. That means contenders are fighting for holds on playoffs spots and the game’s stars are grabbing hold of history.

Torrid Tulo: In two of the last three seasons, the Rockies have pasted together historic September runs and are in the middle of trying to sneak into the playoffs again in 2010. Those successes were in part thanks to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. This year is no different. Over his last 14 games, Tulo has 11 home runs and 27 RBIs, including a pair of jacks and seven RBI during a 9-6 win over the Padres on Wednesday which brought Colorado 2-and-a-half back from both the division and Wild Card leads.

09-17-10-Hayes_Greenberg.jpgAccording to the Elias Sports Bureau, Tulowitzki is the second player with more than 10 homers and 25 RBIs during a 14 game stretch in September or October. During his MVP season in 1940, Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg had 12 homers and 31 RBIs in the waning month of the season. During his spree, the Rockies shortstop tied another Hall of Fame name for a nugget of September history. Ralph Kiner hit 11 home runs through the his 15 games of September, 1949 – the same number Tulo has during his first 14.

Southland Southpaws: This week, Clayton Kershaw became the first Dodger lefty to reach 200 strikeouts in a season since 1986. That year Fernando Valenzuela fanned 242 for his third straight 200-K season. Only one other southpaw has at least 200 K’s in a season since the team moved to Los Angeles. Sandy Koufax racked up six 200-plus seasons, three of which were over 300 including 1965, in which he set a then-Major League record with 382. Just one other 200-strikeout season exists in franchise history by a lefty. Nap Rucker had 201 for the 1909 Brooklyn Superbas.

Cub closers: Carlos Marmol ended Monday’s Cubs-Cards contest with his 120th strikeout of the season. He’s the first reliever to produce a season at that level since 2004, when four players topped the mark. Marmol also became just the second Cub to rack up that many strikeouts in relief, joining Bruce Sutter, who had 129 in 1977. Interestingly enough the only other Hall of Famer to top 120 without starting a game also played for the Cubs. Goose Gossage had three seasons with at least 120 strikeouts including one with the Cubs neighbors to the South – the White Sox in 1975.


09-17-10-Hayes_HornsbyGordonSandberg.jpgUggla stands alone
: Fourteen second basemen, including three Hall of Famers, have belted 30 home runs in a single season. But Marlins two-bagger Dan Uggla became the first Monday to hit 30 or more in four total seasons. In addition, he’s done it in four consecutive seasons – further besting the previous record of two straight. Prior to Uggla’s record-setting power at the keystone sack, Alfonso Soriano, Chase Utley and Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby were the only hitters with three 30-homer seasons. Four men have compiled two such seasons, including Hall of Famers Ryne Sandberg and Joe Gordon.

Hall of Famer watch: Whitey Herzog will be at Busch Stadium tonight. Fresh off his number retirement ceremony last month and Hall of Fame Induction in July, the newest Hall of Fame manager will spend some time with fans in his adopted hometown, St. Louis, before his beloved Cardinals open their series against the Padres.

The Giants will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with their annual Fiesta Gigantes event. Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda and Rock & Roll Legend Carlos Santana are offering a special event before the Brewers-Giants matchup Saturday with proceeds benefiting Santana’s Milagro Foundation.

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

Making a name

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

A few names and numbers from the week that was in baseball:


8-21-09-Hayes_AbreuHenderson.jpgBobby’s World:
With two home runs against the Orioles last weekend, the Angels’ Bobby Abreu became the fifth player with 11 10 home run/20 stolen base seasons, joining Barry and Bobby Bonds and Hall of Famers Rickey Henderson and Joe Morgan.

Last week, Abreu hit his 250th career homer, which placed him with Willie Mays as the only players in baseball history with 250-plus homers, 300-plus steals and a .300 or better career average. He also became one of only six players in major league history with 2,000 hits, 250 home runs, 1,000 runs scored, 1,000 RBI, 1,000 walks and 300 stolen bases. The other five are Henderson, Mays, Morgan, Barry Bonds and Craig Biggio.

Mauer power: On Tuesday night, Joe Mauer collected three hits – including two homers – finishing the night with 25 homers and a .383 batting average. Hall of Famers Ted Williams (1941 and 1957), Joe DiMaggio (1939), Lou Gehrig (1930 and 1936) and Babe Ruth (1931) were the last four AL players prior to Mauer with at least 25 home runs and a .380 batting average through 119 games.

.300 Angels: The Angels accomplished a feat on Tuesday at Cleveland which hadn’t been seen since 1934. A quick scan of the box score Wednesday morning showed a .300 average or better for each player in the lineup. With Mike Napoli and Maicer Izturis, a super-substitute, each ending the night with a .300 average, the Angels matched the 1934 Tigers as the last team to sport that kind of arsenal in a lineup 100 games into the season.
 
The Tigers included Hall of Famers Mickey Cochrane, Charlie Gehringer, Goose Goslin and Hank Greenberg. Pitcher Schoolboy Rowe even joined the cause with a .302 average.


8-21-09-Hayes_Stargell.jpgCelebration:
The summer of ’69 and ’79 are remembered rather fondly in two National League cities. And this weekend, both the Pirates and the Mets will celebrate their good times.

The Pirates are remembering their last World Championship with “We Are Fam-A-Lee Weekend.” Breakout the polyester because 1979 throwbacks will be worn by the Pirates and their opponents, the Reds, on Friday and Saturday and a ceremony will be held on Saturday honoring the 22 players and staff who are attending, including  Margaret Stargell (wife of Hall of Famer Willie Stargell), Dave Parker, Phil Garner, Bert Blyleven and Dale Berra.

Also on Saturday The Miracle Mets will celebrate their amazing World Series victory. Hall of Famers Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan and Yogi Berra are scheduled to be on the field with several other key members of that magic season, including the widow of manager Gil Hodges.

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

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