Results tagged ‘ Home Run Derby ’

Getting ready for FanFest

By Lenny DiFranza

Next week, the All-Star Game will bring baseball’s biggest stars to Phoenix, Ariz., for the game’s midsummer classic. While the players seek to entertain fans in events like the Home Run Derby, the Baseball Hall of Fame will bring baseball history to life with artifacts from the game’s greats.

The Hall of Fame team arrived in Phoenix on July 4th so we could get started early the next day. We braved a 110 degree evening to find dinner.

By the following morning, we had learned that the heat wave had passed and we could expect a seasonable 107 degrees – quite a change from the weather in Cooperstown. We spent the morning unpacking the more than 100 artifacts we shipped from Cooperstown.

The Hall of Fame has been traveling to FanFest for many years, and even though we make changes every year, we have developed a regular routine. This year was no different, and everything has gone smoothly – of course there are always surprises along the way.

Fans who visit us in Phoenix will see a Dodgers cap worn by Jackie Robinson in 1955, the year of Brooklyn’s only World Series victory. Diamondbacks items include the hat worn by Curt Schilling after 9/11 through the World Series, as well as the bat used by Luis Gonzalez to knock in the series-clinching run for Arizona’s only World Championship.

We still have a couple days to finish preparations for the video presentations and live demonstrations that fans can enjoy here July 8th through the 12th. Check back for updates about our progress and the opening of FanFest 2011.

Lenny DiFranza is the assistant curator of new media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Stars Come in All Forms

Horn_90.jpgBy Brad Horn

ST. LOUIS — The All-Star Game has come to represent so much more than just the top 30 or so players from each league who are having the best seasons to date.

7-13-09-Horn_Smith.jpgThrough an All-Star Week — featuring the XM All-Star Futures Game, the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game and the ever-popular State Farm Home Run Derby — baseball fans have more and more reasons with each passing year to become immersed in All-Star extravagance.

This year is no different. Before the “All-Stars” had even arrived in St. Louis late Sunday night, many other Stars took centerstage. Hall of Famers Bruce Sutter, Goose Gossage, Ernie Banks, Rollie Fingers and Ozzie Smith were on the diamond at Busch Stadium on Sunday evening. And fellow Hall of Famers Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Luis Aparicio, Dick Williams, Brooks Robinson, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson and Gaylord Perry were just a few members of the baseball royalty out and about downtown and at FanFest.

The biggest star on Sunday? None other than Rene Tosoni, of course.

An outfielder by trade for the Minnesota Twins’ Double-A affiliate, the not-to-far-down-the-road-from-Cooperstown New Britain (Conn.) Rock Cats, Tosoni, who hails from Coquitlam, British Columbia, was pleased to be a part of the World Team in the Futures Game on Sunday. He just wanted to get in the game. But after a 4-hour rain delay, time seemed to be running out as the game reached the final inning — the top of the 7th — with his team down 5-3. 

7-13-09-Horn_Tosoni.jpgThen, in the blink of an eye, Tosoni finds himself this All-Star Monday morning on the way back to Connecticut — with his bat from his pinch-hit, two-run double on its way to Cooperstown. 

“Wow,” uttered Tosoni moments after being presented the MVP Award on Sunday night outside the visitor dugout — and learning his bat would join other Futures Game MVPs in Cooperstown, a tradition started with the very first Futures Game MVP, Alfonso Soriano, in 1999.

Tosoni has never been to Cooperstown, but his bat — brand new, with just one hit to its resume — will soon be on display. Tosoni may not be the best known star from Sunday, but he is the quintessential All-Star among us who represents what baseball can bring you: An unexpected spot in history, on any given day.

Brad Horn is the senior director of communications at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Mr. October is 63

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Clutching the pack of Topps baseball cards my mother had just agreed to buy for me, I rushed past the candy display at our neighborhood market that spring day in 1978 — only to stop with a startled shake.

Like any kid, I had the candy rack memorized: Hershey bars here, Three Musketeers there — all in their usual place. But then I saw it: This square, orange wrapper with the baseball player on it, disrupting the order I knew so well.

5-18-09-Muder_Jackson.jpgThe Reggie Bar had arrived.

At 9 years old, I had yet to grasp the magnitude of Reggie Jackson‘s Game 6 performance in the 1977 World Series. But I could tell this was someone special. And that fall, when Reggie had two more homers and eight more RBIs against the Dodgers in the 1978 World Series, I thought greatness was simply Jackson’s birthright.

But Jackson’s career was much more than those two unbelievable World Series. He appeared in the postseason in more than half (11) of his 21 seasons, winning five World Series rings. He was a 14-time All-Star, and he still ranks 19th all-time with 1,075 extra-base hits.

It is the home runs, however, that everyone remembers: The towering shot that nearly left Tiger Stadium in the 1971 All-Star Game; his third homer of Game 6 in 1977, deep into the black of Yankee Stadium’s former bleachers; that go-for-broke left-handed stroke that seemed to bring out every ounce of power in the man. His 563 home runs still rank No. 11 on the all-time list.

Today, on Reggie’s 63rd birthday, much of that history is just memories. But the aura surrounding Jackson still remains.

As for the swing, it’s still there — though now it’s on the golf course. The stride, the follow-through, the power.

Ping! And that white ball is majestically flying.

Just like it was in 1977.

I never did care for the candy. But long after the Reggie Bar left supermarket shelves, the sweet taste of success still belongs to Reggie Jackson.

If you want to keep up with Reggie, visit his Web site and blog.

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

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