Results tagged ‘ Houston Astros ’

Hall Monitor: Prodigies, perfection and the past

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes


06-11-10-Hayes_Waner.jpgPirate Prodigy:
Not since 1928 has a Pirate had as many hits at his one-year anniversary as center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Currently riding a .302 average, the 23-year-old celebrated passed the one year mark since his major-league debut last week. He had 185 hits, the most by a Buc since Hall of Famer Lloyd Waner collected 225 in his first year.

Rare day for the all-time leader: Ivan Rodriguez has caught 2,322 games – the all-time leader among catchers after having passed greats like Johnny Bench, Gary Carter and Carlton Fisk. But only three times in his career has Pudge caught a pitcher who racked up 14 strikeouts like Stephen Strasburg did on Tuesday in Washington. Strasburg joins Jeremy Bonderman in 2004 and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan in 1991 as the only pitchers to dominate their opponents that much with Rodriguez behind the plate. Pudge’s Astros jersey from the game in which he broke the games caught record last season is on display in the Museum in the Today’s Game exhibit.


06-11-10-Hayes_BanksWilliamsDawson.jpgCubbies and 300:
One-hundred and twenty-seven players have hit 300 home runs in the history of the majors. Wednesday, Derek Lee added his name to that list and this afternoon, Alfonso Soriano clubbed his 300th. Both join an impressive group of names to do so while playing on the North-side. Six other players have belted No. 300 with the Cubs including Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Andre Dawson. The most recent before Lee was Sammy Sosa who the 300th of 609 career home runs in June of 1999.

Boston’s newest Fenway attraction: Two Hall of Famers and two other Red Sox legends were honored this week, as the team dedicated a new statue Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky and Ted Williams. The four were staples in the Sox lineups in the 1940s and into the 50s. All four were All-Stars and all four served in the military during World War II. The lifelong friends and Sox legends had their story told in David Halberstam’s book The Teammates – Portrait of a Friendship. The new statue is a tribute to their legacy and features the four standing shoulder to shoulder holding bats. It is outside Fenway’s Gate B at Van Ness and Ipswich.

06-11-10-Hayes_Stearnes.jpgPerfection and the Hall-aday: Roy Halladay threw the major’s 20th perfect game on May 29, beating Marlins ace Josh Johnson 1-0 in the process. The two matched up again Thursday and Johnson got the win. 1965 marks the last time a perfect pitcher faced his opponent again in the same season, as Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax and Chicago’s Bob Hendley squared off in back-to-back starts. Koufax mastered the Cubs on Sept. 9, and like Halladay in a 1-0 win, but like Johnson, Hendley got the win in the rematch.

Remembering the past: The Tigers will play host to a weekend long celebration of the Negro leagues, highlighted by their 16th annual Negro Leagues Tribute Game, Saturday. The Tigers will don Detroit Stars uniforms while the Pirates will pay homage to the Pittsburgh Crawfords. During the series, Hall of Famer Turkey Stearnes – a former Star – will be recognized with a video about his plaque, which was dedicated at Comerica Park in 2007. Stearnes’ grandson will throw one of the ceremonial first pitches, while Stearnes daughters will perform the national anthem. Former Negro leaguers Frank Crosson, Joe Douse, Buck Duncan, Bee-Bop Gordon, Bill Hill, Gene Johnson, Cecil Kaiser, Alton King, Bullet Moore and Schoolboy Teasley will be on hand throughout the weekend.

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

Hall Monitor: Vlad laps the majors

Hayes_90.jpg

By Trevor Hayes

Last week, on a ball way out of the strike zone where only he could make an opponent pay, the Rangers’ Vladimir Guerrero sent one of his signature bad-ball home runs over the fence. This particular home run came against his former mates in Anaheim, the Angels – the 30th team he’s homered against. And that round-tripper put him into a small group, as only 32 players have hit a home run against all 30 teams.

But only one of the 203 Hall of Famers who played in the major leagues – Eddie Murray – homered against every active team during his era.

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Retiring in 1997, Murray never had a chance to hit against Arizona and Tampa Bay, but he amassed home runs against 28 opponents. Murray’s march through the majors consisted of 504 home runs during 21 seasons. He played 13 years with the Orioles, four with the Dodgers, three with the Indians, two with the Mets and one with the Angels. The Twins were his most victimized team, as Murray hit 44 home runs against Minnesota – with Detroit following at 38 home runs yielded. Despite his long stint in Baltimore, he still clouted six against them. His least victimized teams were Colorado (one home run), Florida (three home runs) and a three-way tie between Philadelphia, Montreal and the Mets (four home runs).

Because the last round of expansion came so recently, few Hall of Famers have even had the chance to complete Guerrero’s feat of homering against 30 teams. Among current Hall of Famers, only Rickey Henderson, Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken Jr., Wade Boggs, Dennis Eckersley and Paul Molitor played in 1998 or beyond.

Of them, Eckersley, a pitcher, had three career home runs, Ripken and Gwynn spent their entire careers with one team – making it impossible to hit home runs against the Orioles and Padres, respectively.

Molitor and Boggs played exclusively in the American League, giving them from 1997 on to take advantage of Interleague play. Molitor played just one season with all 30 clubs, homering against 16 total teams – with one each against the Cubs and Astros and none in 11 games against Tampa Bay. Boggs retired in 1999, playing for Tampa in its first two seasons of existence while collecting just one home run against an NL club – the Expos.

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Henderson homered against 27 teams during 25 seasons with 11 teams. The speedster missed out on the Diamondbacks, Braves and Astros.

Other than Henderson, Gwynn, Ripken, Boggs, Eckersley and Molitor, Murray and Ryne Sandberg are the only Hall of Famers to participate in Interleague games – which means in order to accomplish the feat, inductees prior to them must have played for a minimum of four teams (two in each league).

In all, there are 59 Hall of Famers who played with four or more teams. Of them, 35 hit 16 or more home runs in their career – the minimum number of home runs needed to hit one against each team in the modern pre-expansion era. Of those 35, just seven played for two franchises in the AL and two in the NL: Frank Robinson, Jimmie Foxx, Murray, Orlando Cepeda, Al Simmons, Enos Slaughter and Heinie Manush.

Robinson and Slaughter came the closest, falling one team shy of homering against all clubs of their era – leaving Murray, for now, in a class by himself.

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

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.

Hoop madness comes to Cooperstown

Light_90.jpgBy Steve Light

Spring training is in full swing, but the eyes of the sports world this week are fixed on the college basketball tournaments. While we all wait for the Cinderella team that will make our brackets fall to pieces, let’s not forget that many of baseball’s brightest stars have stepped on the court in college, and even in the NBA.

The most famous crossover player – Michael Jordan – perhaps had a better handle on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament than he did the curve ball. The former North Carolina star hit the game winning shot in the championship game against Georgetown in 1982, but in his one season with the Double-A Birmingham Barons Jordan hit .202 with three home runs, 51 RBIs and 30 stolen bases.

Yet MJ wasn’t the only basketball star to take the field. Another basketball Hall of Famer, Dave DeBusschere, pitched for the Chicago White Sox in 1962 and 1963, compiling a 3-4 record with a 2.90 ERA over 36 games. And when former Celtic, Trail Blazer, and Phoenix Sun Danny Ainge led his BYU team to the regional finals in 1981, he had already made it to the majors. Drafted in 1977 by the Toronto Blue Jays, Ainge made his big league debut on May 21, 1979. In three seasons with the Jays, Ainge batted .220 with two home runs, 37 RBI, and 12 stolen bases. Perhaps spurred on by his tournament success – his coast-to-coast drive with seven seconds left sunk second seeded Notre Dame in the regional semifinals – Ainge quit baseball following the 1981 season and focused on his basketball career.

On the flip side, many baseball stars have found success on the basketball court as well. Point guard Kenny Lofton helped the Arizona Wildcats make it to the Final Four in the 1988 tournament before being drafted by the Houston Astros that summer. Even Hall of Famers have gotten in on the act, Robin Roberts starred on the court for the Michigan State Spartans, while Tony Gwynn was San Diego State’s floor general in his college career. Gwynn still holds school records for assists in a single season and assists in a career. He was even drafted by the San Diego Clippers of the NBA, but luckily for us, chose baseball instead.

03-18-10-Light_GwynnRobertsWinfield.jpgSix-foot-six Hall of Famer Dave Winfield was a standout baseball and basketball player for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Winfield and the Gophers made it to the tournament in 1972 and even earned a first round bye. The Gophers lost their first game in the Midwest Region to eventual national-runner up Florida Sate, 70 – 56, with Winfield playing all 40 minutes and chipping in eight points and eight rebounds. In the regional third-place game, the Gophers bounced back to beat Marquette 77 – 72, with Winfield compiling 16 points and nine rebounds. Scouts so highly rated Winfield’s athletic ability that he was not only drafted by the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA and the Utah Stars of the ABA, but also his hometown Minnesota Vikings of the NFL. He had not even played college football.

As the regional semifinals and finals come to nearby Syracuse March 25 and 27, the Hall of Fame will celebrate the connections between baseball and basketball on Friday, March 26 with a full day of programs, including special trivia contests that test our visitor’s knowledge of baseball and the NCAA tournament.

Stephen Light is manager of museum programs at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

History comes alive

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

Several of today’s stars continued to carve out a bit of history for themselves this week alongside some notable Hall of Famers.
 

9-11-09-Hayes_MusialRoberts.jpgDoubled-Up:
With double No. 50 Wednesday, Brian Roberts became the fourth player with three or more 50-double seasons. Hall of Famers Stan Musial and Paul Waner each did it three times while Hall of Famer Tris Speaker did it five times. Including his 51 last season, Roberts has put together his second straight 50-double season, putting him in an elite club with nine players – including three Hall of Famers: Speaker, Joe Medwick and Billy Herman.

On the subject of doubles, the same night Roberts got 50, the Royals Billy Butler hit three doubles in a game for fourth time this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Butler’s binge is unprecedented. No player has had four three-double games in a season dating back to 1901.

Quick Hit: A lot has been written about Derek Jeter tying Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig on the Yankees hits list. But one note that might slip by is that Jeter is now the fourth active player to hold his franchise’s all-time hits mark. Ivan Rodriguez returned to Texas earlier this season, where he has the most hits in Senators/Rangers club history. The other two all-time franchise leaders for the team they currently play for are Colorado’s Todd Helton and Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford.
 
Doc and the Babe: The Yankees might not like Roy Halladay very much. Most recently he stopped their seven-game winning streak with a one-hitter, but the Blue Jays’ ace has always been tough against the Bombers. He holds a .739 winning percentage against the Yankees with a 17-6 record. The only man better than him (min. 20 decisions) made his name as a hitter in New York. However, as a pitcher in Boston, future Hall of Famer Babe Ruth went 17-5 (.773) against his eventual team.
 
9-11-09-Hayes_McCoy.jpgSlugging shortstops: Hanley Ramirez connected for the 100th home run of his career on Sunday, making him the fourth-fastest shortstop to reach the century mark. At 595 games, only Alex Rodriguez (470 games), Nomar Garciaparra (491) and Hall of Famer Ernie Banks (500) got there faster.

Goodbye to the Real McCoy: Longtime Reds beat writer Hal McCoy will be honored Wednesday prior to Cincinnati’s game against the Astros. The 2002 J.G. Taylor Spink winner announced earlier this season he will be retiring after 37 years covering the Reds. As a special treat, McCoy’s paper, Dayton Daily News, is sponsoring half-price tickets to the game.

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

Former big leaguer Pankovits relishes time in Cooperstown

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

It’s not uncommon for someone to walk into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center requesting to look at a clipping or photo file on a favorite player. But rarely does someone walk in the door whose adult life is on file.

Such was the case Friday afternoon when former big league player Jim Pankovits stopped by as part of a larger visit. Pankovits is in his first year managing the New York-Penn League’s Tri-City ValleyCats, a short-season Single-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, and before Friday’s scheduled game against the Oneonta Tigers he and his team made a trip to Cooperstown.

8-1-09-Francis_Pankovits.jpg“I’d imagine most every team that comes in town to play the Tigers tries to make a trip over here and this was our only opportunity,” Pankovits said. “I think knowing the history of the game is very important for the players in their appreciation of what they’re doing and what they’re trying to achieve.”

According to Pankovits, his roster consists of about a half dozen Latin American players as well as college players selected in this year’s amateur draft.

“And I know, especially the kids from out West don’t get the opportunity to get over here, that they’re especially excited to be here,” Pankovits said. “We’re very fortunately in that the owner of our team, Bill Gladstone, is on the Board of Directors here at the Hall of Fame.”

The ValleyCats got a taste of what it’s like in Cooperstown in the summertime when they played a game against the Tigers at historic Doubleday Field last Saturday, the day before this year’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

“The hustle and bustle of the town was real exciting,” said Pankovits, “and I think the kids got a real good feel for what it’s like to come here and how special it is.”

Prior to this year, Pankovits’ only previous Hall of Fame visit came in 1985 when his Astros played the Boston Red Sox in the Hall of Fame Game.

“We had a group tour of the Hall as a team and it was my first exposure. I’ll tell you what, I was very excited, having played a long time in the minor leagues and obviously growing up a baseball fan,” Pankovits said. “I was always wondering when I’d get a chance to come back, and I’m sorry to say it took 25 years, but I guess it’s better late than never.”

8-1-09-Francis_PankovitsMug.jpgBetter late than never may characterize Pankovits’ big league playing career. Drafted by the Astros in 1976, the versatile bench player didn’t make his big league debut until 1984. He would spend five years with the Houston (1984-88) before his major league career came to an end with a two-game cup of coffee with the Red Sox in 1990.

“It took me eight years to get to the big leagues so I really appreciated being there,” Pankovits said. “We had a couple of good teams in Houston, one notably in ’86 when the Mets beat us in the playoffs. That would obviously be the highlight of my big league career, but it was a blur to be honest with you. It just goes so fast, even though it was five years. As everyone does, I look back on those experiences with a lot of enthusiasm and thanks.”

In looking back at the 1986 National League Championship Series against the Mets, Pankovits immediately recalled the famous Game 6 that went 16 innings before New York won 7-6.

“That Game 6 I’ll never forget. It seems like I can remember every pitch,” Pankovits said. “I thought we had it won winning 3-0, but they came back and tied it with three in the top of the ninth. Then they took the lead in the 14th, but Billy Hatcher hits a home run to tie it for us. Then they score three in the 16th and we score two and have the tying run on second.

“In Game 6, if we’d have won that one, Mike Scott (who would go on to win the 1986 Cy Young Award) had already beaten them twice in the series and he was scheduled to throw Game 7,” he added. “It wasn’t meant to be, I guess, but it was exciting, no doubt about it.”

Pankovits, who turns 54 on Aug. 6, finished his major league playing career with 318 games played – mostly as a second baseman – a .250 batting average in 567 at bats and a lifetime of memories.

Bill Francis is a library associate for 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.

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