Results tagged ‘ Jim Rice ’

Golf and Baseball

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

On Saturday, I met up with Michael Walker, the senior editor of Golf Magazine. He was in town for the weekend to hit the links and crush a few at the Leatherstocking Golf Course while taking in the scenic and blossoming village of Cooperstown and its three renowned museums: The Fenimore Art Museum, the Farmers’ Museum and of course the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Walker is a Medfield, Mass. native and which is just under 45 minutes from 4 Yawkey Way – the address of Fenway Park and the home of the Boston Red Sox. When I asked him to get his picture taken in the Plaque Gallery, he mentioned Ted Williams, then Carlton Fisk. As we walked through the gallery, I motioned to Williams plaque and asked him if he preferred Fisk over Williams as his favorite Hall of Famer.

5-19-09-Hayes_Walker.jpg“I think for me it would have to be Williams for what he meant to the city.”

Like most Sox fans, conversation about the team quickly steered to present day and the success the team has seen this decade. Walker had said he hadn’t been to the Museum since 2001, so I asked if he knew we had Curt Schilling’s bloody sock. His face lit up. I could tell he was suddenly reliving the 2004 World Series again.

“Has it been tested for ketchup like all those Yankees fans claim?” he joked. “I can’t wait to see everything from 2004. For me baseball has changed so much since I was here in ’01.”

As a baseball guy talking to a golf guy, I had to ask, what’s the allure of golf to ballplayers?

“I think pitchers for whatever reason are usually the best; it’s that pitching motion that is similar,” Walker said. “I mean, (Red Sox pitcher John) Smoltz plays with Tiger (Woods). Pitchers and hockey players are always good and I think it’s because the swing is so similar to what they did in their sport.
 
“It seems like all ex-jocks, when they can’t compete any more in their sport take up golf so they can compete in something,” he said. “You see all these Pro-Am’s and they are just filled with former ballplayers.”
 
Walker told me that he had a buddy who played in a group of four with Tim Wakefield, but he’d never played with any big name baseball players. Then as if to further make his point about golf and baseball, Walker mentioned that he saw 2009 Hall of Fame electee Jim Rice out on the course earlier that morning.

“I haven’t really played with any guys, but meeting Rice this morning out on the course, that was something else.”

The natural question after he said he’d met Rice, was if he’d be back later this summer for Induction? Walker said he didn’t think he’d be able to make it this year, but true to his 2004 dedication, he said there is one ballplayer he won’t miss.

“My brother and I were talking and I think for Pedro (Martinez) – when it happens – we’ll come back.”

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

Rice remains the biggest of stars

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

The hand enveloped mine like a huge oven mitt: firm, secure and warm. I reminded myself not to wince.

Jim Rice remains as powerful as ever, though at 6-foot-2, he easily blends into most crowds. But after one handshake, you quickly realize why this man hit 382 home runs en route to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Rice spent Friday touring the Hall of Fame in preparation for his July 26 induction. Alongside his wife, Corine, Rice strolled through the Museum’s timeline and down into the archives, marveling at the history of the game.

5-15-09-Muder_Rice.jpgIt seems that, in the 124 days since his election to the Hall of Fame, Rice has yet to stop smiling.

“Looking at these guys [the plaques of the Hall of Famers], you remember how special it is to be here,” Rice said. “I never even thought I’d get to the big leagues. So this is just incredible.”

Rice was elected to the Hall of Fame on Jan. 12 in his final year of eligibility on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. An All-Star in eight of his 16 big league seasons, Rice led the American League in home runs three times and total bases four times and won the AL Most Valuable Player Award in 1978.

Yet Rice downplays his own success in comparison to the legends he will soon join in the Hall of Fame.

“Guys like Ruth and Cobb, they wore wool uniforms and played every day,” Rice said. “They were men. We were just kids.”

That “kid,” however, was the most feared hitter of his generation. And someday, another new Hall of Famer will feel the same way about the legendary Jim Rice.

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

Henderson right at home at Hall of Fame

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

With his back to plaques of some of the most famous players in baseball history, Rickey Henderson sat down and was immediately confronted with microphones, flash bulbs and notepads. But if he had been any more relaxed, you’d have thought he was on his couch at home.

Fitting, since the Man of Steal was always most composed in the midst of utter chaos on the baseball diamond. It was Henderson — and his singular baserunning ability — who always made others nervous

5-8-09-Muder_Rickey.jpgHenderson and his wife Pamela came to Cooperstown on Friday for his orientation tour. With only 11 weeks until his July 26 induction into the Hall of Fame, Henderson had a chance to visit the Museum and learn what to expect during the weekend that will be the crown jewel of his record-setting career.

“It’s great to see all the history here,” Henderson said. “I think you don’t feel it until you get here.”

His tour completed, Henderson held court with the media — recounting stories and reflecting on his accomplishments. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in January on his first appearance on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot — garnering almost 95 percent of the vote.

As the career leader in runs (2,295) and stolen bases (1,406), Henderson’s election was no surprise. But the minute the call came this winter, Henderson’s life changed forever.

I’m going to spend the next few weeks doing what I’ve been doing since January: Preparing for Hall of Fame Weekend,” Henderson said. “It’s only going to happen once, so I’m going to enjoy it.”

Henderson will join Jim Rice and Joe Gordon as the Class of 2009 at the Hall of Fame. For more details on Hall of Fame Weekend — including the free Induction Ceremony — visit www.baseballhall.org.

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

Bronzed glove to be golden addition to collection

DiFranza_90.jpgBy Lenny DiFranza

Ever since this year’s inductee list was set at Rickey Henderson, Jim Rice, and Joe “Flash” Gordon, we’ve been planning the exhibits that will honor them. We’ve combed through our collection for artifacts related to the players and discovered some excellent items. But, like most years, we’ve also looked to borrow items that would help us illustrate these great careers.

I have been assigned Joe Gordon’s exhibit, and it has been a great pleasure to communicate with Gordon’s children, Judy and Joe. Their effort and generosity has allowed us to assemble an extraordinary tribute to their father that will give visitors to Cooperstown an excellent review of his accomplishments.

4-24-09-DiFranza_GordonGlove.jpgOf all the wonderful items they loaned to us, my favorite is a bronzed fielder’s glove that arrived just a few days ago. Judy Gordon explained to me that when her father retired, her mother took possession of the glove he had been using and had it preserved in bronze.

We have Gold Glove Awards in our collection and many different items that were bronzed and later donated to our museum, but this bronzed glove stands out in comparison, showing the rips and repairs of an old, trusted piece of leather.

I hope you can see, along with the many other items that the Gordon family loaned to us for this summer’s exhibit, for yourself.

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

A perfect storm

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

The White Sox can slug. Last season they hit 235 home runs, tops in the Majors and 21 ahead of the world champion Phillies. This season, they’ve hit 10 — tied for ninth at the moment, with the Rangers leading the way with 17 homers in this young season.

But Chicago has a fearsome heart of the order with Carlos Quentin, Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye and then Paul Konerko. And their bats are coming alive. Quentin deposited a pair of balls over the outfield wall at Comerica Park on Monday, and it was the team’s first four-homer game of 2009. They had 11 last year.

The story of Monday’s Tigers-White Sox game was, of course, two men making history by hitting their 300th career home runs in back-to-back at-bats. Dye and Konerko became the first teammates to reach a century milestone of at least 300 in the same game, let alone doing so in back-to-back fashion.

4-15-09-Hayes_KonerkoDye.jpgIt was the fifth time in Major League history that two men have reached a century milestone of at least 300 in the same day, and Thome has been involved in two of those events. The others are Mark McGwire (400) and Andres Galarraga (300) on May 8, 1998; Albert Belle (300) and Rafael Palmeiro (300) on July 17, 1998; Juan Gonzalez (400) and Thome (300) on June 5, 2002; and Thome (500) and Todd Helton on Sept. 16, 2007.

Thome, Dye and Koneko have been together since 2006 and are fairly well represented at the Hall of Fame. Dye’s jersey from Game 4 of his Most Valuable Player performance during the 2005 World Series is here, as are the jersey Thome wore when he hit his 400th career home-run on June 29, 2004, and his 500th home-run ball. In fact, Thome came to Cooperstown last August and presented the ball to the Hall’s chief curator, Ted Spencer.

Something to think about as the Sox home-run machine gets its engines turning is this: With Dye in right field, Konerko at first base and Thome as the designated hitter, the White Sox have 1,143 career home runs in their lineup between just three men. Of course dropping Dye or Konerko for Ken Griffey Jr. at the end of last 2008 considerably ups the total. Both Konerko and Dye ended 2008 with 298 and Thome ended with 541, while Griffey had 611 for an unreal total of 1,450 home runs. That kind of slugging is historic in nature.

An incomplete look at some of the great home-run hitting trios in baseball history turns up very few teams featuring a lineup with that much pop. I was only able to find one team that can overtake the current Sox. In 2006, the Yankees had Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi. Those three Bronx Bombers finished the season with a combined 1,269 career homers (Rodriguez at 464, Sheffield at 455 and Giambi at 350). The next season, Sheffield was traded to Detroit, breaking up the unit.

Many teams have come close. Mr. Cub’s Lovable Losers fall just short of their Windy City successors. In Hall of Famer Ernie Banks‘ final year, the North Siders had 1,131 career homers between their three top sluggers. Banks had 512, Hall of Famer Billy Williams had 319 and Ron Santo had 300.

Babe Ruth‘s final year with the Yankees, 1934, was another homer-happy squad, but even they can’t match the Sox mashers despite having three prominent Hall of Famers. With Ruth at 708 and Lou Gehrig at 348, the two sluggers had 1,056. Like many teams however, they fell short of finding a third player. Bill Dickey‘s 62 give the 1934 Yankees a combined 1,118 career home runs.

The 1971 Giants, featuring two Hall of Famers with a 40-year-old Willie Mays at 646 and Willie McCovey at 370, also had a young Bobby Bonds with 100 career homer runs, combining for a total of 1,116.

Eddie Murray played in Baltimore for many years and came back at the tail end of 1996 with 474 homers at the end of the season and teamed with Cal Ripken Jr. (353) and Palmeiro (233) for 1,060 total home runs. 

4-15-09-Hayes_MantleAaron.jpgThe ’04 Cubs had Slammin’ Sammy Sosa with 543, Moises Alou at 278 and Derrek Lee with 162 for a total of 983. That team also featured Aramis Ramirez with 127 at the time.

The hardest part of finding a team with over 1,000 career homers between three players is finding three prolific hitters at that point in their careers. 2009 inductee Jim Rice and Hall of Famers Carl Yastrzemski and Ted Williams all played in Boston and overlapped each other’s tenures, but they never played together that late in their careers.

The Milwaukee Braves of the late ’50s and ’60s were known for their slugging threesome. In 1962, the Braves featured Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews at 399, Hall of Famer and eventual home-run king Hank Aaron at 298 and Joe Adcock with 270 for a 967 total. Four years later, Adcock was gone, but by then Mathews (493) and Aaron (442) had come a long way. Felipe Alou’s 148 give the new threesome 935 homers in 1966.

Mickey Mantle ran into the same problem. He played with Joe DiMaggio as a youngster and Yogi Berra for a long period of time. By 1963, Mantle had 419 longballs, Berra had 358 and slugger Roger Maris contributed 214 for a total of 991.

It takes the perfect storm to put 1,143 career home runs into one lineup. Right now, the White Sox have it, and it’s fun to watch.

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

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