Results tagged ‘ Johnny Bench ’

Van Gundys’ Visit

By Bill Francis

Despite the fact that Stan and Jeff Van Gundy have made their names in basketball, the brothers’ affection for a game that uses a much smaller ball was evident with their visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Wednesday.

“We’ve been meaning to come here for awhile,” said Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, who also brought with him his 16-year-old son Michael. “With work schedules and we both have families and other things around it was hard, but finally Jeff just said, ‘Get a date and I’ll go,’ so we came up with a date.”

While Stan was making his first visit to Cooperstown, Jeff Van Gundy, who coached the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets prior to his current gig broadcasting the NBA for ABC/ESPN, thinks he might have come years ago, adding, “I think I was here before once when I was in high school but now I’m not totally clear.”

But what was clear was how much the siblings were enjoying their Hall of Fame visit.

“It’s just unbelievable,” Stan Van Gundy said. “We’ve been baseball fans since we were little kids and been meaning to come here for years and years and years. It’s incredible how much stuff is here and how much history is here. You really feel connected to it. There’s just an overwhelming amount of … things.”

With a father who was a basketball coach, the Van Gundy brothers were exposed to that game from an early age. But as Stan explained, baseball brought with it a special family dynamic.

“We’re all involved in basketball and so we weren’t really together at a lot of games. We were watching my dad’s team or watching Jeff play a game or watching me play a game or whatever, but baseball’s something you can do together,” Stan said. “And it’s been the same way with me and my son. He may come to my games or I might go to his games but we’re rarely at a basketball game together. Baseball we can share. It’s a family experience. I remember going to baseball games with my family, so I think that’s been a big part of it.”

For Jeff Van Gundy, an A’s fan whose family lived in the Bay area in the 1970s, an early baseball memory comes from the 1972 World Series between Oakland pitcher Rollie Fingers and Reds batter Johnny Bench.

“I still remember vividly (A’s manager) Dick Williams walking out to the mound and calling for an intentional walk and they throw the strike. It was one of the great memories of my life,” Jeff said. “And I can still remember that we used to go out for a dollar and sit in the bleachers (in Oakland).”

Having lived in Florida for many years, Stan Van Gundy now roots for the Marlins.

“The 2003 World Series with the Marlins, we were living in Miami and got to know some of those guys,” Stan said. “And probably my biggest baseball memory is Jeff Conine throwing J.T. Snow out at home plate in the first round of the playoffs. The only time a play at the plate ended a series. And J.T. Snow tries to run Pudge Rodriguez over and he comes up with the ball.

“Baseball’s so many memories for all of us. And to be here, where there’s memories from the entire history of the game… It’s really overwhelming.”

While the National Football League settled its lockout this week, the National Baseball Association is currently embroiled on one of its own. When asked for their thoughts on the current impasse, Stan Van Gundy politely demurred, explaining that he could be fined by the league for making a comment. But brother Jeff was under no restrictions.

“I think it’ll work out eventually,” Jeff said. “Obviously it’ll involve compromise, the owners will win, and it will start late. And it will harm everybody and everything. What’s always forgotten in these is the person who is just striving to live paycheck to paycheck and gotten laid off. That’s the unfortunate thing about all these things. We talk about what’s in it for the owners or for the players but we often forget so many of the other people that are impacted by these types of lockouts.”

Bill Francis is a library associate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Heroes welcome

By Craig Muder

The telltale signs were all there on Thursday.

Former major leaguers Paul Blair and Ron Blomberg, signing autographs along Main Street.

SUVs streaming in and out of the village, carrying the likes of Bill Mazeroski, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan as they arrive for their annual July visit to Central New York.

Fans craning their necks on the sidewalks, hoping for a glimpse of greatness.

Hall of Fame Weekend is here. Let the celebration begin.

By night’s end on Thursday, almost all of the 50-plus Hall of Famers scheduled to return to Hall of Fame Weekend will have arrived in Cooperstown. On the hottest day of the year in Otsego County, the “cool” factor was in full force as the game’s greatest stars made their way back to the home of baseball.

On Friday, the action begins in earnest as Ozzie Smith hosts the annual PLAY Ball Museum fundraiser with his Hall of Fame friends Rod Carew, Andre Dawson and Whitey Herzog. Saturday features the new Hall of Fame Spotlight Series from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Doubleday Field, followed by the new Awards Presentation at 4:30 p.m. The Parade of Legends wraps up a full day of fun at 6 p.m. on Main Street.

Then, the feature attraction: The 2011 Induction Ceremony at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Clark Sports Center. Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Pat Gillick – the Class of 2011 – arrived in town midweek to soak in every minute. In just three days, they will have experienced the crowning moment of their professional careers.

It will be over in a heartbeat, baseball’s best weekend. But today, it’s all about anticipation.

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

Cooperstown credentials

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

When all-time saves king Trevor Hoffman announced his retirement on Wednesday, it marked the end of a brilliant career.

It also started the clock running on his Hall of Fame candidacy, which is scheduled to begin in 2016.

01-12-11-Muder_Hoffman.jpgIt seems like a long time from now. But by the time we reach fifth United States presidential election of the new millennium, the Hall of Fame may be in the midst of a historic run of inductees.

Since the Baseball Writers’ Association of America began electing Hall of Fame candidates in 1936, 44 players have won election in their first year of eligibility. This includes the first five of Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner in 1936, but does not represent the elections of Lou Gehrig (elected by acclimation) in 1939 or Roberto Clemente (elected by special election) in 1973.

Starting in 1936, the BBWAA has conducted 68 Hall of Fame elections. And only once – 1989-90 – have at least two first-ballot candidates been elected in back-to-back years. Those elections featured Johnny Bench and Carl Yastrzemski in 1989, followed by Joe Morgan and Jim Palmer in 1990.

But beginning in 2013, the BBWAA could easily select multiple first-ballot candidates in four straight elections.

Two years from now, the Hall of Fame ballot will feature players like Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling for the first time. The following year, in 2014, Tom Glavine, Jeff Kent, Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina and Frank Thomas will debut on the ballot.

01-12-11-Muder_Hoffman2.jpgIn 2015, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz are all eligible for the first time. And in 2016, Hoffman will join Ken Griffey Jr. on the ballot.

Since the selection of the first class, the 1999 election marked the only time as many as three first-ballot candidates were elected in the same year. In that time, only seven other elections (1962, 1982, 1989, 1990, 2001, 2004, 2007) featured as many as two first-ballot electees.

But with the above list featuring the likes of four 300-game winners, three members of the 500-home run club, a member of the 3,000-hit club and the all-time saves leader, we could see a couple years with three-or-more electees and as many as four years with multiple enshrines.

Predicting the BBWAA vote is never easy. But the talent set to become Hall of Fame-eligible in the next five years in undeniable.

As for 2017 and beyond, consider the likes of Chipper Jones, Mariano Rivera, Ivan Rodriguez, Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel – all of whom are likely to retire in the next few seasons. The streak could easily reach five or six years with multiple first-ballot electees.

Bottom line: Baseball was filled with shining stars in the 1990s and 2000s. And thanks to those players, Cooperstown is going to be one busy place this decade.

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

Election Morning

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

They appeared as if by magic, strolling down the hotel corridor one-by-one on an overcast Florida morning.

At dawn Sunday, it was just another meeting room. But by mid-morning, it had turned into a who’s who of Hall of Famers, executives and media members.

The Expansion Era Committee was ready to convene.

12-05-10-Muder_Herzog.jpgWe’ll know the results at 10 a.m. ET on Monday, when the voting results are revealed. Eight players, three executives and one manager were considered by the Committee – and any candidates receiving 75 percent of the vote will be enshrined in Cooperstown as part of the Class of 2011.

For those candidates, the next few hours will undoubtedly be filled with anticipation.

Last year at this time in Indianapolis, Whitey Herzog was being considered by a Hall of Fame committee. This year in Orlando, Herzog is a member of the Expansion Committee – entering the meeting room relaxed and confident after his inspiring Induction Speech this summer.

“Being enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame,” said Herzog on July 25 in Cooperstown, “is like going to heaven before you die.”

Johnny Bench was the first of the Committee members to arrive on Sunday, and was quickly followed by ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian and Hall of Famer Jim Palmer. Kurkjian later found Committee member Frank Robinson and greeted him with a handshake before the two entered the conference room.

Altogether, the 16-member Committee of Bob Elliott, Bill Giles, David Glass, Andy MacPhail, Eddie Murray, Ross Newhan, Tony Perez, Jerry Reinsdorf, Ryne Sandberg, Ozzie Smith, Tom Verducci, Bench, Herzog, Kurkjian, Palmer and Robinson faced a challenging morning as they considered 12 worthy candidates. But these are men accustomed to facing – and meeting – challenges.

After the meeting, the Committee members went their separate ways. In a flash, their job was done. And yet the results will live on forever – as history was made Sunday, whatever the voting outcome.

For now, we – the fans, the baseball world and the candidates – wait.

Tomorrow, we’ll know. For unlike the Presidential election 10 years ago, this Florida ballot promises to produce a clear-cut result.

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

Hall Monitor: The Final Tallies Are In

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

We’ve had a champion for several weeks now, but with last week’s announcement of the final major BBWAA Awards, the 2010 season is complete. Now it’s time to look back a little and then move on to 2011. During the next few weeks, we should see a flurry of free agent activity, starting with the Winter Meetings, which begin this weekend in Orlando.

Less can be more: Last week, Josh Hamilton handily won the AL MVP Award. Hobbled by broken ribs and playing in 133 games, he’s only the second position player over the last 30 years to play in that few games (with the exception of strike-shortened seasons) and be named league MVP. 12-03-10-Hayes_BrettMantleStargell.jpgIn fact, he’s only the fifth player to ever earn the Award after playing 133 or fewer during a full 162 game season. The others are the Giants’ Barry Bonds in 2003, the Royals’ George Brett in 1980, the Pirates’ Willie Stargell in 1979 and the Yankees’ Mickey Mantle in 1962. Like Hamilton, Brett and Mantle both suffered injuries that held them out for long periods of time, while Bonds and Stargell were slowed by age.

Twice as nice: With Awards Season coming to a close, the AL champion Rangers now boast the hardware to back-up the run to their first-ever World Series appearance. Josh Hamilton’s MVP Award and Neftali Feliz’s Rookie of the Year Award, make them the 13th pair of teammates to sweep both Awards in a year – not including 1975 and 2001 when Fred Lynn and Ichiro Suzuki won both Awards, respectively.

Of the 13 pairs, Hamilton and Feliz join eight others in reaching the World Series. The others were Jackie Robinson and Don Newcombe (1949 Dodgers), Yogi Berra and Gil McDougald (1951 Yankees), Roy Campanella and Jim Gilliam (1953 Dodgers), Mickey Mantle and Tony Kubek (1957 Yankees), Mantle and Tom Tresh (1962 Yankees), Joe Morgan and Pat Zachry (1975 Reds), Willie McGee and Vince Coleman (1985 Cardinals) and Jose Canseco and Walt Weiss (1988 A’s).

 12-03-10-Hayes_CinMVP.jpgIt should also be noted that Lynn’s 1975 Red Sox made the World Series and Suzuki’s 2001 Mariners finished the regular season with the best record in baseball, but lost in the ALCS.

Joey joins Reds’ best: Ten different Cincinnati Reds have been honored with the National League’s MVP Award. Joey Votto became the 10th last week after he denied Albert Pujols his fourth Award, which would have put the Cardinal slugger into rarified air as only the second player to collect more than three MVPs.

Votto’s honor links his name with Reds MVPs like Hall of Famers like Johnny Bench (1970, 1972), Joe Morgan (1975-76), Frank Robinson (1961) and Ernie Lombardi (1938).

Vlad and Texas heaping it on: It’s not a major award, but some major names have been attached to it. This year’s recipient of the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award, Vladimir Guerrero, gave the Rangers yet another piece of hardware last Wednesday to celebrate 2010.

12-03-10-Hayes_Ripken.jpgRenamed after Edgar Martinez in 2004, the list of former winners extends beyond the longtime Mariners legend. Among the Hall of Famers to take home the honor are inaugural winner Orlando Cepeda (1973), Jim Rice (1977), Dave Winfield (1992) and Paul Molitor (1993, 1996).

150 Million Dollar Man: Troy Tulowitzki will be staying in Colorado for the next 10 years and that’s just fine with the slugging shortstop. Not only did he sign a deal this week that will pay him an average of $15 million a year until 2020, but he’s now got a shot to be like his idol, Hall of Famer and Oriole legend Cal Ripken Jr., and stay with one team for his entire career. Of the 292 Hall of Famers, 47 spent their entire playing career with one team. Aside from Ripken, the only other shortstops in that group were the White Sox’s Luke Appling, the Cubs’ Ernie Banks, the New York Giants’ Travis Jackson, the Yankees’ Phil Rizzuto, the Pirates’ Honus Wagner and the Brewers’ Robin Yount.

Hall of Famers around town: Bob Costas brings three more Hall of Fame names to his show tonight on MLB Network. Big Red Machine cogs Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez, will be Studio 42 tonight at 8 p.m. ET.

I12-03-10-Hayes_PerezHerzog.jpgn other Reds news, the team’s annual winter celebration, Redsfest, will feature tributes to Sparky Anderson. More than 60 current and former Reds players will be on hand tonight and tomorrow at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati.

Tomorrow, Tigers legend Al Kaline will be at the Comerica Park Retail Shop. The Hall of Famer will be promoting and signing copies of his book “SIX: A Salute to Al Kaline.”

And as the Winter Meetinsg convene this weekend, several Hall of Famers will be in Orlando to participate in the Expansion Era Committee’s Hall of Fame Induction voting. The 16-person committee will vote on Sunday and includes Bench, Whitey Herzog, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Perez, Frank Robinson, Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith. Results will be announced on Monday at baseballhall.org.

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

Hall Monitor: Award Season Begins

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

Awards, prizes, honors. No matter what you call them, they serve as validation for a year of hard work on the diamond.

First up were the Gold Glove Awards on Tuesday and Wednesday and the Silver Sluggers yesterday.


11-12-10-Hayes_70sReds.jpgRolen along
: Reds third baseman Scott Rolen won his eighth Gold Glove on Wednesday. Now only two third basemen have won the award more than Cincy’s man at the hot corner, Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson (16) and Mike Schmidt (10).

Meanwhile the New Red Machine, which reached the playoffs for the first time since 1995, placed two other Reds among this season’s Gold Glove winners. Second baseman Brandon Phillips earned his second award and pitcher Bronson Arroyo won his first. The last time Cincinnati had more than one Gold Glove was over four straight years when the quartet of center fielder Cesar Geronimo, shortstop Dave Concepcion and future Hall of Famers Johnny Bench (catcher) and Joe Morgan (second baseman) won the awards from 1974 to 1977.


11-12-10-Hayes_ClementeMays.jpgJoining the greats
: Ichiro Suzuki has played 10 years in the majors and his numbers seem automatic: 10 All-Star selections, 10 200-hit seasons, 10 seasons with 30-plus stolen bases, 10 seasons with an average over .300 and now 10 Gold Gloves. Among outfielders, only two men have more Gold Gloves and just three others have received 10 trophies from Rawlings. Matching Ichiro at 10 apiece are Andruw Jones, Ken Griffey Jr., and Hall of Famer Al Kaline. But Ichiro is still looking up at Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente, who each earned the award 12 times.

Carl among select in left: Also on Tuesday, the Rays’ Carl Crawford won his first Gold Glove – and he did it as a left fielder. Over the last three decades in the American League, center fielders have dominated the Gold Glove Awards, with right fielders earning sporadic recognition (aside from Ichiro Suzuki’s 10 straight). Since 1958, when the Award was separated by league, nine men have earned 18 Gold Gloves as a left fielder – seven of which went to Carl Yastrazemski. Over the last 30 years, just four men have taken home the honor. The last before Crawford was Darin Erstad in 2000. Before him were Hall of Famers Dave Winfield (two straight in 1982 and 1983) and Rickey Henderson (1981).


11-12-10-Hayes_Niehaus.jpg“Fly away”
: 2008 Ford C. Frick Award winner Dave Niehaus passed away Wednesday night at the age of 75. For fans in the Seattle area, there will be an open house at Safeco Field from noon to 3 p.m. PT Saturday for fans to gather and reflect upon the Voice of the Seattle Mariners. There will be no formal program, but fans are invited to sign a remembrance book for the Niehaus family. There is also an online tribute page for available at www.mariners.com/dave, where fans can post messages and see highlights of his career.

No. 5 on Studio 42: Bob Costas’ MLB Network show Studio 42, which revisits baseball great moments through interviews with key players and Hall of Famers alike, premieres tonight. The first episode will feature George Brett, who will join Costas in an hour-long conversation starting at 8 p.m. ET to talk about his career. Topics will include Brett’s chase for .400, the pine tar incident, the Royals 1985 Championship along with their rivalry with the Yankees and more. Included during the program will be thoughts on Brett from fellow Hall of Famer and longtime nemesis on the diamond, Goose Gossage – the bulldog relief pitcher who faced Brett during several memorable battles.

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

No place like home for The Wizard

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Ozzie Smith leaned back in his chair and gazed out upon idyllic Otesgo Lake on Thursday. After arriving at his hotel in advance of Hall of Fame Weekend 2010, The Wizard seemed to have a permanent smile on his face.

07-22-10-Muder-Smith.jpgOzzie may live in St. Louis, but Cooperstown remains his home.

“This place is very special,” said the 2002 Hall of Fame inductee upon returning to Central New York. “I’m fortunate enough to come back three or four times a year, and I love every minute of it.”

Smith joined more than 40 other Hall of Famers in Cooperstown on Thursday in preparation for Sunday’s 1:30 p.m. Induction Ceremony for the Class of 2010. Andre Dawson, Doug Harvey and Whitey Herzog will be enshrined then, and the returning Hall of Famers will help thousands of baseball fans celebrate the moment.

Many of those Hall of Famers will also ensure that Dawson, Harvey and Herzog appreciate the experience.

“(Hall of Famer) Johnny Bench always sits the new class down at the hotel and has them just look out on the lake for a while,” Smith said. “He tells them to take time to understand what this all means.

“Coming back year after year, enjoying all the laughter… I always look forward to it.”

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers