Results tagged ‘ Lee Smith ’

The 600 Club: The Loneliest Man in Baseball

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

There are over 1,000 men who have 600 major league hits, 987 who have recorded 600 strikeouts, 22 with 600 games started, 17 with 600 stolen bases, 14 with 600 doubles and seven with 600 home runs. But only one man has 600 saves.

09-09-10-Hayes_Artifacts.jpgTwo nights ago, Trevor Hoffman created baseball’s most elite club by collecting his 600th career save against the Cardinals. Today, his cap from the historic event arrived at the Hall of Fame, adding to his generous list of donated artifacts already in Cooperstown.

A milestone 18 years in the making, Hoffman saved his first career game on April 29, 1993 with the Florida Marlins. His third career save came in August 1993 – his first with the Padres, for whom he collected 551 more. After 16 years in San Diego, Hoffman joined the Brewers to amass 46 saves en route to 600.

Forty-one years after the save became an official statistic, the 42-year-old Hoffman has become the master. In a few weeks, he will have held the title of all-time saves leader for four full years. After recording save No. 479 on Sept. 24, 2006 against the Pirates – passing Lee Smith for the all-time lead – Hoffman donated the final-out ball, along with his cap, jersey and spikes from the game, to the Hall of Fame.

 A seven-time All-Star, his ascension was slow at first, before he ramped up his dominance toward the end of the 1990s. It took him four years to reach 100. But numbers 200, 300 and 500 each fell just two seasons after his last century milestone marker. His journey from No. 300 to No. 400 took a detour because of two shoulder surgeries, but he rebounded, accumulating 248 saves after not recording a single save in 2003.

Since Hoyt Wilhelm became the first pitcher who was primarily a reliever elected to the Hall of Fame in 1985, Rollie Fingers (1992), Dennis Eckersley (2004), Bruce Sutter (2006) and Goose Gossage (2008) all have gained admittance to Cooperstown. Among the group, Wilhelm and Fingers were once the all-time saves leader. Sutter held the single season record and Gossage for a period of time was the active leader. None of them, however, come within 200 saves of Hoffman’s mark.

During his journey to 600, Hoffman has had history and the Hall of Fame in mind. Along with his 479th save donation, he also sent his jersey, spikes and a ball from save No. 400. In the Padres locker of the Museum’s Today’s Game exhibit, save final-out ball and his jersey, cap, glove and spikes can be found from his 500th. Once accessioned into the collection, the 600 save cap will also go on display in Today’s Game on the second floor of the Museum.

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

Hall of Fame Eve

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

It’s Hall of Fame Eve in Cooperstown, the day before the annual Baseball Writers’ Association of America election.

01-05-10-Muder_HendersonRice.jpgAnd just like on Christmas Eve, you can bet there’s going to be a few people who have trouble sleeping tonight.

Take Andre Dawson. The leading returning vote-getter from the 2009 BBWAA election (at 67 percent) is on the ballot for the ninth time after missing election by just 44 votes a year ago.

Or how about Bert Blyleven? The curveball maestro received 62.7 percent of the vote last year, falling just short of the 75 percent needed for election. For Blyleven, this marks his 13th time on the BBWAA ballot – leaving him two more chances (if he needs them) after this election.

01-05-10-Muder_ResultsBox.jpgThen there’s Roberto Alomar, who’s making his BBWAA ballot debut. The 12-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner could become just the 45th player to be elected in his first year of eligibility.

How about Lee Smith and Jack Morris, who both received a little less than half of the vote last year? Or ballot newcomers Andres Galarraga, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez and Fred McGriff? All are likely to receive support.

It all happens tomorrow. They’ll wake up and head downstairs with their expectations in hand. But instead of looking for the presents under the tree, they’ll wait for a phone call that will totally change their lives.

If the call comes, they’ll once again know the joy of being a kid on Christmas morning.

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

Fans, players share the fun at Hall of Fame Classic

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Their smiles were so big, you’d have thought they’d all just won the lottery.

Mike Timlin, bending over near home plate so players could sign his jersey. Jeff Kent, drilling homer after homer to win the pregame Hitting Contest. Lee Smith, signing autographs until every fan was happy at Doubleday Field.

6-21-09-Muder_Timlin.jpgIt was the inaugural Hall of Fame Classic on Sunday in Cooperstown, and the fans cheered lustily at every opportunity — thrilled to have their heroes back on the playing field. But it was the players who seemed to be the most grateful.

“Thank you for having us here,” said Kent, who was playing in the major leagues this time last year. “It’s really a thrill to be in Cooperstown.”

The day’s longest ovation was reserved for Bob Feller, who started the game and revved up his legendary fastball one more time at 90 years of age. When he left in the middle of the first inning, the crowd of 7,069 fans at Doubleday Field gave him a standing ovation. When he received his first standing-O on the baseball mound, Franklin Roosevelt was president.

“Thank you for coming,” Feller said the the crowd after his Team Wagner defeated Team Collins 5-4.

No, Bob.. Thank you for coming.

It could only happen in Cooperstown, the home of baseball dreams — for fans and players.

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

Championing the Classic

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

At 49, Mike Pagliarulo almost blends in with the crowd.

Wearing blue jeans and sneakers, the former big league third baseman strolled into Cooper Park next to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday and drew little attention. But quickly, the fans in the ticket line for the Hall of Fame Classic noticed it: The World Series ring Pagliarulo won in 1991 as as a member of the Minnesota Twins.

 
4-18-09-Muder_Pags.jpgAnd suddenly, the buzz started.

Pagliarulo, who spent 11 seasons in the major leagues with the Yankees, Padres, Twins, Orioles and Rangers, visited the Hall of Fame on Saturday in advance of the June 21 Hall of Fame Classic. Pagliarulo will play third base during the Classic as well as sign autographs and share memories from his big league career.

On Saturday, he thrilled fans with his homespun advice and easy-going style.

Really, what I’m most proud about my big league career is that it allowed me to put my kids through college,” Pagliarulo said. “But when you come (to Cooperstown), you think about all the game gave to you. That’s why this is such a special place.”

After visiting with fans in the ticket line, Pagliarulo entertained more than 100 Museum fans in a 30-minute question-and-answer session. Ironically, his biggest baseball thrill came not on the field — but at the Yankees’ Old Timers Day 24 years ago.

I walked into the locker room, and Joe DiMaggio was at my locker. And he just started talking to me,” Pagliarulo said. “Then, Billy Martin and Mickey Mantle came in — and Mickey gets me in a headlock and drags me into the trainers room. God forbid I hit him back! That’s Mickey Mantle!
 
“I don’t remember anything on the field that day. But I remember the time in the clubhouse.”

Pagliarulo will join Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins, Paul Molitor, Phil Niekro and Brooks Robinson at the June 21 Classic — along with about 20 other former major leaguers, including George Foster, Jim Kaat, Bill Lee, Steve Rogers and Lee Smith. More participants will be announced at www.baseballhall.org next week.

For ticket information, call 1-866-849-7770 or visit www.baseballhall.org.

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

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