Results tagged ‘ Lefty Grove ’

Dan Quisenberry: Fireman of the Year

By Trevor Hayes

Dan Quisenberry was never the type to grab headlines and national attention. He was a solid performer and a reliable closer. He won a World Series and appeared in every game of another Fall Classic. He pitched 12 seasons in the Majors, but he was anything but a typical ballplayer.

Quiz wrote poetry. He was a shutdown reliever, but he relied not on a blow-away fastball but pinpoint control, deception and a submarine delivery that confused hitters and earned him the nickname “The Australian,” because he came from down under.

He might have been the wackiest guy to play for the Royals – though with personalities like “The Mad Hungarian” Al Hrabosky having worn a K.C. uniform that might be a tough title to hold. But in Kansas City, everyone who slots into the back of the Royals bullpen must live up to Quiz.

Growing up in Kansas City, I’ve gotten a steady diet of two things – bad baseball to watch and plenty of chatter about the team’s successful past. Quisenberry is talked about with great respect. I was at his Induction to the Royals Hall of Fame and remember the sadness throughout the Metro area when he passed away after a bought with brain cancer.

A unique personality off the field, when Quisenberry took the mound hitters could expect a fight and lots of strikes. Using the solid defense behind him, he picked away at the zone. He gave up just 11 walks in 1983 and 12 in 1984 over a combined 268 innings, and was runnerup for the Cy Young Award in both years.

As guys like Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter began to define the modern day closer, in some ways Quisenberry was right there. He set the single season record for saves in 1983 with 45 – a mark that is still tied for tops in the Royals record books. It was the first time any pitcher had reached 40 saves in a single season. In 1984 Quiz threatened his own record, ending the season with 44, while Sutter saved 45. The two shared the mark until Dave Righetti got 46 in 1986. Jeff Reardon joined Quisenberry as the only pitchers with a pair of 40-save seasons in 1988 and then in 1992, he broke Quiz’s AL saves record, a mark he’d held since passing Fingers in 1987.

As the position of closer evolved in the 1980s, several pitchers put their stamp on the game, but today’s advanced metrics show how good Quisenberry was. His Adjusted ERA+ (which factors ballpark tendencies and season averages) of 146 ties him for fifth all-time. The names above him: Mariano Rivera, Pedro Martinez, Jim Devlin and Lefty Grove. He’s tied with Water Johnson and Hoyt Wilhelm. His career rate of 1.4 walks per nine innings pitched is the lowest since 1926 and fifth lowest since 1901.

One lasting impression Quiz holds on the closer position is his ties to the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award (originally called Fireman of the Year). From 1980 to 1985, he earned five gold-plated firefighter’s helmets, including four in a row. During that span he yeilded only the 1981 honors to Fingers (who won four in his career). Rivera is the only pitcher to match Quiz’s five Awards and noone has won more than two in a row.

Through the years, Quiz has become one of my favorite players, and the bobblehead of him wearing a fireman’s hat that sits on my desk is one of my favorite pieces of memorabilia not only because of the record it represents, but the player and story behind it. The Hall of Fame’s newest exhibit, One for the Books, which opens May 28, is focused on that exact concept. It seeks to not only glorify the game’s greatest records, but the rich stories behind the records.

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

Moments that make the Game

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

For some baseball fans, stats can be the lifeblood of the season, but we can’t forget that the individuals in this game and the moments they create make it worth watching.


8-14-09-Hayes_Mantle.jpgRemembering the Mantles:
The Hall of Fame’s condolences go out to the Mantle family. On Monday, Mickey Mantle‘s wife, Merlyn passed away at the age of 77. Merlyn, who married Mickey after his rookie season in 1951, suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. She passed just three days before the 14th anniversary of Mickey’s death on Thursday. The three-time MVP and Yankee legend died in 1995 of liver cancer at the age of 63. They were married 43 years and will be buried next to each other at Sparkman Hillcrest Memorial Park in Dallas.

Ninth = Second: Alex Rodriguez passed Harmon Killebrew earlier this week with his 574th home run, moving into sole possession of ninth on the all-time list. Rodriguez’s total is the second highest among active players (behind Ken Griffey Jr.) and by passing the Killer, he is behind Babe Ruth‘s 708 bombs in American League history.


8-14-09-Hayes_Guerrero.jpgJoining a select club:
On Monday, Vladimir Guerrero smashed his 399th and 400th career homers, becoming the 45th player in baseball history to reach the mark. More impressively however, Guerrero currently sports a .322 career batting average. Only five players hit 400 home runs and finished their careers with a .320 average or better. They are Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig and Stan Musial. Not bad company to keep.

Throwback weekend: The Mets will honor their city’s National League heritage when the Giants come to town this weekend. Throughout the series, the Mets will don white jerseys featuring a blue “NY,” hearkening back to the days of the New York Giants, who wore similar uniforms in 1904, 1907 and 1917-1918. The Giants moved to San Francisco after 1957, but won five World Championships and 14 pennants in New York. During their 75 years in Manhattan, the Giants/Gothams fielded 46 Hall of Famers including 10 who bear the team’s logo on their plaque like Carl Hubbell, Monte Irvin, Christy Mathewson and John McGraw.

8-14-09-Hayes_1929Athletics.gifOn Sunday, the Athletics franchise will celebrate the 80th anniversary of its 1929 World Championship. Oakland will exchange their trademark green and gold for Philly A’s blue and white to mark the occasion. Four Hall of Famers played for the 1929 champs including Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, Mickey Cochrane and Lefty Grove. They were run by longtime manager Connie Mack, who steered them to a 104-46 record and a victory of the Cubs in the Series. Relatives of Foxx and Mack will be on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitches.

To see the uniforms being used as a basis for this weekend’s throwbacks, check-out the online Hall’s uniform exhibit: Dressed to the Nines.

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

As American as baseball and apple pie

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. – Terence Mann

As demonstrated in this iconic quote from the film Field of Dreams, our National Pastime has reflected and often shaped American culture. It is woven into the very fabric that makes up America. Baseball has a connection and an undeniable relevance to this country, which can be seen simply by looking back at the history of baseball on Independence Day.

7-2-09-Carr_Gehrig.jpgToday, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. – Lou Gehrig

Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig stood in front of a crowd at Yankee Stadium and uttered these now famous words seventy years ago Saturday. The speech took place on Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, about a month after he learned of his terminal diagnosis. Less than two years later, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – a disease that would one day bear his name – would claim the life of the Iron Horse, who played 2,130 consecutive games for the New York Yankees.

The July 4, 1939, ceremony was held between games of a doubleheader against the Washington Senators in front of fans, dignitaries and former teammates. The Yankees retired his uniform No. 4 – making Gehrig the first player ever afforded that honor. The crowd stood and applauded for two straight minutes following Gehrig’s speech.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum houses numerous artifacts in its collection from both Gehrig’s career and that special day in 1939 – including a 21 inch silver trophy given to Gehrig by his 1939 Yankee teammates. But the connection between July 4 and baseball spans much more than one special day.

The Museum’s collection also contains a glove used by future Hall of Famer Rube Waddell in a 1905 pitching matchup with fellow Hall of Famer Cy Young; and a ball and Yankees cap from Dave Righetti’s no-hitter in 1983.

7-2-09-Carr_RyanNiekro.jpgFor almost 100 years, future Hall of Famers have recorded historic performances on July 4. In 1925, the New York Yankees beat the Philadelphia A’s in a classic pitching duel between two future Hall of Famers. Herb Pennock of the Yankees retired the final 21 batters he faced to beat Lefty Grove.

And two soon-to-be Hall of Famers, Nolan Ryan and Phil Niekro, recorded their 3,000th strikeouts on July 4th. Ryan struck out Cesar Geronimo in 1980 and Niekro sat down Larry Parrish in 1984.

Baseball is forever tied to our nation’s history, and as we fire up the grills and make some of our own baseball memories on July 4, it is clear that those ties will not soon be broken.

Happy 4th of July!

You can find the history of any day in baseball on our Web site.

For more on Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech, check out the Induction issue of the Hall of Fame’s Members magazine Memories and Dreams. To become a Member, please click here.

Samantha Carr is the media relations coordinator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

300-game winners just keep coming

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

For a generation of baseball fans, Randy Johnson’s win over Washington on Thursday night marks a moment they may not see again.

But history suggests that — while another 300-win pitcher may be at least a decade away — Johnson will not be the last man to reach pitching’s holy grail.

6-5-09-Muder_Johnson.jpgJohnson became just the 24th pitcher to record 300 big league victories, and his countdown to immortality has officially started. Of the 23 other pitchers with 300 wins, 20 are enshrined at the Baseball Hall of Fame. The other three — Roger Clemens, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux — are not yet eligible.

But along with the comparisons to baseball’s best-ever pitchers, Johnson’s milestone has brought out the naysayers: Those who insist that this 300-game winner will be the last.

After five pitchers — Gaylord Perry, Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, Phil Niekro, Don Sutton — joined the 300-club in the 1980s, many pundits insisted that they were the last of their breed. The decline of the complete game combined with the rise of relief pitchers would surely mean the end of the 300-winner, they said. 

And yet, the 300-game winners kept coming. Nolan Ryan in 1990. Roger Clemens in 2003. Greg Maddux in 2004. And Tom Glavine in 2007.

In fact, the four pitchers to reach the milestone since 2000 represent the most for any decade — save the 1980s (5) and the 1890s (4) — in baseball history.

6-5-09-Muder_JohnsonAction.jpgSure, a few years may pass before the next 300-game winner emerges. Jamie Moyer is second behind Johnson on the active list with 250 wins, but Moyer is already 46 years old. Next up is 36-year-old Andy Pettitte with 220 wins. In fact, only two active pitchers under the age of 30 have at least 100 victories: Jon Garland and CC Sabathia.

Yet baseball history is full of long gaps between 300-game winners — even back in the complete-game era. From 1964-1981, no pitcher joined the 300-win club. And in the 36-year span from 1925-1960, only Lefty Grove reached the milestone.

So while Randy Johnson’s performance on Thursday should be celebrated, it should also be a reminder. History happens every day in baseball — something that won’t change any time soon.

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

Japan a true world champion

Gates_90.jpgBy Jim Gates

I enjoyed watching the World Baseball Classic and was not particularly surprised to see Japan playing for the championship once again. Baseball in Japan has a long history, and there is as much baseball folklore and tradition on this island nation as exists in any
4-9-09-Gates_JapanvAmerica.jpg
 
 country. The national high school tournament is conducted with the same fervor as Americans attach to the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Japanese major leagues have some of the most vocal fans on the planet.

An American expatriate educator named Horace Wilson is credited with introducing the Japanese to baseball in the early 1870s, and we have tried to reflect this nation’s long history in our collection. As I go through the files in our archive, I often come across artifacts that relate to the relationship between Japan, the United States and the game of baseball. Among the hundred of items from Japan, one of my favorites is a program from the 1931 Major League tour featuring Lou Gehrig, Frankie Frisch, Lefty Grove, Rabbit Maranville and Mickey Cochrane, who together compiled a record of 17-0. I wonder if they ever thought that baseball would become such an international sport and that the Japanese would become such a baseball power?

The Japanese have had a chance to fully develop their own baseball history, and this has led to a strong sense of pride in their game and to the players that have been introduced to the rest of the world. This includes the Olympic Games, the World Baseball Classic and right into Major league Baseball. It will be interesting to see what type of artifacts and documents we acquire in future years relating to this element of the game.

Jim Gates is librarian of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library.

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