Results tagged ‘ Los Angeles Angels ’

New books on the Library shelves

By Freddy Berowski

Known as the “Master of Alternate History,” New York Times best selling author Harry Turtledove has delighted fans for decades with his fantastic “what if?” tales.

Stories such as “World War” and “Colonization,” a series of books which follow the invasion of Earth by a Race of alien lizards during World War II and the hundred years that follow (with quite a few baseball references too, including a couple of lizard middle infielders and Mickey Mantle playing in the Major Leagues against the Yankees for the Kansas City Blues) and “The House that George Built,” a novella about Babe Ruth and baseball, if the Babe never made it. 

Recently, the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library has added to its permanent collection the manuscripts for two of Harry Turtledove’s alternate history works, the aforementioned “The House that George Built” and “The Stars and Rockets.” 

The Hall of Fame Library contains more than three million documents on baseball, including a file for every player who has appeared in a major league game and thousands of books on the National Pastime.

“The House that George Built” follows an alternate timeline where the Federal League never established a presence in Baltimore in 1914, thus Orioles owner Jack Dunn never felt the need to sell Babe Ruth’s contract.  In this reality, Ruth’s role in the game’s history was flipped with that of 1920s Pacific Coast League superstar Buzz Arlett, who became the game’s “Babe Ruth” with the Babe only getting Buzz’s cup of coffee. 

“The Stars and Rockets” is a fantastical tale that connects the Roswell incident of 1947 with Joe Bauman’s 72 home run season for the Class-C Roswell Rockets in 1954, and some fans that are out of this world. 

Harry Turtledove grew up on the West Coast and began his love affair with our National Pastime when his father began taking him to Pacific Coast League games of the Hollywood Stars and Los Angeles Angels. His Major League allegiance was to the Yankees originally, but that changed when the Angels became an MLB franchise.

“I was a Yankee fan before the majors came to L.A.; I’ve pretty much but not entirely got over that, but still generally root for the AL over the NL. The AL Angels, I like.  Dunno why, but I do.  When they finally won the Series in 2002 . . . It’s very strange getting something in your 50s that you’ve wanted since you were eleven.”

In his critically acclaimed World War/Colonization series which began in the 1990s, among those characters featured were several members of the Decatur Commodores, a Three-I league minor league baseball team in 1942. Although he didn’t know it at the time, one of those ballplayers, Sam Yeager, would become the central character in all eight books.

“I thought it would be interesting” Turtledove said. “I didn’t know what all would happen to Sam when I started writing about him – I tend to work by the seat of my pants. And it gave me an excuse to research Minor League Baseball and actually do something with what I found out, so that was cool, too. Back in the day, of course, a lot more guys made careers of the minor leagues than happens now, but there are still a few.”

Although he has no current plans for a full length alternate history baseball novel, Mr. Turtledove says “I’ll go for it in a heartbeat” if he develops “any ideas along those lines that I think people would buy.” 

When he first got out of college, before finding his true calling, he tried to get a job in baseball with the Dodgers and Angels. Turtledove described the type of work he was searching for as “Something – anything – involving PR and stats, which were the kind of things a guy who wrote halfway decently and was a stat geek could do.  I struck out twice, but at least I struck out swinging.” 

Who knows, maybe in some other reality Harry Turtledove did get a job in baseball.

Freddy Berowski is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Earle of Cooperstown

By Brad Horn

An American musical icon visited the home of America’s National pastime late Thursday as singer-songwriter Steve Earle toured the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, along with his band “The Dukes (and Dutchesses).”

Earle and his bandmates thoroughly enjoyed their tour on the eve of his Friday night performance in Cooperstown at nearby Brewery Ommegang, where he is headlining an Americana festival, also featuring the music of the Felice Brothers and Langhorne Slim.

For Earle, a lifelong diehard Yankees fan, despite his Texas upbringing, the trip to Cooperstown capped his affinity for the game and his fandom.

“I’m not a very good social guest at a baseball game,” Earle said as he and his bandmates viewed historic imagery in the Museum’s photo collection. “When I go to a game, I tune out everything else to focus on the action on the field. I have no problem eliminating the outside world while at a ballpark.”

Also joining the tour were Earle’s bandmate and wife, Allison Moorer, and the couple’s 18-month-old son, John Henry.

Throughout their summer musical travels, the Dukes have already caught some major baseball moments along the way, including Roy Halladay’s heat-fatigued start at Wrigley Field against the Cubs and the drama-filled Angels-Tigers clash in Detroit, featuring a near-no hitter of Justin Verlander and the ejection of Jered Weaver.

In addition to a collections visit to see the storage of three-dimensional items, Earle and the Dukes spent several hours in the Museum Thursday on a day when nearly 3,000 visitors toured Cooperstown, strolling through baseball history. Earle even got an up close view of the promissory note transaction that sent Babe Ruth from Boston to the Yankees.

Tonight, Earle and the Dukes will resume their journey down the road of Americana music, but with the inspiration of the National Game and history fueling their troubadour spirit.

Brad Horn is the senior director of communications and education at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hall Monitor: Hot Stove Around the Corner

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

Not much is left of 2010 and even less remains of the baseball season. With the Rookies of the Year, Cy Youngs and Manager of the Year Awards doled out this week, two awards remain – the League MVPs. The remnants of the season that was haven’t stopped a flurry of action building toward 2011.

Classic impact: Monday saw a pair of new-bloods honored with the Rookie of the Year Awards. And for the third time in history, both players helped lead their club to the World Series. The Giants’ Buster Posey and Rangers’ Neftali Feliz were the first pair since 11-19-10-Hayes_KoufaxCarltonMaddux.jpgFernando Valenzuela and Dave Righetti in 1981 for the Yankees and Dodgers. The first pair was Gil McDougald and Hall of Famer Willie Mays in 1951 for the Yankees and Giants, respectively.

Seven is Three’s Company: Your National League Cy Young Award winner, author of two no-hitters – one a perfect game and the other the second ever thrown in the postseason – is Roy Halladay. The Doc’s second Cy Young shows he is among the game’s elite, but he remains five behind the all-time lead in that category. His team however, just became one of only three teams with at least seven Cy Young Awards. Hallday is joined in Phillies history by Hall of Famer Steve Carlton (four), Steve Bedrosian and John Denny (one each).

Interestingly enough, the other two clubs with seven are also NL teams. The Braves racked up seven with Greg Maddux (three), Tom Glavine (two), Hall of Famer Warren Spahn and John Smoltz (one each). And the Dodgers out-rank all major league teams with nine Cy Young Award winners: Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax (three) and Don Drysdale (one), along with Eric Gagne, Orel Hershiser, Mike Marshall, Don Newcombe and Fernando Valenzuela (one each).


11-19-10-Hayes_810WManagers.jpgNine years is a heck of a start
: Minnesota’s Ron Gardenhire won his first Manager of the Year Award, and Twins fans think it’s about time. Gardy had previously finished second in voting five times. His teams have won 90 games five times and he is the first manger in history to win six division titles in his first nine years. With 803 career wins, only five managers had more wins in their first nine seasons than Gardenhire. All five now call Cooperstown home: Sparky Anderson (863), Al Lopez (836), Joe McCarthy (828), Earl Weaver (812) and Frank Chance (810). Current Angels manager Mike Scioscia, also had exactly 803 wins through his first nine seasons.

Hot Stove action: While the heat really turns up around the Winter Meetings, a least one big trade has already gone down. All-Star utility man Omar Infante is taking his talents to South Beach while slugging second baseman Dan Uggla shifts to Atlanta. Losing an All-Star who can play almost any position on the field is big, but the Braves may have picked up a steal. Uggla owns the third-best batting average of anyone at Turner Field since it opened in 1997 at .354. Only Albert Pujols and Barry Bonds have hit better.

11-19-10-Hayes_GordonBanksRipken.jpgBut batting average aside, Uggla’s best skill is his power. He’s the first second baseman to produce four 30-home run seasons, let alone consecutively. And among the first five years of any middle infielder’s career, Uggla’s 154 home runs are tops. Three MVP-wining Hall of Famers round out the top five, with 500-home run club member Ernie Banks second (136), Joe Gordon third (125) and Cal Ripken Jr. fifth (108). Nomar Garciaparra is fourth with 117.

King Felix’s Mariners vs. Lefty’s Phils: Announced Thursday was the American League Cy Young winner, Seattle’s Felix Hernandez. The honor continues a trend of moving away from wins in the voting. In fact, the AL wins leader has won only five of the last nine Cy Young Awards.

With the lowest win total for a Cy Young winner ever, King Felix and his team set a new precedent. Previously, Steve Carlton’s 1972 Phillies were the worst team to boast a Cy Young winner. While the Hall of Fame lefty lead the league with an incredible 27 wins, his Phillies won 59 games – a .378 win percentage. This season, run support torpedoed Hernandez, who went 13-12, while Seattle posted a winning percentage of .377.

11-19-10-Hayes_CarewGwynn.jpgCatching up with the Hall of Famers: Drafted in 1978 and debuting in 1981 with the Phillies, Ryne Sandberg is returning to Philadelphia. After four seasons managing in the Cubs’ farm system, the 2010 Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year was hired to manage the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate. Starting next season, Ryno will head the Lehigh Valley IronPigs as he continues his quest to pilot a big league club.

Stan Musial made news this week as the Cardinals legend was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. The St. Louis faithful campaigned all season to get Stan the Man the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Also, two more Hall of Famers grace Studio 42 with Bob Costas tonight. Legendary hitters Tony Gwynn and Rod Carew will drop by to talk baseball and the art of hitting with the veteran broadcaster at 8 p.m. ET on MLB Network.

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

Family in Cooperstown

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

Marcus Giamatti was a participant in the All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game held at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., on Sunday night. And not only is he an actor, having appeared in numerous movies and television series, but he also shares a surname familiar to fans of the national pastime and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

07-14-10-Francis_Giamatti.jpgMarcus Giamatti’s father was the seventh baseball commissioner, A. Bartlett Giamatti. A former president of Yale, he became president of the National League in 1986 before ascending to the game’s top position in 1988. After less than a year on the job, he passed away in 1989 at the age of 51. After his untimely death, the Hall of Fame honored his legacy with the naming of the A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center.

“I can’t believe as big a baseball fan as I am that I’ve never been to the Hall of Fame,” said Marcus Giamatti, best known  as a series regular on television’s Judging Amy (1999-2005), after the softball game. “I’ve always been working in different places and I’ve never gotten up to that part of the country, but my wife is from Corning, which is nearby, and we’re going to try to plan a trip so she can go see her relatives and we’re going to try and go to the Hall of Fame. I hope that happens within the next year or two.”

And the Giamatti Research Center is on the itinerary, too.

“It’s a great honor to him to because he was a great baseball historian and poet himself,” said Giamatti, 48, who grew up in New England. “So it means a tremendous amount to me. It’s really too bad he never knew about it. I really need to get up there to see it. He’d be so flattered and moved by it.”

Wearing the cap of his beloved Boston Red Sox, Giamatti said baseball was a love he shared with his father.

07-14-10-Francis_Research.jpg“He had a huge influence on my love of baseball. That was basically our connective link that we had, our love of baseball and the Red Sox,” Giamatti said. “I used to listen to them every night on the radio with him. I’d do my homework while he was correcting papers at the dining room table.

“He basically taught me the parallel lessons of the quest and the journey and the process of things through baseball. The adjustments you have to make, the game of failure, and sometimes the rewards, just like in life.”

Giamatti, a catcher through high school (“But I couldn’t hit”), is currently writing the afterword for a 2011 re-release of his father’s 1989 book “Take Time for Paradise: Americans and Their Games.”

And according to Giamatti, it looks like the family’s next generation will continue with a fascination for the game.

“I have one daughter, she’s 14 months old, and she watches baseball with me all the time. She calls it ballball.”

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

Future history

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

It has been a decade since Hank Conger visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His bat is staying for good.

 Conger came away with Most Valuable Player honors for the 2010 Futures Game held at Angel Stadium on Sunday afternoon. He donated the bat he used to club a three-run home run with two out in the fifth inning off of Henderson Alvarez that gave his U.S. Team a 5-1 lead on the way to a 9-1 victory over the World Team.

Conger, a switch-hitting Angel farmhand playing catcher for the Triple-A Salt Lake City squad, finished the game batting 1-for-3. 

“It’s awesome,” said Conger in the winning team’s clubhouse after the game, referring to being asked to donate his bat. “It’s a great honor. I wasn’t really expecting it, to be honest.”

The Hall of Fame has made it a point over the years to ask for an artifact from the game’s MVP honoree.

“The Futures Game showcases the greatest minor leaguers,” said Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson, “and by being able to represent them and document them in Cooperstown before they make that final step in a lot of ways talks about the journey of all major league players.”

It was Idelson who first approached Conger, who grew up 15 miles from Angels Stadium in Huntington Beach, Calif.,about the possible donation.

“I was like, ‘Really, you want my bat?’” said Conger with a laugh. “This whole event has been great, so to have that be in the Hall of Fame is just unbelievable.”

Conger knows of the Hall of Fame firsthand, having visited back in the summer of 2000 as a 12-year-old when his travel baseball team from California played in one of the Cooperstown-area baseball camps.

“I loved Cooperstown,” Conger said. “I was really expecting something different. You think its going to be in a big city, but there was just so much green. Even for me as a little kid I thought it was an awesome view.

“The Hall of Fame, just looking at everything that was in there, the jerseys, the plaques, for any baseball fans it’s a must.”

Asked if had any more hits left in the bat, Conger smiled and said: “For the Hall of Fame, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to give that one up.

“And I’ll get to tell everybody for the rest of my life that I have something in the Hall of Fame.”

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

All-Stars headed to Cooperstown

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

Prior to Sunday afternoon’s All-Star Futures Game of minor league talent, Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg, a coach for the World Team, was looking forward to his trip to Central New York in two weeks to welcome an old teammate to the game’s most exclusive fraternity.

Currently the Triple-A manager of the Iowa Cubs, Sandberg talked in the visiting team clubhouse of Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., prior to the U.S. Team’s 9-1 win over the World Team.

07-12-10-Francis_Sandberg.jpg“I’m looking forward to coming to Cooperstown. Andre Dawson’s election was well overdue,” said Sandberg of his Cubs teammate from 1987-92. “I’m looking forward to seeing him take his spot there.”

The last time Sandberg saw Dawson was during this past spring training.

“I was just touching base, seeing how busy he had been. He’d been very busy doing things,” Sandberg said. “That’s always part of that first year. But he’s loving every minute of it, so I think that’s the key thing.

“And he’s looking forward to that day. So I’ll be there pulling for him. And I’ll be right there sitting behind him.”

Sandberg used part of his induction speech in 2005 to plead Dawson’s case for enshrinement. 

“So that makes it somewhat gratifying to see a fellow teammate go in,” Sandberg said. “A guy that is very deserving, worked hard, maybe a little bit overshadowed through the steroid era, and now he’s right where he should be.”

Sandberg then talked about the kind of teammate that Dawson was. 

“Just his work ethic. He was team-first, he played the game hard all the time, gave it his best, and at times he really overdid what he had to do to be able to play,” he said. “He was the first one at the ballpark working on his body and working on his knees to be able to play a game. And he was the last one to leave.

07-12-10-Francis_Dawson.jpg“And with that being said, he was in the lineup every single day, never complained about anything, played hard, never took anything for granted, and really played the game the right way, even with two sore knees. I was very impressed with that and just the Hall of Fame quality of play that he’d bring year to year. Very impressive.”

Sandberg was also eyewitness to Dawson’s historic 1987 season with the Cubs, leading the National League with 49 home runs and 137 RBI en route to capturing the senior circuit’s MVP Award while playing outfield for a last-place team.

“That was one of the most impressive seasons I watched first-hand like that,” Sandberg said.

As for Sandberg, he has attended every Induction Ceremony since his induction and has no plans to end the streak any time soon.

“I haven’t missed one yet. I’ll try not to miss one as long as I can help it,” he said. “It’s a big thrill every time and it’s great to see the new guys go in and reflect back what that felt like. It was just like yesterday. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that feeling of the year going in 2005.”

And so far, the team’s he has been managing have been more than accommodating when the last Sunday of July rolls around.

“The organizations have been all for that. They’re very understanding about that. Not only that, they tell me to go. Sometimes it’s hard to leave the team, but it’s a good getaway and it’s for the right reasons and I’m looking forward to it once again this year.”

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

 

Destined for Cooperstown

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

It sometimes seems that things here in Cooperstown are just destined to go right.

06-22-10-Hayes_Greinke.jpgDon’t get me wrong, the staff at the Baseball Hall of Fame is extremely dedicated, very knowledgeable and good at what they do – executing plans to make the Hall of Fame perfect. But some stories take an extra little bit of chance to become truly special. My most recent example came Monday in the form of a donation by my mother of some photos of two current Royals stars, including 2009 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke.

As a native Kansas Citian, it takes a holiday or other big event to see my family. But after last year’s Hall of Fame Classic, I knew I had to get my parents to Cooperstown for the 2010 event. Not just to celebrate Father’s Day with my dad – sharing a game we both love – but to reconnect that baseball bond with my mother too, who played countless hours of catch with me in the backyard while waiting for dad to get home form work and take me to practice.

At every opportunity, I pestered them about a trip out. In late September, I went to a wedding and on the Sunday after, my family went to Kauffman Stadium. Greinke was starting and I hadn’t seen him in person all season. I’d followed his year from the scoreless streak in April to his 1-0 complete game loss in Anaheim when he had pitches touch every speed from 66 to 96 mph. I tuned in early to the All-Star Game to make sure I didn’t miss a second. I wished people at work “Happy Greinke Day” on the days he started. It was can’t miss TV and I shared it with my parents, chatting about my hometown team throughout the season.

06-22-10-Hayes_Greinke2.jpgOn that warm September day, Greinke was his usual self. He went seven innings and allowed just one run. He struck out eight, including eventual batting champ and MVP Joe Mauer twice. During the game, my mom snapped some photos with her new camera.

Before leaving Missouri over the holidays, she slipped an envelope into my bag. Inside were photos she’d printed of family and my girlfriend and I. The last couple were photos of Greinke and 2008 All-Star Joakim Soria. I was surprised. My mother has always been creative, knitting and doing flower arrangements. I’d even seen her still-life and nature photos. But her action shots were exceptional, especially since they were from Row Double-S.

Just before the start of the 2010 season, I got my parents to commit to a visit during Father’s Day. At the same time, our staff updates our  Today’s Game exhibit, outfitting the lockers with artifacts from the previous season. Shortly after the update I was reminded of the photos when I saw hanging in the Royals locker a powder blue jersey – the team’s staple attire for home day games. Greinke gave the Hall of Fame his jersey from his final home start, which turned out to be the last win of his Cy Young campaign.

06-22-10-Hayes_Soria.jpgIt had crossed my mind that my mom should donate the photos,  and now I was sure. Her photos are of Greinke wearing the same jersey that’s on exhibit. I called and told her that when they came for the Hall of Fame Classic, she should donate the photos. Worried about the quality, she wasn’t so sure.

On Monday, my mother, father and myself presented her five prints – three of Greinke and two of Soria – to photo archivist Pat Kelly. Pat gushed. The quality was professional level and they filled a void in the archives – neither player had hard copy files. The fact that Greinke is wearing the same jersey that’s in the collection sweetened the deal.

A bit of chance played into my trip in September happening in the same weekend of the Royals final home stand. Luck let the rotation fall just right. And by coincidence or fate, my family is extremely proud of my mother and we now have a special moment to cap a great weekend in Cooperstown.

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

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