Results tagged ‘ Los Angeles Dodgers ’

A little Kittle history

By Craig Muder

Ron Kittle spent 10 big league seasons as a prolific power hitter, and even today – at 53 years old – that power is still evident in a firm grip and muscular shoulders.

But as Kittle toured the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, the former outfielder with the White Sox, Yankees, Indians and Orioles was more focused on the game off the field than anything he did on the baseball diamond.

Kittle, who hit 176 big league homers from 1982-91, was in Cooperstown on business when he stopped by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for his first behind-the-scenes visit. Kittle had been to the home of baseball previously, including a 1988 trip as a member of the Cleveland Indians for the Hall of Fame Game at Doubleday Field.

“There was no score, and I came up to pinch hit late in the game,” Kittle said. “I told (Cubs catcher) Jody Davis that I was going to hit a home run to end this thing, and I did. But Ryne Sandberg came up in the bottom of the ninth and homered – On a check swing! – to tie the game.”

The game was called after nine innings with the score tied at 1, leaving both Kittle and Sandberg with a memorable moment. But it was not Kittle’s first brush with a Hall of Famer. Passing by a photo of Sandy Koufax in the Hall’s archive on Wednesday, Kittle recounted his days as a Dodgers’ minor leaguer.

“I came into the Dodgers’ organization with Mike Scioscia as a catcher,” said Kittle, who was signed by the Dodgers as an amateur free agent in 1977. “Down in Spring Training, they had strings across the batter’s box to teach pitchers control, and this guy got on the mound and started throwing to me and putting it right where he wanted. After he finished, someone said: ‘Don’t you know who that was? That was Sandy Koufax.’ I’ll never forget that.”

On Wednesday, Kittle took home more memories after learning about the Hall of Fame’s commitment to preserve baseball history.

“I love hearing stories about things that go on behind the scenes,” Kittle said. “And to see all this is incredible.”

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

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.

Kenny Loggins relishes Hall of Fame visit

By Jeff Ideslon

I spend a lot of time walking through the Museum with celebrities. Some have very little interest, others modest – and then there’s the serious fan, like Kenny Loggins.

The popular musician was in town Thursday to play a benefit show for Hospice at Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown, fronting his band Blue Sky Riders, which includes vocalist Georgia Middleman and bass player/guitarist Gary Burr.

The very accomplished Loggins won Best Male Pop Vocal Grammy for “This Is It” in 1980, and co-wrote the 1979 Grammy-winning Song of The Year “What A Fool Believes” with his long-time friend, Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers.

Along with his son Luke, who is entering his senior year at Santa Barbara High School and pitches for the baseball team, Loggins spent Thursday afternoon at the Hall of Fame. The two completely immersed themselves in the history of the game.

Loggins, who played youth baseball through the Babe Ruth level, played catch with all five of his children through the years. “I wanted them to know baseball like I did,” he said. “Luke has a much better temperament for the game than I did. He handles adversity well.”

Growing up in Alhambra, Calif., Loggins and his dad would sit in the kitchen and listen to Vin Scully call Dodger games on the radio. “I grew up with Koufax and Drysdale. It seemed like one of them pitched every day.”

Walking through the Hall of Fame’s collections, “Oh my God, this is in great shape,” he said, marveling at the wonderful conservation of the jersey.

Holding a Stan Musial game-used bat he looked skyward and said, “This is my day. ‘The Man’ was unbelievable.” I explained to Loggins that Musial was a five-tool player – he could hit for power and average, run, throw and catch. I asked him if he knew any five-tool musicians.

Without even thinking, he answered exactly as Graham Nash did two years ago when I asked him the same question: “Prince.” Loggins added Stevie Wonder and Nash added Stephen Stills.

After seeing Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson sweaters, Loggins asked where he could get one. “I wish these were still in vogue. These are beautiful,” he said.

Finally, while holding the bat Ted Williams used for his 521st and final home run, he noticed that part of the Louisville Slugger trademark was the word, ‘powerized.’ “Do you think I could get my guitar powerized?” he asked his Burr and me.

After seeing artifacts from Willie Mays, Orel Hershiser, and so many other, he softly said to no one in particular, “You forget how short a baseball career is. ” How true.

Two hours later, Loggins concluded, “This Museum is incredibly well done. It is interactive and exciting, and chock full of great contextual information. It plays well to my son Luke, who’s in high school and also to older folks, like Gary and me. The experience really took me back in time, right back to my childhood.”

Jeff Idelson is the president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Generations of Garveys connected to the game

By Trevor Hayes

With overcast days and rain for much of the last week in Cooperstown, the appearance of a player once known as “Mr. Clean” on Main Street was cause for Mother Nature to shape up and give the Home of Baseball a beautiful summer day.

Steve Garvey – the 19-year big league vet, 10-time All-Star and 1974 N.L. MVP – visited the Hall of Fame on Monday with his son Sean’s 12-and-under Little League traveling team, the Desert Longhorns.

“It’s always an honor to come to the ultimate sports Hall of Fame,” Garvey said. “To see its presentation of the sport is really something. I really do love just coming here and seeing the photos of Cy Young, Honus Wagner and the rest.”

Now considered a Dodger legend, Garvey played for LA from 1969 to 1982 before a five-year stint in San Diego. With an always-present respect for the game, Garvey set a National League record with 1,207 consecutive games played, hit .294 during his career and was a member of the 1981 World Champion Dodgers. With all his achievements, his youth growing up in awe of the game has carried to his adulthood.

“I’ve always seen myself as a historian of the game,” Garvey said. “I served as a batboy for Brooklyn in 1956, so I sat on a bench next to Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese and Carl Furillo. It has been fun to see the history of a team – that I am closely tied to – progress from Brooklyn to LA.”

Garvey, who is now 62 and 24 years removed from his playing days, keeps busy between his motivational speaking engagements, his brand management company Garvey Media Group and the advisory role he holds with the Dodgers. He also recently celebrated the high school graduation and Amateur Draft selection of his son Ryan, who was taken in the 15th round by the Phillies.

While in Cooperstown, Sean Garvey’s team met with Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson, who imparted the importance strong character and integrity on the Longhorns by pointing to Garvey and his 19 seasons in the bigs. When the team and parents started clapping and cheering, he quickly hushed them with a smile and a wave of the arms, not wanting the moment to be about him.

“It’s great for kids this age to see (the Hall),” he said. “I think it makes them better ballplayers. They get a sense of appreciation for the game’s history.”

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

Learning from the pros

By Craig Muder

For the Class of 2011 at the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program, the Baseball Hall of Fame will mark the start of their professional careers.

But – as author Kenneth Shropshire demonstrated Wednesday during an intern seminar – their career paths promise to be filled with more adventure than they could ever imagine.

Shropshire, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, shared his career story during a Sports Business seminar as part of the Steele Internship summer lineup. A graduate of Stanford University and Columbia Law School, Shropshire turned to sports law after a football career at Stanford. He later worked at a firm that handled projects for the Los Angeles Lakers and former Dodgers All-Star first baseman Steve Garvey.

“I thought I was headed toward being a sports agent, negotiating contracts for my friends who made it to the NFL and in other pro sports,” Shropshire said. “But eventually I took a job with the Los Angeles Olympic Committee, and I was put in charge of boxing by the head of the Committee, Peter Ueberroth.”

Ueberroth, who later became the Commissioner of Baseball, recognized Shropshire’s talent quickly. Shropshire, in turn, hired Harvey Schiller as the competition director for boxing. Schiller is now a member of the Board of Directors at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“That was Harvey’s first job in sports business,” Shropshire said. “It shows that if you hire the right people and let them do their job, they can make you look very good.”

Wednesday’s program was one of many for the 20 interns in the Class of 2011 at the Hall of Fame – all of which are interspersed with their daily duties in one of more than a dozen departments.

The Steele Internship Program at the Hall of Fame is held over 10 weeks every summer, and applications for the Class of 2012 will be accepted this fall. For more information, click here.

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

Play it again, Phil

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Records, they say, are made to be broken. But my favorite record has never been surpassed.

02-18-11-Muder_Garner.jpgIt has, however, been tied… more than 20 times.

Exclusive? Hardly. But Phil Garner’s 1978 mark of back-to-back games with a grand slam home run will always have a special place with me. Because I was there to see it.

Sept. 15, 1978… My dad took me to my second major league game, which was also my first night game. I remember walking around gigantic Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, bounding down the left-field box seats to the bullpen edge. There, before the Expos-Pirates game, I leaned over with my program and got Ed Ott’s signature. Ott, the Pirates’ catcher against right-handed starters, was off that night because lefty Woodie Fryman was pitching for Montreal. Duffy Dyer was the Bucs’ right-handed hitting platoon catcher.

02-18-11-Muder_ThreeRivers.jpgGarner’s home run cleared the bases in the bottom of the first, giving him two grand salamis in two nights following his shot against the Cardinals the night before. Scrap Iron was already one of my father’s favorite players, and I recall Dad jumping out of his seat when the ball cleared the fence.

At that point, it was safe to say, I was hooked on baseball.

It seems inconceivable that in the more than 100 years of pro ball prior to that game – and the 32 years since – no one has hit grand slams in three straight games. But there it is, in the record books and in my memory.

These are the moments that will come alive this spring at the Hall of Fame’s new One for the Books exhibit. The stories, the records… the connection that bonds us to baseball. It’s what makes the National Pastime unique.

It’s what makes us love the game.

Someday, the record may fall. But Garner’s effort – and that night with my Dad – will remain forever.

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

Hall Monitor: Hot Winter Meetings

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

The temperatures in Orlando weren’t that warm, but plenty of big splashes and a flurry of other news made for a week of sizzling Hot Stove action. With Spring Training approaching, many names have changed places, giving them opportunity to put a new mark of the narration of the game.


12-10-10-Hayes_Gillick.jpgWerth Announcing
: On Monday, Pat Gillick was announced as the first new Inductee for the Hall of Fame Class of 2011, which only seems fitting coming a day after the announcement of Jayson Werth signing with Washington. The two are connected because Gillick brought Werth to Philadelphia after the struggling outfielder was cut by the Dodgers in December of 2006. That signing was one of a number of moves by Gillick and the Phillies that led to their 2008 World Title – the third of Gillick’s career.

Not Gonzo in San Diego: The first major splash once the Winter Meetings began was the Red Sox’s signing of Adrian Gonzalez, who will join a storied tradition of hitters in Boston, including fellow San Diego native Ted Williams. But Gonzalez will leave behind an unfinished assault on most of the Padres offensive records.

Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn is the hit king in Southern Cali, besting Gonzalez by 2,285 base knocks. But over his five seasons in San Diego, Gonzalez had been steadily building his case as the most powerful Padre. He leaves San Diego two home runs shy of the team’s all-time record of 163 by Nate Colbert. He currently ranks fifth on the doubles list, three two-baggers behind another Hall of Famer, Dave Winfield. And with an average season in 2011, he would have passed Phil Nevin for third on the Padres RBI list, behind only Gwynn and Winfield.


12-10-10-Hayes_ApplingFox.jpgTwo Grand in Pale Hose
: Frank Thomas missed by 41 games, but with his new deal Paul Konerko should be able to reach 2,000 games played for the White Sox. Wednesday, Konerko signed on for three more years in the Southside and sits just 232 games away from the mark. To this point, only Hall of Famers Luke Appling (2,422 games) and Nellie Fox (2,115 games) have topped the two-grand threshold for the Sox – one of the eight original AL clubs.

Burning up the base paths: It would appear that the Red Sox newest outfielder might have his sights set on his new team’s stolen base record. Carl Crawford, who signed with Boston Thursday, has stolen 409 bases during his nine years, with only nine of those coming in his first season in the Majors. The Red Sox record is 300, held by Harry Hooper who played in Boston from 1909 to 1920. The second and third place slots are filled by a pair of Hall of Famers in Tris Speaker (267 steals from 1907-15) and Carl Yastrzemski (168 steals from 1961-83).

Aside from his talents on the bases, Crawford’s power-speed combination will be unique to the Sox. Last year he compiled at least 100 runs, 30 doubles, 10 triples and 15 home runs. Nomar Garciaparra reached those numbers in 1997 and 2003. To find another Boston player to achieve that combination, you have to go back 70 years to 1940 when a 21-year-old Ted Williams did it.


12-10-10-Hayes_Smith.jpgAnother Week, Another Cooperstown-worthy show
: This week, 2010 Hall of Fame Inductee Whitey Herzog sits down on Inside Studio 42 with Bob Costas. Herzog and Costas will talk about the Cardinals teams of the 1980s, Whiteyball and the state of the game today. Also stopping by will be fellow Cardinal Hall of Famer, the Wizard of Oz, Ozzie Smith. The show airs at 8 p.m. ET on MLB Network.

Last respects: Possibly the most beloved broadcaster in the Northwest, Ford C. Frick Award winner Dave Niehaus will be honored Saturday with a ceremony at Safeco Field. Gates open at 12 p.m. PT and the ceremony will be carried live on six different outlets in the Pacific Northwest region. Niehaus’ son and daughter will be on hand for the ceremony, which will also feature video tribute from fellow Frick Award winners Vin Scully, Jon Miller, Joe Garagiola and Marty Brennaman.

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

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