Results tagged ‘ Luis Gonzalez ’

Getting ready for FanFest

By Lenny DiFranza

Next week, the All-Star Game will bring baseball’s biggest stars to Phoenix, Ariz., for the game’s midsummer classic. While the players seek to entertain fans in events like the Home Run Derby, the Baseball Hall of Fame will bring baseball history to life with artifacts from the game’s greats.

The Hall of Fame team arrived in Phoenix on July 4th so we could get started early the next day. We braved a 110 degree evening to find dinner.

By the following morning, we had learned that the heat wave had passed and we could expect a seasonable 107 degrees – quite a change from the weather in Cooperstown. We spent the morning unpacking the more than 100 artifacts we shipped from Cooperstown.

The Hall of Fame has been traveling to FanFest for many years, and even though we make changes every year, we have developed a regular routine. This year was no different, and everything has gone smoothly – of course there are always surprises along the way.

Fans who visit us in Phoenix will see a Dodgers cap worn by Jackie Robinson in 1955, the year of Brooklyn’s only World Series victory. Diamondbacks items include the hat worn by Curt Schilling after 9/11 through the World Series, as well as the bat used by Luis Gonzalez to knock in the series-clinching run for Arizona’s only World Championship.

We still have a couple days to finish preparations for the video presentations and live demonstrations that fans can enjoy here July 8th through the 12th. Check back for updates about our progress and the opening of FanFest 2011.

Lenny DiFranza is the assistant curator of new media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Gonzalez shaping baseball’s stars of tomorrow

By Trevor Hayes

He doesn’t strike the average onlooker as a former Major Leaguer. But the impact Luis Gonzalez made on the game of baseball is unmistakable, his place in history is secure and – despite his unassuming looks – he is a recognizable figure for fans.

Fans know him as the offensive star of the 2001 World Champion Diamondbacks – the man with 57 home runs and the Game 7 game-winning hit off Mariano Rivera. They remember his 30 game-hitting streak (a bat from which resides in Cooperstown along with his Game 7 bat). In Arizona, he’s the first player to have his number retired and he’s now immortalized each during each D-backs home game as the racing Gonzo – a more than eight-foot tall caricature of the 19-year vet – that competes in against Mark Grace, Randy Johnson and Matt Williams.

This summer he’ll serve as the All-Star Game Ambassador when the Mid-Summer Classic heads to Chase Field in Phoenix. But on Monday, Gonzo sported a little gray stubble on his face and an Arizona T-Rex’s T-shirt while at the Hall of Fame with his son’s Little League team for the second straight year.

 

“There are a lot of hopes and dreams in baseball,” Gonzalez said. “That’s why it’s so exciting to bring the kids. It’s exciting to be able to show them your artifacts and show them you actually did something in the game.”

Gonzalez, his brother Rex and a former minor league teammate of Rex’s coach the T-Rexes who are competing in a weeklong tournament at nearby Cooperstown Dreams Park. Like last summer, Gonzalez and the T-Rexes met with Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson before touring the Museum.

Idelson briefed the team on the Hall’s history and purpose before telling them about the importance of character, integrity and good sportsmanship in baseball. After posing for a few photos with the young ballplayers, Idelson wished them luck for the remainder of their week in Cooperstown and told them to enjoy the Museum.

“It gives these young kids a chance to come out and see the history,” Gonzalez said. “When they leave here, it’s amazing to see how they appreciate everything. This is the history of the game and it means a lot to them.”

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

Enter Sandman

Light_90.jpgBy Steve Light

03-16-11-Light_Rivera.jpgMy favorite record seems to get further out of reach for all who might one day chase it each October. That’s because the man who owns it, keeps raising (or is it lowering?) the bar when the autumn chill returns to the Bronx, year after year.

As all baseball fans know – seasons come and go, and teams change. Players grow old, or leave, or are traded away. Next year’s team might very well look nothing like the last. But as a Yankees fan, it seems like Mariano Rivera never changes. I feel like I’ve followed Rivera my whole life. He broke in with the Yankees in 1995, when I was just 12, and became a dominating pitcher one year later.

So many of his career moments are engrained into my memory: I remember the sinking feeling as I watched Luis Gonzalez’s blooper in 2001 and the euphoric feeling I felt as Mo sprinted to the mound and collapsed with joy as Aaron Boone rounded the bases in 2003. I even had the chance to fulfill a life-long dream and witness the Yankees clinch the AL pennant in 2009 at Yankee Stadium, with Mo, of course, on the mound. Now in 2011, can I be blamed for assuming that the Yankee’s 9th inning will always belong to him?

03-16-11-Light_Yankee.jpgWhen Mo finally calls it quits – which given recent performances could be many years away – he will undoubtedly leave the game as one of the greatest postseason performers in baseball history. Numbers don’t lie, and Rivera’s record-setting postseason ERA of 0.71 serves as a testament not only to his excellence, but his consistency.

Rivera, who will soon kick off his 17th season in a major league uniform, is the closest thing baseball has to a sure thing: Batters know what he’s throwing, and fans know the game is already over.  In the postseason, his achievements are nothing short of stunning. He has recorded his historic 0.71 ERA over the course of 139.2 innings. To put that into perspective, throughout his career Mo has averaged 79 innings per season. That means he has recorded a 0.71 ERA over nearly two full regular seasons worth of postseason ball. In other words, as good as Mariano is in regular season play (2.23 ERA), he is one and a half runs per game better in the postseason.

On the postseason ERA leader board, Mo keeps company with some impressive names: the top ten includes Hall of Famers Eddie Plank, Sandy Koufax, Christy Mathewson, and yes, Babe Ruth. One may strongly suspect that when Rivera finally leaves the mound, it won’t be long before they keep him company here in Cooperstown as well. This, however, is one Yankee fan who hopes that those days are still many years away.

It’s memories like these that will be brought to life in the Hall of Fame’s new One for the Books. The exhibit opens Memorial Day Weekend in Cooperstown.

Steve Light is the manager of museum programs at the the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Going Gonzo for Cooperstown

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

Winning a World Series is the goal of every major league player from the time they enter the big leagues. Luis Gonzalez not only has a ring, but helped his team in dramatic fashion with a walk-off hit in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series against the premier closer of his generation, the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera.

 
07-28-10-Carr-GonzalezLuis.jpgThe 2001 World Series was special because it was the Diamondbacks’ first and the first ever to be played in Arizona – but more so because it came two months after the September 11th attacks.

“There was so much going on in the world at that time that baseball was a release for people. Especially being played in New York where the attacks took place. They could forget about all the trouble and enjoy America’s Pastime,” said Gonzalez, who is in Cooperstown this week coaching his son Jacob’s travel team at Cooperstown Dreams Park.

“Gonzo” donated the bat he used from that 2001 game to the Hall of Fame, and it is on display in the Autumn Glory exhibit on the third floor of the Museum.

“It was dramatic, in Game 7 and definitely a memorable World Series,” he said.

Gonzalez’s team is 5-1 so far this week – and the players visited the Museum on Wednesday after meeting Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson, who gave them a sneak peak at one of the newest Hall acquisitions – the cap Arizona’s Edwin Jackson wore during his June 25 no-hitter.

Gonzalez retired in 2009, and he will have his number retired by the Diamondbacks on Aug. 7 – the first player to receive that honor.

“I’ve been enjoying my time coaching my son and taking the team to Cooperstown,” Gonzalez said. “It is great to take them through the Museum so they can dream – just as I did as a kid.”

Gonzalez will be eligible for Hall of Fame election in 2014 and with five All-Star appearances, 354 home runs, 596 doubles (15th on the all-time list) and a lifetime .283 batting average over 19 seasons he is likely to get some consideration.

“The Hall of Fame is every kid’s dream when you start playing baseball,” said Gonzalez. “You just hope that I did as much as I could in the game, that I helped with community service and that I did enough on and off the field.”

Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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