Results tagged ‘ Minnesota Twins ’

What a difference the lights make

By Samantha Carr

It is no secret that Bert Blyleven loves the game of baseball.

“There is no better feeling than taking a mound against a major league hitter and trying to throw a ball to the catcher’s mitt before he hits it a country mile,” Blyleven said.

Blyleven shared his passion with fans at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Thursday during his orientation visit when he took part in an impromptu Museum program for lucky fans in Cooperstown. Blyleven took time off from his job as a Twins’ TV color analyst to visit the Museum in preparation for his election as part of the Class of 2011.

After playfully leading the crowd through some stretching exercises, a relaxed and honest Blyleven let his personality shine, sharing stories from his career and interacting with the audience.

“I still miss that baseball in my hand,” said Blyleven. “That may be why I’m so interested in the history of the ball and how it’s changed.”

Blyleven got a first hand look at baseball history this week as he toured the Museum in advance of his Induction on July 24 as part of Hall of Fame Weekend 2011. And all that history brought back memories of chasing foul balls at Anaheim Stadium near where he grew up in Garden Grove, Calif.

“My friend and I would bike down to the stadium and go to the season-ticket holder gate,” said Blyleven. “We would politely ask fans for extra tickets and it would only take about 10-15 minutes before someone would hand us a couple extras. We were young kids who were just fans of the game.”

Blyleven and his friends would chase foul balls down the right field line and collect as many as they could. Once the game was over, the fans exited and only the writers were left in the ballpark, he would hide in the bathroom while field staff cleaned the stadium and turned the lights off.

“When we knew it was just the writers left we would come out of the bathroom, jump the small fence and run into one of the dugouts,” he said. “The lights were all off and it was dark. We would sit there and fantasize about playing on that field. Of course we would look around and try to collect anything else we could find; I had a ton of old rosin bags from that stadium.”

When the writers filed out of the press box, Blyleven and his buddies knew they would not be seen.

“We would run out onto the field and pick a position,” he said. “As a high school pitcher, I’d run to the mound. I’d pretend to wind up and deliver the pitch and everyone would run out to right field and catch the imaginary fly ball.”

Less than a year later, Blyleven was a 19-year old right-hander, had been drafted by Minnesota and called up to the big leagues. On July 9, 1970 Blyleven took that same mound, starting for the Twins in his first game against the California Angels, with his parents and friends all in attendance. This time with the lights on.

“I remember I couldn’t move,” he said. “My legs wouldn’t let me. So I stepped off the mound with both feet and picked up the rosin bag and thought to myself, ‘Gee, I have a lot of these at home’.”

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

Blyleven revels in Hall of Fame tour

By Craig Muder

The fan in the Red Sox cap got to within 20 feet of the Cooperstown visitor when he stopped dead in his tracks, eyes wide-eyed and mouth agape.

A moment later, Bert Blyleven approached the gentleman with a smile and his hand extended.

“How are you today?” Blyleven asked.

“I’m great,” the fan replied. “You know, Bert, it’s about time you got into the Hall of Fame.”

With that, the fan was gone – and Blyleven continued his stroll down the Main Street sidewalk. A Hall of Fame pitcher, and a down-to-earth person.

Blyleven took his Orientation Tour with his wife Gayle on Tuesday, preparing for his July 24 induction in Cooperstown as a member of the Class of 2011. Before touring the Museum and the archive, he took a short stroll over to Doubleday Field – reminiscing about his trip to Cooperstown in 1980 for the Hall of Fame Game while a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

On the way back to the Museum, Blyleven – dressed in a Twins windbreaker (he has broadcast Twins games on TV for the last 16 years) and blue jeans – chatted with fans on Main Street and even stopped by a few stores.

On his tour, Blyleven cheerily greeted fans lucky enough to be visiting the Hall of Fame on a once-in-a-lifetime day.

“I want to learn about Cy Young; I want to see a baseball used by Walter Johnson,” Blyleven said of his Hall of Fame brethren. “Walter Johnson had 110 shutouts? Are you kidding? How do you do that?”

Blyleven had 60 shutouts himself, powering a Hall of Fame career that included 287 wins and 242 complete games. But it was the majesty of the moment that impacted Blyleven the most on Tuesday.

“I got to play a kids’ game for 23 years in the big leagues,” Blyleven said. “That’s what this is all about, right? A kid’s dream is to be here in Cooperstown.

“If you love baseball, you have to come here. This is a baseball fan’s dream come true.”

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

Willie, Joey and the Doc

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

One at a time, they approached the podium at the New York Hilton. Men of great fame, accustomed to honors and accolades.

01-24-11-Muder_Mays.jpgAnd one at a time, they looked to their right – 30 feet away in the audience at the New York City Baseball Writers’ Association of America dinner on Saturday night. And they acknowledged the great Willie Mays.

Ron Gardenhire, skipper of the Minnesota Twins and the 2010 American League Manager of the Year. Bud Harrelson, the glue that held the 1969 Miracle Mets together at shortstop. John Denny, the 1983 National League Cy Young Award winner.

Each told similar versions of the same tale, separated by only geography and time. Mays was their hero, the player who inspired them to what they became.

As more than one said: The greatest living ballplayer.

It was a chance to celebrate the Giants’ Hall of Famer, who will turn 80 this spring yet still elicits kid-like awe from three generations of baseball fans. For many, just sharing dinner with Mays was an experience they’ll never forget.

01-24-11-Muder_Gillick.jpgMays, however, was far from the only star in the room. The best of the best from the 2010 season received their hardware Saturday night, joined at the head table by luminaries like 2011 Hall of Fame electee Pat Gillick, 2012 HOF hopeful Barry Larkin, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.

It was the coda to the 2010 season, the official start of 2011. In 22 days, pitchers and catchers will begin to report to camps in Florida and Arizona. And the journey will begin anew.

It will be tough to top the heroics of 2010. Cy Young performances by Roy Halladay and Felix Hernandez. MVP seasons by Josh Hamilton and Joey Votto. And farewell campaigns from legendary managers Bobby Box, Lou Piniella and Joe Torre.

But come January of 2012, the magic will return at the BBWAA dinner. Maybe not with the bonus of an appearance by Willie Mays, but with the joy that is reborn with every fresh season on the diamond.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for 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.

Hall Monitor: World Series Special

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

The World Series is upon us. The whole season comes down to this, and like the previous 105, this one is already living up to the name Fall Classic.


10-29-10-Hayes_DrysdaleKoufax.jpgTexas Three-Step?
: Just two of the previous seven teams to dig a hole like Texas’ current deficit – losing the first two games, each by at least four runs – have come back to win the World Series. The last team to create such a predicament was the 2001 Yankees, who forced a seventh game but ultimately lost to the Diamondbacks. The pair to overcome similarly lopsided losses: Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale’s 1965 Dodgers, who rallied against the Twins, and the 1996 Yankees, who defeated the Braves.

Record line: In three career postseason starts, San Francisco’s Matt Cain has given up just one run – an unearned blemish in the sixth inning of the NLDS against the Braves. Cain has compiled a 2-0 record after blanking the Rangers in Game Two. Few other players have begun their postseason careers with three straight games in which they didn’t allow an earnie. Giants legends and Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson began his postseason career with what may be the most impressive performance ever: Three straight complete game shutouts in the 1905 World Series – going on three days rest and then two days for the final two. Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt allowed two unearned runs in three starts for the 1921 Yankees- going 2-1 in his first foray into postseason play. And Jon Matlack allowed three unearned while going 2-1 in his first three games before eventually ending with a 2-2 record during the Mets’ postseason run in 1973 – his only career postseason.

10-29-10-Hayes_Mathewson.jpgCain’s 21.1 innings without an earned run to start his postseason career is the sixth longest mark. He sits behind Hoyt (34 innings), Mathewson (28 innings), Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon  (26.1 innings), Matlack  (25 innings) and another Giant Hall of Famer, Carl Hubbell  (22 innings).

End of the run: Cliff Lee went 4.2 innings and gave up seven runs in Game One on Wednesday. His numbers are so astounding because he was on an unbelievable run. Before Wednesday’s aberration, his career 1.26 postseason ERA ranked third among pitchers with at least five starts. Just Sandy Koufax and Christy Mathewson held an edge over Lee’s dominance. As it is now, he still holds a 1.96 ERA and a 7-1 record in nine starts during his playoff career.

Big hits: Nine times in World Series history, a Giant has collected four hits in a game. After his 4-for-5 night in game one, Freddy Sanchez became the latest. The previously four before him is a good group to be in: Hall of Famers Ross Youngs (1923), Fred Lindstrom (1924), Mel Ott (1933) and Monte Irvin (1951).

Pivotal Pitching: The Phils “Feared the Beard” during the NLCS, as Brian Wilson recorded a win or a save in each of the Giants victories. With three saves and a win, he’s just the fourth pitcher since saves became an official stat in 1969 to wreak that kind of havoc on an opponent. Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, with four saves and an MVP Award 1988 ALCS leads the group, followed by Mitch Williams (two wins and two saves in the 1993 NLCS) and John Wetteland (four saves and an MVP Award in the 1996 World Series).

10-29-10-Hayes_Ryan.jpgCheckup up on the stars: Milwaukee Brewers broadcaster and 2003 Ford C. Frick Award winner Bob Uecker was released from the hospital after undergoing successful heart surgery last Tuesday. The broadcaster received a valve replacement earlier this season before surgery to repair a tear at the replacement site earlier this month.

Throughout the postseason, several Hall of Famers have tossed several ceremonial first pitches. Game One of the World Series was no different with Orlando Cepeda, Monte Irvin, Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey and Gaylord Perry tossing the first ball. In Texas, Saturday’s game will likewise feature a living legend as Rangers President Nolan Ryan reprises the role after he and Fergie Jenkins took the honors in Game One and Two of the ALCS, respectively.

For a good cause: Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield was honored before Thursday’s game with the Roberto Clemente Award. Beating out nominees from the other 29 clubs in his eighth year of being nominated, Wakefield is honored for combining dedication to giving back to the community with outstanding skills on the baseball field.

Wakefield was honored by Commissioner Bud Selig, widow Clemente’s Vera Clemente and his sons Roberto Jr. and Luis. Of the 27 eligible former winners of the Award, 13 are Hall of Famers.

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

Hall Monitor: One Round Down


Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

The opening round of the playoffs was notable in many ways, from to woes Minnesota has with the Bronx Bombers to the tight, to-the-wire competitions between the Giants and Braves. As October rolls on, today’s players write their stories.


10-15-10-Hayes_FellerLemon.jpgThe Roys
: Bolstered by the second-ever postseason no-hitter and a solid sweep, the Phillies’ rotation is set for another run. And coincidentally, two of the team’s three NLDS starting pitchers share more than a uniform. If Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt can help bring another World Series trophy to Philadelphia, they will be the fifth set of same-named starters to do so. The others: The 1998 Yankees with David Cone and David Wells; the 1988 Dodgers with Tim Belcher and Tim Leary; the 1983 Orioles with Mike Boddicker and Mike Flanagan; and the first pair, who not only led the 1948 Indians but also joined the Hall of Fame: Bob Feller and Bob Lemon.

Famous in Philly: Cole Hamels was impressive two years ago, and along with the Roys, he’s harnessing that again. He tossed a shutout in the deciding game of the NLDS. In 2008, he marched the Phillies to their first World Series title since 1980, picking up iconic status in the city, four wins and a pair of postseason MVP Awards along the way. His shutout this year was his sixth career playoff win, matching another legend, Hall of Famer Steve Carlton, who served as the team’s ace during its glory years in the 1980s.


10-15-10-Hayes_GehrigRuth.jpgTexas Boppers meet Bronx Bombers
: Over the last week, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz provided plenty of pop to propel the Rangers to an ALCS matchup with the Yankees. The Texas duo each hit three home runs, making them the second pair of teammates to connect for at least three homers apiece while playing five or fewer postseason games, The other pair set their standard in 1928. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, with each famous Yankee hitting three homers during a four-game sweep of the Cardinals.

Master Lee: The Ranger’s success against the Rays can also be attributed to the man who won two games. Cliff Lee’s postseason dominance has made him seem incapable of walking batters, who seem incapable of getting to him. His 21 strikeouts without a walk set a new single-series record, besting the previous mark of 14 set by the Braves’ Kevin Millwood when he didn’t walk a Giant in the 2002 NLDS. Meanwhile, Lee  tossed a complete game in Game Five, his fifth game with seven or more innings of without a walk. That ties Hall of Fame Christy Mathewson for the second-most and is just two behind Greg Maddux’s record of seven.

10-15-10-Hayes_GomezGibson.jpgWith just two years of postseason play under his belt, Lee is now 6-0 in seven starts. Only five pitchers in major league history have six wins in their first seven postseason starts, including Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Lefty Gomez.  Pitching in Games One and Five, Lee won his fifth and sixth straight decisions as a starter to begin his postseason career, equaling Gomez for third-most all-time. The record is eight, and Lee is slated for at least one more start without going on short rest. He’s also rattled off five straight W’s in which he pitched seven or more innings. Only Dave Stewart, Gibson and fellow Hall of Famers Red Ruffing have longer streaks.

Last of the 30: In the first-ever series in which the road team won every game, the Rangers picked up their first-ever postseason series win. Dating back to the 1961 Washington Senators, the franchise has finally claimed victory in baseball’s second season, the last active franchise to do so. The franchise waited 41 years to taste postseason glory, a drought only eclipsed by four teams, three of which began play before the World Series started in 1903. From their birth onward, only the Phillies (104 years), Dodgers (79 years), Orioles (63 years) and Cardinals (50 years) took longer to win their first playoff series. Like Texas, each of those teams had made the postseason before. And each year they finally won a postseason series, they went on to win the World Series. In fact, only the Astros, Brewers, Mariners, Nationals, Padres, Rays and Rockies did not win the World Series in the same season the franchise garnered its first playoff series win.

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

Hall Monitor: Strength, splits, speed and supremacy

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

As we enter the final week of the regular season, the mark that 2010 will leave on the game’s history is quickly being finished. But just as quickly, the marks of yesteryear are being revisited.


09-24-10-Hayes_Dawson.jpgFriendly Confines
: Last night, Juan Uribe joined 2010 Hall of Famer Andre Dawson as the last two players to hit a pair of home runs in one inning at Wrigley. Uribe’s grand slam and a two-run shot in the second helped the Giants dismantle the Cubs 13-0. Exactly 25 years ago today, Dawson provided a pair of three-run homers in the fifth in a 17-15 Expos victory.

Short Power: Only three players playing primarily shortstop during their careers have hit more than 300 home runs. The Padres’ Miguel Tejada, who has played 94 percent of his career at short, connected for his 300th last night. He joined Alex Rodriguez and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. Ripken hit 431 homers, playing 77 percent of his games at short before moving to the hot corner late in his career. Rodriguez – who topped the 600 homer mark last month – had 345 home runs before playing almost exclusively at third with the Yankees, but he’s still logged 55 percent of his career at short. Often regarded as a shortstop, Hall of Famer and 500-home run club member Ernie Banks actually logged more games at first base with 45 percent of his games at shortstop.


09-24-10-Hayes_Carlton.jpgEnding a drought
: The Phillies had been without a 20-game winner since Hall of Famer Steve Carlton in 1982. Roy Halladay snapped the streak when he won his 20th game on Tuesday against the Braves. Only teams that have active streaks longer than the one Halladay broke. Like Carlton, the Padres last 20-game winner was a Hall of Famer: Gaylord Perry won 21 in 1978. The last pitcher to win 20 for the Nationals/Expos was Ross Grimsley, also in 1978. 

Comfy in St. Lou: After Sunday’s win against the Padres at Busch Stadium, Cards starter Adam Wainwright improved his home record to 12-3 with a 1.78 ERA. Rookie Jamie Garcia has been slightly better in St. Louis with a 1.74 home ERA. The last two Cards to qualify for the ERA title with home ERAs under 2.00 were Hall of Famers Steve Carlton and Bob Gibson. Carlton edged Gibson with a 1.92 ERA to Gibson’s 1.94 at Busch in 1969.


 
09-24-10-Hayes_InfieldChart.jpgThree to 100
: Robinson Cano’s two RBI Saturday at Baltimore pushed the 2010 Bombers into select company. Cano, along with teammates Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, have each driven in 100 runs this season. Never before have three Yankee infielders done it in a single season, though six other groupings of players have – five of which included at least one Hall of Famer. The Red Sox have had three different infields with the achievement – accomplishing it in 1937, 1940 and 1950. Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr and Jimmie Foxx were each a part of two Sox groups, with all three on the 1940 team. Charlie Gehringer and Hank Greenberg were two of the Tigers three 100-RBI infielders in 1934, while Lou Boudreau and Joe Gordon were on the 1948 Indians squad which pulled off the feat. The only previous group without a Hall of Famer is the 2001 A’s of Eric Chavez, Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada – all three of whom are still active.

Johnny Quick: Johnny Damon is second player to reach 100 career triples this season. He began the season as the active leader – tied with Jimmy Rollins at 95 – but 09-24-10-Hayes_Kaline.jpgRays speedster Carl Crawford passed Damon for the active lead earlier this season and broke 100 last month. Since 1901, 108 Major League players have reached 100 triples. Of them, 52 are Hall of Famers, while four are not yet eligible. Since 1950, just 22 players have compiled 100 triples, of which eight are in the Hall of Fame.

Mr. Tiger in Detroit: Al Kaline’s book “Six: A Salute to Al Kaline,” released earlier this year, contains over 150 pages of articles and never-before-seen photographs and captures what the 1980 Hall of Fame inductee has meant to the franchise, his teammates, fans and the baseball world. As a special treat, Kaline will sign copies at Comerica Park prior to the team’s final home game of the season Sunday against the Twins.

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

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