Results tagged ‘ New York Yankees ’

Gallo left his mark in Cooperstown

By Erik Strohl

When I arrived at the Hall of Fame in March of 1998 as a first year graduate-student intern in Museum Studies, my first job was to do an assessment of the original cartoon art and illustration collection.

Containing hundreds of original pieces, the archive is a small treasure trove of the sports cartoon/illustration art form from the late 1800s to the present day. I knew very little about this subject at the time, but found it very interesting and happily delved into the trove without hesitation. I soon became an admirer of this art form, not just from an artistic standpoint, but also how the cartoon image is used as a vehicle for communication and dissemination of information. Cartoons, like photos, are worth a thousand words, but they have the added benefit of allowing for the artist’s personal interpretation and style as both art and written commentary. This topic interested me so much I eventually wrote my Masters thesis on this subject.

It was during this time I was first exposed to the work of Bill Gallo, the longtime sports cartoonist of the New York Daily News (he ascended to the job in 1960 following the death of colleague and fellow cartooning luminary Leo O’Mealia). I grew up in Pennsylvania and had no access to New York newspapers, so his artistic prowess and longevity as a sports cartoonist were unknown to me. With Bill’s passing this last Tuesday at the age of 88, the world lost one of the last icons and best examples of a dying breed in modern journalism: the sports cartoonist. The Hall has over 20 original pieces of Gallo cartoon art, as well as many copies of cartoons as printed in newspapers, periodicals and other ephemera. The original artwork is mostly single frame cartoons as they appeared in the Daily News, with most relating to the election of specific Hall of Famers or some event in Yankees or Mets history. Often with a friendly hand-written note to a former Hall executive, these pieces are little time capsules which transport us back to a different time and place.

Topics covered in the collection include the inductions of Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Duke Snider, Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal, Stan Musial, Roy Campanella and Ducky Medwick. Casey Stengel was a favorite topic of Gallo, and we have several which highlight the “Ol’ Perfessor,” including one of him being added to Mt. Rushmore. Other topics include the 1968 and 1984 All-Star Games, as well as, more recently, the 2000 New York Subway Series. Of course, Basement Bertha (the ever-hopeful but always distressed Mets fan) is also prevalent.

I never met Bill Gallo, but I know I would have loved the chance. His legacy will live on as his work is remembered by millions of readers over the last 50 years. The Hall of Fame will do its part to protect that legacy by preserving and sharing the original examples of his work which will remain forever in our archives. As technology has rapidly changed both modes of personal communication and mass media, I still take great pleasure in looking at a cartoon and absorbing what it is trying to convey. A world of information in a simple hand-drawn picture. This has been the case since humans first painted images on the walls of caves.

The Hall of Fame is glad to have a part in this historical continuum by saving the artwork of Gallo and other accomplished artists and cartoonists. Just another medium telling the story of baseball’s impact on American culture.

Erik Strohl is the senior director of exhibitions and collections for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Bo Knows Records

By Trevor Hayes

I’ve been a Royals fan for most of my life. Ever since my family moved back to Kansas City in 1993, I’ve cheered for the Boys in Blue.

Unfortunately, Bo Jackson was already gone by the time I fell in love with the Royals. His last season in K.C. was 1990. But I remember seeing his larger-than-life persona everywhere. Even in rural Oklahoma, where baseball and football weren’t on my attention landscape, Bo was there.

Between Nike’s “Bo Knows” campaign, his Heisman Trophy, playing in the NFL “as a hobby” and his All-Star Game MVP Award, Jackson’s exploits became folk legends. He’s like Paul Bunyan and John Henry wrapped in to one when people talk about his run, literally up the wall in Baltimore, or his throw from the warning track in left to gun down Harold Reynolds at the plate in the Kingdom.

Video of him doing amazing things in Royals Powder Blue is engrained in my mind. But I’ve only seen the man in the person twice. The first time was in 1994 – the last season of his career. Jackson was on the warning track, chatting with fans before a June Angels-Royals matchup at Kauffman Stadium. The photo I have from that night shows a massive man – even after hip replacement surgery. He was an impressive sight.

Looking back at the box scores, Jackson only played in two of the three games that series. My memory is fuzzy as to which game I went to, so I may not have even seen him play. But the record of his career will lives on, not just in my mind, but in baseball lore.

In fact, among his more amazing accomplishments, one feat actually made it into the record books – since steps taken on a wall while parallel to a field and number of astonishing outfield assists to create plays at the plate aren’t official stats.

In July and August of 1990, Jackson tied the record for home runs in consecutive at-bats. It’s an interesting story, as most Bo legends are. On July 17, 1990, Jackson connected for home runs in his first three at-bats, pounding Yankees starter Andy Hawkins to the tune of seven RBI. He hit one in the first inning with Hall of Famer George Brett on base, connected for another blast in the top of the third – scoring Brett again – and hit his third in three trips to the plate in the fifth, scoring Brett a third time and adding Kevin Seitzer to his runs batted in. Even the Yankee crowd had to applaud. Brett called the performance colossal.

But in the bottom of the sixth, fellow two-sport star Deion Sanders came up with the Yanks threatening. A run had just scored and with a man on third, the Royals were up 8-5. Sanders hit a fly to deep right-center and Jackson started tracking it. Jackson’s diving stab missed the ball and the Yankees’ speedy rookie circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run. Jackson was removed from the game and put on the disabled list the next day with a partially dislocated left shoulder, missing out on his chance for the coveted four home runs in a single game.

But Bo wouldn’t rest without setting some kind of record. The first ball he saw in his first at-bat back from the DL, he hit for a monstrous shot at then-Royals Stadium on Aug. 26th. Estimated at 450 feet, he said he saw the ball’s threads on the offering from imposing Seattle ace Randy Johnson.

Twenty-five batters have hit home runs in four consecutive at-bats, but I can almost guarantee none did it quite like the iconic Jackson. I saw him for the second time in person on Opening Day this spring in Kansas City. Impeccably dressed in a suit, he still looked like a man who could do amazing things. While Jackson’s specific record won’t be included in the Hall of Fame’s new One for the Books, the story behind his achievement is what the Hall’s new exhibit is all about, which makes me excited for the opening on May 28th.

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

Run, Rickey, run

DiFranza_90.jpgBy Lenny DiFranza

I remember May 1, 1991 as a bright Northern California day with a clear blue sky. That’s not unusual; time has tinted a lot of my memories with postcard-colors. But this day is fixed in my mind because I was on hand for the A’s game when Rickey Henderson passed Lou Brock’s all-time record for stolen bases. I’ve been thinking about that day as I researched the game for our new exhibit – One for the Books: Baseball Records and the Stories Behind Them.

03-23-11-DiFranza_Henderson.jpgIt was a big crowd with every reason to expect an Oakland victory. The first-place A’s, who had played in three straight World Series, were facing a New York Yankees squad that had sunk to last in the AL East. Henderson was a more interesting story as he entered the game tied with Brock at 938 steals.

In the top of the first, Henderson ran out to his post in left and waved as we hooted and shouted his name form the centerfield bleachers. After he took first with a walk in his first at bat in the bottom of the inning, we joined the Coliseum crowd getting louder and louder through three pitches and breaking into a roar as Henderson took off for second and the record books. The catcher’s throw beat him to the bag and we quietly took our seats.

To be a great base stealer, you need more than explosive speed: You need patience, opportunity and timing. Henderson reached on an error to lead off the fourth. Everyone knew he’d run, but Dave Henderson moved the runner up with an infield single and on the next pitch Jos Canseco hit a fly to right. We pleaded “run Rickey run!” as Harold Baines came up. On the second pitch, Henderson finally took off for third with a few quick strides and dove as the throw arrived. The ump signaled safe.

03-23-11-DiFranza_HendersonGloves.jpgSafe! It was done and we celebrated. The game stopped and Henderson hoisted third base over his head. Lou Brock said a few words – with class, as always. Henderson took the microphone and pointed out what we already knew. He was now “the greatest of all time.”

In 2009, Henderson joined Brock on the Hall of Fame roster.

It was a beautiful day and I had a great time with friends taking in a nice win for Oakland. But because I was lucky enough to see baseball history being made, it’s a day I’ll never forget. And it’ll come to life for me and countless others when we see the gloves Rickey Henderson used to grab third base in the One for the Books exhibit at the Hall of Fame. The exhibit opens May 28 in Cooperstown.

Lenny DiFranza is the assistant curator of new media 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.

A wild night

Wiles_90.jpgBy Tim Wiles

I will always remember exactly where I was when Mark McGwire hit his 62nd home run, eclipsing the record held by Roger Maris for 37 years.

02-22-11-Wiles_McGwire.jpgThe date was Sept, 8, 1998, and I was one of 33,409 lucky people sitting in Fenway Park, watching a terrific matchup between David Cone of the Yankees and Pedro Martinez of the Red Sox.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first ever matchup between two pitchers with 18 or more victories and with winning percentages of at least .783 (Cone 18-5). Martinez was at .818. (18-4)

There was a charged playoff atmosphere, despite the fact that the first-place Yankees entered the game at 100-41, 18.5 games ahead of their archrivals, who themselves were 22 games above .500 at 82-60. The Red Sox, who had won the night before, were trying to stave off a Yankee clincher in their home park.

The game was tight, and was tied 1-1 going into the Yankee eighth. 

The leadoff hitter was Joe Girardi. I always enjoyed watching Joe play, as we had grown up together and been basketball teammates in Peoria, Ill. He singled to lead off the inning.

02-22-11-Wiles_Fenway.jpgFrom my vantage point down the right field line, I thought I saw Girardi take off on a steal attempt, not out of the question for a catcher with better than average wheels, but certainly an exciting gambit in a tie game on the road. Subsequent research tells me I was watching first base too closely – he actually took off on a wild pitch.

As Girardi popped up from his slide into second, Fenway Park erupted in a standing ovation. I watched him jerk his head in several directions trying to figure out why the Boston fans were so happy that he had safely arrived at second.

Then both his eyes and mine landed on the scoreboard in center field, which said something like “Mark McGwire has just hit his 62nd home run, breaking Roger Maris’ record. Congratulations, Mark!”

Girardi went on to score and the Yankees took a 3-1 lead en route to a 3-2 victory. Their victory in the third and final game of the series the next night clinched the pennant.

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

Tim Wiles is the director of research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Sixteen calls

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Start the clock on the Hall of Fame candidacy of Andy Pettitte.

The smooth-as-silk lefty, one of the most consistent starting pitchers of the last decade and a postseason workhorse, ended months of speculation on Friday by announcing his retirement. Unless he has a change of heart and returns to the big league diamond, Pettitte will become Hall of Fame-eligible with the Class of 2016.

02-04-11-Muder_Pettitte.jpgHis final regular-season numbers: a record of 240-138, with a 3.88 earned-run average and 2,251 strikeouts in 16 seasons. Only 12 left-handers in history have won more big league games: Seven are Hall of Famers, and two – Randy Johnson and Tom Glavine – are not yet Hall of Fame-eligible.

In the postseason, Pettitte was 19-10 – no pitcher ever won more playoff games – and a 3.83 ERA. His teams advanced to the postseason in 81 percent of Pettitte’s seasons (13 of 16), and Pettitte won at least one postseason game in nine of his 13 tries.

He walks away from the game with five World Series rings.

Pettitte’s Hall of Fame credentials will be debated for years, but this much is certain: Of all the Hall of Fame pitchers with at least 240 victories, only seven have a regular-season winning percentage better than Pettitte’s .635. And of those seven, only one – Jim Palmer – began his career after World War II.

Whether it was April or October, all Andy Pettitte did was win.

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

Home run trip

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

01-31-11-Carr_Lopez.jpgIn March 2008, I was finishing up my Master’s Degree and found out that my baseball hero, Javy Lopez, was attempting to make a comeback with the Atlanta Braves, my favorite team. More importantly, Lopez would appear in Spring Training.

When I told my mom the news, she simply said, “We have to go!”

I had never seen Lopez play in person, although I had been to a Braves game and Spring Training before. I either caught the team on his rest day or after he had left as a free agent. So I had to settle for watching him take BP and getting a wave before the game.

We left the winter of upstate New York for the sunny ballfields of Florida, scheduled to watch 5 games in 7 days. For a kid who grew up playing softball in New York, there is something about seeing the dirt and grass for the first time that makes you feel good. Baseball season is here.

At our first game at Champion Stadium at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Hall of Fame legend Phil Niekro brought the lineup card to the umpire at home plate for the Braves.

Standing in awe as the knuckleballer waved to the crowd, little did I know that a short time later I would consider Niekro one of our guys at the Hall of Fame – someone who I would meet and get to know in Cooperstown.

01-31-11-Carr_Niekro.jpgMy parents and I spent the week enjoying the sunshine and catching ballgames each day. We’d keep score, eat hot dogs and argue over who was going to be better this year, the Braves or my parents’ favorite team, the Yankees.

In the first at-bat I would ever see Lopez take, he homered over the left field fence. As I jumped up and cheered, my parents and I both figured it was for me. I had patiently waited to watch him all these years.

Although Lopez retired before completing Spring Training and ended his comeback bid, I could now say I saw him play. As we headed back to the winter-like north, I couldn’t help but think that most 22-year olds can think of a better way to spend a spring break than a week in Florida with their parents. But not me. It was the trip of a lifetime with memories I will keep forever of both my baseball hero and sharing the game with the two people who taught me to love it.

What could be better than that?

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

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