Results tagged ‘ Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum ’

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.

New stadiums, new memories

Horn_90.jpgBy Brad Horn

This week, Major League Baseball and New York will welcome two new shrines, as the Mets christen Citi Field on Monday night and the new Yankee Stadium (everything old is new again) will host its formal inauguration Thursday.

We’ll be documenting both of these openings in Cooperstown with artifacts that capture this moment in time for future generations. Look for updates this week as we share our latest donation items with you.

4-13-09-Horn_Citi Field.jpgWhen future generations of fans look back on this week, it’s likely they’ll say these stadiums represent the last of a new breed. For the last 20 years, baseball stadiums have been constructed at a rate, and a cost, never before seen in our game’s history.

The 1990s unleashed a fury of new ballparks, when the old seemingly was not enough. Toronto (’89), Chicago, Baltimore, Cleveland and Arlington got the ball rolling. Soon, Atlanta, Seattle, Detroit, San Francisco and Houston followed suit, as did an entirely rebuilt Angels Stadium in Anaheim. Expansion clubs Colorado (’95) and Arizona (’98) christened new ballparks, while Tampa Bay and Florida also established new traditions, albeit in fairly older structures. The 21st century welcomed new parks in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, San Diego, St. Louis and Washington. Just this offseason, Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium underwent a major renovation. Boston’s Fenway Park, long a stalwart, has had multiple facelifts throughout the last 10 years.

In fact, only Wrigley Field (Chicago), Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles), the Metrodome (Minneapolis) and Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (Oakland) are the last major structures not enduring entire overhaul or replacement since the era of the new ballpark began 20 years ago. The Met will join the list of replaced stadiums next year as Minneapolis welcomes a new outdoor home.

What will become of the next phase of ballparks? Which of the “new” will be the first to be deemed “outdated?”

One thing is for sure — no period in baseball history is likely to see as much change as we have witnessed in the last two decades.

Visitors to Cooperstown can celebrate stadiums of past and present in Sacred Ground, an exhibit dedicated to the ballpark experience, only at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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

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