Results tagged ‘ Ozzie Smith ’

No place like home for The Wizard

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Ozzie Smith leaned back in his chair and gazed out upon idyllic Otesgo Lake on Thursday. After arriving at his hotel in advance of Hall of Fame Weekend 2010, The Wizard seemed to have a permanent smile on his face.

07-22-10-Muder-Smith.jpgOzzie may live in St. Louis, but Cooperstown remains his home.

“This place is very special,” said the 2002 Hall of Fame inductee upon returning to Central New York. “I’m fortunate enough to come back three or four times a year, and I love every minute of it.”

Smith joined more than 40 other Hall of Famers in Cooperstown on Thursday in preparation for Sunday’s 1:30 p.m. Induction Ceremony for the Class of 2010. Andre Dawson, Doug Harvey and Whitey Herzog will be enshrined then, and the returning Hall of Famers will help thousands of baseball fans celebrate the moment.

Many of those Hall of Famers will also ensure that Dawson, Harvey and Herzog appreciate the experience.

“(Hall of Famer) Johnny Bench always sits the new class down at the hotel and has them just look out on the lake for a while,” Smith said. “He tells them to take time to understand what this all means.

“Coming back year after year, enjoying all the laughter… I always look forward to it.”

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

Fun and games

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Seven Hall of Famers, heroes all.

They range in age from 55 to 91, but they remain kids at heart. And on Saturday – the day before the Father’s Day Hall of Fame Classic – they were all thinking about their dad.

06-19-10-Muder_VOG.jpgIn front of a capacity crowd of more than 500 fans at Cooperstown High School, the seven Hall of Famers who will appear at Sunday’s Hall of Fame Classic reminisced about their playing days and told stories about one another.

Bob Feller, Harmon Killebrew, Goose Gossage, Ozzie Smith, Rollie Fingers, Phil Niekro and Gary Carter brought the house down several times with one-liners – and drew applause when remembering their fathers.

“I think all of us on this stage remember when we played catch with our dads,” Smith said. “To be here in the Mecca of baseball on this weekend is very special for me.”

Just being around their former teammates and opponents was pretty special, too. The jokes flowed quickly from the stage – much to the delight of the audience.

06-19-10-Muder_Box.jpg“Phil, you better get some rest,” said Carter to Niekro when Knucksie was told he’ll be starting in Sunday’s Classic.

“Why?” deadpanned Niekro. “I never did when I played.”

After an hour, it was over – the legends were gone. To be continued on Sunday at Doubleday Field. Where the legends live forever.

“I’ve always loved it in Cooperstown,” said Gossage. “To be elected to the Hall of Fame and to play in this game, I still can’t put into words what it means to me.”

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

Classic stories from Paul Blair

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

The gold ring on his pinkie finger sparkled in the morning sun as Paul Blair signed one autograph after another.

03-19-10-Muder_Blair.jpgSome remembered Blair as the Gold Glove centerfielder of the 1960s and 70s Baltimore Orioles. Others recalled him as the super-sub on the New York Yankees’ title teams of 1977 and 1978.

But all the fans who lined up to purchase tickets for the Hall of Fame Classic on Saturday enjoyed listening to Blair’s stories – and eagerly anticipated his appearance in the Father’s Day legends game at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown.

Blair, who will join Hall of Famers Gary Carter, Bob Feller, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Harmon Killebrew, Phil Niekro and Ozzie Smith at the June 20 Classic, posed for pictures and signed balls and caps for fans waiting to purchase tickets at the Baseball Hall of Fame. The four-time World Series champion was easily identifiable with his 1978 World Series ring, but admitted that the 1966 title he won as a member of the Orioles is his favorite baseball memory.

“We beat the Dodgers, not by scoring a bunch of runs but by playing winning baseball,” said Blair, an eight-time Gold Glove centerfielder. “We shut them out for the final 33 innings of that World Series because our pitchers had two goals when they went to the mound: Don’t walk anyone, and keep the ball in the ballpark. They knew if they did that, we’d make the plays behind them.”

03-22-10-Muder_Blair2.jpgBlair’s fifth-inning home run in Game 3 of the 1966 World Series provided the only run in a 1-0 Orioles’ win, putting Baltimore up 3-games-to-0 and effectively clinching the Series. He would finish his 17-year big league career with two All-Star Game appearances and more than 1,500 hits. Only seven players have ever won more Gold Gloves for their outfield play.

This summer, however, Blair expects to man the infield at the Hall of Fame Classic on Father’s Day.

“I started as an infielder, and that’s where I’m playing now,” said the 66-year-old Blair, who today carries a six handicap on the golf course. “I’m looking forward to coming back in June.”

Participants the Hall of Fame’s Membership Program can purchase tickets for the June 20 Hall of Fame Classic exclusively through March 28 by calling 1-866-849-7770 or visiting www.baseballhall.org. For more information about becoming a Member, please visit http://www.baseballhall.org.

Any tickets remaining on March 29 will be made available to the general public.

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

Golf with Goose

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

For 22 big league seasons, Goose Gossage scared big league batters like no other pitcher.

03-01-10-Muder_Gossage.jpgBut put Gossage on a golf course, and the fearsome reliever turned into a terrified rookie.

“I never golfed – or rarely golfed – when I was a player,” Gossage said. “I didn’t want to be on a golf course all day and then come to the park and screw up a game. But I remember the first golf tournament I ever played in was a day off in Chicago with White Sox. I duck-hooked a ball – I used to swing from my butt – and I hit a ball right over Whitey Ford’s head in the other fairway. I was petrified. If it had hit him, I’d have killed him.”

Ford, a Hall of Famer like Gossage, survived his brush with fate. And this summer, a few lucky fans will share their moment with a legend when Gossage and six other Hall of Famers play in the Cooperstown Golf Classic June 19 at the Leatherstocking Golf Course.

The Cooperstown Golf Classic, a fundraiser for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, is part of Hall of Fame Classic Weekend. The Classic, to be held on Father’s Day at historic Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, will feature seven Hall of Famers along with more than 20 recently retired major leaguers in a legends game.

03-01-10-Muder_GossageGolf.jpgThe Cooperstown Golf Classic will be held the day before on June 19 and will feature Gary Carter, Rollie Fingers, Harmon Killebrew, Phil Niekro, Mike Schmidt, Ozzie Smith and Gossage. Limited to just 28 golfers, participants will have a chance to team with a Hall of Famer and share in the camaraderie with golfers of all skill level in a scramble format.

“I really didn’t start golfing until I left baseball in 1994, but now I’m out there all the time,” said Gossage, a Spring Training instructor with the Yankees who has spent time on the golf course recently with players like Andy Pettitte. “At this stage of my life, golf is one of the only things left to challenge you. It’s going to be a lot of fun to golf in Cooperstown. I can’t wait to get out there with the guys.”

For information and to reserve your spot for the Cooperstown Golf Classic, call 607-547-0310 or visit us online.

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

Pierre chasing Hall of Famers

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

Juan Pierre is on the move again – but this time it’s not on the basepaths.

Pierre, the active career steals leader with 459 whose playing time was limited over the last year and a half due to the Dodgers’ acquisition of Manny Ramirez, was dealt on Tuesday to the Chicago White Sox, where he will become their new left fielder and leadoff man. It will be Pierre’s fifth team in what will be his 11th big league season.

12-16-09-Berowski_Pierre.jpg“Juan always put the Dodgers first, even when it wasn’t in his personal best interest,” said Dodgers GM Ned Colleti.

Pierre currently ranks 47th all-time on Major League Baseball’s stolen base list. At 32 years of age, before all is said and done, Pierre should have no problem moving up considerably on that list. But the question remains, how many more steals are left in those legs?

At 1,406 steals, Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson is baseball’s all-time stolen base king, and the only player in history to steal more than 1,000 bases. When Henderson was 32, he was ready to begin his 13th major league campaign and was only two steals shy of Lou Brock’s then record 938 steals. Rickey went on to play 25 seasons with nine different teams before hanging up his spikes for good and ultimately earning enshrinement in Cooperstown this past summer.

Pierre might not match Rickey’s mark of 1,406, but he could pass several Hall of Famers while moving up the all-time steals list. Pierre has averaged 45 steals per year since 2001 and should pass Hall of Famers Tommy McCarthy and Willie Keeler in 2010. He may also pass Hall members Paul Molitor, Fred Clarke and Luis Aparicio next season as well if he stays healthy.

One thing Pierre has going for him is his work ethic.

“I’ve never seen anyone who works like him – never” said Pierre’s former batting coach with the Marlins, Bill Robinson, “He’s hungry for knowledge, hungry to learn, hungry to play. It’s beautiful. He’s a delight.”

If Pierre maintains a stolen base rate close to his average over the next three seasons, by 2013 he will have also passed several more Hall of Famers: Bid McPhee, Hugh Duffy and Ozzie Smith, and in the process crack the top 20 on the all-time list.

Freddy Berowski is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Rising in the fall

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

A look at some of baseball’s record chasers as the last month of the season gets under way:


9-4-09-Hayes_HowardKlein.jpgRanking Ryan:
With August coming to a close, Ryan Howard cemented his name in the Phillies record book yet again. Last Friday marked his third multi-homer game of the month, tying the Phils record for a single calendar month. Among the five others to do it are Hall of Famers Chuck Klein (August 1931) and Mike Schmidt (August 1974 and August 1983). Howard’s teammate Chase Utley (September 2006) is on the list as well.

The last week also saw Howard drive in his 600th career run in just his 693rd game. That’s the fastest for any major-league player since 1946, when Ted Williams collected his 600th RBI in his 675th game.

Elite Pettitte: Though he lost a perfect game bid in the seventh inning, Andy Pettitte’s win on the final day of August made him the third winningest pitcher in Yankees history. He had been tied with Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez at 189. Only Whitey Ford (236) and Red Ruffing (231) have more wins in Yankee history.

9-4-09-Hayes_Uggla.jpgPower at second: Florida’s Dan Uggla belted his 25th homer Wednesday, making him the third second baseman to hit at least 25 dingers in four straight seasons. The others are Alfonso Soriano (2002-05) and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg (1989-92). Unlike the others, however, Uggla has done it all in the first four years of his career.

Remembering Roberto: In October, the Hall of Fame will hold its second Character and Courage weekend to honor the achievements and spirit of Jackie Robinson, Lou Gehrig and Roberto Clemente. Major League Baseball, meanwhile, is in the midst of its own celebration of the Pirates’ legend.

9-4-09-Hayes_Clemente.jpgWednesday was the eighth annual Roberto Clemente Day, and MLB’s teams announced their nominees for the Roberto Clemente Award, which seeks to find the player “who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.”

Prior to Clemente’s tragic death on New Year’s Eve 1972 while delivering supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua, the award was simply called the Commissioner’s Award. Last year’s winner was NL MVP Albert Pujols, and the names on the award read like a who’s who of the game’s greats since 1971 – the first year it was given out.

Hall of Famers have won the award 13 times, including Willie Mays, who received the honor the first year, Al Kaline, who was the first winner of the award after it was renamed in Clemente’s honor; Clemente’s teammate Willie Stargell. Other Hall of Famers who won the Clemente Award include Brooks Robinson, Lou Brock, Rod Carew, Phil Niekro, Gary Carter, Cal Ripken, Jr., Dave Winfield, Ozzie Smith, Kirby Puckett and Tony Gwynn.

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

A class by themselves

Bielefeld_90.jpgBy Bridget Bielefeld

To baseball fans and Cooperstown natives, the Class of 2009 consists of Joe Gordon, Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice.  

But to a group of interns, the class of 2009 refers to 21 students from 14 states who bonded over a summer working at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Now in its ninth year, the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program is a 10-week experience that offers college students an opportunity to work alongside Museum and Library professionals. 

6-1-09-Wade_Intern.jpgWith 13 specialized departments ranging from collections to curatorial and membership to multi-media, the internship allows students to gain hands-on training in a field that closely matches his or her major.

As a public relations student, the chance to work in the communications department was invaluable.  I was able to hone writing and editing skills while receiving constructive feedback. However, to pinpoint the best experience would be too difficult. How do you choose between meeting Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith and attending a press conference with Henderson and Rice? Or between working at the inaugural Hall of Fame Classic and handling timeless baseball artifacts?

And then there are those 20 other interns.

They are some of the brightest and most charismatic people I have ever met – and while 3,000 miles will soon separate some of us, we will forever be bonded by our experience in Cooperstown.

After all, we are the class of 2009.

To learn more about the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program including how to apply, visit www.baseballhall.org/education.

Bridget Bielefeld is the 2009 Public Relations intern at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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