Results tagged ‘ Ozzie Smith ’
By Jeff Idelson
“Here’s the pitch from Downing … swinging … there’s a drive into left-center field. The ball is gonna beeee … out of here! It’s gone! It’s 715! There’s a new home-run champion of all time, and it’s Henry Aaron.”
That was the radio call of Braves broadcaster Milo Hamilton on April 8, 1974, when Aaron broke Babe Ruth‘s long-standing home-run record. As important as that milestone was, and as immortal as Hamilton’s words have become, that singular event is precisely why Aaron ranks among baseball’s most underrated ballplayers.
Fans tend to remember Lou Gehrig because he died from ALS. Outside of Baltimore, Cal Ripken Jr. is remembered for “the streak.” And Aaron is often remembered for the home runs, though he accomplished so much more.
On this — the eve of the opening of Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream, our new exhibit dedicated to Aaron at the Baseball Hall of Fame — it is appropriate to consider the magnitude of what Aaron accomplished on and off the field.
Who is the all-time leader today in RBIs, total bases and extra-base hits? Hank Aaron. “The Hammer” also ranks second all time in home runs, third in hits and fourth in runs. He showed up to play every day, which is why he is among the top five all time in games played, at-bats and plate appearances.
Aaron’s also a member of the prestigious 3,000-hit club. Take away each and every one of his 755 home runs, and he still has 3,016 hits.
Said teammate Phil Niekro of Aaron’s home runs after No. 700, “It’s like the sun coming up every morning. You just don’t know what time.”
Over 23 seasons, Aaron was great, averaging 33 home runs and 100 RBIs with a .305 batting average. He was a 25-time All-Star, representing his league every year except his rookie year and final season. Aaron was in the top 10 in the Most Valuable Player voting 12 times, winning it in 1957 when the Braves won the World Series. By the way, Aaron hit .393 with three home runs and seven RBIs in the Braves’ victory over the Yankees in the Fall Classic.
Not only was he great, but Aaron was consistently awesome: He hit 20 or more home runs 20 times, drove in 100 or more runs 11 times and hit better than .300 14 times. He hit .303 with 385 home runs at home and .306 with 370 home runs on the road. His batting average never varied by more than 10 points, month to month, over his career.
The Hammer was raised in Mobile, Ala., a hotbed for talent. Hall of Famers Willie McCovey, Satchel Paige, Ozzie Smith and Billy Williams were all born in Mobile, a city with a population under 200,000.
Aaron accomplished so much with a quiet grace and dignity which he brought to the ballpark every day in a time of racial divide in America. He was also among those who integrated the South Atlantic League, and he broke Ruth’s home-run mark in the face of intense hatred and racism. It’s no surprise that his hero was Jackie Robinson, who paved Aaron’s way to the way to the Majors.
Jeff Idelson is the president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Longtime Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster and 2002 Ford C. Frick Award-winner Harry Kalas died today, shortly after collapsing in the team’s broadcast booth before the series opener against the Washington Nationals.
Kalas’ call of the final out of the 2008 World Series has already become one of the game’s more memorable calls, joining his 1987 call of Mike Schmidt’s 500th homer. He was 73.
Here is the text from Kalas’ 2002 Ford C. Frick Award: “Legendary broadcaster Harry Kalas has called baseball games in Philadelphia since 1971. With his uncanny ability to connect with his listeners, he became a household name to Phillies fans everywhere.
As a veteran of 41 years behind the microphone, Kalas’ voice is one of the most popular and recognizable ones in broadcasting history, and enthusiasm and journalistic excellence are his trademarks. Honored 17 times as Pennsylvania Sportscaster of the Year, Kalas’ passion for the game is unsurpassed and his powerful and soothing voice is a constant throughout the summer in homes and on car radios in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. He has called more than 5,000 Phillies games, accounting for over 50,000 innings. He has shared the broadcast booth with 1990 Frick Award winner By Saam, and for 27 seasons, with Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn.
An original member of the Houston Astros’ broadcast team in 1965, Kalas called games for the franchise until 1970. His play-by-play accuracy, combined with his dedicated and compelling historical accounts, have allowed him to build an undying trust with a national fan base.
A graduate of the University of Iowa, the affable announcer began broadcasting for the Pacific Coast League Hawaii Islanders and the University of Hawaii in 1961. Kalas has also broadcast Big Five basketball and Notre Dame football and currently lends his voice to several NFL Films programs.”
Please share your memories below of one of baseball’s legendary voices.