Results tagged ‘ Pacific Coast League ’

New books on the Library shelves

By Freddy Berowski

Known as the “Master of Alternate History,” New York Times best selling author Harry Turtledove has delighted fans for decades with his fantastic “what if?” tales.

Stories such as “World War” and “Colonization,” a series of books which follow the invasion of Earth by a Race of alien lizards during World War II and the hundred years that follow (with quite a few baseball references too, including a couple of lizard middle infielders and Mickey Mantle playing in the Major Leagues against the Yankees for the Kansas City Blues) and “The House that George Built,” a novella about Babe Ruth and baseball, if the Babe never made it. 

Recently, the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library has added to its permanent collection the manuscripts for two of Harry Turtledove’s alternate history works, the aforementioned “The House that George Built” and “The Stars and Rockets.” 

The Hall of Fame Library contains more than three million documents on baseball, including a file for every player who has appeared in a major league game and thousands of books on the National Pastime.

“The House that George Built” follows an alternate timeline where the Federal League never established a presence in Baltimore in 1914, thus Orioles owner Jack Dunn never felt the need to sell Babe Ruth’s contract.  In this reality, Ruth’s role in the game’s history was flipped with that of 1920s Pacific Coast League superstar Buzz Arlett, who became the game’s “Babe Ruth” with the Babe only getting Buzz’s cup of coffee. 

“The Stars and Rockets” is a fantastical tale that connects the Roswell incident of 1947 with Joe Bauman’s 72 home run season for the Class-C Roswell Rockets in 1954, and some fans that are out of this world. 

Harry Turtledove grew up on the West Coast and began his love affair with our National Pastime when his father began taking him to Pacific Coast League games of the Hollywood Stars and Los Angeles Angels. His Major League allegiance was to the Yankees originally, but that changed when the Angels became an MLB franchise.

“I was a Yankee fan before the majors came to L.A.; I’ve pretty much but not entirely got over that, but still generally root for the AL over the NL. The AL Angels, I like.  Dunno why, but I do.  When they finally won the Series in 2002 . . . It’s very strange getting something in your 50s that you’ve wanted since you were eleven.”

In his critically acclaimed World War/Colonization series which began in the 1990s, among those characters featured were several members of the Decatur Commodores, a Three-I league minor league baseball team in 1942. Although he didn’t know it at the time, one of those ballplayers, Sam Yeager, would become the central character in all eight books.

“I thought it would be interesting” Turtledove said. “I didn’t know what all would happen to Sam when I started writing about him – I tend to work by the seat of my pants. And it gave me an excuse to research Minor League Baseball and actually do something with what I found out, so that was cool, too. Back in the day, of course, a lot more guys made careers of the minor leagues than happens now, but there are still a few.”

Although he has no current plans for a full length alternate history baseball novel, Mr. Turtledove says “I’ll go for it in a heartbeat” if he develops “any ideas along those lines that I think people would buy.” 

When he first got out of college, before finding his true calling, he tried to get a job in baseball with the Dodgers and Angels. Turtledove described the type of work he was searching for as “Something – anything – involving PR and stats, which were the kind of things a guy who wrote halfway decently and was a stat geek could do.  I struck out twice, but at least I struck out swinging.” 

Who knows, maybe in some other reality Harry Turtledove did get a job in baseball.

Freddy Berowski is a library associate at 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.

Bonus history

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

08-26-10-Muder_Pettit.jpgPaul Pettit leaned forward in his chair and smiled. After a baseball career that seemed destined for greatness from the start, he had finally made it to Cooperstown.

“I guess I got in through the back door,” said the man acknowledged as the first $100,000 bonus baby in big league history. “Not bad for a guy with one win.”

The 78-year-old Pettit visited the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday and recounted his career as part of an ongoing oral history project at the Museum. In town with his grandsons – who are playing in a local baseball tournament – Pettit shared his career story with Hall of Fame cameras, then toured the Museum.

It was not his first brush with fame.

In 1950, Pettit signed a contract worth the then-otherworldly sum of $100,000 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound left-handed pitcher had struck out 945 batters in 545 innings of amateur ball from 1947-49 – including six no-hitters – and was considered a can’t-miss prospect.

“I felt like I was ready (in 1951) when the Pirates brought me up,” said Pettit, who – by rule – had to be placed on the major league roster that season. “But I had hurt my arm, and it never really responded.”

08-26-10-Muder_Pettit2.jpgPettit pitched in just two games in 1951, then went 15-8 with a 3.70 earned-run average for Hollywood in the offensively charged Pacific Coast League in 1952. The next year, Pettit appeared in 10 games with the Pirates, going 1-2.

He would never return to the big leagues, despite changing his focus from pitching to hitting and posting 102 RBI with Hollywood in 1957.

“I thought I could help the Pirates at that point, but they never called me up,” Pettit said.

He retired following the 1960 PCL season.

“I think if I had known that I wouldn’t have made it as a hitter that I would have tried to stay a pitcher for a little longer,” said Pettit, who remains at 78 a robust figure with a keen memory. “I wish they had some of the surgeries then that they do now so they could have worked on my arm.

“But I loved baseball. I was just a regular guy who worked hard.”

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

The Hall of Fame remembers Harry Kalas

4-13-09-Kalas_Profile.jpgLongtime 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.

At the 2002 Induction Hall of Fame Induction ceremony, Kalas was honored with Ozzie Smith and J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner Joe Falls.

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. 4-13-09-Kalas_Induction.jpgHonored 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.”

Harry Kalas dies at 73

Colleagues remember Harry Kalas

Harry Kalas’ Frick profile

Harry Kalas’ Frick Award speech

Ford C. Frick Award honorees

Please share your memories below of one of baseball’s legendary voices.

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