Results tagged ‘ Pedro Martinez ’

The Dominican’s favorite son

By Jeff Idelson

Juan Marichal is revered in his homeland, more so than ever. He hasn’t thrown a pitch since 1975, but everywhere he goes on the island that adores baseball, the first Dominican Hall of Famer is respected and praised.

As much as the Dominican Dandy enjoys and deserves the adulation he is afforded for his stellar baseball career, even more so, he is proud. En Espanol, it is called “orgulloso.” He is proud to be a husband, father, grandfather and even a great grandfather now. Orgulloso of his friendships, career and country. He’s proud of his farming skills, which he learned from his parents. Juan Marichal is as proud a person as you will meet. He exudes happiness and confidence. He is so orgulloso.

On Tuesday, as Juan, his wife Alma and I dined on a traditional Dominican seafood lunch at Pepe Diaz in Santo Domingo, he could not stop talking about how his 49-year marriage to Alma, their six children, 13 grandchildren and his three-year old great granddaughter, Kirabella. He’s so proud of them all. Very proud of who they are and what they’ve all accomplished.

“I met Alma when she was 16. She was my first love.” To which she added, “We just went on a cruise. All 33 of us. What a thrill. I hope to do it every year. I love to be with my family.”

Juan joined the Air Force in 1956 at age 19 and moved from Laguna Verde, a small town two hours west of the Dominican capital, to Santo Domingo. Pitching for Trujillo’s Air Force team, he played against Matty Alou and his town team in El Cami. They instantly become the best of friends. Juan would hang out at the home of the three Alou brothers – Matty, Felipe and Jesus. The young lady who lived across the street quickly became the apple of Juan’s eye. Alma would soon become his wife at age 16. They have never looked back.

Matty, who passed away earlier this year, and Juan, were so close that Juan may as well have been the fourth Alou brother.

“He was my compadre from the start. I am proud of our friendship,” said Marichal. “I baptized Matty’s daughter as he did my daughter, Elsie; but even before that, we were compadres.”

They roomed together with the Giants and stayed friends until the day Matty died on Nov. 3.

“Matty was in a coma, but when I came to see him, he squeezed my hand four times,” Marichal said. “The next day my compadre even said my name.”

Tuesday night, we went to one of the final Dominican Winter League games of the season, with the Tigres del Licey playing host to the Aguilas Cibaenas. As we walked into the stadium, many fans, young and old, men and women, saluted their Dominican hero.

We watched the game from a box and the visits to see Juan were endless. Ozzie Virgil, the first Dominican player to appear in the major leagues, stopped by. Pedro Martinez’ sister, Elvera, who works for Licey, also came by. It seemed that half of Santo Domingo was at the game and they all simply wanted to shake the hand or pose for a photograph with the great Juan Marichal.

Juan told me of pitching in the Aguila’ Stadium in 1957 and 1958 for manager Salty Parker, who was in the Giants system. He was very proud of going 8-3 in 1958.

The game itself was one-sided with Fausto Carmona and Aguilas trouncing Ubaldo Jimenez and Licey, 6-1. The outcome was irrelevant as both teams will make the round-robin tournament that starts in a few weeks before the Caribbean Series.

As we left the ballpark I thought about how proud I was…orgulloso….to have been able to spend a day with one of the all-time greats on his home turf. There’s no greater man than Juan Marichal. No one more proud, so orgulloso.

Jeff Idelson is the President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Dan Quisenberry: Fireman of the Year

By Trevor Hayes

Dan Quisenberry was never the type to grab headlines and national attention. He was a solid performer and a reliable closer. He won a World Series and appeared in every game of another Fall Classic. He pitched 12 seasons in the Majors, but he was anything but a typical ballplayer.

Quiz wrote poetry. He was a shutdown reliever, but he relied not on a blow-away fastball but pinpoint control, deception and a submarine delivery that confused hitters and earned him the nickname “The Australian,” because he came from down under.

He might have been the wackiest guy to play for the Royals – though with personalities like “The Mad Hungarian” Al Hrabosky having worn a K.C. uniform that might be a tough title to hold. But in Kansas City, everyone who slots into the back of the Royals bullpen must live up to Quiz.

Growing up in Kansas City, I’ve gotten a steady diet of two things – bad baseball to watch and plenty of chatter about the team’s successful past. Quisenberry is talked about with great respect. I was at his Induction to the Royals Hall of Fame and remember the sadness throughout the Metro area when he passed away after a bought with brain cancer.

A unique personality off the field, when Quisenberry took the mound hitters could expect a fight and lots of strikes. Using the solid defense behind him, he picked away at the zone. He gave up just 11 walks in 1983 and 12 in 1984 over a combined 268 innings, and was runnerup for the Cy Young Award in both years.

As guys like Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter began to define the modern day closer, in some ways Quisenberry was right there. He set the single season record for saves in 1983 with 45 – a mark that is still tied for tops in the Royals record books. It was the first time any pitcher had reached 40 saves in a single season. In 1984 Quiz threatened his own record, ending the season with 44, while Sutter saved 45. The two shared the mark until Dave Righetti got 46 in 1986. Jeff Reardon joined Quisenberry as the only pitchers with a pair of 40-save seasons in 1988 and then in 1992, he broke Quiz’s AL saves record, a mark he’d held since passing Fingers in 1987.

As the position of closer evolved in the 1980s, several pitchers put their stamp on the game, but today’s advanced metrics show how good Quisenberry was. His Adjusted ERA+ (which factors ballpark tendencies and season averages) of 146 ties him for fifth all-time. The names above him: Mariano Rivera, Pedro Martinez, Jim Devlin and Lefty Grove. He’s tied with Water Johnson and Hoyt Wilhelm. His career rate of 1.4 walks per nine innings pitched is the lowest since 1926 and fifth lowest since 1901.

One lasting impression Quiz holds on the closer position is his ties to the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award (originally called Fireman of the Year). From 1980 to 1985, he earned five gold-plated firefighter’s helmets, including four in a row. During that span he yeilded only the 1981 honors to Fingers (who won four in his career). Rivera is the only pitcher to match Quiz’s five Awards and noone has won more than two in a row.

Through the years, Quiz has become one of my favorite players, and the bobblehead of him wearing a fireman’s hat that sits on my desk is one of my favorite pieces of memorabilia not only because of the record it represents, but the player and story behind it. The Hall of Fame’s newest exhibit, One for the Books, which opens May 28, is focused on that exact concept. It seeks to not only glorify the game’s greatest records, but the rich stories behind the records.

Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at 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.

Cooperstown credentials

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

When all-time saves king Trevor Hoffman announced his retirement on Wednesday, it marked the end of a brilliant career.

It also started the clock running on his Hall of Fame candidacy, which is scheduled to begin in 2016.

01-12-11-Muder_Hoffman.jpgIt seems like a long time from now. But by the time we reach fifth United States presidential election of the new millennium, the Hall of Fame may be in the midst of a historic run of inductees.

Since the Baseball Writers’ Association of America began electing Hall of Fame candidates in 1936, 44 players have won election in their first year of eligibility. This includes the first five of Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner in 1936, but does not represent the elections of Lou Gehrig (elected by acclimation) in 1939 or Roberto Clemente (elected by special election) in 1973.

Starting in 1936, the BBWAA has conducted 68 Hall of Fame elections. And only once – 1989-90 – have at least two first-ballot candidates been elected in back-to-back years. Those elections featured Johnny Bench and Carl Yastrzemski in 1989, followed by Joe Morgan and Jim Palmer in 1990.

But beginning in 2013, the BBWAA could easily select multiple first-ballot candidates in four straight elections.

Two years from now, the Hall of Fame ballot will feature players like Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling for the first time. The following year, in 2014, Tom Glavine, Jeff Kent, Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina and Frank Thomas will debut on the ballot.

01-12-11-Muder_Hoffman2.jpgIn 2015, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz are all eligible for the first time. And in 2016, Hoffman will join Ken Griffey Jr. on the ballot.

Since the selection of the first class, the 1999 election marked the only time as many as three first-ballot candidates were elected in the same year. In that time, only seven other elections (1962, 1982, 1989, 1990, 2001, 2004, 2007) featured as many as two first-ballot electees.

But with the above list featuring the likes of four 300-game winners, three members of the 500-home run club, a member of the 3,000-hit club and the all-time saves leader, we could see a couple years with three-or-more electees and as many as four years with multiple enshrines.

Predicting the BBWAA vote is never easy. But the talent set to become Hall of Fame-eligible in the next five years in undeniable.

As for 2017 and beyond, consider the likes of Chipper Jones, Mariano Rivera, Ivan Rodriguez, Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel – all of whom are likely to retire in the next few seasons. The streak could easily reach five or six years with multiple first-ballot electees.

Bottom line: Baseball was filled with shining stars in the 1990s and 2000s. And thanks to those players, Cooperstown is going to be one busy place this decade.

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

Destined for Cooperstown

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

It sometimes seems that things here in Cooperstown are just destined to go right.

06-22-10-Hayes_Greinke.jpgDon’t get me wrong, the staff at the Baseball Hall of Fame is extremely dedicated, very knowledgeable and good at what they do – executing plans to make the Hall of Fame perfect. But some stories take an extra little bit of chance to become truly special. My most recent example came Monday in the form of a donation by my mother of some photos of two current Royals stars, including 2009 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke.

As a native Kansas Citian, it takes a holiday or other big event to see my family. But after last year’s Hall of Fame Classic, I knew I had to get my parents to Cooperstown for the 2010 event. Not just to celebrate Father’s Day with my dad – sharing a game we both love – but to reconnect that baseball bond with my mother too, who played countless hours of catch with me in the backyard while waiting for dad to get home form work and take me to practice.

At every opportunity, I pestered them about a trip out. In late September, I went to a wedding and on the Sunday after, my family went to Kauffman Stadium. Greinke was starting and I hadn’t seen him in person all season. I’d followed his year from the scoreless streak in April to his 1-0 complete game loss in Anaheim when he had pitches touch every speed from 66 to 96 mph. I tuned in early to the All-Star Game to make sure I didn’t miss a second. I wished people at work “Happy Greinke Day” on the days he started. It was can’t miss TV and I shared it with my parents, chatting about my hometown team throughout the season.

06-22-10-Hayes_Greinke2.jpgOn that warm September day, Greinke was his usual self. He went seven innings and allowed just one run. He struck out eight, including eventual batting champ and MVP Joe Mauer twice. During the game, my mom snapped some photos with her new camera.

Before leaving Missouri over the holidays, she slipped an envelope into my bag. Inside were photos she’d printed of family and my girlfriend and I. The last couple were photos of Greinke and 2008 All-Star Joakim Soria. I was surprised. My mother has always been creative, knitting and doing flower arrangements. I’d even seen her still-life and nature photos. But her action shots were exceptional, especially since they were from Row Double-S.

Just before the start of the 2010 season, I got my parents to commit to a visit during Father’s Day. At the same time, our staff updates our  Today’s Game exhibit, outfitting the lockers with artifacts from the previous season. Shortly after the update I was reminded of the photos when I saw hanging in the Royals locker a powder blue jersey – the team’s staple attire for home day games. Greinke gave the Hall of Fame his jersey from his final home start, which turned out to be the last win of his Cy Young campaign.

06-22-10-Hayes_Soria.jpgIt had crossed my mind that my mom should donate the photos,  and now I was sure. Her photos are of Greinke wearing the same jersey that’s on exhibit. I called and told her that when they came for the Hall of Fame Classic, she should donate the photos. Worried about the quality, she wasn’t so sure.

On Monday, my mother, father and myself presented her five prints – three of Greinke and two of Soria – to photo archivist Pat Kelly. Pat gushed. The quality was professional level and they filled a void in the archives – neither player had hard copy files. The fact that Greinke is wearing the same jersey that’s in the collection sweetened the deal.

A bit of chance played into my trip in September happening in the same weekend of the Royals final home stand. Luck let the rotation fall just right. And by coincidence or fate, my family is extremely proud of my mother and we now have a special moment to cap a great weekend in Cooperstown.

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

Golf and Baseball

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

On Saturday, I met up with Michael Walker, the senior editor of Golf Magazine. He was in town for the weekend to hit the links and crush a few at the Leatherstocking Golf Course while taking in the scenic and blossoming village of Cooperstown and its three renowned museums: The Fenimore Art Museum, the Farmers’ Museum and of course the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Walker is a Medfield, Mass. native and which is just under 45 minutes from 4 Yawkey Way – the address of Fenway Park and the home of the Boston Red Sox. When I asked him to get his picture taken in the Plaque Gallery, he mentioned Ted Williams, then Carlton Fisk. As we walked through the gallery, I motioned to Williams plaque and asked him if he preferred Fisk over Williams as his favorite Hall of Famer.

5-19-09-Hayes_Walker.jpg“I think for me it would have to be Williams for what he meant to the city.”

Like most Sox fans, conversation about the team quickly steered to present day and the success the team has seen this decade. Walker had said he hadn’t been to the Museum since 2001, so I asked if he knew we had Curt Schilling’s bloody sock. His face lit up. I could tell he was suddenly reliving the 2004 World Series again.

“Has it been tested for ketchup like all those Yankees fans claim?” he joked. “I can’t wait to see everything from 2004. For me baseball has changed so much since I was here in ’01.”

As a baseball guy talking to a golf guy, I had to ask, what’s the allure of golf to ballplayers?

“I think pitchers for whatever reason are usually the best; it’s that pitching motion that is similar,” Walker said. “I mean, (Red Sox pitcher John) Smoltz plays with Tiger (Woods). Pitchers and hockey players are always good and I think it’s because the swing is so similar to what they did in their sport.
 
“It seems like all ex-jocks, when they can’t compete any more in their sport take up golf so they can compete in something,” he said. “You see all these Pro-Am’s and they are just filled with former ballplayers.”
 
Walker told me that he had a buddy who played in a group of four with Tim Wakefield, but he’d never played with any big name baseball players. Then as if to further make his point about golf and baseball, Walker mentioned that he saw 2009 Hall of Fame electee Jim Rice out on the course earlier that morning.

“I haven’t really played with any guys, but meeting Rice this morning out on the course, that was something else.”

The natural question after he said he’d met Rice, was if he’d be back later this summer for Induction? Walker said he didn’t think he’d be able to make it this year, but true to his 2004 dedication, he said there is one ballplayer he won’t miss.

“My brother and I were talking and I think for Pedro (Martinez) – when it happens – we’ll come back.”

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

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