Results tagged ‘ Philadelphia Phillies ’
By Freddy Berowski
Ryan Howard is one of those players who always seems to save his best work for late in the season.
In 2007 and ’08, the man Phillies manager Charlie Manuel calls his “Big Piece” was just that in the Phillies’ late-season surges to overtake the Mets and win the National League East. In total, Howard posted 36 home runs and 101 RBIs in just over 400 at-bats during August and September in those two seasons. And this year, the 2006 NL Most Valuable Player has already posted numbers along the same lines, hitting 16 home runs while knocking in 52 in August and September, through Wednesday. The only difference this year is that the Phillies are in cruise-control right now, 6 1/2 games up on the Braves, with the Mets not even in the rear-view mirror, already having been eliminated from postseason contention.
One of the most dominant sluggers of this era, Howard didn’t become a regular in the Phillies lineup until age 25, midway through the 2005 season, because he was blocked at first base by slugger Jim Thome. This season, however, Howard has matched many Hall of Famer milestones.
A month ago, he joined Hall of Famer Chuck Klein as the only Phillies to top the 30-home run and 100-RBI marks in four consecutive seasons. Two weeks ago, Howard became the fastest player to reach the 600-RBI plateau since Hall of Famer Ted Williams more than a half century ago. The 2009 campaign also marks Howard’s fourth straight season with at least 40 home runs and 120 RBIs, something only Ken Griffey Jr., Sammy Sosa and Hall of Famer Babe Ruth have done before.
Freddy Berowski is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
By Bridget Bielefeld
Warren Spahn had earned many accolades by the start of the 1960 season – the 16th of his career. He had won a Cy Young award, a World Series championship and was an 11-time all-star. He had 10 20-win seasons under his belt and a slew of other awards in his trophy case.
Yet one thing was still missing from his illustrious résumé – a no-hitter.
That void would be filled 49 years ago today: Sept. 16, 1960, when Spahn, at 39 years old, achieved baseball immortality against the Philadelphia Phillies at Milwaukee County Stadium.
Spahn, a crafty southpaw with a high leg kick, had been making quick work of the Phillies all evening. Coming into the top of the ninth inning, in a game that was barely two hours old, Spahn had only allowed two base runners – both of whom reached on walks.
With four runs of support from his Braves, Spahn was in a position to make history.
No. 9 hitter Bobby Gene Smith was the first to bat for the Phils in the ninth. Spahn promptly struck him out for his 14th K of the game – and proceeded to do the same to leadoff man Bobby Del Greco, elevating his total to 15 on the night.
Only one man now stood between Spahn and an accomplishment which few men achieve in a lifetime. Second baseman Bobby Malkmus stepped into the batter’s box, and just as quickly as the game had progressed up to that point, it ended – with a groundout to shortstop Johnny Logan.
“He’s beyond comparison with any modern left-hander,” Hall of Famer Casey Stengel said “He has beaten every handicap – the live ball, second division teams. No one can ever say anything to deny his greatness.”
With the win, Spahn improved to 20-9 and lowered his ERA to 3.46. He finished the season 21-10 and placed second in Cy Young award voting behind Vern Law of the Pirates.
Spahn would go on to throw his second no hitter April 28 of the following year – at 40 years old.
“I don’t think Spahn will ever get into the Hall of Fame,” Stan Musial once said. “He’ll never stop pitching.”
After the 1960 season, Spahn would spend four more years with the Braves before joining the New York Mets and then San Francisco Giants in 1965 — the year he played his final big league game.
Spahn finished his career with 363 wins (a record for left-handers) and remains sixth on the all-time wins list. He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973 in his first year of eligibility. Only 10 other pitchers have accomplished that feat.
Just add it to his résumé.
Bridget Bielefeld was the 2009 public relations intern at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
By Freddy Berowski
On Tuesday, the Cubs got off to a great start, connecting for eight straight hits off Pirates ace Zach Duke. While most of the balls were not hit particularly hard, they managed to find the right landing spots.
As Cubs leadoff batter Ryan Theriot put it, “The ball was bouncing our way and it was in our favor in the first inning for sure.”
With those eight hits, the Cubs tied the major league record for consecutive hits for a team at the start of their half of the first inning, a mark that they established on April 21, 1973 – ironically, against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Six times since, a major league team has matched this mark.
The seven-run first inning on Tuesday was all the Cubs would need as they cruised to a 9-4 victory, but it wasn’t that easy for them back in ’73. Future Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins started for the Cubs at home and the Pirates jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. The Cubs bounced back in their half of the first with eight straight hits, including one by another future Hall of Famer, Billy Williams, chasing Pirates starter Nelson Briles before he could even record an out. But Fergie didn’t fare that well either.
Despite having six straight 20 win seasons under his belt, Jenkins hadn’t beaten the Pirates in his previous seven starts against them, and had only three wins in his previous 15 games against them. Fergie lamented after the game, “Guess some clubs gotta have your number.” Fergie was pulled after just 4 1/3 innings, and didn’t factor in the decision. The Cubs would hang on for a 10-9 victory.
Other teams to match the mark established by the Cubs were the 1975 Phillies with future Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, the 1975 Pirates featuring future Hall of Famer Willie Stargell, the 1981 Athletics lead by future Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson and the 1990 Yankees.
Freddy Berowski is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
By Craig Muder
His hands settled around the shaft of the golf club, then drew back for his practice swing.
The power of that swing — the legendary power of Michael Jack Schmidt — was still apparent, even if the familiar baseball bat had been replaced by the metal wood.
Those hands — an unforgettable instinct.
Schmidt, who will turn 60 in less than three weeks, is still fit and trim. The once-red hair is now gray, but the body looks to be not far removed from his playing days with the Phillies. At the very least, it would be easy to picture Schmidt on the Champions Tour.
The Hall of Fame third baseman was in Cooperstown this weekend, and on Tuesday he teed off at the Pro-Am for the Otesaga Hotel Seniors Open. Schmidt served as the celebrity host of the tournament, which benefits Pathfinder Village, located in nearby Edmeston, N.Y., a residential community dedicated to children and adults with Down syndrome. The tournament also benefits the Baseball Hall of Fame.
“No charity I’ve ever been associated with is more deserving of a tournament like this,” said Schmidt of Pathfinder Village. “I’ve played in this tournament a couple times now, and it’s always great to come back.”
Schmidt spent 18 seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1972-89, winning eight National League home run titles and three NL MVP awards.
But his greatest thrill as a pro athlete just might have come on the famous Leatherstocking Golf Course in Cooperstown.
“I’m not playing in the Seniors Open this year, but I did a couple years ago and actually finished third in my flight. I got a check for $700. When you’re up against competition like this — great senior pros from around the country — that’s pretty good.”
Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
By Trevor Hayes
A look at some of baseball’s record chasers as the last month of the season gets under way:
Ranking 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.
Power 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.
Wednesday 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.
By Craig Muder
Brian Hunter peered into the Braves’ locker in the Hall of Fame’s Today’s Game exhibit and stared right into history.
“Look, Smoltzie’s shoes,” said Hunter of the cleats belonging to former Braves teammate John Smoltz. “And there’s (a photo of Rafael) Furcal. And Andruw Jones’ bat. I was there with all of them.”
Hunter was more than “there.” The nine-year major league vet, who spent parts of five seasons with the Braves, appeared in three World Series with Atlanta and played a role in the Braves’ remarkable run through the 1990s.
Hunter toured the Hall of Fame on Monday as part of a team from the Cooperstown All Star Village. Hunter, along with former Minnesota Twins farmhand Vern Hildebrandt, serve as coaches for the team.
Hunter, now 41 but still looking every bit the athlete, broke into the majors in 1991 and finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting, He hit .333 in the Braves’ win over Pittsburgh in the NLCS, then scored two runs and drove in three more while playing in all seven games of the World Series. Hunter appeared in the 1992 World Series with Atlanta, then — after being traded to Pittsburgh in following the 1993 season — wrapped up his big league career with stints with the Pirates, Reds, Mariners, Cardinals, Braves (again) and the Phillies.
It was Hunter’s first trip to the Hall of Fame, but — on paper — he’s been here since his big league debut in 1991. Hunter, just like every one of the 17,000-plus men who have played Major League Baseball, has a file in the Hall of Fame’s Library. When shown a file story recounting Hunter’s brush with a beanball, his youth baseball team let out a big “Ooohhhh.”
“This is amazing,” said Hunter while poring over a few of the three million documents in the Hall of Fame’s Library. “It’s all here.”
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.