Results tagged ‘ Pittsburgh Pirates ’

Former Atlanta Brave Brian Hunter gets his turn in Cooperstown

Muder_90.jpgBy 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.”

8-17-09-Carr_Hunter.jpgHunter 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.

Six cycles

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

Hitting for the cycle is one of the more rare feats in baseball. It has happened only 286 times in the history of the game.

8-12-09-Carr_Tulowitzki.jpgOn Monday night, Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki made it 287 when he became the sixth player in 2009 to accomplish the feat.

Tulowitzki had a career-high seven RBIs during his five-hit performance against the Chicago Cubs, putting the Rockies in first place in the National League Wild Card race and cutting the Los Angeles Dodgers’ lead to 5 1/2 games in the NL West.

“It’s definitely more satisfying that I did it in a game that means a lot,” Tulowitzki said.

8-12-09-Carr_TulowitzkiHi-Five.jpgHe joins Orlando Hudson, Ian Kinsler, Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer and Melky Cabrera on the list of players who have hit for the cycle in 2009. They have all donated items from their historic feat to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, with the latest item being Tulowitzki’s batting gloves.

Only five other times in history have there been six cycles in one season. Only twice (1890 and 1933) have more than six cycles been reached.

In 1933, a record eight players hit for the cycle, and five of them were later inducted into the Hall of Fame: Chuck Klein, Arky Vaughan, Mickey Cochrane, Jimmie Foxx and Earl Averill. Cochrane, who had also hit for the cycle in 1932, Pinky Higgins and Foxx were all teammates on the Philadelphia Athletics and hit for the cycle within a two-week span during the first half of August.

1933 cycles
May 5: Pepper Martin, St. Louis (NL)
May 26: Chuck Klein, Philadelphia (NL)
June 24: Arky Vaughan, Pittsburgh
Aug. 2: Mickey Cochrane, Philadelphia (AL)
Aug. 6: Pinky Higgins, Philadelphia (AL)
Aug. 14: Jimmie Foxx, Philadelphia (AL)
Aug. 17: Earl Averill, Cleveland
Sept. 30: Babe Herman, Chicago (NL)

Samantha Carr is the media relations coordinator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Historic homers

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

This past week, a couple of today’s top sluggers surpassed marks set by two of the top stars of yesteryear.

On Thursday, 29-year-old Ryan Howard became the quickest player to reach the 200-home run plateau when he clubbed his 200th in only his 658th major league game. Howard eclipsed the mark set by Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner on Aug. 3, 1950, when Kiner took Cubs hurler Johnny Schmitz deep for his 200th round-tripper in career game number 706.

7-22-09-Berowski_KinerHoward.jpgKiner was two years younger than Howard when he established his mark. But while Howard’s big blasts have come for a very successful Phillies club, Kiner’s bombs came for a Pittsburgh club who struggled in the National League’s second division. After Kiner led the league in home runs for the seventh straight season in 1952, with the Pirates finishing last for the second time in three seasons, Pirates general manager Branch Rickey – another future Hall of Famer – rejected his request for a pay increase, stating: “We would have finished last without you”.

Rickey traded Kiner to the Cubs as part of a 10-player deal only 41 games into the 1953 season, and with that trade proved his statement true as the Pirates once again finished last. Kiner was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975.

7-22-09-Berowski_RamirezSchmidt.jpgMeanwhile, Manny Ramirez moved into sole possession of 15th place on Major League Baseball’s all-time home run list on Monday, passing Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle with his 537th career long ball.

The Mick hit his 536th-and-final home run off of Boston’s Jim Lonborg on Sept. 20, 1968. Eight days later, the 36-year-old Mantle would have the final at bat of his career, a first-inning ground out to short, also against Lonborg.

Manny’s 537th was a second-inning, two-run shot off the Reds’ Micah Owings. In the last season and a half, the 37-year-old Ramirez has passed no less than eight other Hall of Famers on the home run list, including Lou Gehrig and Ted Williams. Up next for Manny: the No. 14 spot currently occupied by Philadelphia Phillies Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt, who hit 548 career homers. 

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

Perfect anniversary

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Fifty years ago today, Marcia Haddix was in Springfield, Ohio. Her husband, Harvey, was on the road with the Pittsburgh Pirates. And history was about to happen.

The phone at Marcia’s mother’s house rang, and on the other end was Marcia’s mother-in-law.

5-26-09-Muder_Haddix.jpg“She said to me: ‘Do you know that you’re husband just pitched a perfect game?’ Marcia Haddix remembered. “But the game wasn’t over. I ran around the house trying to get it on all the radios, then I went out to the car and tried that radio. Finally, I found that if I pointed the car in a certain direction, the station would come in.”

What Marcia Haddix heard on that radio has never been repeated since. Harvey Haddix, the Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher, retired the Milwaukee Braves in order in the 10th, 11th and 12th innings – giving him a remarkable 12 perfect frames.

It is possibly the greatest game ever pitched.

Haddix passed away in 1994, but his masterpiece is carved into baseball history like few other one-game performances.

Methodically, Haddix began retiring batters on May 26, 1959 in Milwaukee. The Pirates, meanwhile, threatened regularly against Braves starter Lew Burdette. But neither team scored.

After 12 scoreless innings, Burdette had allowed 11 hits but had not walked a batter. Haddix was perfect.

Then in the bottom of the 13th, Milwaukee’s Felix Mantilla led off by reaching base on an error by Pittsburgh third baseman Don Hoak. With the spell broken – but the no-hitter still alive – Eddie Mathews bunted Mantilla to second, and Haddix then walked Hank Aaron intentionally to bring up Joe Adcock. The hulking Braves’ first baseman launched a shot to center field – a home run that was eventually ruled a double when Adcock passed Aaron on the bases.

But when Mantilla crossed the plate, the game ended with a loss for Haddix and the Pirates.

Fifty years later, Haddix’s game is still the stuff of legend. The Baseball Hall of Fame has several artifacts from that night, including a ticket stub, a ball from the game autographed by Haddix and his glove from that game.

5-26-09-Muder_HaddixMug.jpgMeanwhile, Marcia Haddix remains the keeper of the memories.
 
“Harv played because he loved the game, not because of the fame or because he made millions,” Marcia Haddix said. “He loved every minute and he had so many friends.  (Former Pirates center fielder) Bill Virdon, who played in that game, stopped by last year and said: ‘I don’t think Harv ever realized just what he did.’ Then he said: ‘We just couldn’t get him any runs.’

“But Harv never thought like that. He just figured that that’s how it came out.”

For more on this story, check out the June issue of the Hall of Fame’s members magazine Memories and Dreams. To become a Member, visit www.baseballhall.org/membership.

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

Get thee a denominator

Gates_90.jpg
4-23-09-Gates_Urdaneta.jpgBy Jim Gates

Perhaps one of the most exclusive clubs in baseball belongs to a group of pitchers who each appeared in only one Major League game in his career, gave up at least one run but never recorded an out. Therefore, their ERAs are ?, also known as the lemniscate, the mathematical symbol for infinity.

Surely it must have been frustrating to have earned your big league cup of coffee but never to have achieved the basic arithmetic feature that every pitcher desires most — an out. Fortunately for us, the statisticians of the game have kept the data we need to track this select group, so without further ceremony, here is “The Brotherhood of the Lemniscate”:

4-23-09-Gates_LemniscateChart.jpgOf the 8,188 players who have pitched in a Major League game (as of April 21, 2009, according to David Smith at Project Retrosheet) only 13 meet the criteria for this group. One of the interesting things about this list (as if we need to take this any further) is that two members (Bruckbauer and Hamann) were born in New Ulm, Minn. (population 13,500 in 2000). Such an august group needs a club motto, something to hang over its clubhouse door, so to speak, and a colleague of mine would propose the following: “He who lemniscates is lost.”

Ah, where would we be without such obscurities?

Jim Gates is librarian of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library.

New stadiums, new memories

Horn_90.jpgBy Brad Horn

This week, Major League Baseball and New York will welcome two new shrines, as the Mets christen Citi Field on Monday night and the new Yankee Stadium (everything old is new again) will host its formal inauguration Thursday.

We’ll be documenting both of these openings in Cooperstown with artifacts that capture this moment in time for future generations. Look for updates this week as we share our latest donation items with you.

4-13-09-Horn_Citi Field.jpgWhen future generations of fans look back on this week, it’s likely they’ll say these stadiums represent the last of a new breed. For the last 20 years, baseball stadiums have been constructed at a rate, and a cost, never before seen in our game’s history.

The 1990s unleashed a fury of new ballparks, when the old seemingly was not enough. Toronto (’89), Chicago, Baltimore, Cleveland and Arlington got the ball rolling. Soon, Atlanta, Seattle, Detroit, San Francisco and Houston followed suit, as did an entirely rebuilt Angels Stadium in Anaheim. Expansion clubs Colorado (’95) and Arizona (’98) christened new ballparks, while Tampa Bay and Florida also established new traditions, albeit in fairly older structures. The 21st century welcomed new parks in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, San Diego, St. Louis and Washington. Just this offseason, Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium underwent a major renovation. Boston’s Fenway Park, long a stalwart, has had multiple facelifts throughout the last 10 years.

In fact, only Wrigley Field (Chicago), Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles), the Metrodome (Minneapolis) and Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (Oakland) are the last major structures not enduring entire overhaul or replacement since the era of the new ballpark began 20 years ago. The Met will join the list of replaced stadiums next year as Minneapolis welcomes a new outdoor home.

What will become of the next phase of ballparks? Which of the “new” will be the first to be deemed “outdated?”

One thing is for sure — no period in baseball history is likely to see as much change as we have witnessed in the last two decades.

Visitors to Cooperstown can celebrate stadiums of past and present in Sacred Ground, an exhibit dedicated to the ballpark experience, only at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Brad Horn is the senior director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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