Results tagged ‘ Portland Trail Blazers ’

A record for the fans

Wilson_90.jpgBy Julie Wilson

When the Boston Red Sox open the 2011 season, the team, the city of Boston, and Red Sox Nation will continue to build on a record that they set back in 2008.

03-02-11-Wilson_Fenway.jpgThe record for most consecutive sellouts by a team is one that truly belongs to the fans. Red Sox fans have had plenty of reasons to keep coming back since the streak began in 2003. Two World Series titles and the notoriety of keeping the 600-plus game streak alive should be enough to draw the crowds in spite of their somewhat disappointing 2010 season.

As a kid growing up in Cleveland, I experienced firsthand the joy of being a part of the previously held record of 455 games. From June 12,1995 until April 4th, 2001, I was a junior high schooler and then a high school student who could not get enough of the Indians, and I was far from alone in a city desperate for a championship. There was an incredible aura surrounding the city of Cleveland as each night 40,000 or more fans packed the stands at Jacobs Field.

If you didn’t have tickets before the season started, you needed to know someone, or even know someone who knew someone, if you wanted a shot at getting into a game. In spite of the constant struggle to get tickets, my father made sure that we at least made it to Opening Day each season, and often finagled a way to get tickets to a handful of other games throughout each year.

03-02-11-Wilson_Jacobs.jpgIn total, some 19,324,248 fans passed through the gates during those seven magical seasons. Knowing that my dad and I likely account for about 100 of these individuals gives me an enormous sense of pride. Cleveland fans have not had much to celebrate in recent years and yet we keep coming back. Maybe not at the rate of 40,000 a night, but the love is certainly still there.

Each time I set foot in the renamed Progressive Field, I still get a tingle down my spine from the retired number “455–The Fans” that hangs out above right center field. There is no record that is more meaningful to me as one of the faithful who contributed to that streak.

It’s memories 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.

Julie Wilson is the manager of school programming for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hoop madness comes to Cooperstown

Light_90.jpgBy Steve Light

Spring training is in full swing, but the eyes of the sports world this week are fixed on the college basketball tournaments. While we all wait for the Cinderella team that will make our brackets fall to pieces, let’s not forget that many of baseball’s brightest stars have stepped on the court in college, and even in the NBA.

The most famous crossover player – Michael Jordan – perhaps had a better handle on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament than he did the curve ball. The former North Carolina star hit the game winning shot in the championship game against Georgetown in 1982, but in his one season with the Double-A Birmingham Barons Jordan hit .202 with three home runs, 51 RBIs and 30 stolen bases.

Yet MJ wasn’t the only basketball star to take the field. Another basketball Hall of Famer, Dave DeBusschere, pitched for the Chicago White Sox in 1962 and 1963, compiling a 3-4 record with a 2.90 ERA over 36 games. And when former Celtic, Trail Blazer, and Phoenix Sun Danny Ainge led his BYU team to the regional finals in 1981, he had already made it to the majors. Drafted in 1977 by the Toronto Blue Jays, Ainge made his big league debut on May 21, 1979. In three seasons with the Jays, Ainge batted .220 with two home runs, 37 RBI, and 12 stolen bases. Perhaps spurred on by his tournament success – his coast-to-coast drive with seven seconds left sunk second seeded Notre Dame in the regional semifinals – Ainge quit baseball following the 1981 season and focused on his basketball career.

On the flip side, many baseball stars have found success on the basketball court as well. Point guard Kenny Lofton helped the Arizona Wildcats make it to the Final Four in the 1988 tournament before being drafted by the Houston Astros that summer. Even Hall of Famers have gotten in on the act, Robin Roberts starred on the court for the Michigan State Spartans, while Tony Gwynn was San Diego State’s floor general in his college career. Gwynn still holds school records for assists in a single season and assists in a career. He was even drafted by the San Diego Clippers of the NBA, but luckily for us, chose baseball instead.

03-18-10-Light_GwynnRobertsWinfield.jpgSix-foot-six Hall of Famer Dave Winfield was a standout baseball and basketball player for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Winfield and the Gophers made it to the tournament in 1972 and even earned a first round bye. The Gophers lost their first game in the Midwest Region to eventual national-runner up Florida Sate, 70 – 56, with Winfield playing all 40 minutes and chipping in eight points and eight rebounds. In the regional third-place game, the Gophers bounced back to beat Marquette 77 – 72, with Winfield compiling 16 points and nine rebounds. Scouts so highly rated Winfield’s athletic ability that he was not only drafted by the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA and the Utah Stars of the ABA, but also his hometown Minnesota Vikings of the NFL. He had not even played college football.

As the regional semifinals and finals come to nearby Syracuse March 25 and 27, the Hall of Fame will celebrate the connections between baseball and basketball on Friday, March 26 with a full day of programs, including special trivia contests that test our visitor’s knowledge of baseball and the NCAA tournament.

Stephen Light is manager of museum programs at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers