Results tagged ‘ Reggie Jackson ’

Rock-tober comes to an end

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

While Jim Tracy’s Colorado Rockies won’t join the likes of Jack McKeon’s 2003 Florida Marlins and Hall of Famer Bob Lemon‘s 1978 Yankees, the skipper certainly made headlines before his team was eliminated from the playoffs on Monday by the defending World Champion Phillies.

10-13-09-Hayes_Lemon.jpgBoth Lemon and McKeon, however, claimed the unique accomplishment of leading their team to a World Series title during a season in which they didn’t start the year as that team’s manager.

Lemon, elected to the Hall of Fame as a pitcher in 1976, was hired by the Yankees shortly after the White Sox fired him in the summer of 1978. His new team trailed the Red Sox by nine-and-a-half games when Lemon was hired on July 25, but future Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter and Goose Gossage helped the team surge back into contention to catch Boston. The chase was highlighted by a four-game sweep of the Sox known as the Boston Massacre and a one game playoff which featured Bucky Dent’s historic home run. The Yankees then went on to defeat the Royals in the American League Championship Series and the Dodgers in the World Series.

McKeon’s Marlins were much quieter in qualifying for the postseason via the Wild Card – but used an infusion of stellar play from young talents like Josh Beckett, Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. Riding the youth wave, McKeon let veterans like Ivan Rodriguez and Mike Lowell pace the team – pushing the Marlins from 19-29 in late May to 91 wins and a World Series title.

10-13-09-Hayes_Tracy.jpgTracy, who took over the Rockies in May, accomplished quite a bit in his first season at Colorado’s helm. The Rockies finished 22 games over .500 (92-70), making Tracy the first in-season replacement to take a team that was 10 games under .500 to 20 games over .500. He set several other records, tying the modern mark for wins (41) in a team’s first 60 games after getting the job in midseason. With 50 wins through 75 contests, he matched Lemon in 1978-79 as the first mid-season replacement to post a .667 win percentage through that many games.

Entering this year, 30 managers were replaced during the season since 2000. Only eight of the new skippers posted winning records – and only one, McKeon with the 2003 Marlins, actually won the World Series.

Just 15 midseason managerial changes, prior to Tracy, resulted in a playoff berth.In fact, only two teams in history have changed their manager midseason and won the World Series – McKeon’s Marlins and Lemon’s Yankees.

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

Caught in the draft

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

Monday night, mere moments before the deadline for teams to sign their 2009 amateur draft picks, the Washington Nationals agreed to a record-setting contract with the first overall pick in the draft.

8-19-09-Berowski_StrasburgJackson.jpgAfter failing to sign their first round pick the previous year, the Nationals inked San Diego State fireballing junior Stephen Strasburg to a four-year contract worth in excess of $15 million, smashing the previous record for an amateur contract by nearly five million. If Strasburg had failed to sign with the Nats, he still had several options open, including a return to the Aztecs. His college coach, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, said: “I wanted him to sign. If he didn’t, he had a place to go. But he had nothing else to prove in college baseball. It was time for him to start his pro career.”

But being the first overall selection in the annual amateur draft is by no means a guarantee of success in the major leagues. Since the draft began in 1965, only 19 No. 1 picks have made an All-Star team, and none have been elected to the Hall of Fame. In fact, three players drafted No. 1 prior to 2005 failed to make the major leagues, including Brien Taylor, a hard-throwing high school pitcher selected by the Yankees in 1991 who drew comparisons to Dwight Gooden.

Only four players drafted in the top 10 have been elected to the Hall of Fame. In 1966, the Mets passed on Reggie Jackson and selected catcher Steve Chilcott out of Antelope Valley High School in Lancaster, California. Chilcott never made it past Triple-A. Jackson was taken with the second pick by the Kansas City A’s and is the highest draft pick to earn election to the Hall.

Rounding out the foursome of top ten picks elected to the Hall of Fame are Robin Yount and Dave Winfield, selected with the third and fourth picks respectively in the 1973 draft, and Paul Molitor, taken third overall in 1977.

History Every Day

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

Each week of the baseball season is full of history. Here’s a look back at some of the week’s milestones.


8-6-09-Hayes_JacksonThome.jpgReggie’s Next:
White Sox slugger Jim Thome belted two home runs Wednesday night, putting him at 561 in his career. After collecting the 44th multi-homer game of his career – third this season – he is now just two shy of Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson for 12th all-time. The soon-to-be 39-year-old (Aug. 27) has hit seven homers in his last 21 games.

Another Record in the Bag: Tuesday night’s two-hit game for Ichiro Suzuki was the 600th of his nine-year big league career. During the live-ball era, only Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby comes close to collecting that many in a nine year span. “The Rajah” totaled 581 multi-hit games from 1920-1928 and 1921-1929.

Albert, the Grand: Hall of Famer Ernie Banks has company in the National League records books now. Albert Pujols’ 10th-inning grand slam to defeat the Mets on Tuesday was his fifth this season. That ties Banks’ 54-year-old NL record set for grannies in a single season.

Melk-Man Delivers: While cycles are typically rare in baseball, they haven’t been this season (MLB.com lists 286 cycles and 263 no-hitters in baseball history). The Yankees Melky Cabrera became the fifth player to collect one in 2009 on Sunday. He’s the first Bomber since Tony Fernandez in 1995 to record one and first since Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle on July 23, 1957 to do it in a nine inning game. Cabrera joins Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio (May 20, 1948) as the last two Yankees to hit for the cycle on the road.


8-6-09-Hayes_Schmidt.jpgHall of Famer Sightings:
Philadelphia and Baltimore will be hosting events with Hall of Famers over the next week. Friday night, Hall of Famers Jim Bunning, Steve Carlton, Robin Roberts, Mike Schmidt will be at Citizens Bank Park to honor Ford C. Frick winner, Harry Kalas who passed away earlier this season. Kalas’ name will be placed alongside other Phillies greats on the team’s Wall of Fame.

On Monday, Hall of Fame manager and ex-Oriole Dick Williams will be on Eutaw Street at Camden Yards greeting fans and signing autographs. Williams played 13 seasons in the majors before starting his managerial career, including three stints in the Orioles system.

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

Mr. Nice Guy turns 80

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Growing up a baseball fan in the 1970s, you quickly learned the rules.

Jim Palmer was THE Cy Young Award winner. Reggie Jackson  was ALWAYS in the World Series.

And Dick Williams‘ players NEVER gave less than 100 percent.

5-27-09-Muder_Williams.jpgOf course, there was a price to be paid for Williams’ managerial work. It seemed like every few years, his players began to grumble, his owner became worried — and Williams was eventually shown the door. But six months later, Williams would be back at Spring Training with yet another team — molding winners out of teams that never won.

Fast-forward to 2008, when Williams is elected to the Hall of Fame. It looked like the same guy: white mustache, piercing eyes… But this person was smiling all the time. In fact, he was moved to tears more than once.

Seems like the disciplinarian manager found out that — along the way — he was loved and respected more than he knew.

Today, Williams becomes one of just 13 living Hall of Famers who have reached their 80th birthday. And after a career filled with hard knocks and hard work, Dick Williams surely deserves to celebrate.

Happy birthday, Mr. Nice Guy!

Watch Williams’ speech from the 2008 Induction Ceremony

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

Mr. October is 63

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Clutching the pack of Topps baseball cards my mother had just agreed to buy for me, I rushed past the candy display at our neighborhood market that spring day in 1978 — only to stop with a startled shake.

Like any kid, I had the candy rack memorized: Hershey bars here, Three Musketeers there — all in their usual place. But then I saw it: This square, orange wrapper with the baseball player on it, disrupting the order I knew so well.

5-18-09-Muder_Jackson.jpgThe Reggie Bar had arrived.

At 9 years old, I had yet to grasp the magnitude of Reggie Jackson‘s Game 6 performance in the 1977 World Series. But I could tell this was someone special. And that fall, when Reggie had two more homers and eight more RBIs against the Dodgers in the 1978 World Series, I thought greatness was simply Jackson’s birthright.

But Jackson’s career was much more than those two unbelievable World Series. He appeared in the postseason in more than half (11) of his 21 seasons, winning five World Series rings. He was a 14-time All-Star, and he still ranks 19th all-time with 1,075 extra-base hits.

It is the home runs, however, that everyone remembers: The towering shot that nearly left Tiger Stadium in the 1971 All-Star Game; his third homer of Game 6 in 1977, deep into the black of Yankee Stadium’s former bleachers; that go-for-broke left-handed stroke that seemed to bring out every ounce of power in the man. His 563 home runs still rank No. 11 on the all-time list.

Today, on Reggie’s 63rd birthday, much of that history is just memories. But the aura surrounding Jackson still remains.

As for the swing, it’s still there — though now it’s on the golf course. The stride, the follow-through, the power.

Ping! And that white ball is majestically flying.

Just like it was in 1977.

I never did care for the candy. But long after the Reggie Bar left supermarket shelves, the sweet taste of success still belongs to Reggie Jackson.

If you want to keep up with Reggie, visit his Web site and blog.

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

The new Yankee Stadium takes its bow

Appel_90.jpgBy Marty Appel

On Opening Day of the refurbished Yankee Stadium, April 15, 1976, it was nearly 90 degrees and of course, I had overdressed, deeming it appropriate to wear a suit and tie on this formal occasion. I was the PR director; I was the guy on the field trying to make order out of 50 photographers and a long list of VIPs, coordinating the introductions with hand signals to Bob Sheppard in the PA booth. All of my “assistance” from stadium security had vanished, dispatched to Mr. Steinbrenner’s office for his pregame party.

So there I was, alone on the field with Joe Louis, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Frank Gifford, Kyle Rote, Johnny Unitas, Weeb Ewbank and others with Stadium pedigrees. 4-17-09-Appel_OldYankeeStadium.jpgBob Shawkey, who pitched the 1923 opener, was on hand to throw out the first pitch, and he was surrounded on the mound by Mel Allen, the legendary “Voice of the Yankees;” by Pete Sheehy, the kindly clubhouse manager who had been there since 1927; by Toots Shor, the restaurateur whose eatery had been a second home to so many athletes; and by James Farley, former postmaster general, head of the Democratic Party, Haverstraw, N.Y. amateur baseball player, and season-ticket holder since ’23. Whitey Witt stood at the plate — he was the first Yankees batter in ’23.

Although recent publicity has called the remodeled Yankee Stadium inferior to the original, at the time, almost everyone had glowing approval for the project. Escalators, a video-replay scoreboard (which didn’t work on Opening Day), no obstructed-view seating, modern-dining facilities, luxury boxes and a new sound system all had kicked the aging park into modern times. The façade design, not yet held in iconic status as it is today, graced the top of the bleacher billboards. There wasn’t seating in the left-field bleachers until it was hastily installed prior to the ’76 ALCS, and thus the attendance of 54,010 was less than the eventual capacity.

These thoughts were in my mind as I boarded the crowded D train at Columbus Circle for the 15-minute trip to the Bronx. Today, you can always tell when it’s the right train, because everyone is wearing Yankees clothing — caps, Jeter T-shirts, etc. I always remember George Weiss, the GM in the ’50s, supposedly pounding on his desk in front of a promotion man who was touting Cap Day and saying, “Do you think I want every kid in this town walking around in a Yankees cap?” As if it would be sacrilegious.

Upon emerging from the subway Thursday, I the first view is not of the beautiful new Stadium, but of the old one, over there to the left, experiencing the early stages of demolition. I was very emotional when I attended the final game last September, and this is yet another tug at my heartstrings. Sledgehammers are doing their jobs along the bleacher walls, and within the next few months, the concrete will be down, and the reality will really set in. I’ve been going there since 1956. This is tough to see.

I was early enough to take a full walk around the new park. There are no statues, as other teams have included, but plenty of signage and banners remembering great Yankees: Ruth to Gehrig to DiMaggio to Mantle to Munson to Murcer to Jackson to Mattingly to O’Neill to Williams to Jeter to Rivera to Sabathia. Yes, to CC. Hey, he was going for his second Yankees win Thursday! And the first rule of promoting your product is to promote the current product more than the old.

It’s nice that Babe Ruth Plaza not only remains, but is also enhanced. It used to be just three words in broken tile in a patch of concrete breaking up traffic flow on 161st Street. Now it has a more formal presence, as the outside of the first-base/right-field side of the stadium. The inside complement is called the Great Hall. (I might have named it the Grand Concourse, after the nearby Bronx street.)

Everyone is in a festive mood, and there had been rumors in the last 24 hours of not Yogi, but of President Obama — or of Archbishop Dolan, newly installed just Wednesday, handling the honors. The paper this morning said it would be Yogi, which is just fine. He has been a loveable figure in this town since his 1946 debut 63 years ago. How do you stay so lovable so long? You have to be the real deal, and he is. He’s the most honorable, honest and genuine person you could ever know. It is wonderful that he is still with us, just short of 84, to perform this honor. Although he does move closer to home plate with each ceremonial toss!

I arrived about two hours early and spent a lot of time photographing exterior shots. I decided that the crossing of 161st Street by hundreds of fans coming off the subway will take on the look of a Yankees fashion parade in no time. And just a few days after New York’s traditional Easter Parade! It’s quite a sight to see this sea of Yankees blue swarm across the street towards Babe Ruth Plaza.

I’m in Section 212, sitting with Jeff Idelson, my pal for almost 20 years and the president of the Hall of Fame. Like me, Jeff is a former Yankees PR director. The late Anne Mileo was secretary to us both, and it’s a good day to remember Anne as well.

4-17-09-Appel_Berra.jpgAfter receiving an Opening Day pin (sure to be a collectors item), I continued taking photos inside, thinking, “What would we be wanting to see of 1923’s opener if we could?”

So I shot concession-stand price signs, the restaurants, the signage and the museum, complete with all its signed baseballs, statues of Yogi and Larsen and the World Series trophies since 1977. I took a photo of the signed baseball of journeyman catcher Sal Fasano, one of my son’s favorite players, and wondered why I have no recollection of Frank Tanana ever being a Yankee.

The opening ceremonies were less tear-evoking than the final game last year, but still a marvel. John Fogerty sang “Centerfield” (love it), Bernie Williams did “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” on guitar (love him) and Kelly Clarkson performed the national anthem. (She is a different person than Carrie Underwood, right?)

The old timers introduced were a mixed bag of memories — good for the Yankees to invite the much-maligned Horace Clark, and how good it was to see Jerry Coleman, Whitey Ford and Bobby Brown, who, beside Mr. Berra, were the senior citizens. The biggest hands were for the more recent players — Williams, O’Neill, Tino Martinez, David Cone, etc., probably because younger fans cheer louder. Some of my favorites were there: Bobby Richardson, Moose Skowron, Ron Blomberg, Luis Arroyo, Ralph Terry and Bob Turley. (I guess we’ll never see Jim Bouton at such a gathering.) I wish Gene Michael had received a louder ovation, if only for what he meant as a super scout in the early ’90s, building the Yankees dynasty of that decade.

To me, with a public-relations background, much of a fan’s experience should be about how many cheer moments their day at the ballpark provides. 4-17-09-Appel_Posada.jpgFor example, I was at the first exhibition game on April 3 against the Cubs. Jackson threw out the first pitch. I think the fans would have gotten a chill if the PA announcer had said, “And joining Reggie for the ceremonial first pitch … one of his teammates from those great Yankees teams of the ’70s … one of the most popular players to ever wear the Yankees uniform … here today as the manager of the Chicago Cubs … a warm Yankee Stadium welcome for … Lou Piniella!” It would have been a terrific moment.

Jeff and I then sat back and enjoyed a baseball game as two old friends should. We commented on Sabathia’s high pitch count and rolled our eyes at the leather-lunged fan ahead of us who chose to stand and yell “hip hip …” on every pitch to Jorge Posada, so that everyone would follow with “Hor-HAY!” Wasn’t it a supernatural act, that when Posada hit the first home run in the new ballpark, our hero was off in the men’s room or somewhere and missed it?

Jeff and I shared a lot of observations about the minutiae of the place — the placement of the monuments, the retired numbers, the out-of-town scoreboard, even whether the PR department was correct to omit the 1974 opener at Shea Stadium in the media packet that included Hilltop Park, the Polo Grounds, the original Yankee Stadium and the remodeled Yankee Stadium. (We thought Shea belonged.)

When the Indians got nine runs in one inning, the fans started to yell “We want Swisher!” after Nick had pitched a shutout inning in the 15-5 loss Monday. That was pretty funny, and I hope Nick heard it in right field.

Yankee Stadium traditions continued — YMCA, three-card monte, the subway race, Ronan Tynan doing “God Bless America,” the bleacher bums’ roll call, and of course, the captain, Derek Jeter, being The Man. The fans love him, and he’s worthy of it. As Mantle had been a hero to me, and then 4-17-09-Appel_Jeter.jpgDon Mattingly to my son, it’s wonderful that someone like Jeter has come along for this generation. Baseball perpetuates itself.

It was a Yankees loss, but every team is going to lose 60 games, so you sort of put that aside and move on if you’re a Yankees fan. Posada hitting the first home run was big. The ballpark is a winner. And watching the game with a friend is the best part of it all.

After the opener at new Yankee Stadium, the following items were donated to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and will soon be on display in Cooperstown: a game-used ball signed by Indians starting pitcher Cliff Lee, the spikes worn by Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia and the bat used by Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore to hit a seventh-inning grand slam.

Marty Appel is a special contributor to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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