Results tagged ‘ Robin Yount ’

The Kid in the Hall

By Jeff Idelson

I’ll never forget May 20th and 21st of 2011. 

I embarked on a 24-hour journey for an aspect of my job that is never comfortable and always sad: Attending a funeral.   

Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew had passed away in Arizona. After lunch with Robin Yount, Paul Molitor and their wives, as well as Bob Nightengale, my friend with USA Today, I headed back to the airport to take a redeye flight home.

As I sat on the flight and drifted off, I wondered what else could happen. Harmon’s passing was the last of six Hall of Famers who had passed away in the last year: Robin Roberts, Sparky Anderson, Bob Feller, Duke Snider and Dick Williams.

As I de-boarded my flight in Newark to change planes that next morning, May 21st, my phone began to ring. It was The Kid, and I smiled. I always looked forward to conversations with Gary Carter because he was so positive, so uplifting and had a zest for life.

This time, the call was different. 

Gary explained that he had been inventorying equipment with his coaches for Palm Beach Community College, where he was the head baseball coach. He told me he had lost count a few times and even snapped at some of his colleagues, and he did not know why. Very uncharacteristic of the most positive person I had come to know in Baseball.

I immediately thought about what I had been reading, about the recent rash of concussions in football. “I bet you have a concussion from all of those collisions you took,” I quickly blurted out, as if I could solve the problem. Gary waited patiently for me to finish and said, “No, it’s actually four tumors wrapped around my brain.” And then he quickly added, “But I am not scared, because I have my family around me and I am going to beat this.” 

And that was the essence of Gary Carter.

He fought gallantly with his family by his side, at every step. He went to Duke Medical Center to learn more. It was actually one tumor with four tentacles. And he could not have surgery: His cancer was inoperable. 

Gary called the next day.

“It’s inoperable, which is going to make this a little bit tougher, but I’ll beat this,” he told me confidently. “I have my family and my faith and with that, we’ll get through this, Jeffrey,” he said. “I plan to be at Hall of Fame Weekend to see everyone.”

It never happened.

Gary was so generous of time and spirit. He traveled to Cooperstown for the 2010 Hall of Fame Classic over Father’s Day Weekend and then to Cooperstown a month later for the induction of Andre Dawson, Doug Harvey and Whitey Herzog.  That would be his last visit to the place he adored so much and the Classic was the final time he participated in a baseball game. The fans adored him.

“Gary was so proud to be a Hall of Famer,” his widow Sandy told me on the phone yesterday afternoon after letting me know of Gary’s peaceful passing. 

And “proud” sums up the Kid so well. He was proud of wearing a major league uniform for 19 seasons, of being a Hall of Famer, of his family and his friends. 

We lost a good one yesterday. Rest in Peace #8. We miss you.

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

Green Bay student wins dream trip to Cooperstown

By Craig Muder

Kelsey Willems’ favorite baseball team, the Milwaukee Brewers, fell just short of their World Series dreams this fall.

But Kelsey and her father Bob got to live the dream of every baseball fan with an October visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Kelsey, an eighth grader at Bay View Middle School in Green Bay, Wis., was selected as the grand prize winner of the annual Step Up to the Plate @ Your Library program. The Hall of Fame and the American Library Association partner for the program, which promotes libraries and librarians as essential information resources.

As a seventh grader, Kelsey entered the contest by answering a series of baseball trivia questions developed by the Hall of Fame’s Library staff.

“Our school librarian, Mrs. Wells, handed us the contest forms when we were doing research on Jackie Robinson,” Kelsey said. “And Miss Cook, our language arts teacher, encouraged us to enter.

“I have to admit: My dad helped me with the answers.”

Kelsey and her father’s reward was a trip to Cooperstown for Saturday’s World Series Gala at the Hall of Fame. Both father and daughter are Brewers fans and sported Brewers T-shirts during their Hall of Fame visit on Saturday, then watched Game 3 of the World Series in the Museum’s Grandstand Theater.

“I had tickets to Game 2 of the World Series if the Brewers had gotten there, so I would have gone to Game 2 on Thursday night and then come here on Saturday,” said Bob Willems. “That didn’t happen, but this is still a very special trip.”

Dad and daughter sought out all the Brewers’ artifacts in the Museum, including Robin Yount’s Hall of Fame plaque and the Brewers’ locker in the Today’s Game exhibit. Kelsey’s favorite Brewers are Nyjer Morgan and Prince Fielder.

“The Museum was a lot bigger than I expected,” Kelsey said.

For more information on the Step Up to the Plate @ Your Library program, please visit http://www.ala.org/@yourlibrary.

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

Larry Yount’s unique, one-game career

By John Odell

Among the treasures of the Hall of Fame’s archives are our player files, which chronicle every player who ever entered a major league game (now numbering over 17,700). In addition, the player files also include Negro leaguers, women from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, umpires, managers, coaches, executives, exceptional minor leaguers (like Michael Jordan) and numerous others.

We add to the archive throughout the year, creating a new file each time a player enters a major league game for the first time. But perhaps no one has a more unusual debut than Astros pitcher Larry Yount, the older brother of Hall of Famer Robin Yount.

Larry Yount, you see, debuted in a game he never played in, and then never appeared again.

Drafted by the Houston Astros in 1968, Larry Yount received his promotion to the parent club in September 1971, his fourth season in pro ball. Uncle Sam, however, had just called on him to complete a week of military service, a common occurrence during the Vietnam War era. So after a week of no baseball at all, Yount finally ended up in the Astros bullpen. Maybe the layoff had an effect, and maybe not. We will never know.

On Sept. 15, Yount’s opportunity came. With the Astros trailing Atlanta 4-1 in the top of the ninth, Houston manager Harry “The Hat” Walker called Larry’s number. It was the perfect low-pressure situation to get a rookie’s feet wet. Only 6,513 attended the Wednesday night contest. The Astros were hovering around .500, some 10 games out of the NL West race, and Atlanta was also playing out the string.

As Yount warmed up, his elbow began to stiffen, but he buckled down and reported to the mound, where he was announced as the next pitcher. The pain, however, got much worse as he took his final warm-up pitches on the mound. Not wanting to risk his career in his debut, he called in the trainer, who took him out. Both surely expected that Yount’s turn would come again soon.

It never did.

Larry Yount returned to Spring Training the next year, where he was the last player cut, then returned to the minors, where he played until 1975. However, he never made it to the Show again. He pitched OK, just not well enough to be called up. His elbow was not permanently injured. “It was a non-event, a glitch that had no factor in what followed,” Yount explained later, without excuse. “I just never quite got the job done.”

For his efforts, Yount earned the distinction of being the only pitcher in major league history to “appear” in one game, never throw a single pitch, never face a batter, and never play again. However, because he was officially announced as the pitcher, he is in baseball’s record book, and he has a file in the Hall of Fame. You can look it up… at the Hall of Fame Library.

John Odell is the curator of history and research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hall Monitor: Crushing, Curses and the Killer

By Trevor Hayes

Things have settled down for me a bit with our publication season, which means the return of my favorite stat-based blog feature, the Hall Monitor. There’s been a lot already this season that has made 2011 special, including Braves icon Chipper Jones setting career marks by collecting his 1,500th RBI and passing Mickey Mantle on switch-hitters RBI leader board. We’ve had lots of great pitching, including two no-hitters – Francisco Liriano’s cap and game ball made it to the Hall earlier this week – and several near misses. So here’s what’s been going lately:

Giambi’s first three: Jason Giambi, the former Yankee-A’s All-Star slugger turned Rockies part-timer, collected his first three homer game last night to lead Colorado over Philly 7-1. Showing he’s still got some power in the tank, Giambi pulled a comparison to Stan the Man. Stan Musial at 41 years old is the oldest player to hit three home runs in a game, beating out Giambi, who at age 40 years, 131 days is now the second-oldest player to do it.

With 416 homers before Thursday’s contest, he also has the highest total before his fiDerek Jeterrst three homer game in Major League history aside from Babe Ruth, who had 522 career dingers before his first three home run performance. Coincidentally enough, Ruth also collected his first three home run game against Philadelphia – but playing in the AL, it was against the A’s not the Phillies.

Another feather in his cap: Derek Jeter likes hitting against the Birds and this week he added one more feat to his growing list of accomplishments on his journey to reach 3,000 hits. With career hit No. 300 against the Orioles, the Yankees captain became the first player with 300 hits against one franchise since Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn retired after the 2001 season. Mr. Padre had at least 300 against Atlanta, Cincinnati, Houston and San Francisco.

Fall Classic mixing and matching: Interleague Play, which begins tonight, always brings some interesting matchups, from the geographic rivals like the 2000 World Series Subway Series rematch of Mets-Yankees, the Bay Bridge Series re-matching the 1989 Fall Classic combatants in Oakland and San Francisco or the I-70 Series 1985 rematch of St. Louis and Kansas City.

But this year brings a rare pairing of the formerly cursed Red Sox hosting the still-cursed Cubs. The Northsiders will be back in Fenway for the first time since the 1918 World Series – which began a drought of 86 years without a title the following year. Saturday night will pair the two in throwback uniforms and several icons from the teams will be around Beantown like Bill Buckner

Mourning the Killer: The Hall of Fame and the baseball community lost a great man and an incredibly talented ballplayer this week with the passing of Harmon Killebrew. His funeral service was held today in Peoria, Ariz., with several Hall of Famers in attendance including 2011 Electee Bert Blyleven, Rod Carew, Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, Frank Robinson and Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson. Next Thursday, Twins fans will have their chance to show their love for Killebrew with a public Memorial Service at Target Field in Minnesota starting at 7 p.m.

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

Hall Monitor: The Final Tallies Are In

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

We’ve had a champion for several weeks now, but with last week’s announcement of the final major BBWAA Awards, the 2010 season is complete. Now it’s time to look back a little and then move on to 2011. During the next few weeks, we should see a flurry of free agent activity, starting with the Winter Meetings, which begin this weekend in Orlando.

Less can be more: Last week, Josh Hamilton handily won the AL MVP Award. Hobbled by broken ribs and playing in 133 games, he’s only the second position player over the last 30 years to play in that few games (with the exception of strike-shortened seasons) and be named league MVP. 12-03-10-Hayes_BrettMantleStargell.jpgIn fact, he’s only the fifth player to ever earn the Award after playing 133 or fewer during a full 162 game season. The others are the Giants’ Barry Bonds in 2003, the Royals’ George Brett in 1980, the Pirates’ Willie Stargell in 1979 and the Yankees’ Mickey Mantle in 1962. Like Hamilton, Brett and Mantle both suffered injuries that held them out for long periods of time, while Bonds and Stargell were slowed by age.

Twice as nice: With Awards Season coming to a close, the AL champion Rangers now boast the hardware to back-up the run to their first-ever World Series appearance. Josh Hamilton’s MVP Award and Neftali Feliz’s Rookie of the Year Award, make them the 13th pair of teammates to sweep both Awards in a year – not including 1975 and 2001 when Fred Lynn and Ichiro Suzuki won both Awards, respectively.

Of the 13 pairs, Hamilton and Feliz join eight others in reaching the World Series. The others were Jackie Robinson and Don Newcombe (1949 Dodgers), Yogi Berra and Gil McDougald (1951 Yankees), Roy Campanella and Jim Gilliam (1953 Dodgers), Mickey Mantle and Tony Kubek (1957 Yankees), Mantle and Tom Tresh (1962 Yankees), Joe Morgan and Pat Zachry (1975 Reds), Willie McGee and Vince Coleman (1985 Cardinals) and Jose Canseco and Walt Weiss (1988 A’s).

 12-03-10-Hayes_CinMVP.jpgIt should also be noted that Lynn’s 1975 Red Sox made the World Series and Suzuki’s 2001 Mariners finished the regular season with the best record in baseball, but lost in the ALCS.

Joey joins Reds’ best: Ten different Cincinnati Reds have been honored with the National League’s MVP Award. Joey Votto became the 10th last week after he denied Albert Pujols his fourth Award, which would have put the Cardinal slugger into rarified air as only the second player to collect more than three MVPs.

Votto’s honor links his name with Reds MVPs like Hall of Famers like Johnny Bench (1970, 1972), Joe Morgan (1975-76), Frank Robinson (1961) and Ernie Lombardi (1938).

Vlad and Texas heaping it on: It’s not a major award, but some major names have been attached to it. This year’s recipient of the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award, Vladimir Guerrero, gave the Rangers yet another piece of hardware last Wednesday to celebrate 2010.

12-03-10-Hayes_Ripken.jpgRenamed after Edgar Martinez in 2004, the list of former winners extends beyond the longtime Mariners legend. Among the Hall of Famers to take home the honor are inaugural winner Orlando Cepeda (1973), Jim Rice (1977), Dave Winfield (1992) and Paul Molitor (1993, 1996).

150 Million Dollar Man: Troy Tulowitzki will be staying in Colorado for the next 10 years and that’s just fine with the slugging shortstop. Not only did he sign a deal this week that will pay him an average of $15 million a year until 2020, but he’s now got a shot to be like his idol, Hall of Famer and Oriole legend Cal Ripken Jr., and stay with one team for his entire career. Of the 292 Hall of Famers, 47 spent their entire playing career with one team. Aside from Ripken, the only other shortstops in that group were the White Sox’s Luke Appling, the Cubs’ Ernie Banks, the New York Giants’ Travis Jackson, the Yankees’ Phil Rizzuto, the Pirates’ Honus Wagner and the Brewers’ Robin Yount.

Hall of Famers around town: Bob Costas brings three more Hall of Fame names to his show tonight on MLB Network. Big Red Machine cogs Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez, will be Studio 42 tonight at 8 p.m. ET.

I12-03-10-Hayes_PerezHerzog.jpgn other Reds news, the team’s annual winter celebration, Redsfest, will feature tributes to Sparky Anderson. More than 60 current and former Reds players will be on hand tonight and tomorrow at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati.

Tomorrow, Tigers legend Al Kaline will be at the Comerica Park Retail Shop. The Hall of Famer will be promoting and signing copies of his book “SIX: A Salute to Al Kaline.”

And as the Winter Meetinsg convene this weekend, several Hall of Famers will be in Orlando to participate in the Expansion Era Committee’s Hall of Fame Induction voting. The 16-person committee will vote on Sunday and includes Bench, Whitey Herzog, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Perez, Frank Robinson, Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith. Results will be announced on Monday at baseballhall.org.

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

Tales from the Cactus League

Idelson_90.jpgBy Jeff Idelson

I am so glad Spring Training is here, even if it was warmer in Cooperstown than in the desert for a few of the days I visited Arizona last week. Boy did I miss baseball. And in my job, I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to rub elbows with so many of the game’s greats, bringing them closer to the Hall of Fame.

 
03-12-10-Idelson_KoufaxPalmer.jpgI got to see the Giants, Brewers, White Sox, Mariners, Indians, Reds, Royals and Rangers all play.

It was great to see the two reigning Cy Young award winners – Tim Lincecum and Zack Greinke – pitch. I brought Tim plaque postcards of Sandy Koufax and Jim Palmer. Why? They are the only Hall of Famers to win back-to-back Cy Young Awards. Perhaps they will help inspire Tim, not that he needs inspiration.

Before the Cactus League opener in Peoria, I visited my friends in the Mariners clubhouse: Head athletic trainer Rick Griffin and I talked about the health of his players; Ken Griffey Jr. told me he expected Ichiro to get twice as many regular season hits as he would – including spring training.  “I’m aiming for 150 hits,” said Junior.  “Have you seen Ichiro get hot?  You turn around, and he’s gone 15-for-25. If anyone can get 300 hits, it’s him.” I don’t doubt Griffey’s sense of logic, having seen Ichiro play so many times.

 Did you ever take an advanced or AP class in high school? I took AP Baseball last week with Professor Ryan. Nolan and I sat together for the Rangers-Royals game, where he gave me a breakdown of every player on the field. I had a similar experience a few days later with White Sox owner and Hall of Fame Board member Jerry Reinsdorf, who invited me to sit with him, his vice chairman, Eddie Einhorn, and his special assistant, Dennis Gilbert, the former agent for George Brett. I now know where the White Sox’s strengths and weaknesses lie. Bobby Brett, George’s brother, joined us.

03-12-10-Idelson_Ryan.jpgWe held our annual Cactus League Champions event in Goodyear, where the Indians and Reds train. It’s a great complex. The Indians were very generous in hosting our Champions, those who support us with an annual donation of $5,000 or more.

Team President Paul Dolan and assistant GM Chris Antonetti addressed our group and let them know what to expect from the Indians this year. After the game, we all had dinner with Bob Feller and Fergie Jenkins, where they regaled the group with stories, photos and autographs.

Speaking of dinners, Billy Williams, Ryne Sandberg, Fergie and their wives joined me for dinner the night before. We toasted to a good 2010 Cubs team and the Williams’ 50th wedding anniversary. Quite a feat for the Williamses, a lovely couple.

On my first night in Arizona, I was joined by Mickey Morabito and Steve Vucinich from the A’s, Gary Hughes, the Cubs scout, Roland Hemond, the long-time Bill Veeck disciple who works for the Diamondbacks, and veteran writers Bob Nightengale, of USA Today, and Spink Award winner Tracy Ringolsby. We get together each spring to talk about scouting and the game today. We used to dine each year at the Pink Pony, a popular old-school steakhouse on North Scottsdale Road that finally closed its doors. We miss the Pony.

03-12-10-Idelson_CactusLeague.jpgOn my final evening, I hosted the dinner to end all dinners, at Don & Charlie’s, a popular Scottsdale hangout with great steaks and ribs. We had a large group that included Bob Uecker, Rollie Fingers, Robin Yount and his brother Larry, George Brett and his guest Joe Randa, Mike Murphy, the Giants’ clubhouse man since Day One in San Francisco, Brad Ziegler, my friend who pitches in the A’s bullpen, Jerry, Eddie and Dennis from the White Sox, and Bob Crotty, who is a generous Hall of Fame supporter and owner of Green Diamonds Gallery in Cincinnati, an exquisite baseball gallery of artifacts and art.

Just before we were getting ready to sit down to dinner, Uecker calls me from his cell phone to let me know he invited two other mutual friends – Bob Costas and Joe Torre.

We had a great dinner and talked about the Dodgers impending trip to Taiwan, told Yogi stories, heard all about the Olympics, and tried to recollect if Torre and Fingers ever faced each other. “Did I ever face you?” Joe asked? “I can’t recall,” was Rollie’s response.

So, I emailed Freddy Berowski in the Hall of Fame Library. Sorry Joe: You faced Rollie one time in the regular season, on May 1, 1977, and struck out. You also faced him in the 1973 All-Star Game and popped out in the 9th. None-the-less, you remain one the game’s greatest players, managers and ambassadors and it’s hard to imagine you won’t be in Cooperstown one day.

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

Sept. 9, 1992: Yount records 3,000th hit

Lawrence_90.jpgBy Thomas Lawrence

Seventeen years ago today — Sept. 9, 1992 — Robin Yount joined one of baseball’s most exclusive fraternities: The 3,000-hit club.

But for Yount, the milestone proved to be a rarity within a rarity.

9-9-09-Lawrence_Yount.jpgYount, the longtime Milwaukee Brewer, was on the verge of his 3,000th career hit in a game against Jos Mesa and the Cleveland Indians. Mesa thwarted Yount in his first three at-bats – forcing a groundout in the first and striking him out in consecutive innings in the third and fourth.

But when Yount stepped up to the plate against Mesa in the bottom of the seventh inning at Milwaukee County Stadium, the hard-driving Brewers outfielder would not be denied.

Utilizing his renowned baserunning intensity, Yount managed an infield single against Mesa – making him the 17th player to join the 3,000-hit club. He became only the second player at the time to notch his 3,000th hit on an infield single. The first was Cardinals great and Hall of Famer Lou Brock against Dennis Lamp and the Cubs on Aug.13, 1979.

Ironically, twenty-one days after Yount reached No. 3,000, George Brett did the same. Seven years later, Brett and Yount were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 1999.

Yount is still the only player to reach 3,000 hits in a Brewers uniform, as Paul Molitor – the other notable Brewer in the club – did so when he was with the Twins. In fact, Yount is only one of eight players in the history of the game to grind out all 3,000 hits with a single team; all eight are Hall of Famers.

Molitor, a teammate of Yount’s on the Brew Crew for 15 seasons, was mentored by Yount when he broke into the big leagues in 1978.

9-9-09-Lawrence_YountSlide.jpg“In retrospect, I can say playing with him (Yount) for 15 years was one of the best things that was part of my experience of being a Brewer,” said Molitor, who joined the 3,000 hit-club on Sept. 16, 1996.

Besides his legendary career totals, Yount is best remembered for his 1982 season – one when he led the Brewers to a 95-67 record and their first American League pennant.

Yount exploded onto the national scene that season, leading the major leagues in hits (210), doubles (46), slugging percentage (.578) and total bases (367). For his efforts, Yount took home the American League MVP award, a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove at shortstop.

He earned his second MVP award with the 1989 Milwaukee club when he hit .318 as the Brewers’ center fielder – making him only the third player to win MVPs at two separate positions.

Yount retired after the 1993 season with 3,142 hits and 583 doubles – which both rank 17th-best all-time.

9-9-09-Lawrence_Chart.jpgIn 1999, he became just the 34th player to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first time on the ballot.

“I gave it everything I had every time I went out there,” Yount said. “That’s what I’m most proud of.”

Thomas Lawrence was the 2009 publications intern at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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