Results tagged ‘ Rockford Peaches ’

Baldwin and baseball

By Bill Francis

Actor Billy Baldwin is certainly a recognizable face after starring in such films as Backdraft, Sliver and Fair Game, but on Friday he was just another fan of the New York Yankees taking in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum experience with his family.

A member of the famed acting clan that includes brothers Alec, Daniel and Stephen, Baldwin lives in Santa Barbara, Calif., but is spending part of the summer in Skaneateles, N.Y., near Syracuse. When the opportunity arose he jumped at the chance to visit Cooperstown with son Vance, a brother-in-law and two nephews.

“Last year I said, ‘We’re going to Cooperstown while we’re in Skaneateles,’ but we never got around to it,” he said while walking to lunch. “This year I said, ‘I’ll be darned if I come up here for another two or three years and we don’t get there. I am going this year.’”

Before they saw the Museum, Baldwin and his family would receive a behind-the-scenes from Senior Curator Tom Shieber, where the actor was able to hold the bat used by Ted Williams to slug his final home run. Baldwin was certainly impressive in his knowledge of the history of the national pastime, whether it be marveling at the home run prowess of Babe Ruth when measured against the other teams in the league or explaining how Joe DiMaggio’s homer production was hampered by playing his home games at Yankee Stadium. 

Baldwin, who unabashedly admits to balling his eyes out when he watches Kevin Costner play catch with his dad in Field of Dreams, also explained his love of the game that is also evident in his son.

“I don’t know how to articulate it … It’s weird because I consider myself a big baseball fan but I’m not one of those guys who sits down with a pad and pen and does all the stats of every game,” Baldwin said. “I’m a huge baseball fan and I’m a diehard Yankees fan and probably watch or listen to a portion of about 100 games a year.

“But if there’s such a thing as having a metronome for your life, for me it starts with pitchers and catchers and goes all the way through October, hopefully with the Yankees in the postseason,” he added with a grin. “In these trying times with the economy not doing well and all sorts of struggles across the country and around the globe, I don’t want to be constantly reminded of all the tough stuff that’s going on. I find that the number one anecdote for that for me is baseball.”

Thanks to a father who once was an usher at Brooklyn’s beloved Ebbets Field, the Baldwin brothers were exposed to the game at a young age. But Billy Baldwin, with a famed wrestling coach living nearby, eventually turned his attentions to the mat.

“Growing up my favorite game was baseball, and I was best at baseball, but I made a mistake when I was in 10th grade,” he recalled. “I ran with this posse of guys on my wrestling team and we all gave up everything we were doing to wrestle all year and I walked away from baseball.

“Obviously, I have the build of a small basketball player or a baseball player or a tennis player and not a wrestler,” he said jokingly. “I was a pretty good wrestler – I won more than I lost – but I was just more of a natural baseball player. I should have stuck with it.”

As for which of the Baldwin brothers was the best baseball player, Billy claimed it was pretty close between him Daniel, who he said  had “kind of like a Boog Powell type of build” before laughingly sharing stories of concussions the older sibling inflicted on him during childhood.

Bill Francis is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Remembering Dottie

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

Generally speaking, first baseman are not known for their speed. Hall of Famer Frank Chance was an exception to that rule, once stealing a league-leading 67 bases in just 125 games in 1903.

05-20-10-Carr_KamenshekMug.jpgBut All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player Dorothy Kamenshek didn’t just steal more bases, she shattered Chance’s number. Kamenshek, also known as “Dottie” or “Kammie,” stole 109 bases in 107 games in 1946.

Kamenshek passed away Monday at the age of 84. She was considered by many the greatest women’s baseball player ever.

“Kammie had no weakness,” said fellow AAGPBL player Lavone “Pepper” Paire Davis. “She hit left-handed line drives and was a complete ballplayer.”

In 10 years with the league (1943-1951, 1953), Kamenshek led the league in batting twice (1946 and 1947) and stands as the league’s all-time batting leader with a .282 lifetime average.

05-20-10-Carr_Kamenshek.jpg“I’m not one for statistics, really,” Kamenshek once said. “I never paid any attention to that. I didn’t consider myself an individual player, team victories were more important to me.”

She spent her whole career with the Rockford Peaches. She was selected to play in the All-Star Game in each of the seven seasons during her career that a game was held.

It wasn’t just women who were impressed by Kamenshek.

Yankees first baseman Wally Pipp called her “the fanciest-fielding first-baseman I’ve ever seen, man or woman” after seeing her play.

She was even offered a contract with the minor league baseball club in Fort Lauderdale in 1947. She turned down the offer because she thought it was a publicity stunt. Kamenshek led her team to four league championships and retired in 1953 after suffering back injuries.

The Baseball Hall of Fame has files of clippings and photos of Kamenshek in its collections, and her memory lives on in the Diamond Dreams exhibit on the second floor of the Museum.

Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Dirt in the Skirt

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

Like most women my age who grew up playing softball and loving baseball, I have seen the movie A League of Their Own about a million times.

03-03-10-Carr_ParadeMagazine.jpgBut I have only seen the ending once.

I just can’t bring myself to watch Dottie Hinson drop the ball in the championship game. I figure maybe if I don’t watch it, they went back and changed the ending and Dottie holds on for the win.

Growing up, I wanted to be Dottie. I want to be covered in dirt, with bruises on my knees, playing the game I love. Dottie had it all – she was smart, beautiful, a hard worker and one heck of an athlete.

Of course, when I was younger, this was just a story. Only as I grew up did I realize that this league was real and there were women just like Dottie who lived out their dreams in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

On Saturday, March 27, four women who played in the AAGPBL will be in Cooperstown to celebrate Women’s History Month at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

03-03-10-Carr_Action.jpgDuring a special interview program beginning at 1 p.m., fans have the chance to sit down with Gloria Elliott (Kalamazoo Lassies, Racine/Battle Creek Belles) Sarah Jane Ferguson (Rockford Peaches), Joanne McComb (Springfield Sallies) and Dolly Brumfield White (South Bend Blue Sox, Kenosha Comets, Fort Wayne Daisies). Tickets for the program are free. Members may reserve their tickets now, by calling (607)547-0397. Any remaining tickets will be available to the general public beginning Monday, March 22.

These amazing women will give first-hand accounts of their experiences playing the game they loved. They will relate memories of the good and bad parts of playing baseball – stories that years from now will only be found in books.

Other events will take place throughout the day to commemorate women in baseball, including artifact spotlight presentations, and a special 11 a.m. lecture on the history of women in baseball given by the Hall of Fame’s director of research, Tim Wiles.

Make sure you get your tickets today, and join in celebrating these special women who – just like me – miss the dirt.

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

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