Results tagged ‘ San Francisco Giants ’

The Dominican’s favorite son

By Jeff Idelson

Juan Marichal is revered in his homeland, more so than ever. He hasn’t thrown a pitch since 1975, but everywhere he goes on the island that adores baseball, the first Dominican Hall of Famer is respected and praised.

As much as the Dominican Dandy enjoys and deserves the adulation he is afforded for his stellar baseball career, even more so, he is proud. En Espanol, it is called “orgulloso.” He is proud to be a husband, father, grandfather and even a great grandfather now. Orgulloso of his friendships, career and country. He’s proud of his farming skills, which he learned from his parents. Juan Marichal is as proud a person as you will meet. He exudes happiness and confidence. He is so orgulloso.

On Tuesday, as Juan, his wife Alma and I dined on a traditional Dominican seafood lunch at Pepe Diaz in Santo Domingo, he could not stop talking about how his 49-year marriage to Alma, their six children, 13 grandchildren and his three-year old great granddaughter, Kirabella. He’s so proud of them all. Very proud of who they are and what they’ve all accomplished.

“I met Alma when she was 16. She was my first love.” To which she added, “We just went on a cruise. All 33 of us. What a thrill. I hope to do it every year. I love to be with my family.”

Juan joined the Air Force in 1956 at age 19 and moved from Laguna Verde, a small town two hours west of the Dominican capital, to Santo Domingo. Pitching for Trujillo’s Air Force team, he played against Matty Alou and his town team in El Cami. They instantly become the best of friends. Juan would hang out at the home of the three Alou brothers – Matty, Felipe and Jesus. The young lady who lived across the street quickly became the apple of Juan’s eye. Alma would soon become his wife at age 16. They have never looked back.

Matty, who passed away earlier this year, and Juan, were so close that Juan may as well have been the fourth Alou brother.

“He was my compadre from the start. I am proud of our friendship,” said Marichal. “I baptized Matty’s daughter as he did my daughter, Elsie; but even before that, we were compadres.”

They roomed together with the Giants and stayed friends until the day Matty died on Nov. 3.

“Matty was in a coma, but when I came to see him, he squeezed my hand four times,” Marichal said. “The next day my compadre even said my name.”

Tuesday night, we went to one of the final Dominican Winter League games of the season, with the Tigres del Licey playing host to the Aguilas Cibaenas. As we walked into the stadium, many fans, young and old, men and women, saluted their Dominican hero.

We watched the game from a box and the visits to see Juan were endless. Ozzie Virgil, the first Dominican player to appear in the major leagues, stopped by. Pedro Martinez’ sister, Elvera, who works for Licey, also came by. It seemed that half of Santo Domingo was at the game and they all simply wanted to shake the hand or pose for a photograph with the great Juan Marichal.

Juan told me of pitching in the Aguila’ Stadium in 1957 and 1958 for manager Salty Parker, who was in the Giants system. He was very proud of going 8-3 in 1958.

The game itself was one-sided with Fausto Carmona and Aguilas trouncing Ubaldo Jimenez and Licey, 6-1. The outcome was irrelevant as both teams will make the round-robin tournament that starts in a few weeks before the Caribbean Series.

As we left the ballpark I thought about how proud I was…orgulloso….to have been able to spend a day with one of the all-time greats on his home turf. There’s no greater man than Juan Marichal. No one more proud, so orgulloso.

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

Baseball Comes to Life

By Samantha Carr

Storytellers.

That is really what baseball broadcasters are. Whether they are giving play-by-play of live game action on the radio or providing commentary about team chemistry on television – they are the voices that bring the game to life.

There are the broadcasters who remind me of childhood – the ones whose voices I never mistake. There are the ones I’ve grown to love, because they bring live action from my favorite team each night.

There are broadcasters who root for the home team, ones who talk about statistics and ones who get emotional when they see a great play. These men and women make the game interesting when you can’t be there in person.

I’ve learned a lot about baseball from broadcasters. You learn nuances of the game that may go unnoticed when taking in the game by yourself. Sometimes commentary even provides insight into players that you wouldn’t know otherwise – like how a pitcher has been working on a new delivery or how teammates got into an argument during batting practice before the game.

Sometimes broadcasters are Hall of Fame ballplayers who spent 20 years in the big leagues and sometimes they are just a sports fan who grew up loving the game.

During his acceptance speech for the 2010 Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting, Jon Miller told the story of the moment that changed his life as a kid in Candlestick Park.

“I’m looking into that visiting broadcast booth and right in the middle of an inning there’s a batter at the plate and that broadcaster says, ‘There’s a curve ball, low and outside, Ball 2’,” said Miller. “And then he grabbed a big handful of, I thought it was french fries, and he jammed all these french fries into his mouth and he’s chewing on those fries, and while he’s still chewing the next pitch comes in and he says, without missing a beat, “There’s a fast ball outside, Ball 3.” Then he grabbed a cup full of whatever. He took a big pull on that cup. And as a ten year old I sat there and said, ‘That is the life for me’.”

Throughout the month of September, fans will have a chance to celebrate their favorite broadcasters by voting online to determine three of the ten finalists for the 2012 Ford C. Frick Award. Voting will take place on the Hall of Fame’s Facebook page, from Sept. 1 through Sept. 30.

Seventy-five candidates will appear on the fan ballot – two representing every current big league team and 15 at-large selections. The three highest vote-getters will join seven other candidates as finalists for the Award. Make sure your voice is heard and vote!

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

Hall Monitor: 600 vs. 600?

By Trevor Hayes

Tomorrow night could be a historic night for the American League – featuring two 600 home run hitters in the same game. Of course there are factors to keep it from happening until Sunday or even next month – and then again, the event could be postponed indefinitely.

On Monday night, Jim Thome, in back-to-back at-bats, connected for home runs No. 599 and 600, joining an elite club consisting of just seven other players – three of whom are Hall of Famers and the other four, like Thome, aren’t yet eligible.

Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Hank Aaron are responsible for the only games in which two 600 Club members were featured in the same game, all of which happening under the National League banner. The American League has never one, but it could happen this weekend in Minneapolis.

Last night, Alex Rodriguez’s Yankees started a four-game series in Minnesota against baseball’s newest edition to the elite club, Thome, and his Twins. But Rodriguez is on the disabled list. News reports say he could be in the lineup tomorrow and with the Bronx Bombers fighting for a division crown, he very well could be. He’s played in four rehab games already, but the slightest setback in clearing him for play after knee surgery could postpone his return.

Should that happen, or if Thome – a 40-year-old designated hitter, who could retire at the end of the season – gets a day off, the two teams do meet again on Sept. 19th as a makeup for the rainout on April 6th. Another factor that could stop the AL’s first 600-600 game: Thome’s name is circulating the rumor mill as a waiver trade candidate, though a move elsewhere in AL could just alter the time and location for his matchup against Rodriguez.

With only eight members of the 600 Club, it has been rare for two 600 home run hitters to be active for an extended period of time together. The inaugural member, Babe Ruth, retired almost 35 years before the Giants Mays joined him at 600 at the end of 1969. The Braves Aaron joined Mays two years later, but once Mays retired in 1973 and Aaron in 1976, it was a full 25 years before Barry Bonds launched his 600th in 2002. Sammy Sosa, wearing a Ranger’s uniform, played just one season – 2007 – before he and the Giants Bonds both hung ’em up without meeting in interleague. Next was Ken Griffey Jr. who reached 600 in 2008. During Junior’s final season last year, Alex Rodriguez reached the plateau – but two months after Griffey’s retirement from the Mariners – and that brings us to Thome.

For those curious, Mays and Aaron played in 24 games against each other after both achieved 600 home runs, including the game in which Aaron hit his 600th on April 27, 1971, off of fellow future Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. 1971 featured the most action, with the two taking the field together 13 times. With Mays as a Met they met four times in 1972 and seven times in 1973. In those 24 games, Aaron hit home runs eight times by himself, Mays had one on May 9, 1971 and they both went deep on May 8, 1971.

One last note, there have actually been three games featuring two 600 Club members on the same team: the 1971-73 All-Star Games. Both featured Aaron and Mays on the NL rosters, and the two were in the starting lineups for the 1972 and 1973 games.

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

Visiting hours

By Craig Muder

Ray Durham looked down at the photo on the table in the Hall of Fame’s archive – and his eyes lit up. Another photo was lying on top of the first picture, leaving only the lower half of the depicted player visible.

But Durham did not need a face to recognize his former White Sox teammate.

“That’s Frank!” said Durham, referring to two-time American League MVP Frank Thomas. “He’s the only guy who could hit while he was lifting his leg like that.”

In an instant, it was the mid-1990s all over again – when Durham and Thomas teamed up in Chicago to power one of the AL’s most potent offenses.

It was a trip back in time, courtesy of the magic of Cooperstown.

The 39-year-old Durham, who retired following the 2008 season after a 14-year big league career with the White Sox, A’s, Giants and Brewers that featured two All-Star Game selections, toured the Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday with his family. But he was not the only big league connection at the Museum.

JP Ricciardi, the former Blue Jays general manager, also visited the Museum with his family – including his son Dante, who is playing in a tournament this week in Cooperstown. Ricciardi, who headed up the Jays’ front office for eight seasons between 2002 and 2009, is now a special assistant to Mets general manager Sandy Alderson.

“When I was coach in the Yankees’ system in the 1980s, we lived in Oneonta (located about 20 minutes from Cooperstown, and the former home of a Yankees minor league affiliate) for a while,” Ricciardi said. “I’ve been to the Hall of Fame before, but never like this.”

Ricciardi got to hold a Babe Ruth bat as well as a Honus Wagner model, marveling at the weight of bats from the early 20th Century.

“This is incredible,” Ricciardi said. “What a day!”

From All-Stars to front-office masterminds. Just another summer day at the home of baseball.

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

Canada’s moment in Cooperstown

By Bill Francis

Jerry Howarth is a Toronto institution, having been a member of the Blue Jays radio team for three decades. During that time, his press box seat enabled him to witness firsthand the accomplishments of two of this year’s inductees – general manager Pat Gillick and second baseman Robert Alomar – as they enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

“I came to the Blue Jays in 1982, my first full season, and I met Pat and we had a lot in common,” said Howarth, an invited guest of Gillick’s to this year’s Induction Weekend, after attending, appropriately enough, a presentation by author Curt Smith on his new book, A Talk in the Park: Nine Decades of Baseball Tales from the Broadcast Booth, that was held before a full house inside the Bullpen Theater on Friday afternoon. “We’re both from California, we both love baseball, and he was very good to me as I started to enjoy Blue Jays broadcasts. He was encouraging.

“But I could tell that he was someone special, too, who listened, communicated well, and had a bevy of scouts that were so loyal to him. Then I began to see the Blue Jays grow. I saw his patience and steadfastness. And sure enough he took that team – orchestrated it from the very beginning – and won those two World Series in 1992 and ’93.”

As for Alomar, Howarth says he and Willie Mays are the two best players he’s seen in his life.

“I grew up in San Francisco and I watched Willie Mays every day. We all wanted to be like Willie,” Howarth said. “And then we acquired Roberto in 1991, and he was with the Blue Jays through 1995. He’s the best player I’ve ever seen with Willie. By putting those two together I’m talking about all the aspects of the game – the proverbial five-tool player. But more than that, he had instincts, he could beat you in a game with a home run, a bunt, a stolen base, a fielding play, it didn’t matter. A wonderful passion and desire to make himself ever better.

“And Roberto stood out with the Blue Jays. They would not have won those World Series without him, but having said that, Pat together great teams. But Roberto stood out. And there’s no substitute for defense and Roberto provided the best defense that I’ve ever seen.”

Having recently spent time with both Gillick and Alomar, can Howarth predict the emotional state of the pair as they stand before thousands on Sunday afternoon?

“Pat will be balling like a baby up there because I’ve seen him cry at John Olerud getting a base hit. I can’t wait to hear his speech. I’m sure there will be a lot of Kleenex up there,” Howarth said with a laugh. “And Roberto, too. Roberto is from a baseball family and I think he appreciates his career and what he’s done.

“And remember, too, both of them, especially Roberto, they’re doing this for a country, Canada, and they feel that. They know the presence that they have in an entire nation. So that makes it very extraordinary for them.”

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

Mike McCormick visits Hall of Fame

By Bill Francis

Mike McCormick had experienced much in his baseball career, from making his big league debut 55 years ago at the age of 17, to capturing the 1967 National League Cy Young Award, and surrendering Hank Aaron’s 500th career home run. But it wasn’t until this week that the longtime left-handed pitcher visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

“It’s the first time that I’ve been to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and shame on me,” McCormick said on Thursday afternoon. “I’ve heard about it, obviously, my whole career and honored to be in it in different ways, not as an elected person. It’s been a wonderful day so far and we’re looking forward to the rest of it.”

The 72-year-old McCormick is a native Californian who moved with his wife to Pinehurst, N.C. eight years ago. Now retired, he spends time on the golf course and keeping up with his beloved Giants thanks to a cable television baseball package. He was visiting Cooperstown with one of his daughters, her husband, and their two children. Soon after the family arrived, they were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum.

“You come in as the average citizen and you see the exhibits but you don’t see what’s behind those exhibits,” McCormick said. “They have some incredible things that they shared with my family and me that, had it not been under the conditions, we wouldn’t even be aware that such things existed.”

After a heralded prep career in a Los Angeles suburb in which he posted records of 49-4 in American Legion and 34-4 in high school, McCormick spent 16 seasons (1956-71) as a major league hurler. Because of the rules at the time, his reported $50,000 signing bonus from the New York Giants demanded he stay on the big league roster for his first two professional seasons.

“I wanted to be a baseball player,” McCormick recalled. “And all at once I was thrust into it at 17 and it was whole different world, let me tell you. I grew up real fast.”

While McCormick spent most of his time with the Giants, first in New York and then with San Francisco after the franchise moved in 1958, he also saw time with the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Senators, New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals. His career, which ended with a 134-128 won-loss record, was highlighted by his 22 wins in 1967 that helped him capture the senior circuit’s top pitching prize.

“When I was healthy, I don’t want to say I was the best but I was among the best. I just had a struggle staying healthy,” McCormick said. “I went my first six years feeling fine then all at once I ran into a sore shoulder which set me back the next three years. I stayed in the major leagues but I was really a nonproductive individual. Then I got to Washington and re-established that I had some value, where I had three or four good years, one of which one was the Cy Young Award year. But then I had back problems and had to succumb to a back operation.”

Walking through the Plaque Gallery, McCormick not only saw the bronze likenesses of such former teammates as Willie Mays, Gaylord Perry, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal and Orlando Cepeda, but also legendary opponents like Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Stan Musial and Mickey Mantle.

“I’ve been blessed to have played with and against the finest in the game,” McCormick said. “I pitched in both leagues in the 1950s and ‘60s, an era I consider one of baseball’s best ever.”

Before continuing on his first-ever Hall of Fame visit, McCormick added, “It’s an incredible place. I would tell everybody that has an opportunity that this is the place to come.”

Bill Francis is a library associate 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.

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