Results tagged ‘ Sandy Koufax ’

A little Kittle history

By Craig Muder

Ron Kittle spent 10 big league seasons as a prolific power hitter, and even today – at 53 years old – that power is still evident in a firm grip and muscular shoulders.

But as Kittle toured the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, the former outfielder with the White Sox, Yankees, Indians and Orioles was more focused on the game off the field than anything he did on the baseball diamond.

Kittle, who hit 176 big league homers from 1982-91, was in Cooperstown on business when he stopped by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for his first behind-the-scenes visit. Kittle had been to the home of baseball previously, including a 1988 trip as a member of the Cleveland Indians for the Hall of Fame Game at Doubleday Field.

“There was no score, and I came up to pinch hit late in the game,” Kittle said. “I told (Cubs catcher) Jody Davis that I was going to hit a home run to end this thing, and I did. But Ryne Sandberg came up in the bottom of the ninth and homered – On a check swing! – to tie the game.”

The game was called after nine innings with the score tied at 1, leaving both Kittle and Sandberg with a memorable moment. But it was not Kittle’s first brush with a Hall of Famer. Passing by a photo of Sandy Koufax in the Hall’s archive on Wednesday, Kittle recounted his days as a Dodgers’ minor leaguer.

“I came into the Dodgers’ organization with Mike Scioscia as a catcher,” said Kittle, who was signed by the Dodgers as an amateur free agent in 1977. “Down in Spring Training, they had strings across the batter’s box to teach pitchers control, and this guy got on the mound and started throwing to me and putting it right where he wanted. After he finished, someone said: ‘Don’t you know who that was? That was Sandy Koufax.’ I’ll never forget that.”

On Wednesday, Kittle took home more memories after learning about the Hall of Fame’s commitment to preserve baseball history.

“I love hearing stories about things that go on behind the scenes,” Kittle said. “And to see all this is incredible.”

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

Kenny Loggins relishes Hall of Fame visit

By Jeff Ideslon

I spend a lot of time walking through the Museum with celebrities. Some have very little interest, others modest – and then there’s the serious fan, like Kenny Loggins.

The popular musician was in town Thursday to play a benefit show for Hospice at Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown, fronting his band Blue Sky Riders, which includes vocalist Georgia Middleman and bass player/guitarist Gary Burr.

The very accomplished Loggins won Best Male Pop Vocal Grammy for “This Is It” in 1980, and co-wrote the 1979 Grammy-winning Song of The Year “What A Fool Believes” with his long-time friend, Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers.

Along with his son Luke, who is entering his senior year at Santa Barbara High School and pitches for the baseball team, Loggins spent Thursday afternoon at the Hall of Fame. The two completely immersed themselves in the history of the game.

Loggins, who played youth baseball through the Babe Ruth level, played catch with all five of his children through the years. “I wanted them to know baseball like I did,” he said. “Luke has a much better temperament for the game than I did. He handles adversity well.”

Growing up in Alhambra, Calif., Loggins and his dad would sit in the kitchen and listen to Vin Scully call Dodger games on the radio. “I grew up with Koufax and Drysdale. It seemed like one of them pitched every day.”

Walking through the Hall of Fame’s collections, “Oh my God, this is in great shape,” he said, marveling at the wonderful conservation of the jersey.

Holding a Stan Musial game-used bat he looked skyward and said, “This is my day. ‘The Man’ was unbelievable.” I explained to Loggins that Musial was a five-tool player – he could hit for power and average, run, throw and catch. I asked him if he knew any five-tool musicians.

Without even thinking, he answered exactly as Graham Nash did two years ago when I asked him the same question: “Prince.” Loggins added Stevie Wonder and Nash added Stephen Stills.

After seeing Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson sweaters, Loggins asked where he could get one. “I wish these were still in vogue. These are beautiful,” he said.

Finally, while holding the bat Ted Williams used for his 521st and final home run, he noticed that part of the Louisville Slugger trademark was the word, ‘powerized.’ “Do you think I could get my guitar powerized?” he asked his Burr and me.

After seeing artifacts from Willie Mays, Orel Hershiser, and so many other, he softly said to no one in particular, “You forget how short a baseball career is. ” How true.

Two hours later, Loggins concluded, “This Museum is incredibly well done. It is interactive and exciting, and chock full of great contextual information. It plays well to my son Luke, who’s in high school and also to older folks, like Gary and me. The experience really took me back in time, right back to my childhood.”

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

Star treatment

By Craig Muder

His signature television role has James Denton portraying a plumber, a man accustomed to behind-the-scenes areas in buildings.

But when Denton – one of the stars of the ABC hit television series “Desperate Housewives” – visited the Baseball Hall of Fame on Thursday, his tour of the Museum archives left him with an unaccustomed sense of wonderment.

“This is amazing,” said the 48-year-old Denton, who has played Mike Delfino on ‘Desperate Housewives’ since it first debuted in 2004. “Just to have a look around… We’re going to stay until they throw us out.”

Denton visited the Museum with his brother, David Denton, and friends Mike Petty and Robert Diehl – each of whom refer to him as “Jamie.” Dressed in a polo shirt and jeans, the chiseled Denton is a lifelong baseball fan who is also part owner of the Orange County Flyers of the independent Golden Baseball League.

“The closest I ever got to the Hall of Fame before this was when I played Sandy Koufax in a movie,” Denton said. “Let me tell you, it was a lot easier making people believe that I was a left-handed pitcher than it was convincing them I was a Jewish kid from Brooklyn.”

Denton, who grew up in Tennessee and now roots for the Minnesota Twins, showed off a keen knowledge of history during his tour, asking about subjects ranging from Babe Ruth to former broadcaster-turned-President Ronald Reagan.

But many of the Museum’s artifacts – like a Gil Hodges jersey and a Honus Wagner bat – left the talented actor virtually speechless.

“We’re never going to forget this day,” Denton said. “The history here is just something else.”

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

Gallo left his mark in Cooperstown

By Erik Strohl

When I arrived at the Hall of Fame in March of 1998 as a first year graduate-student intern in Museum Studies, my first job was to do an assessment of the original cartoon art and illustration collection.

Containing hundreds of original pieces, the archive is a small treasure trove of the sports cartoon/illustration art form from the late 1800s to the present day. I knew very little about this subject at the time, but found it very interesting and happily delved into the trove without hesitation. I soon became an admirer of this art form, not just from an artistic standpoint, but also how the cartoon image is used as a vehicle for communication and dissemination of information. Cartoons, like photos, are worth a thousand words, but they have the added benefit of allowing for the artist’s personal interpretation and style as both art and written commentary. This topic interested me so much I eventually wrote my Masters thesis on this subject.

It was during this time I was first exposed to the work of Bill Gallo, the longtime sports cartoonist of the New York Daily News (he ascended to the job in 1960 following the death of colleague and fellow cartooning luminary Leo O’Mealia). I grew up in Pennsylvania and had no access to New York newspapers, so his artistic prowess and longevity as a sports cartoonist were unknown to me. With Bill’s passing this last Tuesday at the age of 88, the world lost one of the last icons and best examples of a dying breed in modern journalism: the sports cartoonist. The Hall has over 20 original pieces of Gallo cartoon art, as well as many copies of cartoons as printed in newspapers, periodicals and other ephemera. The original artwork is mostly single frame cartoons as they appeared in the Daily News, with most relating to the election of specific Hall of Famers or some event in Yankees or Mets history. Often with a friendly hand-written note to a former Hall executive, these pieces are little time capsules which transport us back to a different time and place.

Topics covered in the collection include the inductions of Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Duke Snider, Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal, Stan Musial, Roy Campanella and Ducky Medwick. Casey Stengel was a favorite topic of Gallo, and we have several which highlight the “Ol’ Perfessor,” including one of him being added to Mt. Rushmore. Other topics include the 1968 and 1984 All-Star Games, as well as, more recently, the 2000 New York Subway Series. Of course, Basement Bertha (the ever-hopeful but always distressed Mets fan) is also prevalent.

I never met Bill Gallo, but I know I would have loved the chance. His legacy will live on as his work is remembered by millions of readers over the last 50 years. The Hall of Fame will do its part to protect that legacy by preserving and sharing the original examples of his work which will remain forever in our archives. As technology has rapidly changed both modes of personal communication and mass media, I still take great pleasure in looking at a cartoon and absorbing what it is trying to convey. A world of information in a simple hand-drawn picture. This has been the case since humans first painted images on the walls of caves.

The Hall of Fame is glad to have a part in this historical continuum by saving the artwork of Gallo and other accomplished artists and cartoonists. Just another medium telling the story of baseball’s impact on American culture.

Erik Strohl is the senior director of exhibitions and collections for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Enter Sandman

Light_90.jpgBy Steve Light

03-16-11-Light_Rivera.jpgMy favorite record seems to get further out of reach for all who might one day chase it each October. That’s because the man who owns it, keeps raising (or is it lowering?) the bar when the autumn chill returns to the Bronx, year after year.

As all baseball fans know – seasons come and go, and teams change. Players grow old, or leave, or are traded away. Next year’s team might very well look nothing like the last. But as a Yankees fan, it seems like Mariano Rivera never changes. I feel like I’ve followed Rivera my whole life. He broke in with the Yankees in 1995, when I was just 12, and became a dominating pitcher one year later.

So many of his career moments are engrained into my memory: I remember the sinking feeling as I watched Luis Gonzalez’s blooper in 2001 and the euphoric feeling I felt as Mo sprinted to the mound and collapsed with joy as Aaron Boone rounded the bases in 2003. I even had the chance to fulfill a life-long dream and witness the Yankees clinch the AL pennant in 2009 at Yankee Stadium, with Mo, of course, on the mound. Now in 2011, can I be blamed for assuming that the Yankee’s 9th inning will always belong to him?

03-16-11-Light_Yankee.jpgWhen Mo finally calls it quits – which given recent performances could be many years away – he will undoubtedly leave the game as one of the greatest postseason performers in baseball history. Numbers don’t lie, and Rivera’s record-setting postseason ERA of 0.71 serves as a testament not only to his excellence, but his consistency.

Rivera, who will soon kick off his 17th season in a major league uniform, is the closest thing baseball has to a sure thing: Batters know what he’s throwing, and fans know the game is already over.  In the postseason, his achievements are nothing short of stunning. He has recorded his historic 0.71 ERA over the course of 139.2 innings. To put that into perspective, throughout his career Mo has averaged 79 innings per season. That means he has recorded a 0.71 ERA over nearly two full regular seasons worth of postseason ball. In other words, as good as Mariano is in regular season play (2.23 ERA), he is one and a half runs per game better in the postseason.

On the postseason ERA leader board, Mo keeps company with some impressive names: the top ten includes Hall of Famers Eddie Plank, Sandy Koufax, Christy Mathewson, and yes, Babe Ruth. One may strongly suspect that when Rivera finally leaves the mound, it won’t be long before they keep him company here in Cooperstown as well. This, however, is one Yankee fan who hopes that those days are still many years away.

It’s memories like these that will be brought to life in the Hall of Fame’s new One for the Books. The exhibit opens Memorial Day Weekend in Cooperstown.

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

Hall Monitor: Hot Stove Around the Corner

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

Not much is left of 2010 and even less remains of the baseball season. With the Rookies of the Year, Cy Youngs and Manager of the Year Awards doled out this week, two awards remain – the League MVPs. The remnants of the season that was haven’t stopped a flurry of action building toward 2011.

Classic impact: Monday saw a pair of new-bloods honored with the Rookie of the Year Awards. And for the third time in history, both players helped lead their club to the World Series. The Giants’ Buster Posey and Rangers’ Neftali Feliz were the first pair since 11-19-10-Hayes_KoufaxCarltonMaddux.jpgFernando Valenzuela and Dave Righetti in 1981 for the Yankees and Dodgers. The first pair was Gil McDougald and Hall of Famer Willie Mays in 1951 for the Yankees and Giants, respectively.

Seven is Three’s Company: Your National League Cy Young Award winner, author of two no-hitters – one a perfect game and the other the second ever thrown in the postseason – is Roy Halladay. The Doc’s second Cy Young shows he is among the game’s elite, but he remains five behind the all-time lead in that category. His team however, just became one of only three teams with at least seven Cy Young Awards. Hallday is joined in Phillies history by Hall of Famer Steve Carlton (four), Steve Bedrosian and John Denny (one each).

Interestingly enough, the other two clubs with seven are also NL teams. The Braves racked up seven with Greg Maddux (three), Tom Glavine (two), Hall of Famer Warren Spahn and John Smoltz (one each). And the Dodgers out-rank all major league teams with nine Cy Young Award winners: Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax (three) and Don Drysdale (one), along with Eric Gagne, Orel Hershiser, Mike Marshall, Don Newcombe and Fernando Valenzuela (one each).


11-19-10-Hayes_810WManagers.jpgNine years is a heck of a start
: Minnesota’s Ron Gardenhire won his first Manager of the Year Award, and Twins fans think it’s about time. Gardy had previously finished second in voting five times. His teams have won 90 games five times and he is the first manger in history to win six division titles in his first nine years. With 803 career wins, only five managers had more wins in their first nine seasons than Gardenhire. All five now call Cooperstown home: Sparky Anderson (863), Al Lopez (836), Joe McCarthy (828), Earl Weaver (812) and Frank Chance (810). Current Angels manager Mike Scioscia, also had exactly 803 wins through his first nine seasons.

Hot Stove action: While the heat really turns up around the Winter Meetings, a least one big trade has already gone down. All-Star utility man Omar Infante is taking his talents to South Beach while slugging second baseman Dan Uggla shifts to Atlanta. Losing an All-Star who can play almost any position on the field is big, but the Braves may have picked up a steal. Uggla owns the third-best batting average of anyone at Turner Field since it opened in 1997 at .354. Only Albert Pujols and Barry Bonds have hit better.

11-19-10-Hayes_GordonBanksRipken.jpgBut batting average aside, Uggla’s best skill is his power. He’s the first second baseman to produce four 30-home run seasons, let alone consecutively. And among the first five years of any middle infielder’s career, Uggla’s 154 home runs are tops. Three MVP-wining Hall of Famers round out the top five, with 500-home run club member Ernie Banks second (136), Joe Gordon third (125) and Cal Ripken Jr. fifth (108). Nomar Garciaparra is fourth with 117.

King Felix’s Mariners vs. Lefty’s Phils: Announced Thursday was the American League Cy Young winner, Seattle’s Felix Hernandez. The honor continues a trend of moving away from wins in the voting. In fact, the AL wins leader has won only five of the last nine Cy Young Awards.

With the lowest win total for a Cy Young winner ever, King Felix and his team set a new precedent. Previously, Steve Carlton’s 1972 Phillies were the worst team to boast a Cy Young winner. While the Hall of Fame lefty lead the league with an incredible 27 wins, his Phillies won 59 games – a .378 win percentage. This season, run support torpedoed Hernandez, who went 13-12, while Seattle posted a winning percentage of .377.

11-19-10-Hayes_CarewGwynn.jpgCatching up with the Hall of Famers: Drafted in 1978 and debuting in 1981 with the Phillies, Ryne Sandberg is returning to Philadelphia. After four seasons managing in the Cubs’ farm system, the 2010 Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year was hired to manage the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate. Starting next season, Ryno will head the Lehigh Valley IronPigs as he continues his quest to pilot a big league club.

Stan Musial made news this week as the Cardinals legend was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. The St. Louis faithful campaigned all season to get Stan the Man the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Also, two more Hall of Famers grace Studio 42 with Bob Costas tonight. Legendary hitters Tony Gwynn and Rod Carew will drop by to talk baseball and the art of hitting with the veteran broadcaster at 8 p.m. ET on MLB Network.

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

Hall Monitor: World Series Special

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

The World Series is upon us. The whole season comes down to this, and like the previous 105, this one is already living up to the name Fall Classic.


10-29-10-Hayes_DrysdaleKoufax.jpgTexas Three-Step?
: Just two of the previous seven teams to dig a hole like Texas’ current deficit – losing the first two games, each by at least four runs – have come back to win the World Series. The last team to create such a predicament was the 2001 Yankees, who forced a seventh game but ultimately lost to the Diamondbacks. The pair to overcome similarly lopsided losses: Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale’s 1965 Dodgers, who rallied against the Twins, and the 1996 Yankees, who defeated the Braves.

Record line: In three career postseason starts, San Francisco’s Matt Cain has given up just one run – an unearned blemish in the sixth inning of the NLDS against the Braves. Cain has compiled a 2-0 record after blanking the Rangers in Game Two. Few other players have begun their postseason careers with three straight games in which they didn’t allow an earnie. Giants legends and Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson began his postseason career with what may be the most impressive performance ever: Three straight complete game shutouts in the 1905 World Series – going on three days rest and then two days for the final two. Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt allowed two unearned runs in three starts for the 1921 Yankees- going 2-1 in his first foray into postseason play. And Jon Matlack allowed three unearned while going 2-1 in his first three games before eventually ending with a 2-2 record during the Mets’ postseason run in 1973 – his only career postseason.

10-29-10-Hayes_Mathewson.jpgCain’s 21.1 innings without an earned run to start his postseason career is the sixth longest mark. He sits behind Hoyt (34 innings), Mathewson (28 innings), Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon  (26.1 innings), Matlack  (25 innings) and another Giant Hall of Famer, Carl Hubbell  (22 innings).

End of the run: Cliff Lee went 4.2 innings and gave up seven runs in Game One on Wednesday. His numbers are so astounding because he was on an unbelievable run. Before Wednesday’s aberration, his career 1.26 postseason ERA ranked third among pitchers with at least five starts. Just Sandy Koufax and Christy Mathewson held an edge over Lee’s dominance. As it is now, he still holds a 1.96 ERA and a 7-1 record in nine starts during his playoff career.

Big hits: Nine times in World Series history, a Giant has collected four hits in a game. After his 4-for-5 night in game one, Freddy Sanchez became the latest. The previously four before him is a good group to be in: Hall of Famers Ross Youngs (1923), Fred Lindstrom (1924), Mel Ott (1933) and Monte Irvin (1951).

Pivotal Pitching: The Phils “Feared the Beard” during the NLCS, as Brian Wilson recorded a win or a save in each of the Giants victories. With three saves and a win, he’s just the fourth pitcher since saves became an official stat in 1969 to wreak that kind of havoc on an opponent. Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, with four saves and an MVP Award 1988 ALCS leads the group, followed by Mitch Williams (two wins and two saves in the 1993 NLCS) and John Wetteland (four saves and an MVP Award in the 1996 World Series).

10-29-10-Hayes_Ryan.jpgCheckup up on the stars: Milwaukee Brewers broadcaster and 2003 Ford C. Frick Award winner Bob Uecker was released from the hospital after undergoing successful heart surgery last Tuesday. The broadcaster received a valve replacement earlier this season before surgery to repair a tear at the replacement site earlier this month.

Throughout the postseason, several Hall of Famers have tossed several ceremonial first pitches. Game One of the World Series was no different with Orlando Cepeda, Monte Irvin, Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey and Gaylord Perry tossing the first ball. In Texas, Saturday’s game will likewise feature a living legend as Rangers President Nolan Ryan reprises the role after he and Fergie Jenkins took the honors in Game One and Two of the ALCS, respectively.

For a good cause: Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield was honored before Thursday’s game with the Roberto Clemente Award. Beating out nominees from the other 29 clubs in his eighth year of being nominated, Wakefield is honored for combining dedication to giving back to the community with outstanding skills on the baseball field.

Wakefield was honored by Commissioner Bud Selig, widow Clemente’s Vera Clemente and his sons Roberto Jr. and Luis. Of the 27 eligible former winners of the Award, 13 are Hall of Famers.

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers