Results tagged ‘ Satchel Paige ’

Hall Monitor: the durable Jamie Moyer

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

Let’s get it out of the way so we can start dissecting what it means: Jamie Moyer has allowed more home runs than any other player in the history of the game.

O06-29-10-Hayes_MoyerSea.jpgn Sunday during the bottom of the third inning, Toronto’s Vernon Wells hit the first pitch he saw from Moyer into the left field seats – the 506th home run allowed during Moyer’s 24-year career. The home run moved Moyer into sole possession of the record and past fellow Philles legend, Hall of Famer Robin Roberts.

In baseball history, 25 men have hit 500 home runs. Only Moyer and Roberts have given up that many, so Moyer is in good company. Roberts held or shared the all-time home runs allowed title for 52 years and 321 days. The Hall of Famer won 286 games, compiled up a .539 winning percentage and finished his 19-year career with a 3.41 career ERA. He was a workhorse with 305 complete games in 609 starts. He pitched 4,688 innings.

Just below Roberts on the homers-allowed list are Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins (484), Phil Niekro (482) and Don Sutton (472). Among the home runs allowed top ten, there are six Hall of Famers, six 3,000-striekout pitchers, five 300-game winners and no one under 4,000 innings pitched.

06-29-10-Hayes_Roberts.jpgThe record speaks to the longevity of Moyer’s career. In the same game Moyer gave up the record-breaking home run, he threw his 4,000th inning. Just 28 men since 1901 have logged that many innings. Nineteen of them are in the Hall of Fame, and five others are named Bert Blyleven, Roger Clemens, Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux.

Looking at Moyer’s stats, you come to the conclusion that if he’s pitched 24 seasons and registered 4,005 inning in the majors, he had to be doing something right. To this point, Moyer has collected 267 wins, 2,393 strikeouts and owns a .571 winning percentage in 682 career games. He’s fourth in the National League in wins this season at nine and fifth in shutouts and complete games, despite being the oldest player in the majors for the last three years. He owns a pair of 20-win seasons and he’s only led the league in home runs allowed once.

Moyer’s age, 47,  shows his ability to re-invent himself to find ways to get hitters out and be effective – and has been an underlying storyline to his career for the last few years. This season he recorded a complete game victory in his 264th career win. The victory was also his 100th since turning 40. Only two pitchers prior to Moyer had won 100 games on the north side of 40, Niekro (121) and Jack Quinn (104). Moyer is now at 103 and still going strong.

06-29-10-Hayes_MoyerBal.jpgLefties like Moyer have a penchant for hanging on. He’s hung on long enough to see his son was drafted (this season by the Twins in the 22nd round). He’s hung on long enough to face a 20-year-old rookie who was born in 1990 – Moyer’s fifth major league season. Starlin Castro got a hit off Moyer, creating the largest age gap between a hitter and pitcher since 21-year-old Tim Foli got a hit off Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm at 49 in 1972.

One last age note related to Moyer. Since 1901, Only Satchel Paige, Wilhelm, Quinn, Niekro, Kaiser Wilhelm and Nick Altrock pitched at 47 or older. Paige was in a one-game stunt with the Kansas City A’s to make him the oldest player at 58, but his last real season was at 46. Hoyt Wilhelm and Quinn both pitched at 49, appearing in 16 and 14 games respectively. At 48, Wilhelm had similar number (20 appearances), while Quinn threw 87 innings in 42 games. Also at 48, Niekro made 26 starts, pitching 138 innings. Niekro, Quinn and Hoyt Wilhelm were all effective at 47.

So the question becomes, how much longer will Jamie Moyer go?

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

Wakefield joins exclusive club started by Hall of Famer Satchel Paige

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

Satchel Paige called it the realization of the last of his three great dreams – to play in the major leagues, to pitch in the World Series and to be selected to the league’s All-Star Game.

For Paige, that first All-Star selection came in 1952, just days before his 46th birthday. He made his big league debut and pitched in the World Series in 1948 – just a few of many highlights that resulted in Paige being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971.

7-8-09-Berowski_Wakefield.jpgThis year, the dream of making the league’s All-Star team happened for Red Sox hurler Tim Wakefield. The 17-year-veteran was selected for his first All-Star team just days ago by manager American League skipper Joe Maddon. 

The 42 year-old Wakefield earned his selection by compiling a 10-3 mark in the first half for the Boston Red Sox.  While his ERA, WHIP and strikeout totals may not match up to those of some of his fellow All-Stars, Maddon explained Wakefield’s selection, stating: “Wakefield is having a good year, obviously, pitches in Boston and he’s had a tremendous body of work throughout his entire career… I just felt that getting him on a team was the right thing to do.”

Wakefield is only the third player in major league history to make his All-Star debut in his 40s. He follows two other pitchers: Paige in 1952 and Jamie Moyer in 2003 – who both earned their first All-Star berths at age 40.

Freddy Berowski is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Rock and Roll Hall of Famers visit Cooperstown

Idelson_90.jpgBy Jeff Idelson

One of the great strengths of the Baseball Hall of Fame is its universal appeal. Even though we are a Museum dedicated to baseball, fans of American history will invariably visit because one can’t begin to fully appreciate Americana without seeing baseball’s imprint. 

Those who travel to Cooperstown do so as a pilgrimage – we’re not exactly a place you can stumble upon. Once in a great while, visitors will “just happen to be in town for other reasons” and a Museum visit becomes a secondary undertaking. 

6-15-09-Idelson_CSN.jpgSuch was the case Friday when music icons and 1997 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Crosby, Stills and Nash came to town to play a concert at legendary Doubleday Field, the fifth concert ever at the famed venue. Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson got the ball rolling in 2004. Others to have performed include Paul Simon, The Beach Boys with Herman’s Hermits and Dylan, a second time.

Prior to the show, led by three decade-long tour manager Mike “Coach” Sexton, the entire band sans David Crosby, came to visit the Museum. Arriving in golf carts two hours before sound check were Graham Nash and Stephen Stills, along with drummer Joe Vitale, base player Bob Glaub, their newly-anointed organist, and pianist James Raymond — David Crosby’s son.

They spent 90 minutes touring the exhibits and 30 minutes in archival collections. The tour ended with a trip to the photo library so Nash, a well-known photography collector, could have a look at the Library’s famed collection. “Too short of a visit,” lamented Stills after the tour. 

While touring, I learned that Vitale was born in Canton, Ohio, and went to high school with Thurman Munson. “Is he in the Hall?” asked Vitale. When told he wasn’t, he responded: “He should be.”

Stills and Nash loved the Museum and were fascinated with its history. “Ahhh, Mickey Mantle – my first hero,” recalled Stills in the Yankees of 1950s exhibit on the Museum’s second floor. “I loved the Mick, but I am a Red Sox fan. I threw out the first pitch during their run to their first championship and that baseball is one of my prized possessions.”

 In archives, Nash, who played cricket in Blackpool, England as a youngster, picked up one of Hall of Famer George Wright‘s cricket bats, circa 1890. He was intrigued to learn of Wright, the only person in history to play Major League Baseball (Boston and Providence) and First Class Cricket (Longwood Cricket Club of Chestnut Hill, Mass.).

6-15-09-Idelson_Paige.jpgCricket matches are renowned for being seemingly-endless, as they can last for days. I asked Nash if cricket reminded him of acoustic Grateful Dead concerts, which were could also last for hours. “You may have a point there,” he said laughing.

I explained to both musicians the definition of a five-tool player (hit for average, hit for power, run, throw and field) and asked if music had any. “Prince. Definitely Prince,” said Nash. “He can probably play five instruments.”

When I asked Stills if he could go back in time which player he would meet, he answered without hesitation, Satchel Paige. “B.B. King told me that watching Satchel Paige pitch was like watching Jimi Hendrix play guitar. They were both legendary.”

The band thanked Hall of Fame curators Erik Strohl and Tom Shieber for arranging the tour and then headed back to Doubleday Field. After the sound check at 4:30 p.m., the three rock legends posed in Hall of Fame jerseys – as one Hall of Fame honored legends from another: Crosby, Stills and Nash were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, and are about to enter the Songwriters Hall of Fame (the three are also in the Harmony Hall of Fame). Nash was so appreciative, he opened the show wearing his new garb.

For the photo shoot, to tie music and baseball together even more closely, we brought the bats of three players with which the three musicians posed: Crosby with a Babe Ruth bat, Stills with a Lou Gehrig bat and Nash with a Joe DiMaggio one.

“What a thrill,” said Nash. “What a thrill.”

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

Colorful Browns memories

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

Bill Purdy was born and raised in St. Louis. But last week, he and his wife, Mary Beth, experienced what felt like a homecoming in Cooperstown.

For a few days at the Baseball Hall of Fame, Purdy relived a youth spent as close to the big leagues as you can get without being listed in a box score.

5-28-09-Hayes_PurdyHornsby.jpgPurdy grew up a fan of the St. Louis Browns and by the time he entered high school, they were his obsession. As a catcher during his teen years, Bill was a fan of Les Moss, who caught for the Browns from 1946-53. They shared a similar trait aside from catching.

“He was about as slow as a turtle running the bases, and I wasn’t fast either,” said Purdy, who supports the Hall of Fame as a Member of the Museum’s development program. “But I sure could hit the ball.”

It was Purdy’s catching ability, however, that dictated his baseball life after 1952. Bill Veeck, who purchased the Browns in 1951, was working to create greater interest in the team. So in 1952, the future Hall of Fame executive held a promotional contest to work as a bat boy for the Browns. Purdy won the contest.

During the middle of the season, the Browns needed someone to catch batting practice, so Purdy started doing that. For the rest of the season, he was the team’s bat boy and batting-practice catcher. In 1953, he served as just the batting-practice catcher and also traveled with the team.

As the bullpen catcher, he caught many legends, including the seemingly ageless Negro league great and future Hall of Famer Satchel Paige; an aging Virgil Trucks, who won 177 big league games; Harry Brecheen, who won three games in the 1946 World Series with the Cardinals; Don Larsen, who threw the only perfect game in World Series history; Bob Turley, who went on to win four World Series games, two rings and five pennants with the Yankees; Ned Garver, who won 20 games for the last-place Browns in 1951; and Tommy Byrne, a left-hander and part of the Yankees dynasty in the 1940s and ’50s.

5-28-09-Hayes_PurdyMug.jpgPurdy also has one great memory from a trip to Yankee Stadium in 1952. Like the players, Purdy kept his uniform, catcher’s mitt and the rest of his equipment in a trunk. The trunks were unloaded from the team’s train and taken straight to the clubhouse at the ballpark. Just before the team went to New York, the Browns were carrying three catchers, something the Yankees apparently knew. St. Louis’ third-string catcher, however, was sent to the Minors before the team arrived and another catcher wasn’t called up — something the Yankees apparently didn’t know.

“I’m assuming that the clubhouse man from the Yankees saw my stuff in there and thought I’d been activated,” Purdy said. “So they printed the scorecard with my name and number on it. I have it to this day, and it will baffle any historian here, because you won’t find my name on the list of active players. But my name is on the scorecard from Yankee Stadium — it’s the same scorecard that had Mantle, Berra and Casey Stengel on it.”

That scorecard, along with autographed balls and other artifacts — including seat frames from old Sportsman’s Park with original Busch Stadium seats in it — are among the memorabilia Purdy still has from his days with the Browns.

But the stories are what he treasures most.

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

The greatness of Hank Aaron

Idelson_90.jpgBy Jeff Idelson

“Here’s the pitch from Downing … swinging … there’s a drive into left-center field. The ball is gonna beeee … out of here! It’s gone! It’s 715! There’s a new home-run champion of all time, and it’s Henry Aaron.”

That was the radio call of Braves broadcaster Milo Hamilton on April 8, 1974, when Aaron broke Babe Ruth‘s long-standing home-run record. As important as that milestone was, and as immortal as Hamilton’s words have become, that singular event is precisely why Aaron ranks among baseball’s most underrated ballplayers.

4-24-09-Idelson_Aaron.jpgFans tend to remember Lou Gehrig because he died from ALS. Outside of Baltimore, Cal Ripken Jr. is remembered for “the streak.” And Aaron is often remembered for the home runs, though he accomplished so much more.

On this — the eve of the opening of Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream, our new exhibit dedicated to Aaron at the Baseball Hall of Fame — it is appropriate to consider the magnitude of what Aaron accomplished on and off the field.

Who is the all-time leader today in RBIs, total bases and extra-base hits? Hank Aaron. “The Hammer” also ranks second all time in home runs, third in hits and fourth in runs. He showed up to play every day, which is why he is among the top five all time in games played, at-bats and plate appearances.

Aaron’s also a member of the prestigious 3,000-hit club. Take away each and every one of his 755 home runs, and he still has 3,016 hits.

Said teammate Phil Niekro of Aaron’s home runs after No. 700, “It’s like the sun coming up every morning. You just don’t know what time.”

Over 23 seasons, Aaron was great, averaging 33 home runs and 100 RBIs with a .305 batting average. He was a 25-time All-Star, representing his league every year except his rookie year and final season. Aaron was in the top 10 in the Most Valuable Player voting 12 times, winning it in 1957 when the Braves won the World Series. By the way, Aaron hit .393 with three home runs and seven RBIs in the Braves’ victory over the Yankees in the Fall Classic.

4-24-09-Idelson_Aaron2.jpgNot only was he great, but Aaron was consistently awesome: He hit 20 or more home runs 20 times, drove in 100 or more runs 11 times and hit better than .300 14 times. He hit .303 with 385 home runs at home and .306 with 370 home runs on the road. His batting average never varied by more than 10 points, month to month, over his career.

The Hammer was raised in Mobile, Ala., a hotbed for talent. Hall of Famers Willie McCovey, Satchel Paige, Ozzie Smith and Billy Williams were all born in Mobile, a city with a population under 200,000.

Aaron accomplished so much with a quiet grace and dignity which he brought to the ballpark every day in a time of racial divide in America. He was also among those who integrated the South Atlantic League, and he broke Ruth’s home-run mark in the face of intense hatred and racism. It’s no surprise that his hero was Jackie Robinson, who paved Aaron’s way to the way to the Majors.

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

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