Results tagged ‘ Seattle Mariners ’

A Night of Baseball before Hitting the Road

By Brad Horn

Throughout the day on Saturday, a steady stream of visitors from around the island made their way to Guaynabo to see the Hall of Fame plaques of the four Puerto Rican Hall of Fame legends.

At the Museo de Deporte del Puerto Rico, thousands filed through all day, just waiting to catch a glimpse of the Cooperstown representations of their island heroes.

One Museo visitor, Hector from nearby Bayamon, came to see Orlando Cepeda’s plaque. Hector loves the Yankees and has long-followed another Puerto Rican baseball hero, Bernie Williams.

Following the public display at the Museo on Saturday night, the Hall of Fame team was treated to a night at the ballpark, as the Gigantes de Carolina hosted the Indios de Mayaguez in Puerto Rican Winter League action at Roberto Clemente Stadium.

The evening was arranged by Puerto Rican baseball historian and author Jorge Colon Delgado. A great friend to the Hall of Fame, Jorge has been one of the several islanders who made this experience seamless for us in Cooperstown.

Colon, one of the foremost historians on baseball in Puerto Rico and the statistician of the Puerto Rican Winter Leagues, has his fingers on the pulse of baseball on the island.

On Saturday night, he made our evening a very memorable experience, providing an inside look at baseball in the Caribbean leagues.

Upon arrival at the beautiful – and I mean truly beautiful – Roberto Clemente Stadium, a 12,000-seat treasure for the city of Carolina and the people of Puerto Rico, we headed right to the home clubhouse to see manager Edwin Rodriguez, who guided the Florida Marlins for the first half of the 2011 season.

Edwin, and his coaching staff of major league veterans, including Orlando Merced, Tome Cruz and others, were putting the final touches on their pre-game plan against Mayaguez, but took out time to share stories and pass along the plaque postcards of the four Puerto Rican Hall of Famers to their team.

Moments later, Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson was introduced and whisked to the mound to deliver the ceremonial first pitch. This was a very important moment to the people of Puerto Rico, as it marked the first time a representative from Cooperstown has thrown out a first pitch. As expected, without any preparation, Jeff displayed extreme coolness and confidence in delivering a strike to Carolina catcher Rene Rivera, who appeared in 27 games for the Minnesota Twins in 2011.

Both rosters were highlighted with current and former major league stars, ranging from Carolina’s Pedro Valdes, who is someone of a local icon in Carolina by virtue of playing for the same Carolina club for many years in a career that included stints in Texas and Seattle, to Brendan Harris, Hiram Boccachica, Alex Cintron and Jesus Feliciano, among others.

During the game, we were showered with kindness from the Giagantes staff, sampling the local fare including empanadillas, carne frittas and the Puerto Rican version of chicken tacos.

We left Carolina with a full diet of local fare and flair, resting for two days of travels, starting Sunday morning, with the visits of the plaques to Guayama, Salinas and Ponce still on tap for the next 36 hours.

We were so thankful to the kind people of Carolina for making our evening possible, especially to Hector, Guillermo, Angelica, Edwin and everyone we met. Thanks to Jorge and his ever-lasting kindness, the game provided the ultimate transition halfway through our journey.

Brad Horn is the senior director of communications and education at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

10 Years After: Remembering 9-11

By Jeff Idelson

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I woke up to beautiful late summer/early fall conditions.  Warm temperatures and a good-looking day.

After my morning run and breakfast, I headed to the office to pick up a few things before leaving for Albany International Airport. I was on my way to Baltimore to see Cal Ripken, who was planning to retire at season’s end.

The purpose of the meeting was to determine what artifacts Cal would consider sending to the Hall of Fame, once the season ended, as well as how they would be presented to us. Would it be at the ballpark? Quietly, or in a ceremony? The day of the final game or some other time?

Cal had a long history of presenting historic artifacts to the Museum, so we knew he understood the enormity of his career concluding, and how we would recognize this sure-fire, first-ballot future Hall of Famer in Cooperstown.

I left the Hall of Fame at 8:30 am for an 11 a.m. flight on Southwest Airlines. From there, I planned to make my way to Cal’s hometown, Aberdeen, Md., for a lunch-time meeting with Cal and Orioles PR chief John Maroon. We had arranged the meeting a few weeks prior, and picked September 11 because it was an off-day for the Orioles, who returned home on a redeye from Seattle after playing on the 10th.

As I left Cooperstown that morning, I tuned the radio dial to the 50,000-watt news station out of Albany, WGY Radio. I was about 40 miles north and west of Cooperstown when I heard about the planes hitting the World Trade Center and then the Pentagon. Without the benefit of owning a cell phone at the time and without access to a television, I listened in amazement, not realizing the enormity of what was happening.

Then the report came that all airports were closed. I was already really nervous and frightened hearing about the plane crashes and when it was reported that all airports were closed, I was more than happy to turn around, which I had been contemplating anyhow. When I returned to the Hall of Fame and put on the television, I realized the severity of what had happened.

We ended up having the meeting by telephone a few weeks later. I went to Baltimore for Cal’s final game. Afterward at the press conference, he took off his jersey and handed it to me along with his glove, with his kids by his side. I flew home to Cooperstown with the artifacts the next morning, where they were put on exhibit as a remembrance of Cal’s indelible career, and – to me – as a reminder of a tragic day in American history.

Jeff Idelson is the President of 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.

Broadcast history

By Samantha Carr

Curt Smith was 11 years old the first time he visited the Baseball Hall of Fame, and he’s been back more than 75 times since.

“And the novelty hasn’t faded,” he said.

But for visitors in Cooperstown for Hall of Fame Weekend, Smith’s Authors’ Series program made it a visit to remember. Smith, a columnist, University of Rochester lecturer and former presidential speechwriter, has written a new book entitled A Talk in the Park: Nine Decades of Tales from the Broadcast Booth.

“This book features 116 announcers – the largest collection of any sports book ever – sharing stories from baseball history,” said Smith. “Some are very poignant and touching and others – it is like the book Joe Garagiola wrote called Baseball is a Funny Game. It’s true.”

And Smith delighted Hall of Fame visitors on Friday by sharing stories from a number of chapters in the book.

Like Ken Harrelson, broadcaster for the Chicago White Sox and former major leaguer who defended his one handed catch by saying, ” with hands as bad as mine, one hand is better than two.”

Or Steve Blass, who was one of the only players in baseball history who was traded in Little League. He was moved from the Yankees to the Giants because the Yankees didn’t have a uniform small enough to fit him. Each big league team and network is represented in the book – so every baseball fan can find something that touches their baseball experience. The voice of the Toronto Blue Jays, Jerry Howarth, in town for the induction of Roberto Alomar and Pat Gillick, attended the program and shared some laughs at stories of his broadcast colleagues.

Garagiola once said to Yogi Berra that he was amazed that Berra was such a world figure, he drew more applause than a president or prime minister. When he asked Berra how he explained it, Berra responded, “Easy, I’m a better hitter.”

The book is available in the Museum Bookstore and a portion of the proceeds from the book benefit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

One final story told by Smith was a quote from 2008 Ford C. Frick Award winner Dave Niehaus, broadcaster for the Seattle Mariners who passed away last year at the young age of 75. Niehaus described his impressions of Cooperstown.

“When you come here you know there is no place like it in the world. It’s like going to Disney World, but you don’t have to pay for rides.”

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

Baseball Gene

By Bill Francis

Born and raised in Chicago, young Gene Walter was a fan of such Windy City legends as Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams. Recently, the former big league hurler visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum to not only revisit his childhood but share his past with his family.

On his way to Boston for business from his home outside Louisville, Ky., Walter, a southpaw relief pitcher for four big league seasons (1985-88) with the San Diego Padres, New York Mets and Seattle Mariners, made a stop in Cooperstown along with his wife and two young sons on Saturday afternoon.

“I definitely wanted to have the family visit Cooperstown and I wanted to get a chance to see it again,” said Walter, soon after he and his family checked out his clipping and photo files at the Hall of Fame Library. “Obviously being a baseball player your dreams at an early age involve one day being a member of the Hall of Fame, but certainly being a part of Major League Baseball was a great thrill and a great honor.”

Walter, who has worked as a financial planner since retiring as a professional player in 1993, made his only other Hall of Fame visit back in 1992 when he and a few teammates from the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs, including future big leaguer David Weathers, made the trek on an off-day.

“It sends chills up your spine,” is how Walter explains his feelings when walking through the Cooperstown institution. “When you grow up watching the greats, and I grew up watching baseball in the late 1960s and early ‘70s before free agency when teams played together for long periods of time, those guys are special to me.”

A trio of Walter’s former big league teammates would end up with their bronze likenesses in the Hall of Fame Plaque Gallery.

“With the Padres, Tony Gwynn was a consummate professional and just a great teammate, Goose (Gossage) was a great competitor who just gritted his teeth and reared back and intimidated and basically threw the heck out of the ball,” Walter recalled. “And with the Mets, Gary (Carter) was someone who just loved being out on the field.”

Reflecting on his own playing career, which included a 4-7 won-loss record and 3.74 ERA in 128 big league games, Walter says it was just a great opportunity to get to the majors.

“There was nothing etched in stone that I’d play one day professionally let alone get to the big leagues,” Walter said. “I was the Padres last pick in ’82 and I had a hurt arm in college that year and was fortunate enough to get drafted. I was the 29th round pick for the Padres and their last, and I was the first guy to make it to the big leagues out of that draft with them. The only thing that was disappointing is that the arm didn’t hold up long enough to give me the opportunity to play as long as I wanted to play.

“When you reach the big leagues and have a certain level of performance, and that performance lasts a year and a half and then you have an injury and you’re no longer a major league pitcher it’s tough. But you battle and you try to hang in there,” he added. “You’ve got to love to compete, you’ve got to love to put that uniform on and go out there. At the end of my career I was better at working out than getting people out, and you can’t hang around a long time like that.”

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

Hall Monitor: Cys, Fourths, Hitters and Winners

By Trevor Hayes

Here we are, basically at the halfway point. Many point to the All-Star break as the halfway mark, though that’s not entirely true this season. Seventeen teams are slated to play their 90th game tonight. Baltimore has the fewest games played and tonight will be the Orioles’ 86th contest. Plenty of storylines are swirling with Albert Pujols’ injury, Derek Jeter’s quest for 3,000 and much more. Here’s how the last week has gone.

The Cy Young Returns: On Sunday, the Blue Jays 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay started in Toronto, wearing a Phillies uniform. The outcome was a complete game victory for Doc in his first start as an opposing pitcher since leaving the Jays. Halladay is the sixth former Cy Young to notch a complete game “W” in his first road start against the team for which he won the Cy Young Award. The others include: Hall of Famers Catfish Hunter as a Yankee a season after leaving Oakland in 1975; Tom Seaver after being traded by the Mets to the Reds in 1977; and 300-game winner Randy Johnson in 1999 as a Diamondback against the Mariners.

First-year Oriole mashers: Before this season, Frank Robinson was the only player to collect 20 home runs by the All-Star break in his first season in Baltimore. He had 21 in 1966, the same year he won the AL MVP Award and the Triple Crown. Robinson now has company as Mark Reynolds hit two home runs on Monday, giving him 20 before the break in his first season in Birdland.

Independence Day Fun: Vance Worley led the red-white-and-blue clad Phillies to a 1-0 victory on the Fourth of July. For fans in the city that is home to the Liberty Bell and Ben Franklin, they can now claim a .500 record on the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. With Hall of Famers from Chuck Klein and Mike Schmidt to Pete Alexander and Steve Carlton, in 201 July 4th games since 1883, Philadelphia’s record is now 101-100.

A fellow N.L. East red-white-and-blue team, the Nationals, also won on Monday. The team in the Nation’s Capital now sports a .633 winning percentage on the Fourth of July. At 31 wins and 18 losses, it’s the best mark for any team with at least 20 Independence Day tilts. Of course, the majority of the franchise’s wins came while playing in another country powered by Hall of Famers Gary Carter, Andre Dawson and Dick Williams – though as Les Expos de Montreal, they still wore red-white-and-blue uniforms.

Verlander matching Newhouser: Tiger All-Star Justin Verlander, who’s scheduled to throw again this weekend, has been dominant this season, especially so in his last eight starts. After Tuesday, he’s thrown at least seven innings and given up two-or-fewer runs in each of his last eight. It’s rarified air for Detroit pitchers. In 1945, future Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser put together the only other streak like Verlander’s – a nine-game string en route to one of his two MVP Awards.

Youngsters walkin’ off: Mike Stanton became the third youngest player to hit a walk-off  home run when he went yard in the bottom of the 10th on Wednesday. At 21, Stanton’s game-winner gave Florida a 7-6 win over the Phillies. Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews is the youngest, when at 20-years-old he decided a game for the Boston Braves in 1952, also beating the Phillies. Fellow Marlin Alex Gonzalez hit a walk-off homer in 1998 – also 21, but slightly younger than Stanton.

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

Soaking it all in

By Samantha Carr

There are 292 bronze plaques in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and 203 of them are players.

This July, Pat Gillick will become the 32nd baseball executive to be inducted and just the fourth team architect following Ed Barrow, Branch Rickey and George Weiss. He spent 50 years in baseball as an executive with the Blue Jays, Orioles, Mariners and Phillies, building three World Series championship teams.

“These gloves look like hockey gloves,” said Gillick after seeing some artifacts of mitts used in the late 1800s.

Fitting, coming from a man who spent his most productive years in hockey country as Toronto’s general manager.

Gillick toured the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Tuesday during his orientation of Cooperstown to get ready for Hall of Fame Weekend 2011. Gillick’s wife Doris joined him on a walk through the Museum, led by Erik Strohl, the Hall of Fame’s senior director of exhibits and collections.

Gillick spent the day meeting with Hall of Fame staff and becoming familiar with the Hall of Fame and surrounding area to prepare for his induction. On July 24th, he will be joined by Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven as the class of 2011 on stage at the Clark Sports Center for the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

His bronze plaque will be unveiled and he will deliver a speech in front of family and friends, thousands of fans and members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, where the men who have created baseball history will be on stage to welcome him to the team.

Before the pressure and emotion of the weekend is upon him, Gillick used Tuesday to reflect on the game he has spent his life dedicated to.

“That’d be different, to wear a sweater instead of a jacket,” Gillick said to his wife when they viewed a warm-up sweater worn by Hall of Fame Yankees manager Miller Huggins in 1925.

Gillick soaked in the baseball history, chatting with baseball writers about changes to the game like the handles of bats and the style of play.

“There have been a lot of guys with high leg kicks,” said Gillick. “But not in the last 15 years or so. I can only think of a couple of guys. Everyone is trying to simplify and get back to basics.”

Gillick is a part of baseball history and will soon know what it feels like to be among legends, enshrined in the Plaque Gallery next to the other giants of the game.

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

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