Results tagged ‘ St. Louis Cardinals ’

Former Atlanta Brave Brian Hunter gets his turn in Cooperstown

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Brian Hunter peered into the Braves’ locker in the Hall of Fame’s Today’s Game exhibit and stared right into history.

“Look, Smoltzie’s shoes,” said Hunter of the cleats belonging to former Braves teammate John Smoltz. “And there’s (a photo of Rafael) Furcal. And Andruw Jones’ bat. I was there with all of them.”

8-17-09-Carr_Hunter.jpgHunter was more than “there.” The nine-year major league vet, who spent parts of five seasons with the Braves, appeared in three World Series with Atlanta and played a role in the Braves’ remarkable run through the 1990s.

Hunter toured the Hall of Fame on Monday as part of a team from the Cooperstown All Star Village. Hunter, along with former Minnesota Twins farmhand Vern Hildebrandt, serve as coaches for the team.

Hunter, now 41 but still looking every bit the athlete, broke into the majors in 1991 and finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting, He hit .333 in the Braves’ win over Pittsburgh in the NLCS, then scored two runs and drove in three more while playing in all seven games of the World Series. Hunter appeared in the 1992 World Series with Atlanta, then — after being traded to Pittsburgh in following the 1993 season — wrapped up his big league career with stints with the Pirates, Reds, Mariners, Cardinals, Braves (again) and the Phillies.

It was Hunter’s first trip to the Hall of Fame, but — on paper — he’s been here since his big league debut in 1991. Hunter, just like every one of the 17,000-plus men who have played Major League Baseball, has a file in the Hall of Fame’s Library. When shown a file story recounting Hunter’s brush with a beanball, his youth baseball team let out a big “Ooohhhh.”

“This is amazing,” said Hunter while poring over a few of the three million documents in the Hall of Fame’s Library. “It’s all here.”

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

Six cycles

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

Hitting for the cycle is one of the more rare feats in baseball. It has happened only 286 times in the history of the game.

8-12-09-Carr_Tulowitzki.jpgOn Monday night, Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki made it 287 when he became the sixth player in 2009 to accomplish the feat.

Tulowitzki had a career-high seven RBIs during his five-hit performance against the Chicago Cubs, putting the Rockies in first place in the National League Wild Card race and cutting the Los Angeles Dodgers’ lead to 5 1/2 games in the NL West.

“It’s definitely more satisfying that I did it in a game that means a lot,” Tulowitzki said.

8-12-09-Carr_TulowitzkiHi-Five.jpgHe joins Orlando Hudson, Ian Kinsler, Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer and Melky Cabrera on the list of players who have hit for the cycle in 2009. They have all donated items from their historic feat to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, with the latest item being Tulowitzki’s batting gloves.

Only five other times in history have there been six cycles in one season. Only twice (1890 and 1933) have more than six cycles been reached.

In 1933, a record eight players hit for the cycle, and five of them were later inducted into the Hall of Fame: Chuck Klein, Arky Vaughan, Mickey Cochrane, Jimmie Foxx and Earl Averill. Cochrane, who had also hit for the cycle in 1932, Pinky Higgins and Foxx were all teammates on the Philadelphia Athletics and hit for the cycle within a two-week span during the first half of August.

1933 cycles
May 5: Pepper Martin, St. Louis (NL)
May 26: Chuck Klein, Philadelphia (NL)
June 24: Arky Vaughan, Pittsburgh
Aug. 2: Mickey Cochrane, Philadelphia (AL)
Aug. 6: Pinky Higgins, Philadelphia (AL)
Aug. 14: Jimmie Foxx, Philadelphia (AL)
Aug. 17: Earl Averill, Cleveland
Sept. 30: Babe Herman, Chicago (NL)

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

Timlin trying to go from Cooperstown to majors

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

When he arrived in Cooperstown along with Hall of Famers and fellow former major leaguers for the Inaugural Hall of Fame Classic, Mike Timlin made it clear that he was the one player who was not retired.

8-7-09-Carr_TimlinFinley.jpg“Nothing’s totally official,” said Timlin, who last played in 2008 with the Boston Red Sox. “I had my name out there in Spring Training, so something could happen this summer. If someone gives me a call that I would deem worthy to walk away from the family for a little while, it could happen.”

The Colorado Rockies made that call.

The 43-year-old Timlin signed a minor league contract with the Rockies and reported to the Pioneer League’s Casper Ghosts on a rehab assignment July 29.  He threw two scoreless outings for the rookie-league level Ghosts before being promoted to the Rockies’ Triple-A club in Colorado Springs. He made his Sky Sox debut on Thursday night, pitching one-and-two-thirds scoreless innings against Nashville.

8-7-09-Carr_TimlinBack.jpgThe Classic, which took place on Father’s Day, brought five Hall of Famers and more than 20 former major league stars to Doubleday Field in Cooperstown. Although Timlin’s team lost, he made an effort to get everyone who participated to autograph his jersey.

Timlin has played for the Blue Jays, Mariners, Orioles, Cardinals, Phillies and Red Sox in 18 big league seasons, has a 4.26 ERA in 46 postseason appearances with 41 strikeouts and is the all-time leader in relief appearances by a right-hander with 1,054. He got the save in the final game of the 1992 World Series for Toronto.

Fifteen years to the day later, he made an appearance in Game 1 of the 2007 Fall Classic, throwing one inning of scoreless relief for Boston. Timlin was part of World Series championship teams with Toronto (1992 and 1993) and Boston (2004 and 2007).

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

By the numbers

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

It’s been a great week for numbers in baseball. And here at the Baseball Hall of Fame, those numbers will be preserved forever.

A sample of the week that was:


7-31-09-Hayes_HeltonSpeaker.jpg500 for Todd:
Last week, Colorado’s Todd Helton became the 50th player to collect 500 doubles. Hall of Famer Tris Speaker holds the record with 792, while 32 of the men who have 500 or more doubles are also enshrined in Cooperstown. Five, including Helton, are active and six others aren’t yet eligible. One other note: Helton achieved the feat in his 1,749th game. Only two players reached 500 quicker: Hall of Famers Joe Medwick (1,714) and Nap Lajoie (1,730).

Dodger Details: Tuesday night marked the 2,000th regular-season contest between the Dodgers and Cardinals, dating back to 1892, when the St. Louis Browns first played the Brooklyn Grooms as members of the National League. Brooklyn/Los Angeles holds a slight edge over St. Louis at 993-992 – with 16 ties – after losing to the Redbirds on Wednesday. The match-up includes a two-game tiebreaker series in 1946 when the Cards swept the Dodgers for the NL pennant.

One man who’s probably seen more of those games than anyone else is Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully. The 1982 Ford C. Frick winner announced this week that he may retire after the 2010 season – his 61st in the booth. The 81-year-old Scully started calling Dodger games in 1950, when they played at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.


7-31-09-Hayes_MoyerNiekro.jpgAgeless Pitchers:
Jamie Moyer earned his 10th victory of the 2009 season in the Phillies’ 6-2 win over the Diamondbacks on Monday. At 46 years and 251 days, he is the second-oldest pitcher to reach double-digit wins in a season. Hall of Famer Phil Niekro holds the record, earning his 10th in 1986 for the Indians, at 47 years and 145 days. Knucksie won seven more games in 1987 for a total of 318 wins. Moyer’s most recent victory was his 256th.
 
Chasing Rickey: Curtis Granderson hit two home runs to lead off games this week at Texas. With 20 leadoff bombs, he has a long way to go to catch the leader. 2009 Hall of Fame Inductee Rickey Henderson holds the record with 81, followed by Alfonso Soriano, who tied Craig Biggio at 53 in May of this year.

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

The grand game

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

7-30-09-Berowski_LazzeriRobinson.jpgThere are 289 members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  Only two of them have hit two grand slams in one game: Tony Lazzeri and Frank Robinson.

But one day after Rickey Henderson, Jim Rice and Joe Gordon took their rightful place in Cooperstown, Senior Circuit batters launched an attack on several grand slam records.

The Washington Nationals’ Josh Willingham hit a record-tying two grand slam home runs in back-to-back innings. Willingham’s eight RBI on the day matched a franchise high, and it was the third time in National League history that a batter has had two grand slams in a game, the last being Fernando Tatis with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1999.

7-30-09-Berowski_Willingham.jpgWhen Tatis clubbed his two grand slams on April 23, 1999, they both came in the same inning. Even more amazing is that the third inning blasts came off of the same pitcher, the Dodgers’ Chan Ho Park. Ironically, Tatis was one of three National Leaguers to hit grand slams Monday when his eighth-inning, pinch-hit shot off recently recalled Franklin Morales propelled the Mets to victory over the wild-card leading Colorado Rockies.

Alfonso Soriano added to the fireworks on Monday when his 13th-inning walk-off grand slam led the surging, first place Chicago Cubs past one of their division rivals, the Houston Astros.

According to David Vincent of the SABR Home Run Log, the National League mark of four grand slams in one day was established on  May 21, 2000.  On that day Shawn Green and Adrian Beltre of the Los Angeles Dodgers, J.T. Snow of the San Francisco Giants and Brian Hunter of the Philadelphia Phillies connected for bases-loaded round-trippers.

Coincidentally, the only time four grand slams were hit on the same day in the American League was also in 2000, when Ben Grieve, Joe Oliver, Richie Sexson and Jose Macias went deep with the bags full on July 22.

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

Musial always a star in St. Louis

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

It was 61 years ago – July 13, 1948 – that Stan Musial made his first All- Star appearance in the Gateway City. At only 27 years of age, the Cardinals’ star outfielder was midway through his third MVP season, in which he led the Senior Circuit in every major offensive category except home runs.

7-16-09-Berowski_Musial.jpgDuring the 1948 Midsummer Classic in St. Louis, Musial continued his dominance of major league pitching by launching a first-inning two-run home run off Senators hurler Walt Masterson. Those would be the only two runs the NL would muster that day, falling to the AL 5-2.

On Tuesday night, the 88-year-old Hall of Famer was back on the field in St. Louis for the pre-game festivities, presenting President Barack Obama with the ceremonial first pitch baseball.

When the 80th annual All-Star game action commenced, the eyes of the St. Louis faithful were on Albert Pujols. At age 29, already with two MVP awards under his belt, this modern day “Stan the Man” is on pace to have his best season yet. Unfortunately his regular season performance didn’t translate to All-Star Game competition this year, as Pujols went 0-for-3 at the plate.

Ironically it was Albert’s Cardinal teammate, Yadier Molina, who would be a catalyst for the NL, accounting for all three NL runs when his second-inning single plated David Wright and Shane Victorino. He later scored on Prince Fielder’s RBI double.

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

Famous faces in St. Louis

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

ST. LOUIS — The stars were out this week at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, and the Baseball Hall of Fame was on the mind of many of the most famous people in sports and entertainment:


7-14-09-Francis_Edwards.jpg
NASCAR driver Carl Edwards, who played in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game Sunday night: “I’m really excited to get to meet (Hall of Fame shortstop) Ozzie Smith. We’ve been trying to meet up today. He’s out there managing the game that’s going on. I hear he’s a little upset at me for stealing his back flip, but we can hopefully work that out and shake hands over it. I’m really excited to meet him.”

Actor Billy Bob Thornton, on meeting Hall of Famer Stan Musial: “I’d have to say out of all my experiences out of meeting baseball players in my lifetime when I got to meet Mr. Musial, which I have to call him that, that was probably the biggest thrill I ever had.

7-14-09-Francis_Thornton.jpg“But Bob Gibson (like Musial, a Hall of Famer) is my guy. I threw the first pitch out in 1998 here (in St. Louis), we were playing the Braves, Tom Glavine was pitching for the Braves. I’ll never forget this. I was in the clubhouse with (Cardinals manager) Tony (La Russa), (Mark) McGwire, and Bobby Knight, and we were all taking pictures together, and Gibson comes in and so we took some with him. And of course I was thrilled already, that was the first time I met him. And Tony said, ‘Bob, you’re the guy’s hero. Why don’t you catch the ball today?’ I wanted to say, ‘Tony, don’t make me throw it to him.’ So we were on the mound and Gibson knew I had been a pitcher so I had to throw him something. I learned my slider from Gibson’s instructional book in the ’60s when I was a kid. So I threw him a slider, and it was a good one, about two inches off the plate, it was a strike, and Gibson comes out and hands me the ball and he goes, ‘Where did you get that pitch?’ And I said, ‘Out of your book.’ And he goes, ‘You’re kidding me. That old book from the ’60s?’ After that he just warmed up to me just in a great way. Since then I’ve seen him a bunch of times and he’s always really gracious to me.”


7-14-09-Francis_Torre.jpg
Dodgers manager Joe Torre, a National League All-Star coach, on the Class of 2009 at the Hall of Fame: “Jim Rice, I’m really pleased for him, Rickey Henderson was a no-brainer, obviously. Jim Rice waited a long time and he put some pretty impressive numbers up. I’m just happy for Jim Rice. A class act, he was a player that really was a no-nonsense guy, just got up there and did what he did. I’m really pleased for Jimmy. Rickey, his ability spoke for itself. He put all those base-stealing records and leadoff home runs in his hip pocket.”

The Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2009 – Joe Gordon, Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice – will be enshrined in Cooperstown on July 26.

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

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