Results tagged ‘ stolen base ’

Carl Cooperstown has another historic night

Horn_90.jpgBy Brad Horn

ST. LOUIS — At this rate, he might want to consider a formal name change to Carl Cooperstown.

Crawford, better known to his Tampa Bay and American League teammates as “C.C.,” earned Most Valuable Player honors in Tuesday’s 4-3 All-Star Game in St. Louis, extending the A.L.’s unbeaten streak to 13 straight. The win assures the World Series will start in an American League city.

7-15-09-Horn_CrawfordCatch.jpgCovering ground has made Crawford a major league star, and since last October, he’s covered enough earth to orbit Cooperstown thrice. Donating an artifact from an historic achievement is a rare honor, as the Museum typically requests about 30 items per year from major league achievements.

With the donation of the cap he wore in Tuesday’s Classic, essentially the only part of Crawford now not in Cooperstown is the rising star himself.

“What is it going to be this time?” Crawford asked me last night after receiving the MVP award on the field at Busch Stadium. Beaming with a smile that shows a natural love for the game, Carl gladly handed over his cap… after a quick trip to the interview room. Next stop: Cooperstown.

At the conclusion of the World Series last October, we asked Carl for the road jersey he wore in Philadelphia. Though his Rays came up short against the Phillies, his all around dynamic play represented the spirit of baseball’s upstarts in 2008. He was all too willing then to give, as he was again last night.

7-15-09-Horn_Crawford.jpgJust six weeks into the 2009 season, Crawford ran – almost at will – against the Red Sox, stealing six bases in a game to tie a modern record. The spikes he wore in that game kept running a bit further… to Cooperstown. On the day they arrived in May, another fellow five-tool leftfielder happened to be in the Museum and inspected the spikes as they arrived.

Rickey Henderson was on his orientation visit that day and was among the first to see Carl’s spikes in their new home.

And so this week, for the third time in 10 months, Carl Crawford will be represented with an artifact at the home of baseball. 

The road from Houston’s Jefferson Davis High School to major league stardom in Tampa Bay apparently runs right through Cooperstown.

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

Cooperstown stirs Hall of Fame memories

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Franics

6-15-09-Francis_Doubleday.jpgOn Sunday, Cooperstown’s historic Doubleday Field played host to a pair of Triple-A minor league teams – whose players are one step away from the majors. The game came exactly six weeks to the day before Joe Gordon, Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice are inducted into the Hall of Fame as the Class of 2009.

Cooperstown Classic II saw the International League’s Pawtucket Red Sox come away with a 15-5 win over the Syracuse Chiefs. With the game’s greatest enshrined down the street in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the two squads’ off-field personnel who had played with and against Rice and Henderson shared their thoughts on the duo.

“I think I still have a bruise from a line drive hit off my arm on my first pitch of a spring training game in 1982 by Rickey,” joked Syracuse pitching coach Rich Gale, a 6-foot-7 righty who pitched in the big leagues from 1978-84. “I was saying on the way over here that I should go visit the Hall of Fame because there’s a lot of guys I helped get in there.”

6-15-09-Francis_Rice.jpgActually, Rice had only a .147 batting average (5-for-34) against Gale. 

“I happened to have good success against Jim Rice. But boy, I’ll tell you what, I was never overconfident,” Gale said. “Every time he was in the box you knew that every swing could be a home run. You could make a nasty, nasty pitch and he’d rifle the ball to right, right-center or he’d launch one on to the Mass. Pike at Fenway.”

Gale spent his final big league season in 1984 as Rice’s teammate with the Boston Red Sox. “The first time he saw me in spring training he joked, ‘I hope you make our club. Don’t get traded to somebody.’ He remembered that I had some success against him.”

As for Henderson, Gale said, “I’m sure he saw me pitching out there and when he got on base he licked his chops because I had a big, long, slow delivery. My catchers weren’t too happy about that.

“He’s a guy you could throw one pitch to to lead off a game and be behind 1-0 after he hit a home run. Or you could throw one pitch and he’d be on first base, the next thing it’s second, and the next thing it’s third. And then you get an out from the second guy and you’re still behind 1-0. It was a tremendous, tremendous package.”

Pawtucket batting coach Russ Morman, who spent most of his nine-year major league playing career at first base, remembered the pressure Henderson could put on a pitcher.

“Every time he got on base he was a threat to go and cause havoc on the base paths,” Morman said. “Rickey never stayed at first very long.”

6-15-09-Francis_Henderson.jpgSyracuse batting coach Darnell Coles was another contemporary, spending 14 years in the majors (1983-95, 1997), including one as a teammate of Henderson’s with the World Series-winning 1993 Toronto Blue Jays.

“Rickey is Rickey,” Coles said with a smile. “He’s the catalyst of your team, he gets on base, he sets things in motion on the bases that not a whole lot of people have done.”

Coles spent most of time as a third baseman, always alert when Henderson was on base.

“I think it was more of a matter of when he wanted to steal bases. He could steal them pretty much anytime he wanted because he could see things other guys couldn’t,” Coles said. “And he just continued to do that over the course of his career. Then with all the leadoff home runs, he was just a special player.”

Coles recalled Rice as one of the most prolific right-handed hitters that he’d ever played against.

“Rice was just a guy that you want up with the game on the line,” Coles said. “He’s also one of those guys you wanted on your team if there was a brawl. He was somebody who had a clubhouse presence. He was a guy with a certain stature who’d go out and play the game the right way, break up double plays, do the things it takes to play on championship caliber team.”

Tom Foli, the Syracuse manager, was a 16-year veteran at second base who saw a little too much of Henderson.

6-15-09-Francis_Gordon.jpg“He was ridiculous,” Foli said. “He’d dive head first into second base. He’s probably the only guy that ever actually hurt me when he dove in. Everybody else you could kind of stop, but he was so strong he could actually take you out diving. That’s how fast and how hard he slid.”

Rice was just an RBI machine, according to Foli.

“A great hitter you like that you had to go right at them because if you pitch around them you’re going to make more mistakes,” Foli said. “If you make good pitches you have a chance to get them out seven out of 10 times. You don’t make good pitches they’re going to make you pay.”

The 2009 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, featuring Rice and Henderson as well as Joe Gordon, will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 26. Admission is free.

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

Happy birthday, Luis Aparicio

Carr_90.jpg
Muder_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr and Craig Muder

Few players can say they changed the way baseball is played. Before Luis Aparicio revitalized the running game 50 years ago, the stolen base was on its way to becoming an archaic footnote.

Aparicio, who turns 75 Wednesday, turned the baseball world upside down in 1959 by stealing 56 bases for the Chicago White Sox. Only one other American League team — the Detroit Tigers with 68 — had as many steals as Aparicio that year. The Sox shortstop finished second in the AL Most Valuable Player voting that year, leading Chicago to the AL pennant.

4-30-09-Carr-Muder_Aparicio.jpgAparicio had led the AL in steals in each of his first three seasons before 1959 and went on to lead the league every season through 1964. That year, with a career-high 57 steals for the Orioles, Aparicio swiped more bags than six other AL teams.

But baseball was catching up to Aparicio — especially in the National League, where Maury Wills and the Dodgers were building an offense around speed. By 1969, when Aparicio topped the 20-steal mark for the 12th and final time, five AL clubs recorded at least 100 stolen bases — a mark not reached in the Junior Circuit from 1946-56.

The Venezuelan-born Aparicio, a 13-time All-Star, played every one of his 2,583 Major League games in the field at shortstop, winning nine Gold Gloves. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame 25 years ago after an 18-year big league career with the White Sox, Orioles and Red Sox.

Happy birthday, Little Louie!

Samantha Carr is the media relations coordinator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 61 other followers