Results tagged ‘ Tampa Bay Rays ’

Hall Monitor: Perfection, Civil Rights in Cincy and one cycle?

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

The last week has been a historical one in many respects and will certainly go down as an important one in the 2010 memory bank.
 
Tex and Lou: The Sox-Yankees feud adds a new layer each year. This year’s latest notable? Mark Teixeira’s three-homer game on Saturday matched Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig’s as the only Yankees’ three-homer effort against Boston. Gehrig’s barrage came in an 11-4 win at Fenway Park on June 23, 1927. Since 1920, Bronx Bombers have recorded 22 games with three or more homers.


05-14-10-Hayes_Cycles.jpgJust one cycle
: On May 14, 2009, the majors had already witnessed three cycles with a fourth to come in a little more than a week. This season only Milwaukee’s Jody Gerut has accomplished the feat, with his cycle last Saturday. Last season a record-tying eight cycles were hit, artifacts of which can be seen – along with Gerut’s bat from the first home run in Citi Field history – in the Today’s Game exhibit at the Hall of Fame.

Third knuckler to 2,000: With his fourth-inning K of Vernon Wells on Wednesday, Tim Wakefield achieved his 2,000th major-league strikeout. Phil Niekro and Charlie Hough are the only other knucklers above the 2,000-mark, with the Hall of Famer at 3,342 and Hough at 2,362. At the age of 43 years, 283 days, Wakefield became the second-oldest pitcher to reach the 2,000-strikeout mark. The only older pitcher to reach the milestone was Jamie Moyer at 44 years, 145 days in 2007.


05-14-10-Hayes_MBuehrle.jpgFollowing Perfection
: Dallas Braden’s media whirlwind is over and his artifacts are in Cooperstown, so what’s next after tossing the major’s 18th regular-season perfect game last Sunday? Less than a year ago, Mark Buehrle threw a perfecto against the same Tampa Bay Rays Braden faced – making it the shortest time span separating a pair of perfect games since Worcester’s Lee Richmond against Cleveland (the first perfect game) and Providence’s Hall of Famer John Montgomery Ward versus Buffalo, which happened within a week in 1880 – and then retired the 17 batters he faced in his next start. Coupled with the final batter of his start prior to the perfect game, Buehrle set the record for consecutive hitters retired. Braden has his chance to keep perfection going tonight against the Angels in a 10:05 ET start in Los Angeles. “To have something of mine taking up space in that beautiful Hall is pretty nice,” said Braden, who visited Cooperstown a few years ago.

Celebrating Civil Rights: Hall of Famer Joe Morgan will be back in Cincinnati this weekend for the annual Civil Rights Game – which this year features the Cardinals and Reds. The former second baseman for the Big Red Machine is helping kick off the event with a roundtable discussion on the state of race relations. Also among the festivities held at the Freedom Center and the Reds Hall of Fame are a meet-and-greet event with former Negro leagues players and a special exhibition of Jackie Robinson artifacts, including a game-worn jerseys, a Robinson bat and a ticket stub from the April 15, 1947, game in which Robinson broke the color barrier for the Dodgers.

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

Perfection in Cooperstown

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

What a difference a year makes.

Last Mother’s Day, A’s pitcher Dallas Braden was hit with a line drive off the bat of Vernon Wells as part of a losing effort against the Toronto Blue Jays. But on Mother’s Day 2010, with his grandmother looking on from the stands, Dallas Braden pitched the 19th perfect game in big league history.

05-12-10-Berowski_Braden.jpgMixing his slider and change-up with his mid-80’s fastball, Braden did to the Tampa Bay Rays what he usually does: Throw strikes. Perhaps the hardest hit ball of the day was Jason Bartlett’s line out to third leading off the game. By the fifth inning, the Rays were doing everything they could to try and get a man on, including their clean-up hitter, Evan Longoria who attempted to bunt his way on. But the powerful Rays lineup was silenced.

Braden’s feat marked the first time in history that a pitcher has thrown a perfect game against the team with the best record in the majors.

Already in Cooperstown from the perfect game are a game ball and the spikes Braden wore during his gem. These items will join Mark Buehrle’s jersey and the game ball from his perfect game last July 23, as well as other artifacts in the Hall of Fame’s collection relating to baseball’s greatest pitching feat.

There is no question that a pitcher with only 17 career victories has just as much chance of pitching a perfect game as anyone else in the big leagues. In fact, two players, Charlie Robertson of the White Sox and Lee Richmond of the Worcester Ruby Legs – the author of baseball’s first perfect game – had fewer major league wins at the time of their perfectos than Braden did. From Hall of Famers and All-Stars to journeyman and guys that didn’t really pan out, the roster of pitchers that have thrown perfect games has them all.

There have been approximately 391,300 games played in Major League history. Of these 391,300 games, only .0000485% have been perfect.

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

Grapefruit stories

Idelson_90.jpgBy Jeff Idelson

I’m sitting in Tampa International Airport awaiting the one non-stop Southwest Airlines flight back to Albany, having just concluded my Grapefruit League spring training jaunt. My Spring Training mission each year is to visit with those who are close to the Museum – current players and management, Hall of Famers, owners and supporters.

03-24-10-Idelson_DawsonPerez.jpgHaving spent eight years combined in the Red Sox and Yankee front offices before being hired in Cooperstown in 1994, my knowledge was limited to Florida Spring Training: the Yankees were in Ft. Lauderdale and the Red Sox in Winter Haven. Since, I have traveled to the desert, too.

The differences are stark: The air is markedly drier in Arizona, because of the elevation. The ballparks in Arizona are surrounded by mountains; most of the ones in Florida, by water. Thirteen of 15 ballparks in Arizona are within 60 miles of each other. In Florida, they span across the state. I spent seven nights in one hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona; I was in six different places in six nights in Florida and flew in and out of airports across the state from each other.

The one similarity? I had a game rained out in each state.

I had a chance to visit with a number of our Hall of Famers. Andre Dawson and I had dinner in North Miami Beach, near his home. He’s already made great progress on his speech and is getting ready for Induction. “I’ll try not to get too emotional,” the stoic “Hawk” told me. I let him know that if he did not get emotional, I would be worried. Almost every speech I have heard since 1994 has been emotional. 

Hall of Fame Chairman Jane Clark, Ken Meifert from the Hall, and I, saw Mike Schmidt and his wife Donna in Palm Beach Gardens. We talked about a variety of topics, from baseball to bull riding to music to living in Florida. Mike is very excited about our inaugural Hall of Fame Classic Golf tournament in June, in which he will participate. He was thrilled to know that a number of the 28 spots available are already filled.

03-24-10-Idelson_Jupiter.jpgLast Saturday, we hosted our Hall of Fame Champions in Jupiter. John and Kathy Greenthal became the first Champions in Hall of Fame history to attend events in both Spring Training states. Jim and Tina Collias made the trip over from Naples to Jupiter, and Dan Glazer also joined us. Hall of Fame Board member Bill DeWitt, owner of the Cardinals, was generous in hosting us for his team’s game with the Mets. Spring Training games are usually not that interesting, but this one featured the Mets scoring three runs in the 9th, the last on an Ike Davis game-tying home run, only to have Ruben Gotay lead off the bottom of the 9th with a walk-off home run.

Speaking of walk-off home runs, we dined with Dennis and Jennifer Eckersley after the game. I asked Dennis what he thought of Doug Harvey. “He was behind the plate for Kirk Gibson’s home run in the 1988 World Series,” Dennis reminded me, as I began to suffer the symptoms of foot-in-mouth disease. He still thought Harvey was an excellent arbiter. 

I headed across the state to Yankee camp and saw many old friends in the clubhouse before the game: Billy Connors, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage, Steve Donohue, the team athletic trainer, Joe Girardi, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, whom we drafted when I worked for the team. The game was rained out as Gene Michael, his minor league teammate and Tigers broadcaster, Jim Price, and I had lunch. Also saw Tiger friends Dave Dombrowski and Al Aliva in the dining room and learned more about the Tigers.

Dinner that night was with Wade and Debbie Boggs and Reggie Jackson. Eddie Fastook, the team’s traveling security director and a long-time friend, also joined us. 

Unbeknownst to me, Boggs grew up a big Reggie Jackson fan, even wearing No. 9 in honor, the number Reggie wore early in his career in Oakland. Wade told the story of how in the mid 1980s, Reggie gave him one of his bats to use in 1985. “I used it for 33 straight games and hit five home runs,” said Wade. “I loved that bat and then I broke it on a Dave Stieb pitch,” a dejected Wade recalled.

03-24-10-Idelson_Zimmer.jpgThe next morning, I visited City of Palms Park in Fort Myers to see the Red Sox and the Rays. I met up with Don Zimmer, who is very bullish on the Rays this year. “The best club we’ve had in my seven years with them,” Zim said.

Zim told me how much he admired Dawson and Ryne Sandberg when he managed the Cubs. “Two guys who led by example,” he said. “The other players watched these guys and saw greatness in the making.”

I told Don I would be seeing Jim Rice and Bob Montgomery later that day. 

“Monty was the best hit-and-run guy I ever had,” recalled Zim. “I remember in a game with Cleveland, the bases were loaded. They had a sinker-baller on the mound so I rolled the dice and gave (coach) Eddie Yost the hit-and-run sign on a 3-2 count. Monty put the bat on the ball and we stayed out of the double play. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy, but I really thought it would work, and it did.”

Rice later told me that he believed Thurman Munson and Lou Piniella were among the best hit-and-run guys he saw when he played.

I concluded my trip with dinner at Carlton and Linda Fisk’s home in the Sarasota area. We had a wonderful visit and a great dinner. Pudge joked about how some of the evenings in Florida this year were as cold as those he experienced growing up in New Hampshire.

I’ve had my fill. Let the regular season begin.

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

History comes alive

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

Several of today’s stars continued to carve out a bit of history for themselves this week alongside some notable Hall of Famers.
 

9-11-09-Hayes_MusialRoberts.jpgDoubled-Up:
With double No. 50 Wednesday, Brian Roberts became the fourth player with three or more 50-double seasons. Hall of Famers Stan Musial and Paul Waner each did it three times while Hall of Famer Tris Speaker did it five times. Including his 51 last season, Roberts has put together his second straight 50-double season, putting him in an elite club with nine players – including three Hall of Famers: Speaker, Joe Medwick and Billy Herman.

On the subject of doubles, the same night Roberts got 50, the Royals Billy Butler hit three doubles in a game for fourth time this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Butler’s binge is unprecedented. No player has had four three-double games in a season dating back to 1901.

Quick Hit: A lot has been written about Derek Jeter tying Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig on the Yankees hits list. But one note that might slip by is that Jeter is now the fourth active player to hold his franchise’s all-time hits mark. Ivan Rodriguez returned to Texas earlier this season, where he has the most hits in Senators/Rangers club history. The other two all-time franchise leaders for the team they currently play for are Colorado’s Todd Helton and Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford.
 
Doc and the Babe: The Yankees might not like Roy Halladay very much. Most recently he stopped their seven-game winning streak with a one-hitter, but the Blue Jays’ ace has always been tough against the Bombers. He holds a .739 winning percentage against the Yankees with a 17-6 record. The only man better than him (min. 20 decisions) made his name as a hitter in New York. However, as a pitcher in Boston, future Hall of Famer Babe Ruth went 17-5 (.773) against his eventual team.
 
9-11-09-Hayes_McCoy.jpgSlugging shortstops: Hanley Ramirez connected for the 100th home run of his career on Sunday, making him the fourth-fastest shortstop to reach the century mark. At 595 games, only Alex Rodriguez (470 games), Nomar Garciaparra (491) and Hall of Famer Ernie Banks (500) got there faster.

Goodbye to the Real McCoy: Longtime Reds beat writer Hal McCoy will be honored Wednesday prior to Cincinnati’s game against the Astros. The 2002 J.G. Taylor Spink winner announced earlier this season he will be retiring after 37 years covering the Reds. As a special treat, McCoy’s paper, Dayton Daily News, is sponsoring half-price tickets to the game.

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

Perfect Mark

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

There is a saying that you can’t mess with perfection and I’m sure that’s why the artifacts from Mark Buehrle’s perfect game arrived late last week instead of two weeks ago.

8-11-09-Hayes_Buehrle.jpgYou see, when Buehrle hurled his second career no-hitter on July 23rd against the Tampa Bay Rays – the first perfect game in the majors since Randy Johnson’s on May 18, 2004 – history wasn’t over. Buehrle went on to retire the first 17 Minnesota Twins he faced during his next start on July 28th.

Mark Buehrle not only threw the 18th perfect game in major league history (17th during the regular season), but he set the major league record for scoreless innings during his next start. Counting the final out he recorded on July 18 versus Baltimore, Buehrle retired 45 consecutive batters. That broke the record of 41 set by Jim Barr in 1972 and Buehrle’s Sox teammate Bobby Jenks, a reliever, in 2007.

From the historic event, the Hall of Fame has received Buehrle’s jersey and a ball used during the perfect game.

8-11-09-Hayes_BuehrlePitch.jpgCoupled with his 2007 no-no, Buehrle is the sixth pitcher to collect both a perfect game and a no-hitter during his career, joining Hall of Famers Jim Bunning, Addie Joss, Sandy Koufax, Cy Young and current Giants pitcher Randy Johnson. Coincidentally, both of Buehrle’s no-no’s have come at home at U.S. Cellular Field with umpire Eric Cooper behind the plate – a first for a pitcher-umpire combo.

Buehrle’s gem set a lot of other firsts too. It was the first against a current league or division champ, aside from Don Larsen’s perfecto against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series. According to the Elias Sport Bureau, because the Rays were third in the majors in runs scored, Buehrle joins Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter (versus the Twins in 1968) as the only pitchers throw a perfect game against teams ranked in the top-five in the majors in runs scored.

There’s more: Josh Fields became the first player to hit a grand slam while his teammate threw a perfect game. Ramon Castro teamed with Buehrle to become the first battery to never start a game together before recording a perfect game. The final out was Jason Bartlett, who made the All-Star team this season and was hitting .342 coming into the game. No other pitcher completed a perfect game by retiring a batter hitting at least .300 or who had the All-Star team in the same season.

8-11-09-Hayes_Wise.jpgThe story of Buehrle’s perfect game can’t be told without teammate DeWayne Wise. He was inserted into the game as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning. The first batter, Gabe Kapler drilled a 2-2 pitch to center. Wise bolted for the wall and brought Kapler’s drive back, robbing the Rays outfielder of a homer. In one last first: surely that catch is the most spectacular ever made to save a perfect game and almost certainly by a defensive replacement. Though it’s not an official stat, Wise was still kind enough to send his glove along with Buehrle’s jersey and the game ball to commemorate the special day.

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

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.

Hall of a game for Crawford

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

After winning the American League pennant last year and starting off slow in 2009, the Rays were starting to be regarded as a fluke by some baseball fans. But Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford proved Sunday — by tying the record of a Hall of Famer — that the Rays are heating up again.

Tampa Bay took three of four from the second-place Red Sox over the weekend and is 11-2 against Boston at Tropicana Field dating back to last year. The Rays have a Major League-leading 40 stolen bases through 26 games. On Sunday, the Rays tore up the basepaths by stealing a club-record eight bases. Crawford swiped six in six tries.

“Hopefully, it’s the start of something,” Crawford told MLB.com. “We have to pick it up if we want to get to where we were at last year, so hopefully, it was the start of something.”

5-4-09-Carr_Crawford.jpgCrawford graciously donated his jersey from the 2008 World Series, and the jersey is currently on display in the Hall of Fame’s Autumn Glory exhibit. Crawford has agreed to donate his spikes from Sunday’s game to the Hall of Fame.

Crawford reached base in each of his five plate appearances Sunday, four times on hits, and tied the modern-day Major League record of six stolen bases held by Hall of Famer Eddie Collins in the American League and Otis Nixon and Eric Young in the National League. It was the first time a player recorded six steals and four hits in one game since Collins did it in 1912.

Crawford leads the Majors with 17 stolen bases, four more than Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox. He has yet to be thrown out this season and is only one successful steal away from becoming the American League’s all-time leader in stolen-base percentage for players with at least 300 steals. Crawford is at 83.28 percent, and Willie Wilson is the record-holder with 83.29. Hall of Famer Paul Molitor holds the American League record for most steals in a season without getting caught with 20.

If Crawford continues his larceny for a few more years, he might just run himself all the way to Cooperstown. Of the top 10 base stealers in the modern era, seven are enshrined in Cooperstown.

Top 10 Modern-Era Base Stealers
Rickey Henderson* 1,406
Lou Brock* 938
Ty Cobb* 892
Tim Raines 808
Vince Coleman 752
Eddie Collins* 744
Max Carey* 738
Honus Wagner* 722
Joe Morgan* 689
Willie Wilson 668
* – denotes Hall of Famer

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

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