Results tagged ‘ Texas Rangers ’

Tales from the Cactus League

Idelson_90.jpgBy Jeff Idelson

I am so glad Spring Training is here, even if it was warmer in Cooperstown than in the desert for a few of the days I visited Arizona last week. Boy did I miss baseball. And in my job, I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to rub elbows with so many of the game’s greats, bringing them closer to the Hall of Fame.

 
03-12-10-Idelson_KoufaxPalmer.jpgI got to see the Giants, Brewers, White Sox, Mariners, Indians, Reds, Royals and Rangers all play.

It was great to see the two reigning Cy Young award winners – Tim Lincecum and Zack Greinke – pitch. I brought Tim plaque postcards of Sandy Koufax and Jim Palmer. Why? They are the only Hall of Famers to win back-to-back Cy Young Awards. Perhaps they will help inspire Tim, not that he needs inspiration.

Before the Cactus League opener in Peoria, I visited my friends in the Mariners clubhouse: Head athletic trainer Rick Griffin and I talked about the health of his players; Ken Griffey Jr. told me he expected Ichiro to get twice as many regular season hits as he would – including spring training.  “I’m aiming for 150 hits,” said Junior.  “Have you seen Ichiro get hot?  You turn around, and he’s gone 15-for-25. If anyone can get 300 hits, it’s him.” I don’t doubt Griffey’s sense of logic, having seen Ichiro play so many times.

 Did you ever take an advanced or AP class in high school? I took AP Baseball last week with Professor Ryan. Nolan and I sat together for the Rangers-Royals game, where he gave me a breakdown of every player on the field. I had a similar experience a few days later with White Sox owner and Hall of Fame Board member Jerry Reinsdorf, who invited me to sit with him, his vice chairman, Eddie Einhorn, and his special assistant, Dennis Gilbert, the former agent for George Brett. I now know where the White Sox’s strengths and weaknesses lie. Bobby Brett, George’s brother, joined us.

03-12-10-Idelson_Ryan.jpgWe held our annual Cactus League Champions event in Goodyear, where the Indians and Reds train. It’s a great complex. The Indians were very generous in hosting our Champions, those who support us with an annual donation of $5,000 or more.

Team President Paul Dolan and assistant GM Chris Antonetti addressed our group and let them know what to expect from the Indians this year. After the game, we all had dinner with Bob Feller and Fergie Jenkins, where they regaled the group with stories, photos and autographs.

Speaking of dinners, Billy Williams, Ryne Sandberg, Fergie and their wives joined me for dinner the night before. We toasted to a good 2010 Cubs team and the Williams’ 50th wedding anniversary. Quite a feat for the Williamses, a lovely couple.

On my first night in Arizona, I was joined by Mickey Morabito and Steve Vucinich from the A’s, Gary Hughes, the Cubs scout, Roland Hemond, the long-time Bill Veeck disciple who works for the Diamondbacks, and veteran writers Bob Nightengale, of USA Today, and Spink Award winner Tracy Ringolsby. We get together each spring to talk about scouting and the game today. We used to dine each year at the Pink Pony, a popular old-school steakhouse on North Scottsdale Road that finally closed its doors. We miss the Pony.

03-12-10-Idelson_CactusLeague.jpgOn my final evening, I hosted the dinner to end all dinners, at Don & Charlie’s, a popular Scottsdale hangout with great steaks and ribs. We had a large group that included Bob Uecker, Rollie Fingers, Robin Yount and his brother Larry, George Brett and his guest Joe Randa, Mike Murphy, the Giants’ clubhouse man since Day One in San Francisco, Brad Ziegler, my friend who pitches in the A’s bullpen, Jerry, Eddie and Dennis from the White Sox, and Bob Crotty, who is a generous Hall of Fame supporter and owner of Green Diamonds Gallery in Cincinnati, an exquisite baseball gallery of artifacts and art.

Just before we were getting ready to sit down to dinner, Uecker calls me from his cell phone to let me know he invited two other mutual friends – Bob Costas and Joe Torre.

We had a great dinner and talked about the Dodgers impending trip to Taiwan, told Yogi stories, heard all about the Olympics, and tried to recollect if Torre and Fingers ever faced each other. “Did I ever face you?” Joe asked? “I can’t recall,” was Rollie’s response.

So, I emailed Freddy Berowski in the Hall of Fame Library. Sorry Joe: You faced Rollie one time in the regular season, on May 1, 1977, and struck out. You also faced him in the 1973 All-Star Game and popped out in the 9th. None-the-less, you remain one the game’s greatest players, managers and ambassadors and it’s hard to imagine you won’t be in Cooperstown one day.

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

Pagliarulo reminisces in Cooperstown

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

He turns 50 years old in 10 days, but Mike Pagliarulo looks as if he could still turn on an inside fastball and deposit it in the right field seats at Yankee Stadium.

The one-time lefty swinging slugger, who spent 11 big league seasons patrolling the hot corner for the New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers, was at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Friday as the keynote speaker for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Baseball Coaches Clinic.

03-05-10-Francis_Pagliarulo.jpgAfter the morning session, “Pags,” as he was known, talked about his life in the National Pastime. In fact, it was game that ran in the family, as his father played a few years of minor league ball and his son played ball at Dartmouth University.

“There are things that tear families apart and there are things that bring them together. I’m just glad it was baseball (bringing things together) for us,” he said. “We really don’t talk about it too much, but we like playing.”

After the Massachusetts native and lifelong Red Sox fan was selected by the Yankees in the sixth round of the 1981 amateur draft, Pagliarulo made his big league debut with the Bronx Bombers in July 1984.

“One of the great things about growing up with the Yankees and being part of that organization was the way we felt about each other. It’s a tough organization, and they made it that way on purpose because they develop players to play in New York City,” he said. “You’re not playing in some other town where nobody really cares, but in New York the fans understand the game, they know the game, so you can’t mess up out there. You have to be ready and you have to be able to play. Whether you are good or bad, you have to be able to play. The Yankees did prepare us for that.”

So after hitting 28 home runs in 1986 and 32 in ’87, it was a surprise to Pagliarulo when he was traded to the Padres in July 1989.

“I didn’t want to be traded from New York. I didn’t care how I played, I just didn’t want to be traded,” he said. “So I went out to San Diego … that’s a different world out there. I had to yell at a couple of the fans sometimes, ‘Look, I’m stinking it up. Throw something at me, yell, do something, will you?’ A beautiful place, but I liked playing in New York.

03-05-10-Francis_PagsTickets.jpgEventually finding his way to Minnesota, Pags saw his only postseason action with the 1991 Twins. Not only did he hit a 10th-inning, pinch-hit homer off Toronto’s Mike Timlin to win Game Three of the ALCS, but was also played the entirely of the classic Game Seven of the World Series, in which Minnesota’s Jack Morris, who went 10 innings, outdueled Atlanta’s John Smoltz in a 1-0 triumph.

“What a great experience that postseason was for me. I’m glad I played well, but it was just great to be a part of that. One of the best experiences of my baseball career,” Pagliarulo said. “The great thing about Game Seven was that even though it was deafening in the Metrodome – I was standing up in the dugout and (shortstop) Greg Gagne was standing right next to me and I couldn’t hear a word he was saying – when you are on the field the thing that was different I thought was the awareness that the players have.”

Pagliarulo was a participant in last year’s inaugural Hall of Fame Classic, a seven-inning legends game played at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown. And he drove in the winning run with a double.

“Being on the field brought back a lot of memories for me. The performance end of it was a little tough. Maybe I’ll get a jog in once in awhile before the game this year,” Pagliarulo joked. “It was great to see the other players, and the players really loved it. Being on the field, the fans are out, the weather’s great, you are in Cooperstown, not much beats that. I think it’s a great thing for Cooperstown and I know the guys really want to do it too.”

This second annual Hall of Fame Classic, featuring seven Hall of Famers and 20 other former big leaguers, takes place at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 20. For more information, click here.

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

Birthday Sunday

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

On Jan. 31, the Hall of Fame will wish Happy Birthday to three of our own. 

Ernie Banks will turn 79. Although his beloved Cubbies, a perennial second-division team during his tenure there, never made it to the World Series, it was not because of Mr. Cub, who did everything he could year after year to try to get them there. A 12-time All-Star and two-time NL MVP, Banks hit more than 500 home runs and drove in more than 1,600 runs in his 19 seasons playing first base and shortstop with Chicago’s North-Siders.

01-29-10-Berowski_BanksRyanRobinson.jpgAlso celebrating his birthday is the all-time Major League strikeout king, and current president of the Texas Rangers, Nolan Ryan. The Ryan Express will celebrate his 63rd birthday. Although his birthday is officially January 31, Ryan seems to have received an early birthday present when his ownership group was recently selected to purchase his home state’s AL franchise, the Texas Rangers. 

Rounding out the trio of birthday boys is Jackie Robinson. The only man with his uniform number retired across Major League Baseball, Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947. Although he passed away in 1972, Jackie Robinson will be remembered by many on what would have been his 91st birthday.

There are 292 Hall of Famers and 365 days in a calendar year, yet there are more than a dozen dates on the calendar that celebrate the birthday of three Hall of Famers. In fact, May 14 is the day of the year with the most Hall of Famer birthdays: Ed Walsh, Earle Combs, Tony Perez, JL Wilkinson and Alex Pompez. 

October is the month that has the most Hall of Famer birthdays – 36. And three Hall of Famers passed away on their birthday – Joe Tinker, Gabby Hartnett and Bucky Harris. 

A pair of baseball’s former home run kings will have the anniversaries of their births marked next week. Hank Aaron will turn 76 Feb, 5, and Feb. 6 will mark 115th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s birth.

Freddy Berowski is a library associate at 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.

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.

A Horne of plenty

Gates_90.jpgBy Jim Gates

Following last week’s blog on the rare 6-for-6 cycle by Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers, I was asked if anyone had ever hit for the home-run cycle. The answer is yes, but not in the Major Leagues.

First, what is a home-run cycle? It is when one batter hits a solo, two-run and three-run homer in a game in addition to a grand slam. Hitting four home runs in one game is difficult enough, but the home-run cycle obviously requires the substantial cooperation of your teammates.

5-21-09-Gates_HorneBat.jpgAlthough there are stories of home-run cycles being accomplished at the youth, high school and collegiate levels, only one batter is known to have achieved this feat as a professional ballplayer. On July 27, 1998, Tyrone Horne of the Double-A Arkansas Travelers in the Texas League stroked a two-run shot in the first inning, a grand slam in the second, a solo homer in the fifth and finished off the night with a three-run blast in the sixth inning. Not a bad night at all.

“I hadn’t realized I’d homered for the cycle at first. I’d never even heard of homering for the cycle,” Horne recalled almost a decade after the event.

Known for having some power, Horne hit 37 home runs for the Travelers in 1998 and posted a batting average of .312. He spent 13 years playing Minor League and independent league baseball before a ruptured disc in his neck forced him to retire from active play.

Although Horne never made it to The Show, he donated his bat from the home-run cycle to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, where it now resides along with other artifacts of baseball history.

This just proves that on any given night, almost any player can catch lighting in a bottle. He can perform a little magic and achieve something never before seen on the baseball diamond. You don’t have to be a superstar to make the game special or to make it into the record books. Just ask Tyrone.

Jim Gates is librarian of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library.

Cycling through the numbers

Gates_90.jpgBy Jim Gates

5-14-09-Gates_Kinsler.jpgOn April 15, 2009, Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers accomplished a baseball feat that has not been seen by fans for many decades as he collected six hits in a 9-inning game and hit for the cycle at the same time.  There was no master list showing a cross-referencing of these two achievements, so we created one from scratch. Using a base list provided by Project Retrosheet, we found 286 players who have hit for the cycle since 1882, and only this select group of nine players was able to collect at least 6 hits during the same game:

5-14-09-Gates_CyclesChart.jpgAs shown, Kinsler is the first player since 1889 to go 6-for-6 during a regular 9-inning game and to also hit for the cycle. In fact, only Kinsler and Larry Twitchell have accomplished this exact feat. The others needed extra innings, or took an additional at-bat, to collect their six hits. What the Rangers fans saw on April 15 was truly a rare event.

Jim Gates is librarian of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library.

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