Results tagged ‘ Tony Perez ’

He got the message

By Craig Muder

Barry Larkin discovered exactly what it means to be a Hall of Famer Monday afternoon.

“I got the call to say I had been elected,” Larkin said. “And the next thing I knew I had 400 text messages to respond to. I’m down to 298 now.”

It will take Larkin weeks to respond to all the congratulatory notes he received after becoming the 24th shortstop elected to the Hall of Fame. His phone was filled with messages from ESPN co-workers like Karl Ravech and former teammates like Hall of Famer Tony Perez.

But the one message that almost didn’t get through belonged to a special fan.

“My daughter told me someone had called for me… She said it was Ben or Bub…,” Larkin said. “I said: ‘You mean Bud? Bud Selig?’ I couldn’t believe the Commissioner took time to call.

“It’s wonderful how many people have called or sent messages. You just can’t believe the outpouring of support.”

The incredibly humble Larkin is a favorite throughout the baseball community for his skill on the field and character off it. Few generate the universally positive reaction he draws, and it seems all of Cincinnati is celebrating the election of their hometown hero.

The Class of 2012 couldn’t be classier.

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

Puerto Rico memories

By Brad Horn

Adios Borinquen!

There’s a colloquialism here in Ponce that speaks to the bravado of this southern coast historic town in Puerto Rico…”Ponce es Ponce.”

Indeed on Monday night, “Ponce is Ponce” was on full display at a local gymnasium used mostly for volleyball, named for a great basketball player from Ponce, Juan “Pachin” Vicens.

The people of Ponce turned out in droves to see the Hall of Fame plaques and were entertained by a rousing program, featuring mayor Maria Melendez Altieri’s infectious enthusiasm in presenting proclamations to Vera Clemente, Tony Perez and Roberto Alomar. The mayor also expressed her deepest thanks to the Hall of Fame and presented us gifts to show her appreciation.

Born in Ponce and raised in nearby Salinas, Robbie was the star of the evening, returning to his birthplace in the year of his Hall of Fame induction to boisterous applause. Father Sandy Sr. was also in attendance, as was Luis Clemente, Pituka Perez (Tony’s wife) and Ponce native and former Yankees reliever Luis Arroyo, who, along with Vic Power, became the first Puerto Ricans selected for an All-Star Game in 1955.

Smiles were abundant, as both Robbie and Tony spoke passionately of their appreciation for the people of Ponce. Alomar spoke in praise of how much it means to be a native son of Ponce, while Perez talked of the memories he’s shared over the years in this community, including watching winter league games here, when his son Eduardo, managed the Ponce club.

One of the single best moments of the entire trip served as the final touch to the plaque tour. Erik Strohl, our senior director for exhibitions and collections, told Sandy Sr. that he should have the honor of placing his son’s plaque in its case for the long journey home. Known by his given name here on the island, Santos was aglow as he held Robbie’s plaque, beaming with joy only a father could understand. Kudos to Erik for providing Sandy a memory of a lifetime.

As the plaques were packed securely by Erik and Evan Chase, our security director, the expression on the faces of our hosts for the last four days was simply priceless. Proud, joyous, exuberant, thankful and honored were the words said, but not uttered, in the universal language of visual emotion. No words were needed to understand what this journey was all about.

Moments later, Jeff, Erik, Evan and I were on board our Department of Sports and Recreation van, bound for the 110-mile journey back to the north end of the island. A police escort the entire way from Ponce to San Juan spoke volumes about the importance of this outreach to the commonwealth.

There’s a shared emotion many of us have in Cooperstown on the Monday afternoon following induction weekend every year. We are always happy that we have reached the end, knowing that we have done our absolute best to deliver lifetime memories to so many people for celebration unlike any other in baseball. Yet, we have a sadness that the journey has ended far too soon.

As the sun rose this morning while we taxied on the runway at Luis Munoz Airport in San Juan bound for Charlotte and then Albany and Cooperstown, I looked out my window and was overcome with emotion. I was reminded of that post-Induction feeling we have at the end of July in Cooperstown. For the last four days on this island, we did what we as an organization does best – made the dreams of others come true. And for the first time ever, we did so with the great fans of Puerto Rico.

There’s a line spoken by Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory that motivates me everyday that I have the high honor to represent the Hall of Fame: “We are the music makers and the dreamers of the dreams.”

Understanding that baseball has the power to connect cultures, families and memories unlike anything else has never appeared more genuine than what transpired over the last four days. The people of Puerto Rico were so honored and moved by this celebration that is impossible not to be realize that for so many we encountered, this was truly a dream come true that we were able to facilitate.

“From Puerto Rico to Cooperstown. From Cooperstown to Puerto Rico.”
(in Spanish: “De Borinquen a Cooperstown. De Cooperstown a Borinquen.”)

It served as the title for our journey – in English and Spanish – and as we return home, it is crystal clear the journey doesn’t end, and it does not have boundaries created by language. Rather, it continues a cycle of baseball history celebrated for nearly a century in the universal appreciation for the game and its heroes.

We are so honored and thankful for your kindness and hospitality, to everyone we encountered and all of those who shared a memory by viewing these treasures and baseball heroes.

Gracias Puerto Rico!

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

Perez at home in Puerto Rico

By Brad Horn

A very special surprise awaited Tony Perez on Friday night during the opening ceremonies of the Puerto Rico plaque tour at the Museo del Deporte de Puerto Rico in Guaynabo.

Joined by fellow Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar and Orlando Cepeda, along with Vera Clemente, the widow of Roberto Clemente, Perez was soaking in an evening of great baseball memories for Museum supporters and the unveiling of the Hall of Fame plaques on loan from Cooperstown, N.Y., for four days here in the baseball-rich island commonwealth when the surprise announcement came.

With both of his sons – Eduardo, the former major leaguer, and Victor, an actor presently living in London – in attendance, Perez received an unexpected recognition during the ceremony, as Henry Neumann, Secretary of the Department of Sports and Recreation for Puerto Rico, brought a special declaration from Governor Luis Fortuno.

Neumann read the proclamation of Tony Perez as an official “native son” of Puerto Rico, recognizing him for his dedication to the commonwealth as a family and community member, and for his impressive baseball accolades achieved while representing the island.

“We thank Tony for all that his adopted Puerto Rican man has done for Puerto Rican sports, for his native homeland, and for his children’s homeland,” said Neumann.

For Perez, who immigrated to Puerto Rico from Cuba at age 16, the honor was beyond emotional.

“It is not too easy to talk today,” said Perez to the audience of dignitaries and Museum supporters. “Since I have lived here, I feel like a Puerto Rican. I was welcomed with open arms when I got here. My wife (Pituka) has been welcomed here, my children were born here. My friends live here. This is my home.”

Following the ceremony, the plaques were unveiled and on Saturday morning, visitors began filing into the Museo del Deporte to see the plaques of their Puerto Rican heroes – Perez included – on display from Cooperstown.

Long-considered a Puerto Rican at heart, Tony Perez celebrated Friday night with the formal recognition from his adopted homeland as one of their own.

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

Baseball royalty in the Commonwealth

By Brad Horn

Here in Guaynabo, the opening ceremonies for the Puerto Rico plaque tour got under way on Friday night.

On stage, Hall of Famers Tony Perez, Orlando Cepeda and Robbie Alomar were joined by Vera Clemente in a festive reception at the Museum del Deporte de Puerto Rico.

Hall of Fame plaques of the three living Puerto Rican stars, along with the plaque of Roberto Clemente, are making their way around the island this weekend.

Other baseball dignitaries in attendance on Friday included Robbie’s father, Sandy, and Tony’s son, Eduardo, both former major league stars, along with former big league pitcher Ed Figueroa. Former wrestler Alvin Lopez, aka Barabas, was also in attendance.

Students from the Guaynabo School for the Arts also performed traditional Puerto Rican musical entertainment.

The festivities continue with the public viewing of the plaques today here at the Museo.

On Sunday, the plaques will visit Guyama in the morning and Salinas in the afternoon. The tour concludes Monday in Ponce.

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

A trip to the Island

By Erik Strohl

On Friday morning, Hall of Fame director of security Evan Chase and I were picked up at our hotel and driven to the Sports Museum of Puerto Rico in Guaynabo by local baseball historian extraordinaire Jorge Colon Delgado. Jorge also met us at the airport on arrival Thursday night, and he has been exuding excitement about our visit from the first minute.

Bringing the Hall of Fame plaques of Roberto Alomar, Orlando Cepeda, Roberto Clemente and Tony Perez to Puerto Rico has everyone connected to the Museum feeling giddy. They have been working hard for months in anticipation of our visit. It is obvious that much time has been spent in preparation for this event.

When we arrived at the Museum shortly after 10 a.m. on Friday, we were greeted by Rafi Serrano and a number of his staff who were working hard in final preparation for this evening’s extravaganza. The purpose of our morning’s visit was to supervise the installation of the four plaques.

It is obvious much care has been taken in order for the presentation of the plaques to look topnotch. The Museum constructed four sided wooden pillars about seven feet high. One side contains the plaque, while the opposite side will house a TV showing highlights from each player. The other two sides contain photos from each player’s career from both their time in Puerto Rico as well as the major leagues. One of these pillars has been built for each of the four Hall of Famers.

Several employees jumped right in as the sound of power tools and the sight of screwdrivers became immediately prevalent. The employees all gathered around in excitement as each of the plaques was installed in succession. Everyone was taking photos and each staff member was pitching in. It was a fun moment and obvious to us that just participating in this pre-event was a special moment for each one of our hosts. The installation took about 15 minutes or so for each plaque, finishing up the job in a little over an hour.

Tonight will be the main event and we are all very excited. It is hopeful that the Governor of Puerto Rico will be able to attend, as well as many other local mayors and other dignitaries. And of course Alomar, Cepeda, and Perez will be present, along with Vera Clemente and other members of the Clemente family. It is sure to be a fun-filled evening and an unbridled celebration of Puerto Rican baseball.

The people here are so passionate about the game. Just hearing them talk about their heroes and the anticipation for this evening is enough to make any baseball fan feel humbled, including members of the Hall of Fame staff like myself. It is a reminder what a powerful hold baseball has on many people of various localities around the world. We have been here less than 24 hours and we already feel so very special because of the unbelievable hospitality we have received.

I can’t wait for tonight. It is sure to be one special evening filled with smiles, laughter, and perhaps even a few tears. It is wonderful to see how much this game and its history mean to the people of Puerto Rico.

Erik Strohl is the senior director of exhibitions and collections for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Prepare 4 October in Cooperstown: Philadelphia Phillies

By Trevor Hayes

While the heartbeat of baseball can be found in Cooperstown throughout the year, there’s no better time to reconnect with the National Pastime than when legends are being made. As the postseason approaches, fans all over the country can connect with the Hall of Fame to get in the fall spirit.

Phillies Phans have a long and storied past that has heated up over the last few autumns. With the Induction this past summer of the architect of the revival, Philly is well represented within Cooperstown’s shrine – which is just a short day-trip away.

Life with a .473 winning percentage hasn’t always been easy for Phillies fans. They lost their 10,000th game in 2007 – joined by the Braves earlier this season in the five digit loss category. In 129 seasons, they’ve made 14 playoff appearances (including the current 98-win team, five this decade), been to seven World Series (two since 2008) and own two Championships. They didn’t win their first flag until 1980 – 98 years after their founding – as the final franchise of Major League Baseball’s original 16 to do so.

In contrast to the red-clad Phillies, over 54 years the blue-clad Philadelphia Athletics won five World Championships and nine pennants in the City of Brotherly Love. But while Connie Mack’s A’s got more recognition, the Phillies have stayed loyal to their city and their history is covered with legends from Pete Alexander, Chuck Klein, Richie Ashburn, Robin Roberts, Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt to current stars Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. In all 34 Hall of Famers have connections to the team, including six who sport the Philadelphia “P” on their Hall plaques.

From 1883 to 1913, the Phillies achieved just two second place finishes. But in 1915, the Phils made an improbable leap forward with Alexander at the forefront. After finishing sixth the year before, they reached the Fall Classic. In 1916 Dave Bancroft’s talents were added to Alexander and Eppa Rixey, keeping the team in contention. By 1917 the Phillies reached a height of five Hall of Famer with Chief Bender and Johnny Evers joining the team – a modern day club record, beat only by the 1892, squad which featured six.

In the Hall of Fame’s Baseball Timeline, the team’s next star – Chuck Klein – is represented with his 1932 MVP trophy, marking his NL-leading totals in runs, hits, home runs, total bases, slugging percentage and stolen bases; and his 300th career home run ball from 1941.

The A’s collected two World Series rings and reached a third straight Fall Classic in 1931, but then fell on hard times. It wasn’t until the Whiz Kids led by Roberts and Ashburn jumped up and grabbed the NL pennant in 1950 that the city again played in the Fall Classic. Featuring a roster with only a handful of regulars over 30, the team became know for its youth. A 1950 NL Champions banner emblazoned with “Whiz Kids”, a 1952 jersey worn by Robin Roberts, an Ashburn warm-up jacket and a  cap belonging to 33-year-old closer Jim Konstanty, who became the first reliever to be named Most Valuable Player, all appear in the a Timeline.

An occasional blip over the next two decades showed there was still baseball life in Philadelphia, but the team only mustered one second place finish and one third place ranking while hovering around .500. During this time period, future U.S. Senator and Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning authored a perfect game on Father’s Day in 1964. His cap and a ticket from the perfecto against the New York Mets can be found in the Timeline. A few years later, 2011 Hall of Fame Classic participant Rick Wise threw another no-hitter, but his June 23rd, 1971 performance was more than a great pitching performance. He connected for two home runs in the 4-0 victory. His bat from the day is on exhibit in the Hall’s newest exhibit One for Books, which explores baseball records.

Schmidt got a cup of coffee in the big leagues in 1972, when Carlton joined the team. Then in 1975, Schmidt’s second full season, they broke a string of Philly losing campaigns. The following year, they made the playoffs. From 1976 to 1983 the Phillies missed the postseason just twice and reached the World Series twice, raising their first World Champion banner in 1980.

A prolific home run hitter, high-caliber defender at third base and three-time MVP, Schmidt played 18 seasons and was incredibly generous to the Hall of Fame while writing baseball history. Among the objects on display from Schmidt at the Hall are a “Tony Taylor” model bat from his four homer game on April 17, 1976 (One for the Books); a 1979 bat used to hit five homers in three games; a bat from his 1980 NL-leading 48 home run, MVP season; and his 1987 500th home run jersey (all in the Timeline).

Likewise, the four-time Cy Young Award winning Carlton dominates the Phillies artifacts after a career in which the lefty – who at one point held the title of all-time strikeout leader and is now fourth – dominated big league hitters. His 3,000th strikeout ball is in One for the Books and Carlton artifacts in the Timeline include the glove he used when setting the all-time strikeout record for a left-handed pitcher in 1980; his 1980 Cy Young Award; the ball from his NL record setting 3,117th K; his 1982 jersey and cap from when led the NL in wins and strikeouts and earned his fourth Cy Young Award; and 4,000th career strikeout ball, becoming the second pitcher to ever reach the mark.

For one last hurrah during the maroon Phillies era, the team fielded a lineup of four Hall of Famers for a season, adding Joe Morgan and Tony Perez in 1983. That team lost the Series.

The Phils reached the World Series for a fifth time in 1993, but were defeated by the Pat Gillick-led Blue Jays.

It wasn’t until Gillick came to Philly in 2006 that things really started to turn around again. A division title in 2007 followed three straight second place finishes and began the current string of five straight NL East titles which has taken the city to the World Series twice, including the 2008 World Championship. Today’s Game is a testament to the talent currently on display at Citizen’s Bank Park. Many of the artifacts from their ’08 Championship have migrated from their original home in Autumn Glory to the Phillies locker including Carlos Ruiz’s Game Three-winning batting helmet, pitcher Joe Blanton’s Game Four home run bat, Howard’s two home run bat from Game Four, closer Brad Lidge’s World Series cap and Jayson Werth’s ’08 spikes. Also in the locker are Utley’s 35-game hitting streak spikes; Howard’s 2006 league-leading 56-homer, 149 RBI MVP jersey; Rollins’ spikes from his 2007 20-triple, double and steal season, joining Tiger Curtis Granderson that same season in matching a mark completed by only Willie Mays and John Schulte; and Roy Halladay’s May 29, 2010 perfect game ball. Halladay’s cap from the game appears in One for the Books.

In his first season in Philly, Halladay took writing history a step further by throwing only the second-ever postseason no-hitter. And now that he and the Phillies are lining up for another deep October run, fans are hoping for more.

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

Line forms here

By Craig Muder

They came from all over the Northeast, claiming their annual spots at the front of the line.

They came from all over Otsego County, Cooperstown friends and neighbors wanting to be a part of the Father’s Day fun.

They came for tickets for the June 19 Hall of Fame Classic. They left with future memories in hand.

Fans began lining up at the Baseball Hall of Fame for the annual Hall of Fame Classic Ticket Sale in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday morning, braving a chilly April day with hot coffee, portable chairs and winter coats. They’ll return to Cooperstown for the June 18-19 Hall of Fame Classic Weekend, assured of their place at what is fast becoming baseball’s newest must-see event.

Hall of Famers Andre Dawson, Goose Gossage, Phil Niekro, Tony Pérez, Jim Rice, Ozzie Smith and Dick Williams will headline the Classic, with former big leaguers Frank Catalanotto, Steve Garvey, Doug Glanville, Bill Lee, Dale Murphy, Willie Wilson, Rick Wise and Dmitri Young also scheduled to appear.

Following Saturday’s one-day sale, tickets will be available exclusively to participants in the Hall of Fame’s Membership Program from April 17-24 at http://www.baseballhall.org or by calling 1-866-849-7770. Starting April 25, any remaining tickets will be made available to the general public.

Just 63 day to go until the perfect Father’s Day Weekend in Cooperstown.

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

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