Results tagged ‘ Ty Cobb ’

Gift of gloves

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

10-1-09-Carr_Jeter.jpgFirst Cal Ripken broke Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig‘s “unbreakable” record of consecutive games played. Now, Derek Jeter has passed him for the lead on the all-time Yankees hit list.

It only seems fitting that Gehrig’s records have been broken by players who are respected for their character almost as much as he was.

Gehrig’s hit record lasted seven decades despite having his career cut short because of a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease that would claim his life and later bear his name. Gehrig retired at age 35 in 1939.

“Lou Gehrig, being a former captain and what he stood for, you mention his name to any baseball fan around the country, it means a lot,” Jeter said. “I think passing him makes it stand out that much more.”

Jeter donated his batting gloves from the historic game on Sept. 11 – when he recorded his 2,722nd hit as a Yankee – to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and they are currently being accessioned into the Museum. The Yankees captain has four World Series rings, 10 All-Star Game selections and three Gold Gloves during his 15 seasons in the Bronx.

10-1-09-Carr_JeterHit.jpgHe has six seasons of 200-plus hits and ranks 49th on the all-time hit list. At age 35 and healthy, Jeter has a good chance to add to that number and continue making history. He currently sits No. 1 in franchise history in at-bats (8,593), second in stolen bases (300), third in games played (2,136), fourth in runs scored (1,574) and doubles (438) and fifth in career batting average (.317).

Of the 30 major league teams, over half have Hall of Famers for their all-time hits leader. The list includes players like Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Stan Musial.

Gehrig may no longer top the Yankees list, but his legacy in pinstripes will not soon be forgotten. The Baseball Hall of Fame will honor Gehrig, Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson during Character and Courage Weekend Oct. 10-12 in Cooperstown.

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

Rice remains the biggest of stars

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

The hand enveloped mine like a huge oven mitt: firm, secure and warm. I reminded myself not to wince.

Jim Rice remains as powerful as ever, though at 6-foot-2, he easily blends into most crowds. But after one handshake, you quickly realize why this man hit 382 home runs en route to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Rice spent Friday touring the Hall of Fame in preparation for his July 26 induction. Alongside his wife, Corine, Rice strolled through the Museum’s timeline and down into the archives, marveling at the history of the game.

5-15-09-Muder_Rice.jpgIt seems that, in the 124 days since his election to the Hall of Fame, Rice has yet to stop smiling.

“Looking at these guys [the plaques of the Hall of Famers], you remember how special it is to be here,” Rice said. “I never even thought I’d get to the big leagues. So this is just incredible.”

Rice was elected to the Hall of Fame on Jan. 12 in his final year of eligibility on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. An All-Star in eight of his 16 big league seasons, Rice led the American League in home runs three times and total bases four times and won the AL Most Valuable Player Award in 1978.

Yet Rice downplays his own success in comparison to the legends he will soon join in the Hall of Fame.

“Guys like Ruth and Cobb, they wore wool uniforms and played every day,” Rice said. “They were men. We were just kids.”

That “kid,” however, was the most feared hitter of his generation. And someday, another new Hall of Famer will feel the same way about the legendary Jim Rice.

Craig Muder is director of communications for 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.

Ellsbury pulls off Hall of Fame-like steal of home

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

On Sunday night, the Red Sox’s Jacoby Ellsbury did something that is rare in today’s game — he managed a straight steal of home off the Yankees’ Andy Pettitte. Pettitte looked devastated after it happened, and Ellsbury got a curtain call from the Fenway Park faithful after his daring dash.

The straight steal of home is rare, just like no-hitters or cycles. This season, there have been three cycles, and there were five last year. Last season there were two no-hitters. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there were 15 steals of home in 2008, with just four being straight thefts. Torii Hunter’s straight steal on Sept. 18, 2008, was the last steal of home of any kind.

4-28-09-Hayes_Ellsbury.jpgDuring the ESPN telecast, Hall of Famer Joe Morgan was asked how many times he’d performed a straight steal of home. Morgan, who ranks ninth among modern-era players with 689 stolen bases, said he’d done it maybe twice in his career. (He’s done it three times.) But after one particularly close attempt, teammate Tony Perez — another future Hall of Famer — told him not to do it anymore. Morgan listened.

Because stealing home is not an official statistic, research is considered ongoing, but the untouchable leader in steals of home is Hall of Famer Ty Cobb. He stole home a staggering 54 times in his career, including 25 straight steals. Max Carey, another Hall of Famer, is second with 33.

In Major League history, 38 men have 10 or more steals of home. Of those 38, exactly half, 19, are in the Hall of Fame.

Rk Hall of Famer Steals of Home
1) Ty Cobb 54
2) Max Carey 33
4) Honus Wagner 27
8) George Sisler 20
7) Johnny Evers 21
9) Frankie Frisch 19
9) Jackie Robinson 19
11) Tris Speaker 18
11) Joe Tinker 18
14) Rod Carew 17
14) Eddie Collins 17
18) Fred Clarke 15
18) Lou Gehrig 15
26) Sam Rice 12
28) Harry Hooper 11
32) Rabbit Maranville 10
32) Paul Molitor 10
32) Babe Ruth 10
32) Ross Youngs 10

Cobb holds the single-season record with eight during the 1912 season, whereas Pete Reiser holds the National League single-season record with seven. Carew, who stole home seven times in 1969, is the most productive home-plate thief in the post-Jackie Robinson era.

4-29-09-Hayes_Cobb.jpgRobinson, however, may have recorded the most famous steal of home. On Sept. 28, 1955, in Game 1 of the World Series, Robinson — who made stealing home and driving pitchers nuts an art form — slid under the tag of catcher Yogi Berra during an eighth-inning attempt, cutting the Yankees’ lead to 6-5. Berra immediately began arguing with home-plate umpire Bill Summers, insisting that Robinson was out — a stance he maintains to this day. The Hall of Fame catcher lost the argument, and eventually his team lost the World Series.

The Mets’ Jose Reyes, one of today’s prolific basestealers, said he’s planning a tribute to Robinson this season. After being told Jackie stole home 19 times, Reyes couldn’t believe it, but he’s been inspired and said he wants to pilfer the plate to honor Robinson’s fearlessness on the bases.

There’s an ongoing argument in baseball about the most exciting play in the game. Some people call it the triple; others say it’s a squeeze play or the inside-the-park home run. On Sunday night, Ellsbury reminded fans that the straight steal of home should be included in that conversation.

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

Retiring from full-time duty

Spencer_90.jpgBy Ted Spencer

So, this is it — the last week of my time as a full-time employee of the Baseball Hall of Fame. My last day is this Thursday, April 16. (There will be an explanation on the significance of the 16th on the day itself.)

It certainly isn’t the same place it was on the day I started, April 19, 1982. At that time, the number of full-time employees here was about 18. Now, we number close to 100. There were approximately 30,000 square feet of exhibit space. Now, it is around 50,000.

4-13-09-Spencer_Artifact.jpgMore importantly, we have grown philosophically. I remember the first month I was here, I asked Howard Talbot, the museum director, “Are we a museum or a tourist destination?” His response: “That is a question we’re trying to answer.”

I believe that, in the years that followed, it was answered. Even though the vast majority of our visitors are here on vacation, we have matured into a major museum and most importantly, a serious research center. With the staff we have in place throughout the organization, I think the future years here will be very exciting.

For me, personally, it has been quite a ride. What an experience! For someone who was just an everyday fan in the fall of 1981, to find himself on first-name terms with many of his childhood idols — it’s mind boggling. In addition: taking an exhibit to Japan, spending five days in Cuba, meeting three U.S. presidents, working in the White House. That’s all topped off by being able to raise your family in Cooperstown. How much better can it get?

Around 9:30 on Friday morning, the entire family heads for a week’s vacation in South Carolina. When I return, I will be coming into the office for a few mornings each week. I will be prowling through the institution’s archives, which — I hope — date back to our beginning. This is an area I’ve wanted to research for some time. I hope to find information on the history of the exhibits as well as any information on the donation of artifacts. A cursory look through has already unearthed some 1950 correspondence between the Hall and Ty Cobb, which led to his donation of his “Honey Boy” Evans trophies from the early 20th century.

I anticipate reporting on my findings in future blogs.

Right now, I have an office to clean out.

Ted Spencer is vice president and chief curator of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Love of baseball grows in spring

Idelson_90.jpgBy Jeff Idelson

Just back to Cooperstown after a nine-day road trip to Los Angeles, for the WBC; Phoenix, to meet with a couple of owners; and Florida, for some fundraising initiatives. My trip home from Florida on Sunday was fine, though my string of six straight Southwest flights in seat 11C – exit row aisle – came to an end.  Hey, at least I got an aisle seat.

 The main thrust of my visit to Florida was our annual Hall of Fame Champions Grapefruit League trip. We have a great circle of Champions -  individuals and couples who support the Hall of Fame at $5,000 or more.  In return for supporting our educational mission, Champions receive invitations to events across the country with Hall of Famers, spring training games in Florida and Arizona, exhibit openings, Hall of Fame Weekend and the Hall of Fame Classic, all with exclusive access.

4-3-09-Idelson_Roberts.jpgTwo weeks ago we were in Arizona to see the A’s and Mariners play. A’s General Manager Billy Beane joined us for a while before the game, and we had dinner with Hall of Famer Billy Williams.

For our Grapefruit League endeavor, we headed for Ft. Myers. Hall of Fame Vice President and Chief Curator Ted Spencer, named after Ted Williams, Senior Development Director Ken Meifert, whose heart belongs to the Indians, and I, were joined by Hall of Famer Robin Roberts.

We picked up the Hall of Fame right-hander at his home outside Tampa. “The Rays are selling out every game this spring,” beamed the longtime Phillie, about his hometown Tampa Bay Rays.

We headed south to Naples, where I talked to Robin about his career. “Sure I met Cy Young. I asked him how he won all those games and he told me he held the ball way back in his hand. I met Cobb too. He told me, ‘I wish I had a few less hits and a few more friends.’”

In Napes, we met Champion Jay Baker for lunch. Jay is a long-time Yankees fan and history buff, and along with his wife Patty, an ardent supporter of many philanthropic causes, such as the Hall of Fame. 

Over lunch, I asked Robin if he had ever been in a movie. “No, but Ashburn and I met Spencer Tracy when he was filming Judgment at Nuremberg,” he said. “What a nice man.”

Robin then quipped, “I was on television once, on What’s My Line (YouTube clip of Robin). The panel had to try and guess my off-season job, which was with the Neptunalia Seafood Company. I was president of Gold King and we sold frozen shrimp. No one could figure out what I did, but they sure came close.”

“I was on Murphy Brown,” quipped Baker. “If you watch carefully, you can see me. I was so smooth we did it on one take,” he laughed.

We spent the afternoon seeing two impressive private baseball collections – Jay’s and the one of another area Champion, Don Gunther. Both are wonderful examples of how the game means so much to people personally. They are both inspired by their love of the game and its history, akin to what happens to visitors every day in Cooperstown.

Jay and Patty generously hosted a Champions recruiting dinner that evening in Naples. There were 24 dinner guests, including former major leaguer Sterling Hitchcock, and we spent the evening all sharing personal stories about what the game means to each of us. 

Robin reminisced about meeting Grover Cleveland Alexander in grade school in Springfield, Illinois. “We had a two-room school house for 8 grades. Alexander was the special guest one day when I was in the eighth grade. He told us, ‘Baseball is a great game. Don’t drink. Look what it did to me.’ Sad, but true.”  

Hitchcock recounted how he grew up unhappy with George Brett who once refused to sign an autograph for him as a high school student. He told his fiance (who became his wife) that if he ever made the majors, he would hit Brett with a pitch.

4-3-09-Idelson_Hitchcock.jpgNot too many years later, making his major league debut at Yankee Stadium, Hitchcock hit Brett on the elbow, very much by mistake. The phone rang that night, and Sterling’s mother-in-law, who was watching the game, remembered the story and thought he had done it on purpose. “Of course, I hadn’t, nor would I ever do that” said Hitchcock, laughing.

The dinner conversation was delightful, with everyone sharing childhood memories of how they first fell in love with the game.  

Jim Collias, a retired neurosurgeon from Yale-New Haven Medical Center, recalled growing up in Boston’s South End. “Mr. Yawkey gave a bunch of us jobs working in the clubhouse during the Depression. I have fond memories of being in Fenway Park and Mr. Yawkey was a nice man. We also were sent to the train station to get the players’ bags when the team arrived in town. We all got very excited to welcome the Yankees, though Joe DiMaggio would never let us carry his bag. He would just shake his head, ‘No.’”

Saturday was spent in City of Palms Park, home to the Red Sox, who played the Twins.   Brad Penny and Francisco Liriano pitched, and – aided by some serious wind blowing out to left field -  Rocco Baldelli, Big Papi and Jason Bay all hit home runs in a Red Sox victory.

Thanks to the generosity of the Red Sox, we enjoyed the afternoon from the owners’ suite.  A number of our Champions and recruits enjoyed the beautiful weather and the pristine ballpark while talking baseball all afternoon. 

Cincinnati-based champion Buck Newsome and his wife Robin traveled in for the game with Robin keeping a detailed scorebook. “This book’s only for spring training,” she explained to me “and I like this style scorebook, because it allows me to count pitches.” The Newsomes are my kind of people — ones who adore the game.

Robin (the pitcher, not the scorekeeper) and I were on the field before the game and we spoke with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “Things sure have changed in pitching,” said Robin to Ron.  “My pitching coach and mentor, Cy Perkins’, instruction to me was pretty simple.  He said, ‘Kid, you can really pitch, keep it up; stay ahead of the batter, and; don’t get past 2-2 on a hitter.’ That was it.” 

After the game, we headed north to Sarasota to have dinner with Reds’ owner Bob Castellini and his wife, Susie, along with their son Bob, Jr., team general manager Walt Jocketty and Hall of Fame champion Bob Crotty. The dinner was wonderful. We talked to the Castellinis about the Hall of Fame and its programs and shared a lot of laughs.

On the way back to Tampa, I asked Robin about how he developed such an effective curveball. “Sal Maglie,” said Robin. “I pitched against ‘The Barber’ on opening day in 1952 and watched how he really shortened up his delivery with the curveball. So, I copied it, won 28 games that year, and never told him.”

We dropped Robin off at home around 11:30 pm, concluding a great couple of days with a group of friends who truly love the game of baseball.

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

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