Results tagged ‘ Ubaldo Jimenez ’

The Dominican’s favorite son

By Jeff Idelson

Juan Marichal is revered in his homeland, more so than ever. He hasn’t thrown a pitch since 1975, but everywhere he goes on the island that adores baseball, the first Dominican Hall of Famer is respected and praised.

As much as the Dominican Dandy enjoys and deserves the adulation he is afforded for his stellar baseball career, even more so, he is proud. En Espanol, it is called “orgulloso.” He is proud to be a husband, father, grandfather and even a great grandfather now. Orgulloso of his friendships, career and country. He’s proud of his farming skills, which he learned from his parents. Juan Marichal is as proud a person as you will meet. He exudes happiness and confidence. He is so orgulloso.

On Tuesday, as Juan, his wife Alma and I dined on a traditional Dominican seafood lunch at Pepe Diaz in Santo Domingo, he could not stop talking about how his 49-year marriage to Alma, their six children, 13 grandchildren and his three-year old great granddaughter, Kirabella. He’s so proud of them all. Very proud of who they are and what they’ve all accomplished.

“I met Alma when she was 16. She was my first love.” To which she added, “We just went on a cruise. All 33 of us. What a thrill. I hope to do it every year. I love to be with my family.”

Juan joined the Air Force in 1956 at age 19 and moved from Laguna Verde, a small town two hours west of the Dominican capital, to Santo Domingo. Pitching for Trujillo’s Air Force team, he played against Matty Alou and his town team in El Cami. They instantly become the best of friends. Juan would hang out at the home of the three Alou brothers – Matty, Felipe and Jesus. The young lady who lived across the street quickly became the apple of Juan’s eye. Alma would soon become his wife at age 16. They have never looked back.

Matty, who passed away earlier this year, and Juan, were so close that Juan may as well have been the fourth Alou brother.

“He was my compadre from the start. I am proud of our friendship,” said Marichal. “I baptized Matty’s daughter as he did my daughter, Elsie; but even before that, we were compadres.”

They roomed together with the Giants and stayed friends until the day Matty died on Nov. 3.

“Matty was in a coma, but when I came to see him, he squeezed my hand four times,” Marichal said. “The next day my compadre even said my name.”

Tuesday night, we went to one of the final Dominican Winter League games of the season, with the Tigres del Licey playing host to the Aguilas Cibaenas. As we walked into the stadium, many fans, young and old, men and women, saluted their Dominican hero.

We watched the game from a box and the visits to see Juan were endless. Ozzie Virgil, the first Dominican player to appear in the major leagues, stopped by. Pedro Martinez’ sister, Elvera, who works for Licey, also came by. It seemed that half of Santo Domingo was at the game and they all simply wanted to shake the hand or pose for a photograph with the great Juan Marichal.

Juan told me of pitching in the Aguila’ Stadium in 1957 and 1958 for manager Salty Parker, who was in the Giants system. He was very proud of going 8-3 in 1958.

The game itself was one-sided with Fausto Carmona and Aguilas trouncing Ubaldo Jimenez and Licey, 6-1. The outcome was irrelevant as both teams will make the round-robin tournament that starts in a few weeks before the Caribbean Series.

As we left the ballpark I thought about how proud I was…orgulloso….to have been able to spend a day with one of the all-time greats on his home turf. There’s no greater man than Juan Marichal. No one more proud, so orgulloso.

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

Historic end to a Rocky trip

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

The two-state drive was longer than any other coast-to-coast flight Jim Tracy will endure as manager of the Colorado Rockies.

08-09-10-Muder_Tracy.jpgBut the destination was worth it.

Tracy and a crew from FSN Rocky Mountain made the trip to Cooperstown on Monday – an off day for the Rockies. Following Colorado’s 8-4 win over the Pirates in Pittsburgh on Sunday, Tracy and crew jumped in the car at about 6:30 p.m. and drove more than nine hours – construction delays included – through Pennsylvania and New York to Cooperstown, arriving at about 3:30 a.m.

After a short night, Tracy received a tour of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum from Erik Strohl, the Hall’s senior director of exhibits and collections. Clad in a golf shirt and jeans, Tracy took his time in the always-crowded Museum – enjoying his moment with history. Fans poured past Tracy, pausing when they saw the FSN cameras but largely unaware their brush with the big leagues.

After his tour, Tracy – a veteran of nine seasons as a big league manager – jumped back in his car and headed for New York City and a Tuesday date with the Mets, another four hours on the highway.

But while he could have made the trip from Pittsburgh to New York in just over an hour via the air, the two-day car trip gave Tracy a chance to experience the game’s most historic moments at the Hall of Fame.

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

Hall Monitor: Thin air, busy days and record books

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

Through a quarter of the season, we’re starting to stretch our legs. He’s what’s been historically notable over the last week.
 
Rockie reaching high: Rarified air is where Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez spends his time these days. On Thursday, the Colorado hurler threw seven innings, allowing just one hit while blanking the Astros. The first eight-game winner this season, he commands a 0.99 ERA through nine starts. Only 05-22-10-Hayes_Jimenez.jpgFernando Valenzuela (8-1, 0.91) during Fernandomania in 1981 and Hall of Famer Juan Marichal in 1966 (8-0, 0.69) have won eight of their first nine and posted ERAs below 1.00 since the expansion era began.

Angel all over: An inside-the-parker and the old 8-2-6-3 triple play. Angel Pagan was busy Wednesday in Washington. Playing center field for the Mets, he is only the second player to achieve the rare double feat in the last 55 years. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Phillies shortstop Ted Kazanski initiated a triple play and hit an inside-the-park homer on Sept. 25, 1955 against the New York Giants. Each of Kazanski’s play has a Cooperstown connection. His inside-the-parker was the result of an outfield collision between Hall of Famer Willie Mays and Dusty Rhodes, and the liner he caught to start a 6-4-3 triple play ended the inning, the game, the season and Hall of Famer Leo Durocher’s tenure as Giants manager. The Phils-Giants game was also the last time a team pulled a triple play and hit an inside-the-park homer in the same game. Interestingly enough, the game Pagan hit his first career inside-the-park homer also featured a triple play, when Philadelphia’s Eric Brunlett converted an unassisted triple play to end the game – a moment preserved by the Hall of Fame with Brunlett’s jersey on display in Today’s Game.

A-Rod passes Robby in style: Alex Rodriguez is now cruising towards 600 homers after passing Hall of Famer Frank Robinson last Friday. But his 587th blast was a bit unusual, as an intentional walk to load the bases preceded A-Rod’s homer. The last time he came to the plate after an intentional walk – in 2009 – he retaliated with a grand slam against the Rays in the season finale. The Twins tried it last Friday night and the result was the same.

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

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