Results tagged ‘ Winter Meetings ’

Heroes’ welcome

By Craig Muder

The appropriate fanfare was missing: No grand entrances, no trumpets to herald the moment.

Instead, the gathering of baseball immortals this weekend in Dallas just seemed to materialize – as if pre-ordained.

Which, of course, it was. But knowing that Hall of Famers will congregate for the Golden Era Committee election is much different that actually watching it happen. And watching it happen on Saturday night was truly special.

Juan Marichal was first, appearing in the hotel lobby moments before dinnertime. At 74, he still brightens the room with a smile – an expression that comes easily for him when discussing a just-completed cruise he took with more than 30 family members.

In a corner of the room, Ralph Kiner chats with 2011 Buck O’Neil Award winner Roland Hemond. Then Brooks Robinson makes his way into the group.

These men – the National Pastime’s ultimate heroes – gathered at Baseball’s Winter Meetings to work. Their charge: Consider the 10 candidates on the Golden Era Committee Hall of Fame ballot. Sixteen experts, including eight Hall of Famers, five executives and three veteran media members.

Within 48 hours of their arrival, their work was complete, as the Hall of Fame announced Monday that Ron Santo would be the newest legend to join their ranks in Cooperstown. And yet they seemed to savor every minute, enjoying the rare chance to see old friends and share new memories.

And just like that, they were gone. But the magic they created lingered on for all who saw them.

No fanfare necessary… Not when true heroes are in your midst.

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

Election Morning

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

They appeared as if by magic, strolling down the hotel corridor one-by-one on an overcast Florida morning.

At dawn Sunday, it was just another meeting room. But by mid-morning, it had turned into a who’s who of Hall of Famers, executives and media members.

The Expansion Era Committee was ready to convene.

12-05-10-Muder_Herzog.jpgWe’ll know the results at 10 a.m. ET on Monday, when the voting results are revealed. Eight players, three executives and one manager were considered by the Committee – and any candidates receiving 75 percent of the vote will be enshrined in Cooperstown as part of the Class of 2011.

For those candidates, the next few hours will undoubtedly be filled with anticipation.

Last year at this time in Indianapolis, Whitey Herzog was being considered by a Hall of Fame committee. This year in Orlando, Herzog is a member of the Expansion Committee – entering the meeting room relaxed and confident after his inspiring Induction Speech this summer.

“Being enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame,” said Herzog on July 25 in Cooperstown, “is like going to heaven before you die.”

Johnny Bench was the first of the Committee members to arrive on Sunday, and was quickly followed by ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian and Hall of Famer Jim Palmer. Kurkjian later found Committee member Frank Robinson and greeted him with a handshake before the two entered the conference room.

Altogether, the 16-member Committee of Bob Elliott, Bill Giles, David Glass, Andy MacPhail, Eddie Murray, Ross Newhan, Tony Perez, Jerry Reinsdorf, Ryne Sandberg, Ozzie Smith, Tom Verducci, Bench, Herzog, Kurkjian, Palmer and Robinson faced a challenging morning as they considered 12 worthy candidates. But these are men accustomed to facing – and meeting – challenges.

After the meeting, the Committee members went their separate ways. In a flash, their job was done. And yet the results will live on forever – as history was made Sunday, whatever the voting outcome.

For now, we – the fans, the baseball world and the candidates – wait.

Tomorrow, we’ll know. For unlike the Presidential election 10 years ago, this Florida ballot promises to produce a clear-cut result.

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

Photographic memories

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muader

The Dec. 6 Veterans Committee meetings had just broken up when Tom Seaver pulled me aside.

“Where’s my cameraman? I want you to take a photo of me with this gentleman,” Seaver said, pointing to fellow Hall of Famer and Veterans Committee member Robin Roberts.

05-06-10-Muder_RobertsSeaver.jpgWith my palms sweating as the camera focused on 597 big league victories, I pressed the button then showed the image to Seaver.

“I’m keeping this one,” said Tom Terrific, turning to Roberts to start a conversation about pitching, hitting and the craft of baseball.

It seemed whenever Robin Roberts was around, those in his company knew that it was a special moment.

The world lost a legend on Thursday morning when Roberts passed away at age 83. With him went a large part of an era – a time when pitchers completed their starts and rarely missed their turn in the rotation. Roberts was one of the best at both, posting 305 complete games (the most of any pitcher who began his big league career after World War II) and never missing a start in the 1950s.

But he was more than just his numbers. A member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Board of Directors and a frequent participant in Museum programs, Roberts exhibited an easy-going quality that helped others relax around a baseball immortal.

Sitting next to him after snapping the picture, I got the feeling that this was a man that was truly comfortable in his own skin.

We should all be so lucky.

Thank you, Tom, for your foresight in asking for a picture. And thank you, Robin, for letting us know the true meaning of the world “gentleman.”

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

Whitey and Donnie

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

INDIANAPOLIS — Whitey Herzog was in the middle of a story when the unassuming man with the dark eyes walked into the hotel lobby.

Herzog, who 11 hours earlier learned he had been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, had shaken countless hands and seen countless faces throughout Monday afternoon. But Whitey didn’t need to look twice to know that Donnie Baseball had just entered the room.

12-08-09-Muder_HerzogMattingly.jpg“I just had to stop and say congratulations,” said Don Mattingly, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ batting coach and an Indiana native in town for baseball’s Winter Meetings.

A beaming Herzog shook Mattingly’s hand and exchanged a few pleasantries. And just like that, Mattingly was gone.

But for Herzog, the memories came flooding back.

“That guy was a heckuva player,” said Herzog, who never managed a regular-season game against Mattingly’s Yankees during Mattingly’s career — and yet clearly appreciated the Yankee captain’s skills. “For four or five years — until the back injury got him — he was as good as there was in the game.”

Mattingly will make his 10th appearance on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame ballot this year.

Herzog, meanwhile, is already a Hall of Famer — having been named to the Class of 2010 along with umpire Doug Harvey by the Veterans Committee on Monday.

For two of baseball’s biggest names of the 1980s, it was a fitting — if all-too-brief — reunion.

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

Big stars — and a little fun

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

INDIANAPOLIS — The man with the “GTS” monogram on his sweater looked around the room, then asked: “Where’s my cameraman?”

Camera in hand — and with far less photography skills than worthy of the event — I darted over to the two gentlemen in the chairs. They had just wrapped up Sunday’s afternoon Veterans Committee for Executives and Pioneers meeting at Baseball’s Winter Meetings in Indianapolis, and they wanted to capture their moment.

12-07-09-Muder_RobertsSeaver.jpgJust two guys, 597 major league victories — and a whole lot of little boy in both of them.

“I’m keeping this one,” said George Thomas Seaver, who couldn’t resist the chance to pose with fellow Hall of Famer Robin Roberts. “How many wins do we have here?”

Let’s see: 286 for Roberts, 311 for Seaver. Then, two of the best right-handed pitchers in history began doing what every pitcher does: They compared hitting statistics.

“I had four career stolen bases, and was never caught,” said Seaver.

“You got me there,” said Roberts. “I only had three steals. But I did something not even Babe Ruth did: I hit home runs from both sides of the plate.”

Seaver was duly impressed — so much so that the three-time Cy Young Award winner dropped into his best “We’re Not Worthy” pose, saluting the switch-hitting Roberts from the carpeted floor.

In a flash, the two friends were on their way — ready to pick up the conversation this summer in Cooperstown during the July 23-26 Hall of Fame Weekend. Two of baseball’s greatest, still in love with the game they played.

A moment to remember.

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

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