Results tagged ‘ World Series ’

Baseball’s Happiest Place on Earth

By Trevor Hayes

I spent most of my morning chatting with MLB.com’s Marty Noble at the MLBPAA Skills Clinic at Doubleday Field.

As we walked the field, it was filled with smiling faces. The kids were having a wonderful time as they moved from station to station interacting with and learning from Jim Hannan, Jon Warden, John Doherty, Don Demola, Steve Grilli and the other MLB Player Alumni on the field. Many of these MLBPAA alumni had retired even before these kids were born, but for the kids, each of the players was a star.

Several former All-Stars were also instructors. Rick Wise and Bill “Spaceman” Lee were working on pitching mechanics in the right field corner. Dave Henderson – wearing his large gold World Series ring from 1989 – was talking hitting in shallow center.

“Always remember that Dave Henderson taught you to kiss each shoulder,” he’d say, showing the proper follow through of a swing. Before long though, his station always became baseball chatter. It was a chance for him to talk with the younger generation about the game, moving from Derek Jeter’s chance at 3,000 to dealing with making an out (“You’re going to make them, because the game has to end sometime.”) to showing off his ring – to the delight of many of the youngsters who’d never seen one.

One young ballplayer in Grilli’s base running station may have summed up the atmosphere best. Grilli said, “We’re in Cooperstown, but what is Cooperstown?” One youngster quickly shouted out “It’s baseball!”

Truly baseball was alive at Doubleday this morning and it’s as vibrant as the pop of all the mitts in Doherty’s catch station – where players worked the basics of throwing and catching a ball. “We’re working on playing catch instead of playing fetch,” he’d say before each of the groups began.

Once the clinic ended, each young ballplayer got one last chance to shake hands with the Major Leaguers before getting a sheet with their autographs. While we watched the kids go through the line, Noble started laughing. I asked him what he was laughing about and he said, “One of the kids just gave you guys a great marketing line. He said, ‘This place is like Disneyland for baseball.’”

That’s what Cooperstown feels like during the summer, especially during our big events like Classic and Induction Weekend. It’s Disneyland for baseball fans.

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

Hall Monitor: Crushing, Curses and the Killer

By Trevor Hayes

Things have settled down for me a bit with our publication season, which means the return of my favorite stat-based blog feature, the Hall Monitor. There’s been a lot already this season that has made 2011 special, including Braves icon Chipper Jones setting career marks by collecting his 1,500th RBI and passing Mickey Mantle on switch-hitters RBI leader board. We’ve had lots of great pitching, including two no-hitters – Francisco Liriano’s cap and game ball made it to the Hall earlier this week – and several near misses. So here’s what’s been going lately:

Giambi’s first three: Jason Giambi, the former Yankee-A’s All-Star slugger turned Rockies part-timer, collected his first three homer game last night to lead Colorado over Philly 7-1. Showing he’s still got some power in the tank, Giambi pulled a comparison to Stan the Man. Stan Musial at 41 years old is the oldest player to hit three home runs in a game, beating out Giambi, who at age 40 years, 131 days is now the second-oldest player to do it.

With 416 homers before Thursday’s contest, he also has the highest total before his fiDerek Jeterrst three homer game in Major League history aside from Babe Ruth, who had 522 career dingers before his first three home run performance. Coincidentally enough, Ruth also collected his first three home run game against Philadelphia – but playing in the AL, it was against the A’s not the Phillies.

Another feather in his cap: Derek Jeter likes hitting against the Birds and this week he added one more feat to his growing list of accomplishments on his journey to reach 3,000 hits. With career hit No. 300 against the Orioles, the Yankees captain became the first player with 300 hits against one franchise since Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn retired after the 2001 season. Mr. Padre had at least 300 against Atlanta, Cincinnati, Houston and San Francisco.

Fall Classic mixing and matching: Interleague Play, which begins tonight, always brings some interesting matchups, from the geographic rivals like the 2000 World Series Subway Series rematch of Mets-Yankees, the Bay Bridge Series re-matching the 1989 Fall Classic combatants in Oakland and San Francisco or the I-70 Series 1985 rematch of St. Louis and Kansas City.

But this year brings a rare pairing of the formerly cursed Red Sox hosting the still-cursed Cubs. The Northsiders will be back in Fenway for the first time since the 1918 World Series – which began a drought of 86 years without a title the following year. Saturday night will pair the two in throwback uniforms and several icons from the teams will be around Beantown like Bill Buckner

Mourning the Killer: The Hall of Fame and the baseball community lost a great man and an incredibly talented ballplayer this week with the passing of Harmon Killebrew. His funeral service was held today in Peoria, Ariz., with several Hall of Famers in attendance including 2011 Electee Bert Blyleven, Rod Carew, Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, Frank Robinson and Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson. Next Thursday, Twins fans will have their chance to show their love for Killebrew with a public Memorial Service at Target Field in Minnesota starting at 7 p.m.

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

Run, Rickey, run

DiFranza_90.jpgBy Lenny DiFranza

I remember May 1, 1991 as a bright Northern California day with a clear blue sky. That’s not unusual; time has tinted a lot of my memories with postcard-colors. But this day is fixed in my mind because I was on hand for the A’s game when Rickey Henderson passed Lou Brock’s all-time record for stolen bases. I’ve been thinking about that day as I researched the game for our new exhibit – One for the Books: Baseball Records and the Stories Behind Them.

03-23-11-DiFranza_Henderson.jpgIt was a big crowd with every reason to expect an Oakland victory. The first-place A’s, who had played in three straight World Series, were facing a New York Yankees squad that had sunk to last in the AL East. Henderson was a more interesting story as he entered the game tied with Brock at 938 steals.

In the top of the first, Henderson ran out to his post in left and waved as we hooted and shouted his name form the centerfield bleachers. After he took first with a walk in his first at bat in the bottom of the inning, we joined the Coliseum crowd getting louder and louder through three pitches and breaking into a roar as Henderson took off for second and the record books. The catcher’s throw beat him to the bag and we quietly took our seats.

To be a great base stealer, you need more than explosive speed: You need patience, opportunity and timing. Henderson reached on an error to lead off the fourth. Everyone knew he’d run, but Dave Henderson moved the runner up with an infield single and on the next pitch Jos Canseco hit a fly to right. We pleaded “run Rickey run!” as Harold Baines came up. On the second pitch, Henderson finally took off for third with a few quick strides and dove as the throw arrived. The ump signaled safe.

03-23-11-DiFranza_HendersonGloves.jpgSafe! It was done and we celebrated. The game stopped and Henderson hoisted third base over his head. Lou Brock said a few words – with class, as always. Henderson took the microphone and pointed out what we already knew. He was now “the greatest of all time.”

In 2009, Henderson joined Brock on the Hall of Fame roster.

It was a beautiful day and I had a great time with friends taking in a nice win for Oakland. But because I was lucky enough to see baseball history being made, it’s a day I’ll never forget. And it’ll come to life for me and countless others when we see the gloves Rickey Henderson used to grab third base in the One for the Books exhibit at the Hall of Fame. The exhibit opens May 28 in Cooperstown.

Lenny DiFranza is the assistant curator of new media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Pirate captain

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

02-11-11-Muder_TannerPIT.jpgWhen I was 10 years old, Chuck Tanner could do no wrong.

 Tanner, who passed away Friday, was the first manager of my childhood. I have no memories of Bill Virdon or Danny Murtaugh, who both led my Pirates to the postseason in the 1970s. But starting in 1977, Tanner was the leader of my team.

He always looked at the bright side.

The Bucs fell short of the 1978 National League East title after a spirited stretch run. Tanner kept smiling.

His mother passed away just before Game 5 of the 1979 World Series – with the Pirates down 3-1. Tanner kept going.

The Lumber Company teams of the 1970s got older, and the Bucs fell out of contention in the 1980s. Tanner kept believing.

The 1985 Pirates lost 104 games with a lineup more ancient than their manager. Tanner kept pushing.

Finally, he was let go after that terrible ’85 season. He spent the next three years with the Braves, then returned home to New Castle, Pa., unofficially serving as the Pirates’ number one fan.

After so many years of watching Tanner do a pretty convincing impersonation of Norman Vincent Peale, it was easy to peg him as an eternal optimist. But Tanner was so much more.

    02-11-11-Muder_TannerCWS.jpg

  • A decent big league outfielder, who homered on the first major league pitch he ever saw and played for eight seasons
  • A super-intense young manager with the White Sox, who kept the Pale Hose competitive throughout the early 1970s
  • A visionary of bullpen use, who was credited by Hall of Famer Goose Gossage for shaping his career
  • And a World Series winner, who led a diverse 1979 Pirates team to a glorious championship

But for me, it’s much simpler. Chuck Tanner will always be the manager – the first one I remember, and the one everyone else is judged against.

Somewhere, someone is smiling right now – thinking of Chuck Tanner. Who could ask for a better legacy.

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

Sixteen calls

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Start the clock on the Hall of Fame candidacy of Andy Pettitte.

The smooth-as-silk lefty, one of the most consistent starting pitchers of the last decade and a postseason workhorse, ended months of speculation on Friday by announcing his retirement. Unless he has a change of heart and returns to the big league diamond, Pettitte will become Hall of Fame-eligible with the Class of 2016.

02-04-11-Muder_Pettitte.jpgHis final regular-season numbers: a record of 240-138, with a 3.88 earned-run average and 2,251 strikeouts in 16 seasons. Only 12 left-handers in history have won more big league games: Seven are Hall of Famers, and two – Randy Johnson and Tom Glavine – are not yet Hall of Fame-eligible.

In the postseason, Pettitte was 19-10 – no pitcher ever won more playoff games – and a 3.83 ERA. His teams advanced to the postseason in 81 percent of Pettitte’s seasons (13 of 16), and Pettitte won at least one postseason game in nine of his 13 tries.

He walks away from the game with five World Series rings.

Pettitte’s Hall of Fame credentials will be debated for years, but this much is certain: Of all the Hall of Fame pitchers with at least 240 victories, only seven have a regular-season winning percentage better than Pettitte’s .635. And of those seven, only one – Jim Palmer – began his career after World War II.

Whether it was April or October, all Andy Pettitte did was win.

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

Hello Larry…and welcome spring

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

It was 31 springs ago, a glorious one for fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

I was 11, and my family took a trip to Florida that March to watch the Bucs begin defense of their 1979 World Championship. It was my first taste of the magic of Spring Training.

01-28-11-Muder_BlylevenStargell.jpgThere was no game at Bradenton’s historic McKechnie Field that day, so we wandered over a few streets to Pirate City. With its dorm-like housing and seemingly innumerable practice fields, it was the perfect place to learn baseball.

Of course, future Hall of Famers like Willie Stargell and Bert Blyleven were a bit past the learning stage and were nowhere to be seen. The prolific Pirates farm system, however, featured future major leaguers like Vance Law and Joel Skinner – both of whom were in camp as non-roster invitees.

But the player I remember most that day was Larry Andersen.

My father and I were standing behind home plate, with just a screen between us and the diamond. Suddenly, I heard the “crack-crack-crack” of cleats on cement. And before I could fully turn around to get a good look, there was Andersen – seemingly a giant at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds – brushing by me while never breaking stride.

I turned back around, getting a glimpse of his number – 52 – and the uncommon spelling of his last name sewn onto his jersey. And then he was gone, off to another day of work on the diamond.

01-28-11-Muder_McKechnie.jpgAt that moment, I considered myself the biggest Pirates fan on the planet. And the fact that I had no idea who Larry Andersen was left me momentarily dazed. But I decided that he must have been some imposter – a player with no past or future who would never see a big league day in a Pittsburgh uniform.

Of course, I was right: Andersen never played for the Pirates. But I was also wrong – because within a year, Larry Andersen had developed into a excellent big league reliever with the Mariners.

The lesson for me was clear: Don’t blink, because greatness can brush by you like a stranger in a crowd.

Andersen went on to appear in 677 MLB games after that March 1980 day (he appeared in 22 as an Indians prospect between 1975 and 1979 for a big league total of 699), but may be best remembered as the player the Red Sox acquired when they sent Jeff Bagwell to the Astros in 1990.

But for me, Larry Andersen always brings back memories of a warm day in Bradenton.

Welcome, Baseball. Bring your cheer. Only two weeks until pitchers and catchers report.

Our long, cold winter is nearly over.

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

Love Pat

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Pat Gillick has spent a lifetime on the telephone, wheeling and dealing as one of baseball’s best general managers.
 
But when the call of a lifetime came on Monday, Gillick was left somewhat speechless.
 
12-06-10-Muder_Gillick.jpgGillick, a three-time World Series-winning general manager, appeared genuinely moved and more than a little stunned after learning he had been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. In his debut on the Hall’s ballot that considers executives, Gillick received 13 of 16 votes (81.25 percent) to clear the 75-percent threshold necessary for induction.
 
He joins a ridiculously select group of men elected to the Hall of Fame whose primary job was general manager. The others: Branch Rickey, who invented the farm system and integrated the majors; Ed Barrow, who built the first Yankees dynasty in the 1920s; and George Weiss, who created and maintained the Yankees dynasty that won 15 American League pennants and 10 World Series championships between 1947 and 1964.
 
“I’m just thrilled that (the Committee) decided to elect me,” Gillick said. “I was honored just to be on the ballot.”
 
Gillick’s voice cracked with emotion repeatedly during Monday’s press conference. He thanked everyone from the scouts to the media, deflecting credit to those around him.
 
It was Gillick, however, who brought the front-office leadership to the Blue Jays, Orioles, Mariners and Phillies — leadership that resulted in 20 winning seasons in his 27 seasons as general manager. Of his seven losing seasons, five came in his first five years with the Jays when they were a fledgling expansion team.
 
After the press conference, Gillick spent more time on the phone — this time with media from around the nation. He looked completely at ease, as if he was simply chatting with another GM while mapping out his next trade. But after more than a half century in baseball, Gillick has earned the right to relax.
 
His legacy — one of hard work, fair play and championships — is secure in Cooperstown.

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

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