Results tagged ‘ World Series ’

Star treatment

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

Brian McCann has been to Cooperstown before. But now, the 2010 All-Star Game MVP will have a little piece of himself in Cooperstown forever.

“It’s a moment I’ll never forget,” said McCann only moments after the final out was made in the 81st Major League Baseball All-Star Game on Tuesday. “You are lucky enough to be playing in one of these things and to be put in a spot to come through and actually do it … you just dream about stuff like this. This isn’t supposed to happen.”

07-15-10-Francis_McCann.jpgMcCann, the Atlanta Braves’ 26-year-old catcher, was selected the 2010 Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player after he went 1-for-2 with a bases-clearing three-run double in the seventh inning to give the National League a 3-1 lead that would remain intact throughout the remainder of the contest.

As important as the hit was for McCann, a five-time All-Star, the Senior Circuit’s first victory since 1996 also means home field advantage in the World Series.

Afterwards, McCann graciously donated the bat he used for his memorable Midsummer Classic hit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

“No way,” said McCann when asked if he thought about not parting with a bat that might still have hits left in it. “I was thrilled that they wanted it.”

There were no artifacts from the short professional career of McCann in Cooperstown when he played in the Hall of Fame Game as a Braves minor leaguer in 2004. That fact has now changed.

“Brian was overwhelmed when I approached him right after he was presented with the MVP Award on the field minutes after the game had ended,” said Hall of Fame Senior Director of Communications and Education Brad Horn. “I introduced myself and told him it was the time to add a piece of Brian McCann to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“He was very excited and very honored by the opportunity. He immediately said we could absolutely have his bat,” Horn added. “And to show the dedication that he had, when his bat wasn’t at his locker in the National League clubhouse when he first walked in, he ran back out to the dugout to try and find it.”

According to Horn, the Hall of Fame tries to commemorate every All-Star Game with an artifact from the contest’s MVP.

“It allows fans the chance to come to Cooperstown during the second half of the season,” said Horn, “and see something from the season’s most memorable game and a timeless exhibition.

“Brian played in the Hall of Fame Game and here, just a short six years later, he’s a part of history,” he added. “And part of him is now in Cooperstown forever.”

Bill Francis is a library associate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Caring for history

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Tina Carey stood up from her chair at the Hall of Fame’s Giamatti Research Center and identified herself as the granddaughter of Max Carey.

05-26-10-Muder_CareyTina.jpgBut for anyone who knew or had seen pictures of the Hall of Fame centerfielder of the Pirates and Dodgers, no introduction was necessary.

“I’ve got his eyebrows and his chin,” said Tina, pouring over pictures of Max from the Hall of Fame’s archive. “Look how young he looks in these. My memories of him are all when he was in his 70s.”

Tina Carey came to Cooperstown on Monday from her home in Virginia, bringing with her warm memories of her famous grandfather. Tina’s father, Donald F. Carey, was one of Max’s three children – born in 1925, the year Max and his Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series. Donald Carey passed away last year.

Tina was born in 1961 – the year Max was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“My grandfather moved to Miami Beach right after he left baseball,” said Tina, whose famous relative retired as a player following the 1929 season before managing the Dodgers in 1932 and 1933. “I remember that in his house in Miami he had this little room plastered with all the photos and clippings from his career. I’d sit on a chair in that room and we’d watch baseball games on TV.”

05-26-10-Muder_Carey.jpgMax Carey passed away in 1976 following a career working in the dog racing industry. His big league baseball career began in 1910 with the Pirates – but was almost derailed by a higher calling.

“He was in seminary school to become an Episcopalian minister, but he just loved baseball,” Tina said. “He never made more than $16,000 a year as a ballplayer, and he lost more than $100,000 in the 1929 stock market crash. But he was very smart with his money, and very smart on the field.”

Max Carey was a fleet-footed centerfielder, stealing 738 bases (still ninth on the all-time list) while leading the National League 10 times, banging out 2,665 hits and leading the league in putouts nine times. Later, Carey managed in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and also served as the league president.

But for Tina Carey, Max George Carey was more than a ballplayer. He was grandpa.

“He believed in fundamental baseball: Getting on base any way possible and not swinging for the fences,” Tina Carey said. “He would have been successful in anything he did. It’s wonderful to see his history here at the Hall of Fame.”

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

Scouting Hall of Famers

Gates_90.jpgBy Jim Gates

Scout units across the country will be celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America throughout the 2010 calendar year. Those of us who live in upstate New York recently saw a jamboree of more than 650 scouts, hosted by the Otschodela Council, which recognized this centenary under the leadership of Troop 1 of nearby Unadilla, N.Y.

05-25-10-Gates_BoyScouts.jpgThe National Baseball Hall of Fame has also been involved with scouting for several years, as we sponsor a special patch via the Otschodela Council which Scouts earn by completing a scavenger hunt during their visit to the Museum. Throughout the year, we see scout units from all corners of the country working on the patch, and we recently hosted a group from Troop 28 of Chatham, N.J. This unit, headed up by Scoutmaster Steve Woodall, arrived in the area on Friday evening, May 21st, and spent the night at the local scouting reservation, Camp Henderson. 

They were up bright an early on Saturday morning for a day-long visit to the Hall of Fame, and as it just so happens they found the date of their visit to coincide with our special World Series Championship weekend. Many members of this Troop are die-hard Yankees fans, and in addition to earning the patch, they had their photo taken with the 2009 New York Yankees World Series Trophy.

Troop 28 also received a behind-the-scenes tour courtesy of yours truly, who serves as a Scoutmaster for Cooperstown Troop 1254. The unit was able to learn about the archive operation, both how we take care of material and how we build the collection. As part of their visit, the boys had the chance to wear the white gloves and hold one of the bats from our collection, this one being a Derek Jeter model from 1998.

Following their day in Cooperstown, Troop 28 returned to Camp Henderson for another night of camping out, before heading to Howe Caverns on Sunday and then the drive back home to New Jersey.  We hope that this visit is one which they will all remember for many years to come. 

Scout units interested in learning more about the Hall of Fame patch are encouraged to contact the Otschodela Council.  We look forward to seeing you in Cooperstown.

Jim Gates is the librarian of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library.

Team Dawson comes to Cooperstown

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Vanessa Dawson watched carefully Tuesday as her husband toured the Baseball Hall of Fame, preparing herself for a hectic Induction Weekend less than three months away.

05-05-10-Muder_Dawson.jpgBut during a film retrospective of her husband’s career, the enormity of it all set in.

The stoic and regal Andre Dawson, one of the game’s leading citizens for more than three decades, took his Orientation Tour on Tuesday in preparation for his July 25 induction. Dawson, who spent 21 big league seasons with the Expos, Cubs, Red Sox and Marlins, was making his fourth-ever visit to the Hall of Fame – but this time he arrived as an electee. Hall of Fame officials spent the morning preparing Andre and Vanessa for what is to come in July, then showed the Dawsons the Museum in the afternoon.

At the end of the tour, Andre and Vanessa were treated to a video summary of his career, complete with commentary from other Hall of Famers. When the lights went up, Vanessa was moved to tears – overwhelmed by the tribute to her Hall of Fame husband.

“I was driven by discipline that was instilled in me through women who were my mentors – being my mother (Mattie Brown), my grandmother (Eunice Taylor) and then my wife,” Andre Dawson said.

That discipline brought Andre Dawson the 1977 National League Rookie of the Year Award, the 1987 NL MVP Award, eight Gold Gloves for his play in the outfield and eight All-Star Game selections. And now, it has brought him to Cooperstown.

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

Classic dream fulfilled

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

A defensive whiz on par with the game’s greatest of all time, longtime center fielder Paul Blair fielded numerous questions pertaining to his distinguished big league career when he recently sat down for an interview with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

03-29-10-Francis_Blair1.jpgIn Cooperstown on March 20 to greet visitors in line to buy tickets for the second annual Hall of Fame Classic, the 66-year-old Blair will trade in his beloved golf clubs for another chance to get out on the field in the June 20 legends game. Tickets for the Classic are on sale at www.baseballhall.org or by calling 1-866-849-7770.

During a 17-year big league career, spent mainly with the great Baltimore Orioles teams of the late 1960s and 1970s, the eight-time Gold Glove Award winner and four-time World Series champion was known for his play in center field. But, surprisingly, Blair was a shortstop until he signed his first professional contract.

“I went to my first spring training the manager said, ‘Everybody go to their positions.’ Seven guys went to short – I was going to be the eighth shortstop,” Blair recalled. “They had two in left, two in center and one in right, and I saw (the player in right field) running and throwing and I knew I could beat him out, so I went to right field and became an outfielder. It just came natural to me for some reason.”

Known as the premier center fielder of his era, Blair was renowned for how shallow he played.

03-29-10-Francis_Blair3.jpg“What I tried to do was play where most of the balls were going to be hit. I didn’t play guys like Harmon Killebrew and Reggie Jackson or the big home run hitters right behind second base, but most guys can’t hit the ball straightaway center field out of the ballpark. If they hit balls to center field they are basically going to be line drives or high pops,” Blair said. “The line drives are not going to go out of the ballpark, so what I tried to do was take some of those line drives away. I wanted to be the best center fielder, head and shoulders, over anybody on my team. That way those pitchers would make the manager play me.”

Raised in Los Angeles, Blair was a Dodgers fan but Hall of Fame center fielder Willie Mays of the hated San Francisco Giants was his idol.

“Whenever the Giants played the Dodgers, I would hope Mays would get four hits but the Dodgers would win,” Blair said. “When I was growing up I used to do the basket catch even though I was at shortstop, but when I became a professional I thought I better do my own thing and not copy Willie because if I ever droped one then it’s going to be heck to pay.”

A star athlete in high school, Blair’s decision to pursue baseball as a profession was influenced by another Hall of Famer.

“I guess that came from Jackie (Robinson),” Blair said. “As long as I can remember, since I was eight years old, I wanted to be a major league baseball player. That was my one desire, my one goal, and I was just fortunate that I had some athletic ability.”

Blair became a regular with the O’s at the tender age of 21 in 1965 and appeared in the postseason six times with Baltimore over his 13 seasons with the club.

03-29-10-Francis_Blair2.jpg“Our whole thing, and it came from (Hall of Fame manager) Earl (Weaver) and he was the catalyst of those ball clubs, is that you went out there and you played great defense, you pitched well, and you played the whole game,” Blair said. “The team came first. You did everything you possibly could to help win a ballgame.

 “We already had a very good ball club but then (future Hall of Famer) Frank (Robinson) came in 1966 that really put us over the top. He was that big gun that all the other pitchers had to concentrate on. The rest of us just had to do our thing. When Frank said, ‘Let’s go,’ we just followed him.”

Looking back on his baseball career, Blair says that he is proudest of the fact that he got to play in the big leagues for 17 years.

“It’s a very big achievement for me because that’s something I always wanted to do, and it’s the only thing I ever want to do,” Blair said. “The bonus was winning the eight Gold Gloves and the four World Series championships.

“I was very fortunate being on the teams that I played on. I played on 10 first place teams. Every time I went to spring training I knew I had a chance to be in a World Series. I wound up getting in eight playoffs, six World Series, and we won four of them. Hopefully I did my part and contributed to us winning. That was very important to me.”

Bill Francis is a library associate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Grapefruit stories

Idelson_90.jpgBy Jeff Idelson

I’m sitting in Tampa International Airport awaiting the one non-stop Southwest Airlines flight back to Albany, having just concluded my Grapefruit League spring training jaunt. My Spring Training mission each year is to visit with those who are close to the Museum – current players and management, Hall of Famers, owners and supporters.

03-24-10-Idelson_DawsonPerez.jpgHaving spent eight years combined in the Red Sox and Yankee front offices before being hired in Cooperstown in 1994, my knowledge was limited to Florida Spring Training: the Yankees were in Ft. Lauderdale and the Red Sox in Winter Haven. Since, I have traveled to the desert, too.

The differences are stark: The air is markedly drier in Arizona, because of the elevation. The ballparks in Arizona are surrounded by mountains; most of the ones in Florida, by water. Thirteen of 15 ballparks in Arizona are within 60 miles of each other. In Florida, they span across the state. I spent seven nights in one hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona; I was in six different places in six nights in Florida and flew in and out of airports across the state from each other.

The one similarity? I had a game rained out in each state.

I had a chance to visit with a number of our Hall of Famers. Andre Dawson and I had dinner in North Miami Beach, near his home. He’s already made great progress on his speech and is getting ready for Induction. “I’ll try not to get too emotional,” the stoic “Hawk” told me. I let him know that if he did not get emotional, I would be worried. Almost every speech I have heard since 1994 has been emotional. 

Hall of Fame Chairman Jane Clark, Ken Meifert from the Hall, and I, saw Mike Schmidt and his wife Donna in Palm Beach Gardens. We talked about a variety of topics, from baseball to bull riding to music to living in Florida. Mike is very excited about our inaugural Hall of Fame Classic Golf tournament in June, in which he will participate. He was thrilled to know that a number of the 28 spots available are already filled.

03-24-10-Idelson_Jupiter.jpgLast Saturday, we hosted our Hall of Fame Champions in Jupiter. John and Kathy Greenthal became the first Champions in Hall of Fame history to attend events in both Spring Training states. Jim and Tina Collias made the trip over from Naples to Jupiter, and Dan Glazer also joined us. Hall of Fame Board member Bill DeWitt, owner of the Cardinals, was generous in hosting us for his team’s game with the Mets. Spring Training games are usually not that interesting, but this one featured the Mets scoring three runs in the 9th, the last on an Ike Davis game-tying home run, only to have Ruben Gotay lead off the bottom of the 9th with a walk-off home run.

Speaking of walk-off home runs, we dined with Dennis and Jennifer Eckersley after the game. I asked Dennis what he thought of Doug Harvey. “He was behind the plate for Kirk Gibson’s home run in the 1988 World Series,” Dennis reminded me, as I began to suffer the symptoms of foot-in-mouth disease. He still thought Harvey was an excellent arbiter. 

I headed across the state to Yankee camp and saw many old friends in the clubhouse before the game: Billy Connors, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage, Steve Donohue, the team athletic trainer, Joe Girardi, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, whom we drafted when I worked for the team. The game was rained out as Gene Michael, his minor league teammate and Tigers broadcaster, Jim Price, and I had lunch. Also saw Tiger friends Dave Dombrowski and Al Aliva in the dining room and learned more about the Tigers.

Dinner that night was with Wade and Debbie Boggs and Reggie Jackson. Eddie Fastook, the team’s traveling security director and a long-time friend, also joined us. 

Unbeknownst to me, Boggs grew up a big Reggie Jackson fan, even wearing No. 9 in honor, the number Reggie wore early in his career in Oakland. Wade told the story of how in the mid 1980s, Reggie gave him one of his bats to use in 1985. “I used it for 33 straight games and hit five home runs,” said Wade. “I loved that bat and then I broke it on a Dave Stieb pitch,” a dejected Wade recalled.

03-24-10-Idelson_Zimmer.jpgThe next morning, I visited City of Palms Park in Fort Myers to see the Red Sox and the Rays. I met up with Don Zimmer, who is very bullish on the Rays this year. “The best club we’ve had in my seven years with them,” Zim said.

Zim told me how much he admired Dawson and Ryne Sandberg when he managed the Cubs. “Two guys who led by example,” he said. “The other players watched these guys and saw greatness in the making.”

I told Don I would be seeing Jim Rice and Bob Montgomery later that day. 

“Monty was the best hit-and-run guy I ever had,” recalled Zim. “I remember in a game with Cleveland, the bases were loaded. They had a sinker-baller on the mound so I rolled the dice and gave (coach) Eddie Yost the hit-and-run sign on a 3-2 count. Monty put the bat on the ball and we stayed out of the double play. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy, but I really thought it would work, and it did.”

Rice later told me that he believed Thurman Munson and Lou Piniella were among the best hit-and-run guys he saw when he played.

I concluded my trip with dinner at Carlton and Linda Fisk’s home in the Sarasota area. We had a wonderful visit and a great dinner. Pudge joked about how some of the evenings in Florida this year were as cold as those he experienced growing up in New Hampshire.

I’ve had my fill. Let the regular season begin.

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

Classic stories from Paul Blair

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

The gold ring on his pinkie finger sparkled in the morning sun as Paul Blair signed one autograph after another.

03-19-10-Muder_Blair.jpgSome remembered Blair as the Gold Glove centerfielder of the 1960s and 70s Baltimore Orioles. Others recalled him as the super-sub on the New York Yankees’ title teams of 1977 and 1978.

But all the fans who lined up to purchase tickets for the Hall of Fame Classic on Saturday enjoyed listening to Blair’s stories – and eagerly anticipated his appearance in the Father’s Day legends game at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown.

Blair, who will join Hall of Famers Gary Carter, Bob Feller, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Harmon Killebrew, Phil Niekro and Ozzie Smith at the June 20 Classic, posed for pictures and signed balls and caps for fans waiting to purchase tickets at the Baseball Hall of Fame. The four-time World Series champion was easily identifiable with his 1978 World Series ring, but admitted that the 1966 title he won as a member of the Orioles is his favorite baseball memory.

“We beat the Dodgers, not by scoring a bunch of runs but by playing winning baseball,” said Blair, an eight-time Gold Glove centerfielder. “We shut them out for the final 33 innings of that World Series because our pitchers had two goals when they went to the mound: Don’t walk anyone, and keep the ball in the ballpark. They knew if they did that, we’d make the plays behind them.”

03-22-10-Muder_Blair2.jpgBlair’s fifth-inning home run in Game 3 of the 1966 World Series provided the only run in a 1-0 Orioles’ win, putting Baltimore up 3-games-to-0 and effectively clinching the Series. He would finish his 17-year big league career with two All-Star Game appearances and more than 1,500 hits. Only seven players have ever won more Gold Gloves for their outfield play.

This summer, however, Blair expects to man the infield at the Hall of Fame Classic on Father’s Day.

“I started as an infielder, and that’s where I’m playing now,” said the 66-year-old Blair, who today carries a six handicap on the golf course. “I’m looking forward to coming back in June.”

Participants the Hall of Fame’s Membership Program can purchase tickets for the June 20 Hall of Fame Classic exclusively through March 28 by calling 1-866-849-7770 or visiting www.baseballhall.org. For more information about becoming a Member, please visit http://www.baseballhall.org.

Any tickets remaining on March 29 will be made available to the general public.

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

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