By Craig MuderArt Stewart looked at the 27-year-old piece of paper – typos and all – with a kid of awe.On it was a report by Kansas City Royals scout Ken Gonzales dated April 15, 1986, describing the potential of one Vincent Edward Jackson. Under the category of “abilities” Gonzales wrote: “Greatest pure athlete in (A)merica today.”
Kansas City Royals scout Ken Gonzales filed this scouting report on Bo Jackson. The report will be featured in the Museum's new 'Diamond Mines' exhibit. (Craig Muder/NBHOF Library)
Soon after this report was filed, America found out that “Bo Knows” – through an ad campaign that still resonates today. Apparently, Gonzales “knew” as well.“I remember the press conference when we signed Bo Jackson like it was yesterday,” said Stewart, a longtime member of the Royals front office who was on hand Saturday when the Hall of Fame unveiled Diamond Mines, an exhibit dedicated to the work of baseball scouts. “June 21, 1986. Bo’s mother walked into the press conference, came up to Kenny Gonzales and gave him a big hug that lifted him off the ground. It was Kenny’s relationship with the family that resulted in our signing Bo.”Gonzales’ report in April 1986 raved about Jackson’s natural ability but questioned whether he had a desire to play baseball. Jackson had won the 1985 Heisman Trophy at Auburn University and was taken with the first pick of the 1986 National Football League draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.But Jackson opted to play baseball after the Royals drafted him the fourth round in the June 1986 draft – rolling the dice on what Gonzales called “…a real GAMBLE” in the scouting report. By the end of the 1986 season, Jackson was in the big leagues.Jackson returned to football as a “hobby” in 1987, playing with the Raiders after the baseball season ended. He was named to the MLB All-Star Game in 1989 – and hit a towering home run off Rick Reuschel in that game that seemed to validate all the predictions about his talent.But in an NFL playoff game against the Bengals following the 1990 season, Jackson suffered a severe hip injury which eventually resulted in replacement of the joint. The Royals released Jackson due to the injury in Spring Training of 1991, and he retired after playing part-time with the White Sox in 1991 and 1993 and the Angels in 1994.The report from Ken Gonzales, however, will be preserved forever at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum as part of the new Diamond Mines exhibit. The exhibit features an online database at scouts.baseballhall.org where fans can access scouting reports on more than 4,000 players compiled by more than 400 scouts.And some of those reports – like the one on Bo Jackson – truly capture a moment in time.Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
By Tim WilesThe recent passing of the great Stan Musial has me remembering one of my favorite stories of the A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center at the Hall of Fame Library. During the summer of 1998 with its epic home run chase, a young man – 12 years old – walked into the room dressed head to toe as Mark McGwire. Since we are history folks in the library, after we complimented him on his outfit, we began telling him about some of the other great Cardinals of the past: Bob Gibson, Rogers Hornsby, Dizzy Dean and Enos Slaughter.
Despite spending all of 1945 in the Navy, Stan Musial still totaled 3,630 hits during his 22-year big league career. (NBHOF Library)
Of course no discussion of Cardinal greats is complete without talking about Musial, which we did. We told the young man that Stan Musial was so amazingly consistent that of his once-NL record 3,630 hits, exactly half (1815) were hit on the road and exactly half at home. This amazing fact is usually a bit of a show stopper, but our young man appeared unfazed by this historic nugget.
“So what you are telling me is that he was a much better hitter at home?” the young man asked.
“No!” we protested, “We’re trying to tell you that he was the exact same hitter no matter what ballpark he was playing in, whether he was eating home cooking or eating in restaurants, staying at home or sleeping in hotels.”
“But the thing is,” the young man said, “At home, particularly with some of those great Cardinal teams, you often don’t have to play the bottom half of the ninth, so he had the same number of hits, but in a significantly lower number of at-bats.”
You could have heard a pin drop as three or four adult employees of the Hall of Fame all sported a look of drop-jawed stupefaction.
When I had recovered sufficiently to speak, I asked the young man to come back and apply for a summer job when he turned 16. Sadly, we never heard from him again.
Now almost 15 years later, the advent of great statistical manipulation websites like www.baseball-reference.com and www.retrosheet.org means that we can check the youngster’s theory with just a few clicks of a mouse.
He was right. At home, Musial had 5,401 career at-bats, while on the road he batted 5,569 times. One-hundred sixty-eight more at-bats on the road, and yet the same number of hits. Musial was a significantly better hitter at home, where he batted .336, than on the road, where he batted .326. Interestingly, he also stole the same number of bases in his career at home and on the road, 38 each.
I think of this thoughtful, intelligent young baseball fan every time I hear something about how the youth of America are doing worse at mathematics or critical thinking than students in other nations. That may be true, but not with this kid.
Tim Wiles is the director of research for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
By Craig Muder
As birthday gifts go, this one is going to be hard to top.
Philadelphia Phillies’ slugging first baseman Ryan Howard got a terrific surprise Nov. 19 when his fiancé Krystle Campbell arranged a trip to Cooperstown for his 33rd birthday.
Howard experienced his first visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Monday, making a five-hour trip from Philadelphia to Central New York that Campbell had arranged weeks in advance. Monday was Howard’s 33rd birthday, and it was clear that his future wife had a special day planned.
Howard, however, had no idea where they were going.
“I’m riding along and all of a sudden I saw signs for Oneonta,” said Howard of the city located about 30 minutes south of Cooperstown. “I had played there in the New York-Penn League (for Batavia) in 2001 when I was in the minors, so I knew about where we were. But I had no idea we were so close to the Hall of Fame.”
But Howard has been close to the Hall of Fame – inside the walls, actually – for some time. He has generously donated several artifacts to the Museum over the years, including a Phillies road jersey he wore during his 2006 National League Most Valuable Player season and a bat he used to hit two home runs in Game 4 of the 2008 World Series.
Both artifacts are currently on display in the Phillies’ exhibit in Today’s Game, the Museum’s showcase for current players and teams.
“Every kid wants to grow up to play baseball, then to win the World Series and some day make the Hall of Fame,” Howard said. “Just to see my bat and jersey – to see all the history here – it’s awesome.”
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Comment on this post
By Tim Wiles
It is perhaps baseball’s most familiar quotation: “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball.”
So said Jacques Barzun, the eminent French-born sociologist, historian, and critic. Barzun moved to the United States at age 13, and stayed until his death last week at age 104. He authored more than 40 books on subjects as diverse as opera, science, art, the research process, and education, including biographical and critical works on Lincoln, Berlioz, Darwin, Marx, William James, and Lord Byron.
As you might expect, Barzun was a frequent visitor to Cooperstown, but not for the reason you might think. Yes, he loved baseball, and wrote very perceptively of it in his 1954 book “God’s Country and Mine,” the source of his great baseball quotation. But the reason for his repeat visits to Cooperstown was the excellent opera company at the other end of Otsego Lake from the Hall of Fame, The Gimmerglass Festival.
I first was able to meet him in 1998, when he lectured on Tosca at the opera’s annual Gala Weekend. Then in 2003, I was honored to give him a tour of the Baseball Hall of Fame while he was in town to take in some more opera. We posed for the attached photo in front of a giant photo of Fenway’s Park’s Green Monster that hung for several years just inside our front door – emblazoned with his famous quotation.
Though the quote itself is very familiar to baseball fans, I think it is truncated too soon. Here’s the whole sentence:
“Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball, the rules and realities of the game – and do it by watching first some high school or small town teams.”
While Barzun lived in New York City for decades and was reportedly a Yankees fan, the full quote hints at the rural, small-town core of baseball as played by generations of American kids. In the movie “The Baseball Experience” that is shown daily in the Museum’s Grandstand Theater, there is a series of photos of baseball, ranging from youth leagues to sandlots to a big league stadium, while the narrator intones “baseball is played here, and here, and here…” emphasizing Barzun’s contention that some thing in the “small ball” of small town baseball expresses the essence of the game.
Here are a couple of other intriguing quotes, from the same essay:
“Baseball is Greek in being national, heroic, and broken up in the rivalries of city-states. How sad that Europe knows nothing like it!”
“We also find our American innocence in calling ‘World Series’ the annual games between the winners in each big league. The world doesn't know or care and couldn't compete if it wanted to, but since it’s us children having fun, why, the world is our stage.”
“But being spread out, baseball has something sociable and friendly about it that I especially love. It is graphic and choreographic.”
“Baseball is a kind of collective chess with arms and legs in full play under sunlight.”
“And the next day in the paper: Learned comment, statistical summaries, and the verbal imagery of meta-euphoric experts.”
Barzun received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003, the same year that he toured the Hall of Fame. Fittingly, one of his fellow recipients that year was Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente.
By Tim Wiles
“After I sent the email to the Hall of Fame,” says Samantha Tengelitsch, “I said to my husband Chris: ‘We’ll never hear from them now.’”
However, Samantha’s summer email was responded to by library intern Cassidy Lent, and has sparked research which still continues – and produced a pretty good ghost story for Halloween.
Samantha was very interested in a career minor leaguer named Edward Matt, who played from 1909-1913 for seven different minor league teams in the upper Midwest, including Traverse City, Mich., where Samantha and her family now live. But Ed Matt is not a distant relative, so why the interest?
“Edward Matt is a ghost in our house,” Samantha wrote.
The family moved into the house in the summer of 2011, and by the fall, they realized they were not alone.
“I knew nothing about baseball before this.” Samantha notes. “I was coming up the stairs, and there was this man, with baggy pants, horizontally striped socks, and a baseball cap that looked very old-fashioned, with a shorter brim than they have today.”
Eventually, through multiple sightings, Samantha and Chris were able to converse with the ghost, and learned his name was Edward Matt, and that he had lived in their home when he played for the Traverse City Resorters of the Michigan State League in 1912. The Resorters’ ballpark was a block away.
After the first sighting, the couple went to the historical society and the library, and learned that Matt had signed a contract in December of 1913 with the Chicago White Stockings, but was released in February the following year. When they asked him why he was released, he responded “I fell.”
Where had he fallen, they asked? “Freemont Freesoil,” came the response. Later they learned that the towns of Freemont and Freesoil were consecutive stops on the train line from Manistee, Michigan to Chicago, where Matt may have been headed to report to the White Stockings.
The couple decided not to mention the ghost to their 10-year-old daughter, Ava, in order to not frighten her. But then she saw him too.
“I feel like Edward Matt wants us to tell his story,” Samantha wrote in her initial email. The story continues to unfold, though details of Matt’s playing career, his injury, and even his obituary remain sketchy and incomplete.
Samantha, Chris, and the library staff are continuing to check into Ed Matt’s career, and hopefully more details will emerge.
“It’s not our role to judge people’s motives for wanting baseball information,” said Hall of Fame Librarian Jim Gates, “It’s our job to help them.”
Anyone with any leads on Edward Matt is encouraged to contact the research department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether the mystery is ever fully solved, there has been a happy result for Samantha and her family already.
“I was one of those people who thought baseball was really boring,” she says. “But now we love the game. We started playing as a family, and we love coming home from work and relaxing by watching a baseball game.
“It took an act of God or a supernatural experience to get me to watch a baseball game, but I am coming to understand what a wonderful, great experience baseball is.”
Tim Wiles is the director of research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
For Stuart Wolf, a trip to the library turned into a family excursion of a lifetime to Cooperstown
Wolf is this year’s winner of the Step Up to the Plate @ Your Library program, a joint venture of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and the American Library Association. Wolf’s winning entry was an idea born out of the love of baseball shared by he and his father, Sherman.
“My dad just turned 86 this year, and I asked him what he wanted for his birthday. He told me he wanted to go to the Baseball Hall of Fame,” Wolf said. “Two days later, I was in my local library in Wilmette, Ill., when I saw the Step Up to the Plate contest.
“I must have entered 10 of the 14 weeks that you could. And I was fortunate enough to win.”
The contest invites participants to use library resources to answer a series of trivia questions, and then the winning entry is drawn at random from all the correct responses. The Grand Prize winner receives a trip for two to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Stuart brought his father along on the trip, along with his son William and sister Julie. The Wolfs received a tour of the Museum and tickets to Saturday night’s World Series Gala, where they watched Game 3 of the World Series in the Hall of Fame’s Grandstand Theater.
Sherman Wolf, who once worked for Hall of Fame executive Bill Veeck with the Chicago White Sox, was overwhelmed by his first trip to Cooperstown.
“This is an amazing place,” said Sherman Wolf. “Everyone who loves baseball should come here.”
For more information on the Step up to the Plate @ Your Library contest, please visit @ your library.
This year’s World Series matchup between the Giants and the Tigers marks the first time in 58 years, and fifth time overall, that both league batting champions have played in the Fall Classic.
Giants catcher Buster Posey led the National League with a .336 mark, and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers led the junior circuit at .330.
Fifty-eight seasons ago, this statistical rarity also involved the Giants, as center fielder Willie Mays hit .345 to win his only batting title, while Cleveland second baseman Bobby Avila hit. 341 to lead the American League.
The 1931 World Series pitted the Cardinals against the Philadelphia Athletics. Cardinals left fielder Chick Hafey batted .349 to lead the NL, and his counterpart Al Simmons paced the AL with .390, improving his average by nine points over the previous season, when he also took home the laurels.
In 1909, two of the greatest hitters ever squared off in the World Series. Ty Cobb represented the Tigers with .377, and Honus Wagner led the Pirates and the NL with a mark of .339.
The 1887 World Series – a precursor to the modern World Series – pitted the Detroit Wolverines of the NL against the St. Louis Browns of the American Association, a major league at the time. Both league batting titles were won by outfielders, Sam Thompson of the NL led with .372, and Tip O’Neill led the AA with a whopping .435. This was the season where walks were counted as hits for the purposes of calculating batting averages.
Interestingly, the National League has won all four previous matchups where this has taken place.
The five matchups have involved the Giants twice, the Tigers twice, and the city of Detroit three times. Of the 10 players involved, six are members of the Hall of Fame (Cobb, Hafey, Mays, Simmons, Thompson and Wagner), while two are not yet eligible (Cabrera and Posey).
By Craig Muder
Ryne Sandberg came to Cooperstownthis weekend to recount how his personal belief in character and courage led him to the Hall of Fame.
Thousands of fans apparently support those beliefs, as a large crowd gathered at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Saturday to celebrate Character and Courage Weekend.
In front of a packed house at the Museum’s Grandstand Theater, Sandberg – a 2005 Hall of Fame inductee – shared his personal convictions and how they mesh with the Hall of Fame’s new Be A Superior Example program. Throughout his three-day stop in Cooperstown, Sandberg talked to children and adults about the BASE message of healthy choices and the ability to lead a life free of performance-enhancing substances.
“This is something I believe in, but I never need a reason to return to Cooperstown,” Sandberg said. “I love coming here.
“This is the first time I’ve been here in the fall, and the colors outside are beautiful and the (Museum) is buzzing with people.”
Sandberg helped launch the Museum’s online BASE registry during the fifth-annual Character and Courage Weekend, which celebrates the timeless values ofAmerica’s National Pastime. The BASE registry allows participants – especially youngsters – to learn about healthy choices through a 15-minute online multimedia program, and then pledge to Be A Superior Example through the registry, which lives online and is searchable at the Museum’s BASE exhibit.
For more information or to participate in the BASE program, please visit www.beasuperiorexample.org.
Comment on this post
The magic of the annual Hall of Fame election process is that there is no “automatic in.”
No season statistic, no career achievement, no postseason marvel qualifies a candidate for induction. It is a body of work – compiled over time – which voters must subjectively consider.
And yet, Miguel Cabrera’s 2012 season comes as close as it gets to a ticket to Cooperstown.
Cabrera revived a dinosaur Wednesday, wrapping up something many thought might never be repeated: The batting Triple Crown. For the first time since Carl Yastrzemski’s legendary 1967 season, an MLB hitter led his league in batting average, home runs and RBI in the same year.
Since the dawn of big league baseball in the 1870s until this season, 13 men had produced 15 Triple Crowns – with Rogers Hornsby and Ted Williams achieving the milestone twice each. Of those 15 seasons, 13 came in baseball’s modern era – when the American League and National League were both operating as major leagues starting in 1901.
The 11 authors of those 13 seasons are each enshrined in Cooperstown:
Cabrera flew under the radar for most of the 2012 season, mostly avoiding the pressure build-up that comes with any major achievement. But from this day forward, Cabrera will be on everyone’s radar.
After 10 big league seasons – including his rookie year of 2003 when he appeared in 87 games after his mid-season call-up from the minors to help the Marlins win their second World Series title – Cabrera has 321 home runs, 1,123 RBI and a .318 batting average. He has driven in at least 100 runs in nine seasons and scored better than 100 runs six times.
Only two other players in the game’s history have put together those kind of numbers in the first 10 seasons of their career: Ted Williams and Albert Pujols. And only Williams also had a Triple Crown on his resume.
The Hall of Fame archive contains several artifacts from Triple Crown seasons, including the Triple Crown Awards won by Yastrzemski and Robinson and a bat used by Mantle during the 1956 season. They will all be preserved forever in Cooperstown.
Twelve years ago, Cooperstown-area baseball fans had the chance to watch Cabrera as he played eight games with the Class A Utica Blue Sox of the New York-Penn League – a team located about 45 minutes up the road from baseball’s Mecca that became the Aberdeen IronBirds in 2002.
A decade or so from now, Cabrera is on track return to Central New York – this time as a Hall of Famer.
You never know who’s going to show up in Cooperstown. Today, it was part of my childhood.
Bob Horner, who played 10 big league seasons with the Braves and Cardinals between 1978 and 1988, visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Wednesday with his wife Chris.
When the call came that Horner was arriving, I immediately flashed back to the day big league baseball became real for me: Sept. 3, 1978 – my first time at an MLB game.
I was nine, and my father took me to Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh to see the Pirates play the Braves on a Sunday afternoon. Horner was the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft that year, and Horner was so good that he went straight from Arizona State to the majors – debuting with the Braves just 10 days after he was drafted.
I can remember debating with my dad about whether Horner might need minor league seasoning. Turns out, he didn’t – Horner hit 23 home runs that year in 89 games, quickly establishing himself as one of the game’s top young third basemen en route to winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
Eight years later, Horner tied a record that still stands. On July 6, 1986, Horner hit four home runs in one game for the Braves against the Montreal Expos. He later donated the bat he used for the first three of those home runs to the Hall of Fame (it broke before he could hit his fourth), and on Wednesday he got to hold it again.
Horner is one of only 16 players to ever hit four home runs in a big league game.
Horner got a tour of the archive Wednesday, and expressed genuine wonder while looking at a ball used during the 1927 World Series.
“Incredible… really incredible,” said Horner.
Horner and his wife now live in Dallas, and were passing through Central New York while on a family visit.
“We always try to stop when we’re here,” Horner said. “The history here is amazing.”
For me, it was living history – my own.
By Bill Francis
The recently completed Seventh Annual Baseball Film Festival, held at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum last weekend, has attracted not only a loyal following among fans of the genre but also a growing number of filmmakers who’ve returned more than once to showcase their latest work.
Returning for the third time was documentary filmmaker Craig Lindvahl, who this past weekend was showing The Perfect Place, one of 14 films that made up this year’s festival, which uses the Cincinnati Reds to show how fans are connected to the game.
“This is a wonderful place to be,” Lindvahl said after the Saturday night showing of his film at the Hall’s Bullpen Theater. “It’s people who love baseball, who understand what we’re trying to say about baseball. It’s unbelievable to have a reason to be in the Hall of Fame. Not just as a visitor but to have a reason to be here. As a filmmaker or a storyteller you really hope that you’re striking a chord with people who understand what baseball is. There is no place in the world that is more the center of people who understand baseball that this building right here.
“I can’t think of anything that would be more exciting to me than to think I could come back. So hopefully the next film I work on might be accepted and we might find ourselves back here in a year.”
Brothers Nick and Colin Barnicle, sons of journalist Mike Barnicle, had a film accepted into the festival for a second consecutive year. Their entry, Polo Grounds, tells the story of the famed home of the New York Giants and the impact the area felt when the team left after the 1957 season.
“This is something that we’re trying to do every year. I don’t know if we’ll get there but we love coming up here, we love being a part of the Hall of Fame, and this film, I think, really fits,” said Nick Barnicle. “We were supposed to do other real work but we pushed it toward baseball, as usual, and tweaked it up to come up here, which is always on honor.
“It’s nice to see so many people committed to making not only documentaries but just films in general about baseball. We grew up around the game. We attempt to make our living telling stories about baseball. So it’s a thrill to meet other people who are doing the same thing.”
The festival’s closing film, Chasing 3000, was represented in Cooperstown by screenwriter/producer Bill Mikita, a first-time visitor to the Hall of Fame whose true story, about travelling with his brother to Pittsburgh in order witness Hall of Fame Roberto Clemente’s 3,000th career hit, the film is based on.
“Growing up loving baseball, and with baseball such an important part my life, this really is a sacred place,” he said after his film’s Sunday afternoon showing. “And that it’s on the 40th anniversary of Roberto Clemente’s 3,000th hit is just incredible.
“My two passions are baseball and movies, and to have the two combined this weekend has been great.”
Bill Francis is a Library Associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Only a few days from beginning a four-night stretch of sold-out shows at New York City’s famed Radio City Music Hall, members of the acclaimed group Bon Iver took time out from their busy schedule to tour the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Monday.
In town for a concert on Monday, members of Bon Iver (French pronunciation bo-nee-VAIR, meaning “good winter”),who earlier this year won the Grammy for Best New Artist and for Best Alternative Album for the self-titled Bon Iver, were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the institution. Whether it was viewing a Babe Ruth scrapbook, a ball from the 1927 World Series or a bat Ted Williams once cracked in frustration, the musicians seemed genuinely enthralled.
“It was amazing to just see the operations and how it works,” said drummer Matt McCaughan. “And to be up close with direct contact to these old artifacts and to see them firsthand was just incredible.
“It’s certainly one of those things that – even though I don’t necessarily follow baseball – it was one of those opportunities I didn’t see how you could not come. I don’t know when I’d be in Cooperstown next.”
According to trombonist Reggie Pace, he didn’t know what to expect in his visit to the Hall of Fame, “but it was really cool. I love seeing the history of things and this was really beautiful. After seeing the artifacts it’s like the history of America in a lot of ways.”
Pace was a big league baseball fan while growing up, lost interest in his high school years, but has recently been getting back into the game.
“I was a really big White Sox fan as a kid,” he said. “I was a card collector, and I remember opening a pack and being like like, ‘Robin Ventura. Oh my God!’”
Though he doesn’t have a big league team he follows regularly, McCaughan does attend games of the minor league Durham Bulls in the North Carolina city he now calls home.
“I don’t consider myself a historian but history is certainly an interest of mine,” he said. “And this was just one of those things where it didn’t even have to be baseball, as it is in this case, but you could have the Hall of Fame of anything and I’d want to come see it. In this case it just happened to be a very historic Hall of Fame.”
By Steve Light
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is so much more than a shrine to baseball’s best players, managers, executives and umpires. As a Museum, we preserve and share baseball’s history each and every day. That history includes the storied past of the major leagues, but it also reaches beyond that.
Baseball has a unique cultural connection to our nation’s past, and our collection of nearly 40,000 artifacts allows us to show visitors the emotional connections with baseball that Americans have made for over 150 years.
Take for instance, this baseball – a fitting artifact to highlight given that today marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American history and the event that led Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. This ball was made by David E. Wheeler in the late 1850s. Born in Ohio, at a young age Wheeler moved with his family to Independence, Iowa. He was the eldest of three sons in the Wheeler family, and in August of 1862, at the age of 20, he enlisted in the 27th Regiment of Iowa Volunteers. Less than a year later, Wheeler died of disease at Camp Jackson, Tenn., on March 27, 1863.
David’s younger brother, Jonathon Judson Wheeler, kept this baseball as a keepsake of his older brother, whom he idolized. J.J. placed a handwritten note on the ball that reads: “This Ball was made by David Edgerton Wheeler, the last one he made and used the last term of school he attended.” The younger Wheeler died in 1938, but the baseball remained with the family and part of the family’s lore. That same family lore tells us that David was gregarious, intelligent, and also a highly talented athlete.
In 2008, the great-grandson of Jonathon Judson Wheeler donated the baseball to the Museum. Today, this baseball allows us to reflect on how generations of families bonded together with baseball. It also reminds us of the tremendous sacrifices made by young soldiers during a challenging time in our nation’s history.
Steve Light is the manager of public programs at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Eleven years ago today, I stood watching the TV in disbelief at the absolute horror taking place throughout our country. A former co-worker leaned over while watching the coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and said: “This country will never be the same.”
I recoiled at that statement. Even at that low point, I sensed it was not true. Of all of America’s strengths, maybe its greatest is our ability to put the past behind us and move forward.
Weeks later, a New York City fireman named Vin Mavaro was cleaning up debris at Ground Zero. He came across a white, round object that he first thought was a piece of concrete. Unable to grasp exactly what it was – in the midst of so much destruction – he leaned down and picked up a baseball.
It was a promotional ball from a company named TradeWeb that had offices in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The ball had facsimile signatures from companies – like Goldman Sachs – that did business with TradeWeb. It was scratched and cut, but miraculously came through the attacks in one piece.
Mavaro said that when he held the ball, he flashed to his son’s Little League field – remembering better days.
“The ball’s nicked up, but it’s intact and it came through,” Mavaro said. “I feel the same about New York City, the Fire Department and the United States. We’re banged up, we took a hit, but we came through.”
Mavaro contacted the folks at TradeWeb, who told him that all of their employees had escaped the tower and that he could keep the ball, which had been sitting on a TradeWeb employee’s desk. After loaning it to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for the Hall’s Baseball As America national tour, Mavaro changed the loan into a permanent donation in 2008.
At one of this country’s darkest hours, it was baseball that provided a ray of hope.
Actor Michael Badalucco, a familiar face to fans of The Practice, the legal drama series that aired on ABC from 1997 to 2004, made a long-awaited second trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Friday.
“We were on our way to Buffalo and I said to my friend, ‘Let’s take the long way and let’s go to Cooperstown,’” said Badalucco during a break from checking out the Museum’s third-floor exhibits. “I haven’t been here since I was 11 years old, but it didn’t look anything like this. I’m a big baseball fan so I said let’s try and to get in there.
“Of course I remember the Plaque Gallery, which looks like it has never changed, but seeing the Museum exhibits now is so insightful and appealing that you don’t want to leave. Being here is a great thrill. You come here and you learn things about these guys … you think you know them but you don’t really.”
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Badalucco, 57, grew up a fan of the New York Yankees and Mickey Mantle.
“My uncles were Yankees fans, but my father from Sicily wasn’t much into baseball,” he said. “I remember going to Yankee Stadium in the early ‘60s and being able to walk out on the field and see the monuments and the flagpole after the game.”
Before getting his big acting break as a regular on The Practice, portraying lawyer Jimmy Berluti, Badalucco had to work on his craft for a number of years much like a minor league ballplayer.
“Twenty years after I graduated from college (State University of New York at New Paltz) I got a steady job,” he said. “I got my degree in theater but instead of being a waiter I worked as a prop man because I could work on the sets. Yogi (Berra) says, ‘You can observe a lot by watching.’ And I did.
“So all those years I was on the sets of all kinds of big movies in New York and I watched how they directed, how people acted, what went on on the set, so when I finally got my break not only did I know what was going on, every aspect of moviemaking, but I learned to have a great respect for people behind the camera because they are as important as the people in front of it.”
Badalucco, who would eventually win the 1999 Emmy for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Berluti on The Practice, can next be seen on the Syfy channel.
“It’s my first monster movie (Heebie Jeebies) and it’s going to be on in February. I confront a seven-headed monster.”
With his son playing at a local baseball camp, former big league player Damion Easley had the perfect opportunity to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for the first time.
“Playing so long,” Easley said Wednesday morning, “I’m surprised it took my 12-year-old son, Jayce, to bring me down here.”
A veteran of 17 big league seasons spent mostly with the California Angels and Detroit Tigers, Easley, who left the field following his 2008 campaign, enjoyed his greatest success as a power-hitting second baseman in the MotorCity in the late 1990s. Though his lone All-Star Game invite came in 1998, when he smacked 27 home runs and drove in 100, he finished his career with 1,386 hits, 163 homers, 114 stolen bases and a .253 batting average.
After a tour of the museum’s archives, Easley said, “I’m in awe. I’m a baseball traditionalist, diehard baseball fan, and just a fan of the game, and that was very impressive to see those artifacts and kinda relive my youth a little bit.”
Now 42 years old, the native of New York City moved at age 11 to California, where he was able to play baseball year-round.
“Early on baseball was my life,” Easley said. “As you grow and get older I have my wife and my kids and obviously they took over my heart. But I still love the game.
“My dad introduced me to the game at a very young age and I took it and ran with it. It’s still a passion of mine. I coach it and I can’t get enough of it. I’ve coach at the youth, high school and pro side now.”
Calling Glendale, AZ home, Easley is currently a coach with the San Diego Padres’ affiliate in the rookie Arizona League.
“I enjoy working with the young guys who don’t know what it takes yet. They think they do but they really don’t,” Easley said. “And I’m sure I was that way coming up, too. But I enjoy working with them and helping them along.”
Helping Easley along in his professional career was Hall of Famer Rod Carew, the young infielder’s first batting coach when he got to the big leagues. But he also played against many of the Hall of Famers elected recently, a fact that makes his trip to Cooperstown even more meaningful.
“It helps you appreciate some of the greatness that you’ve been around because when you’re playing you don’t have time to think about it,” he said. “You admire somebody for his talents but you’re out there trying to compete and trying to survive and you don’t have time to be in awe of somebody.
“Now that you’re away from it you can sit back, relive the moments, and think, ‘Man, this was really special to live a dream and rub elbows with greatness.'"
After striking out 27 batters in one minor league game in 1952, Ron Necciai was destined for the big leagues.
When he was called up to the Pittsburgh Pirates in August of 1952, the Bucs’ management – by way of locker selection – let Necciai know that he was ready for prime time.
“They put me between Murry Dickson, who had been in the big leagues for (11) seasons, and Ralph Kiner, who as you know is a Hall of Famer,” said Necciai at a program on Thursday at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. “Then, I went out in that first game and gave up a huge homer to Hank Sauer of the Cubs. It hit off the clock in left field in (Pittsburgh’s) Forbes Field, and I swear that clock was rocking back and forth for a few minutes.
“It was sure different from the minor leagues.”
Necciai visited the Hall of Fame on Thursday and recounted his famous outing on May 13, 1952, when he struck out 27 batters in a nine-inning no-hitter for the Bristol Twins of the Class D Appalachian League. Necciai is the only professional pitcher to record 27 strikeouts in a nine-inning game, and a ball from that 7-0 win over the Welch Miners – which Necciai donated to the Hall of Fame in 2001 – is on display in the Museum’s One for the Books exhibit.
Once in the big leagues, Necciai lasted only one season with the Pirates before a rotator cuff injury ended his career. But his amazing game during that 1952 season lives on in baseball lore.
“The doctor I saw (when he hurt his shoulder) told me that I’d never pitch again and that I should go home and buy a gas station,” said Necciai, who still lives in the Pittsburgh area. “I didn’t do that, but I’ve been married for 57 years, so I must have done something right.
“And on that day (of the no-hitter), everything went right.”
Charlie Millard plucked his Texas Rangers cap off his held and held it up between the caps of Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente and Tom Seaver.
“You think that cap might be in the Hall of Fame someday?” said Charlie’s dad Bart Millard, whose band MercyMe toured the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Friday. “Wouldn’t that be something!”
Hours before a concert in nearby Utica, N.Y., Bart Millard took a break from his job as MercyMe’s lead singer and fulfilled a lifelong dream by visiting the Hall of Fame. A self-described “Rangers fan from birth,” Millard – a Greenville, Texas, native – visited the Museum with his sons Charlie and Sam and MercyMe band-mates Robby Shaffer and Michael Scheuchzer.
“This is amazing,” said Millard after viewing Josh Hamilton’s four-home run bat, which is on display in the Museum’s Today’s Game exhibit and has been since Hamilton crushed four dingers in Texas’ 10-3 win over the Orioles May 8. “It’s been a great stretch of baseball for the Rangers, even though the two World Series losses have been tough. But they have really begun to change how baseball is perceived in Dallas.
“It’s still a Cowboys town, but the Rangers are more popular than ever.”
So is MercyMe, which has produced four certified Gold Records since forming in 1994.
“All musicians want to be athletes, and I think most athletes want to be musicians,” Millard said. “To be here with all this history is incredible.”
Cooperstown is home not just to the Hall of Fame, but also to several other “big league” tourist attractions, including the 37-year-old Glimmerglass Festival, which presents opera and musical theatre at the north end of Otsego Lake.
The latest collaboration between Glimmerglass and the Hall of Fame is a short musical program called “Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience,” being presented Thursdays in the Bullpen Theatre here at The Hall – with the final show on Aug. 23 at 2 p.m.
The program consists of seven songs with a baseball theme, sung wonderfully by four of the Festival’s African-American singers. Unifying the songs is a script which sketches the outline of African-American baseball history, beginning in 1865 and running right up into the present day.
The Singers include baritone Amos Nomnabo, from Queensland, South Africa; tenor Chase Taylor, from Durham, N.C.; bass baritone Phillip Gay of Beaumont, Texas; and baritones Allan Washington, of Indianapolis, and Thomas Cannon, of New Orleans, who take the same part in alternate weeks. Each is costumed in a baseball uniform with “Hall of Fame” emblazoned across the front. They are ably accompanied on piano by Coach Accompanist Katherine Kozak of Cleveland, Ohio.
The show was developed by Debra Dickinson of Houston, Acting and Movement Instructor for the Young Artists Program at Glimmerglass, and Dennis Robinson, one of the Young Artists Stage Directors and an Assistant Director for “Lost In the Stars,” an opera by Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson which deals with apartheid in South Africa. The baseball music program deals with our own history of legal and enforced segregation in baseball’s Negro Leagues.
As sad as that history can be, the program itself is exuberant and joyful, as these gifted singers take us through seven songs, each preceded by just enough commentary to set the scene. Dickinson and Robinson began early this summer by visiting the Hall’s Library, reviewing the hundreds of pieces of sheet music in the collection and selecting those which fit their story musically and/or thematically. After five weeks of practice, the show debuted just after Hall of Fame Weekend.
The first three songs, “Brother Noah Gave Out Checks For Rain, (1907), “Pickaninny Rose,” (1924), and “Little Puff of Smoke—Good Night,” (1910) represent the reconstruction era, when portrayals of Black culture were often cartoonish and stereotypical. Despite that potential handicap, the music is delivered with style and grace. The last song was one of several written by Guy Harris “Doc” White, a multitalented pitcher for the White Sox and Phillies from 1901-13.
The next two songs deal with the integration era, which began in 1947, with the debut of Jackie Robinson. The group delivers a brilliant version of “Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit that Ball,” the 1949 song by Count Basie and Buddy Johnson. The next piece is “Move over Babe, Here Comes Henry,” written in 1974 by legendary baseball broadcaster Ernie Harwell. Phillip Gay then goes into an a cappella version of the National Anthem, which brings the fans to their feet and brings goosebumps to them as well – later in the song his compatriots join in.
The 20-minute program concludes with “Heart,” by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, from the 1955 musical “Damn Yankees.”
Make sure to join us in the Bullpen Theater next Thursday!
While an assortment of injuries have derailed Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Jesse Litsch’s season, it did afford him the opportunity to accompany his father for a recent visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
The connection between fathers and sons and the National Pastime is a common sight at the Cooperstown institution. And such was the case as the 27-year-old right-handed hurler, currently on the 60-day disabled list and lost for the season due to shoulder and bicep problems, talked about the motivation for Saturday’s trip with his father, Rick, to Upstate New York.
“We just wanted the whole memory,” Litsch said. “It’s something we’ve wanted to do for awhile and we had time right now so decided to shoot up here and get the whole experience.
“Obviously rehab is not what you want to be doing this time of year, but being able to bring my dad here is a special treat.”
Litsch’s only other time spent in Cooperstown came when he accompanied the Blue Jays to face the Baltimore Orioles in the 2007 Hall of Fame Game.
“That was my rookie year and I remember A.J. Burnett made me do the bucket,” Litsch recalled. “They were playing Home Run Derby out there and I had to get all the balls as the come in from the outfield.”
A Florida native, he grew up a Cincinnati Reds fan whose favorite player was inducted into the Hall of Fame last month.
“My favorite player is Barry Larkin,” Litsch said, “so it’s kind of cool to come here the year the year he gets enshrined.”
As for his own future, Litsch, who has spent his entire five-year big league career with the Blue Jays, says things look bright. Though he will miss the entire 2012 season, his career big league numbers include a 27-27 record, topped by a 13-9 mark in 2008.
“It’s been a hectic year,” Litsch said. “I had an infection that caused an emergency surgery and since then I had to have another surgery that is hopefully the key, so it’s a matter of getting through it and getting back ready for next year.
“Everything is coming along well. It’s a process. You just have to sit and wait, wait, wait and let it get better.”
Bill Francis is a Library Associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
By Trevor Hayes
A bit of Hollywood fame touched Cooperstown on Tuesday, though those not devoted to the show “Sex and the City” or USA’s “White Collar” might have recognized it.
Willie Garson doesn’t look like a typical Hollywood star – a fact he acknowledges and that is even made fun of by Lee Majors in the movie Out Cold when he’s called “short-stack.”
A baseball fan since his youth in Highland Park, N.J., Garson chose the Mets over his father’s Yankees to be different. While he fondly remembers the Mets success in 1986, he was only five years old for the 1969 Miracle Mets.
“When you’re my size, it was never going to be football,” Garson said about his connection to baseball. “And being a Mets fan, it’s bonding when you lose. Yankees fans don’t bond.”
On Tuesday, he was transferring that love of the game from his youth to his son, Nathen, whom he adopted in 2009. Joining a colleague’s son’s travel baseball team in Cooperstown, Garson hoped to show a bit a simpler time and what made him love the game.
“I loved the artistry (of baseball cards). I remember, like Rollie Fingers, with that mustache,” he said. “Baseball cards were everywhere and kids don’t do that today. It’s all internet and TV.”
A prolific actor since the mid-1980s, Garson’s filmography has numerous credits for smaller roles in noted film and TV like “Cheers,” “Mr. Belvedere,” “Quantum Leap,” the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day, the short-lived TV series “A League of Their Own” based on the baseball movie by the same name, “Friends,” the Nic Cage-Sean Connery movie The Rock, “Melrose Place,” “NYPD Blue,” “Boy Meets World,” “CSI” and much more.
Baseball fans might also recognize him from his role as Kevin, the doctor and fellow Red Sox-crazed compatriot to Jimmy Fallon’s Ben in Fever Pitch. In one scene in particular, Garson’s character – dressed in a full Red Sox uniform – had to out dance the others to get Sox-Yankees tickets.
“Those dance moves were self taught, a lot of people don’t realize that,” Garson said. “It almost killed me having to be a crazed Sox fan.”
On set, Garson could revel in the Mets’ 1986 triumph over the Red Sox, but on camera it was a different story. At one point in the movie, Fallon’s character has locked himself away and is rewatching an endless loop of Bill Buckner’s error in that cost the Red Sox Game 6 of the World Series which eventually led to the Mets victory in Game 7. In the movie, Garson’s Kevin and others have to disgustedly stop the tape, destroy it and clean up their distraught friend.
His stardom has allowed him to do some special things. In 2010 after Sex and the City 2, he threw out first pitch before a Cubs game. Even after practicing with Nathen, he bounced it and 30,000 fans booed him. But his rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” made up for it when those same fans cheered him.
“Baseball is so accessible, even if you’re untalented like me,” Garson said. “You can still go out and play catch with your kid.”
Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
By Brad Horn
Nearly one month after she captured the 9-10 year-old girls division of the National Pitch, Hit and Run finals at the All-Star Game in Kansas City back on July 9, 10-year-old Meghan Dougherty visited Cooperstown on Monday, regaling visitors to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum with stories, as the Museum hosted a special program in her honor to celebrate Central New York’s champion.
Meghan, along with her brothers, Ryan and Liam, their mom and dad and aunt made the 85-mile drive to Cooperstown Monday morning for a special program hosted by the Hall of Fame for Museum visitors – featuring the central New York champion and her tales of competing against fellow youths around the globe for the Pitch, Hit and Run title.
In Kansas City, Meghan was one of 24 youngsters, and three within the girls 9-10 year-old age-range, who advanced to national competition from more than 650,000 kids who competed at more than 4,300 Pitch, Hit and Run competitions across the country.
Following victories at East Greenbush and Saratoga, Meghan recorded a narrow victory at Yankee Stadium to secure her place in the national lineup at the All-Star Game. Once in Kansas City, she scored a perfect “six-for-six” in the pitching competition, the only one of the 24 competitors to record a perfect score in the category. She followed that up with excellent performances in the hit and run categories to capture her age division title and a spiffy trophy to call her own, which Meghan brought with her to Cooperstown on Monday.
Though she met some great friends from Texas and Massachusetts while in Kansas City, she tried the barbecue, but “didn’t necessarily like it,” Meghan told visitors on Monday. The experience also included watching the Home Run Derby from the field. She, along with the other Pitch, Hit and Run winners, were honored on field prior to the Derby.
Now that she’s back in central New York, Meghan is looking forward to returning to her softball season. She shared parting words of advice for those in the audience on Monday, as she strives to continue playing the sport she loves so dearly.
“Try your best, think you can do it, and practice hard.”
Spoken like a true champion.
Brad Horn is the senior director of communications and education at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Comment on this post
By Kimberly McCray
During a recent trip to Cooperstown, emotions were high for Stacey Beck, widow of former major league pitcher Rod Beck. Having been to the Hall of Fame once before with Rod by her side, this latest trip held a new meaning for Stacey. When examining items relating to Rod’s career, memories of her previous life as the wife of a big league player were brought to the forefront.
“The highlights [of the Hall of Fame] were personal, mostly,” said Stacey. “Seeing the photos and articles of Rod, seeing the ball from the Cubs/Giants playoff game, it all was a reminder of wonderful times for our family.”
Having made this trip to the Hall with daughter Kayla and mother Francine Kurtz, Stacey’s visit was meaningful for another reason – she was able to share the experience with her daughter. Watching Kayla put into context the place of her father’s career within the larger history of baseball was very special.
“This was an opportunity for [Kayla] to connect to her dad's experiences; recognizing that he was a link in the baseball history chain was an awesome experience.”
And what a link in the chain Rod Beck was.
To his opponents, Beck, (1968-2007), was downright intimidating. Leaning in to glare at batters with an intense stare, his long hair blowing in the wind as his pitching arm swung like a pendulum by his side, Beck was the visual definition of a closer’s closer – a game finisher if there ever was one. Although his fastball rarely topped 88 mph, Beck made up for a lack of velocity with pitch placement and an intense competitiveness that made the nickname of “The Shooter” seem more fitting than the radar gun would suggest.
Indeed, Beck’s passion for the adrenalin rush that came with stifling opposing teams’ late inning hopes propelled him through 13 seasons in the major leagues and earned him 286 saves for the Giants, Cubs, Red Sox and Padres. More importantly, it earned him the respect of players, coaches and fans in every city where he played. His blue-collar attitude and friendly gruffness generated a dual-personality befitting his profession - frightening on the baseball diamond but approachable and earnest off the field. Said Padres teammate Trevor Hoffman, "It was hard to get through that exterior of what he looked like, but it took about 1 ½ minutes to realize that's all it was. He was a teddy bear."
Yet Beck was more than a fierce baseball player or a teddy bear. He was also an activist.
It all began in the early nineties, when the San Francisco Giants, Beck’s first team, made a call for their players to become involved with a charitable cause. Having just seen “The Ryan White Story” on TV with wife Stacey, the choice was plain for Rod Beck. Believing that “No kid should have to be ashamed to be sick,” Beck immediately threw himself into his chosen cause, not only raising funds, but taking the more personal approach of regularly visiting kids with HIV. "He stepped up and gave a face to those with AIDS," Stacey said during her eulogy at Rod’s funeral. "He hugged and kissed children others were afraid to touch."
Beck’s involvement did not stop there however, as he even went so far as convincing the Giants to host a pre-game AIDS awareness event. Held for the first time in 1994, “Until There’s a Cure Day” was the first AIDS awareness event ever hosted by a professional sports team. Since that first event, “Until There’s a Cure Day” has since been held annually in San Francisco and has produced more than $1.3 million for Bay area HIV/AIDS prevention education and health services.
Since Rod’s untimely passing in 2007 at the age of 38, Stacey has carried on Rod’s passion for charity work alongside Kayla and younger daughter Kelsey.
More than five years after his death, Rod Beck’s legacy lives on.
Kimberly McCray is the 2012 library-recorded media intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development
Comment on this post
The summer celebration of baseball fans of the Midwest continued on Saturday at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, one week after Hall of Fame Weekend welcomed visitors to Cooperstown to celebrate Cincinnati’s Barry Larkin, Chicago’s Ron Santo, and three generations of St. Louis Cardinals managers, honored for their World Series titles.
Saturday’s VIPs gained fame in a different ballpark than baseball’s heroes, but their love for the game was on display as they toured the Museum and soaked in baseball history. And their Midwest ties continued to connect among common themes celebrated by the Hall of Fame in 2012.
Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, who hails from outside of St. Louis, and John Stirratt, a longtime Chicago resident, were in town for a Saturday evening concert in Cooperstown. Making their first visit to the Museum, the duo visited the Library and Museum collections, while stopping by the Photo Archives, to learn more about the important role the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum plays in preserving the game’s history.
Tweedy and Sirratt viewed historical documents in the Library, studied photos from the early 1900s and explored selected artifacts from the collection, include Fergie Jenkins’ glove from his final season of 1983.
“These photos are like an analog recording that sounds so clear and vivid,” remarked Tweedy as he viewed items in the Museum’s Photo Collection.
As they completed their tour and headed back on the road, they left with a lifetime of memories and a deeper appreciation of the role of preservation the Hall of Fame plays in keeping alive the stories of the game.
By Julie Wilson
Throughout the school year, the Baseball Hall of Fame’s distance learning program allows students around the country to experience the Museum without ever leaving their classroom.
Even with school out for the summer, the Hall of Fame’s education team is still hard at work bringing baseball history to the locations throughout the United States. This summer, Hall of Fame educators have traveled virtually to locations in Texas, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri and California, to discuss a variety of baseball related topics.
Popular summer venues for distance learning programs include libraries, community and senior centers, and schools hosting professional development seminars for educators. This past week, children participating in a summer camp program at the Dallas Children’s Library were treated to a virtual tour of the Baseball Hall of Fame and a lesson on preserving and caring for their own collectibles and treasures. A day later a group of seniors in Beachwood, Ohio, had the opportunity to examine a collection of documents from the Museum’s library, while sharing their memories of baseball in the 1930s and beyond.
Visitors to Cooperstown can also share in the distance learning experience by connecting to some exciting baseball destinations. Weekly programs take Museum visitors to such places as the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, and AT&T Park in San Francisco.
“With these programs, our visitors have the unique opportunity to not only experience the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but visit places that are thousands of miles away,” said Steve Light, the Museum’s manager of museum programs. “It allows them to tour that ballpark they never made it to, or get the inside scoop on the process of manufacturing bats. This is our third year offering distance learning programs for public audiences and they have been a huge hit."
To schedule a distance learning program with the Baseball Hall of Fame for your school, library or community center, please contact the Education department at 607-547-0347 or email Education@Baseballhall.org.
Julie Wilson is the manager of school programming at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
As part of the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Awards Presentation, which honored Fox Sports broadcaster Tim McCarver with the Ford C. Frick Award and Toronto Sun sportswriter Bob Elliott with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award during a ceremony held at Doubleday Field on Saturday afternoon, three generations of St. Louis Cardinals World Series champions were also saluted.
Recognized as the living Redbirds managers to lead the franchise to Fall Classic glory were Red Schoendienst (1967), Whitey Herzog (1982) and Tony La Russa (2006 and 2011). Afterwards, La Russa, standing near the historic ballpark’s first-base dugout, talked about what it had meant to him to lead the team for the past 16 seasons before retiring only days after capturing last year’s title.
“One of the really, really neat things about that franchise is that those fans have given us great support,” said La Russa, less than two weeks from managing the National League to an 8-0 victory in the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium. “They support their stars and without exception the great stars have never disappointed them. They’ve been great people. It’s really overwhelming.
“In 2006, when (Hall of Fame pitcher Bob) Gibson walks by the office and says, ‘Hey, now you’re finally in the club,’ that meant a lot (knowing that La Russa had won the World Series for the first time with the Cardinals that year). It’s just a perfect marriage – the fan support, the players give back, and they all take turns making each other feel good about the commitment they make.”
La Russa was made aware of what was expected of him when he took over the Cardinals’ reins in 1996 and found himself at spring training with franchise legends such as Stan Musial.
“Mostly, it was real clear how much they were invested in,” La Russa said. “It wasn’t like, ‘We had put in our time and now were here to spend a week in Florida.’ They were really in there watching the club, they had opinions about what we needed, who was pitching and when. These guys, they want us to pick the best team and do the best we can. That was true all 16 years.
“I think it’s one of the best things that happens is how much the guys of the past still pay attention and want each club to add to the history. You feel this burden or responsibility but it’s healthy – it motivates you.”
When La Russa retired, he had a career big league managing record of 2,728-2,365 over 33 seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland A’s and Cardinals. The four-time Manager of the Year finished with six pennants and three World Series titles.
“After 33 years it was time for somebody else to do it. Everybody passes the baton,” La Russa said. “The game is still great. They’ve got managers all over the place that are doing great. They needed exactly what we needed, which was to be part of an organization that gives you good players. Then you have a chance to win. The game goes on and on. Nobody is too important.”
While La Russa had been to Cooperstown before, skippering the White Sox in the now-defunct Hall of Fame Game in 1980 and ’82, he took a long pause when asked if the next time he comes back could possible involve his own bonze plaque in the famed gallery. La Russa will be eligible for the first time with the Class of 2014.
“I don’t think you take anything for granted,” he said. “I think about it but I also know that Joe (Torre) and Bobby (Cox) retired a year earlier so it looks to me like they’re in line before I am.”
Among the estimated 18,000 fans who attended the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for shortstop Barry Larkin and third baseman Ron Santo on Sunday afternoon were a number of their former big league teammates who couldn’t pass up the opportunity to witness such a historic occasion for a friend.
Making the pilgrimage to Cooperstown, and soaking up the sun near the induction stage, were second baseman Glenn Beckert and catcher Randy Hundley, who, along with Santo, were parts of some great Chicago Cubs teams of the 1960s.
“I’m so honored that my ex-roommate and one of my greatest friends, Ron Santo, is being inducted. He’s not here with us but he’s probably watching from above,” said Beckert of Santo, who passed away at the age of 70 in 2010. “When I first came to the Cubs in ’65 – he had come up in ’60 – he asked me to room with him. I told my mother and dad, and I thought it was a great honor. But after the third year I found nobody else on the team wanted to room with him.
“He was a great friend, and we teased each other a lot.”
According to Hundley, election to the Hall of Fame was something Santo always wanted.
“He’s very deserving of it, so we’re here to celebrate it today. I feel like he’s still here with us,” Hundley said. “He was the best as far as I’m concerned. He could make any of the plays that needed to be made. He was an excellent fielder and took a lot of pride in it.”
As for Santo’s diabetes, Hundley explained he wasn’t aware of it for a number of years while the two were teammates.
“He kept it a secret because he was afraid baseball wouldn’t allow him to play,” Hundley said. “It’s amazing that he had to deal with it and how well he dealt with it. He did so much for diabetics all over the country.”
When Larkin made his big league debut in 1986 with the Cincinnati Reds, the only team he would play for in his 19-year career, a number of veterans on that team, including outfielders Dave Parker and Eric Davis, would lend their support. Later in his induction speech, Larkin would acknowledge the pair’s positive influence on his life.
“One of my baseball sons, Barry Larkin, has been elected to the Hall of Fame,” Parker said just minutes before the ceremony’s start. “I was with him in the beginning and he had a great 19 years in the majors and he’s getting his just due, and that’s a Hall of Fame induction.
“I just tried to put him under my wing and show him what it takes to be a major league player. And with his ability, he was destined to be a star.”
This past weekend was the first time the longtime friends had a chance to catch up since Larkin’s received the news of his Hall of Fame election in January.
“We saw each other last night for the first time since he was elected to the Hall of Fame and we just gave each other an embrace,” Parker said. “We really didn’t have to say anything. We just gave each other a big hug.”
While Larkin was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in his third year of eligibility, Davis felt he should have gone in on the first ballot.
“This is not just for him – this is for everybody. And to be able to play 20 years in one city that you grew up in, having the success that you had, that’s special,” Davis said. “When you saw Barry, you saw specialness. I can’t sit here and say that I knew that he was going to be a Hall of Famer, but you knew that he was going to be a special player.”
For 196 of the 205 days so far in 2012, Barry Larkin has been a Hall of Famer.
But he didn’t really believe it until he slipped that Hall of Fame ring on his finger this weekend.
The quiet and understated Larkin slipped out of character on Sunday at the Induction Ceremony, celebrating on stage with exuberant shouts – “This is un-stinking believable!” he told the crowd of 18,000 fans at the Induction Site – and tearing up while thanking his family and friends. On Monday, with the festivities wrapping up, Larkin returned to his calm demeanor, swapping stories with Hall of Fame teammates Tony Pérez and Billy Williams at a Voices of the Game event inside the Clark Sports Center.
But before heading onstage, Larkin recounted a moment at Sunday’s Hall of Famer dinner – the moment where Cooperstown went from a concept to reality.
“Frank Robinson told me that now that I have the ring, it’s official,” Larkin said. “Frank said that until I got that ring, they could have taken it all away. He was joking, but I would have believed him. The ring makes it seem real.”
Barry Larkin: Class of 2012. That has a nice ring to it.
Craig Muder is the director of communications at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
On a picture perfect day in Cooperstown, several hundred Cubs fans gathered for a Cubs Fanfest on the back lawn of the Fenimore Art Museum, overlooking Otsego Lake. Owner Tom Ricketts and the Cubs sponsored the event as a celebration of the life and career of Ron Santo, the team’s newest representative in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
The master of ceremonies was Cubs broadcaster Pat Hughes, who teamed with Santo to broadcast the Cubs for 15 seasons, 1996 to 2010. Hughes led several panel discussions, telling stories, interviewing panelists, and soliciting questions, recollections and Santo stories from the audience, which was clad in every imaginable item of Cub related clothing.
The first panel featured Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Fergie Jenkins, whom Hughes introduced as ‘The greatest pitcher in Cubs history.” Ernie Banks told a poignant story of Ron Santo accepting Mrs. Banks' invitation to Ernie's birthday party. According to Banks, Santo was the first white teammate who journeyed to the south side of Chicago to join in such a celebration."
The second panel featured Ron Santo’s three children, Ron Santo Jr., Linda Santo, and Jeff Santo. The third panel featured Santo teammates Glenn Beckert and Randy Hundley.
Throughout the event, Hughes repeatedly turned the microphone over to the audience for Santo stories. One young man told of the time he was 13 years old, and approached Santo in a hotel lobby in San Diego hoping for an autograph. Santo spent more than a half hour talking baseball with the boy and his family. The story was greeted by a murmur of recognition from the crowd, used to hearing about Santo’s love for life and baseball and especially, for Cubs fans.
Proceeds from the party’s ten-dollar admission charge were split between the Cubs charities and the Hall of Fame. Attendees received a copy of a book on Santo, and were treated to a fabulous buffet which covered all the bases. But the real treat was seeing so many Cubs stars reminisce about Santo, whose special relationship with Cubs fans pervaded the atmosphere.
Tim Wiles is the director of research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Standing on the first tee at the Leatherstocking Golf Course at Saturday’s Hall of Fame Golf Tournament, Barry Larkin gazed out over the beautiful Cooperstown landscape and exhaled a great breath.
“I don’t know that it’s sunk in yet,” said Larkin on the eve of his enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame. “But it will.”
Maybe by now – after spending the morning golfing with Hall of Fame legends like George Brett, Mike Schmidt and Billy Williams – it has.
Larkin’s Saturday started with the annual Hall of Famer golf tournament as he gears up for Sunday’s induction ceremony. The golf outing is always a favorite of the returning Hall of Famers – whether it’s because of the camaraderie or the tranquil setting… or just getting a chance to watch Hall of Fame teammates like Jim Rice crush drives more than 300 yards.
A cloudy morning gave way to sunshine as the tournament progressed, leaving everybody sure that all was right in Cooperstown.
“I really enjoy coming back here,” said Billy Williams, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987 and who is celebrating this year’s election of the late Ron Santo, who played with Williams on the Cubs and joins Larkin as the members of the Class of 2012. “And when the sun came out today, we knew that Ron was looking down on us and smiling.”
By Connor O’Gara
Tim McCarver is no stranger to being among baseball’s greats.
As a player, McCarver won two World Series titles and was a two-time All-Star in his 21-year career in the big leagues. As an analyst, McCarver spent the last 32 years broadcasting baseball’s biggest games for a variety of national networks and teams.
On Wednesday afternoon, McCarver didn’t have to wear either of the hats he wore in his 53 years in Major League Baseball. McCarver received a private tour of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum prior to Saturday’s Awards Presentation as part of Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown. The longtime color commentator is the recipient of the 2012 Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for excellence in broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
“It’s daunting to be honored in the same room as guys like (fellow Frick Awards winners) Vin Scully, Joe Garagiola and Ernie Harwell,” McCarver said. “It’s just an honor and a privilege.”
McCarver, who was joined by his family and former big league teammate Larry Christenson, said he’s doing all he can to capture the Hall of Fame experience.
“That’s why I arrived two days early and I’m leaving two days late,” McCarver said. “I just want to soak it all in.”
McCarver took a trip down memory lane when he was shown a glove he donated to the Museum he used when he caught Steve Carlton’s 19-strikeout game on Sept. 15, 1969, which set a then-record for Ks in a nine inning game. It was the first time McCarver had seen the glove since a visit to the Museum in 1994.
Besides his own artificacts, McCarver and company got a tour of the Museum’s library, photo archive and collections archive departments. The former backstop was shown photos of himself from his big league career that brought him back to the Cardinals winning ways of the 1960s.
McCarver admitted he thought he’d play forever. Catching for Hall of Famers like Carlton and Bob Gibson, the thought of trading in his catchers mask for a microphone wasn’t ever something McCarver imagined he’d do until the Phillies offered him an announcing job out of retirement.
Did McCarver ever think that his post-playing days would lead him to Cooperstown?
“I didn’t have a clue,” McCarver said. “That was not my intentention.”
While unpredicted, that’s what lies ahead. McCarver joins a fraternity of now 36 men to have won the Ford C. Frick Award. It’s an exclusive club that McCarver said reminds him of a familiar bond.
“I always looked at myself as a team player,” McCarver said. “As broadcasters, we’re all part of a team. I feel honored to be part of this team.”
McCarver is a six-time Emmy Award winner for excellence in sports broadcasting. His resume includes 22 World Series that he’s broadcast. He’s made a career off of analyzing a game and giving his unscripted take on it.
But McCarver isn’t about to wing his speech on Saturday.
“I’ve got it all written out,” McCarver said. “I’ve only practiced it about 900 times. I hope it goes well.”
Connor O’Gara is the 2012 public relations intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development
By BILL FRANCIS
“I’m hoping that indeed he’s in heaven smiling right now.”
Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker expressed those sentiments during a conference call this week about Ron Santo, the longtime Chicago Cubs third baseman who will posthumously be inducted in to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon. Santo, elected to the Hall of Fame in Dec. 2010 by the Veterans Committee’s Golden Era committee, passed away in 2010 at the age of 70.
Though the two spent a few years playing in the National League at the same time – at the end of Santo’s career and the beginning of Baker’s – it was while Baker was skippering the Cubs for four seasons (2003-06) and Santo was a beloved broadcaster with the team that their friendship blossomed.
“I barely knew him as a player,” Baker said. “I know that he played hard, I know that he was a clutch man, and that he’d bite the ball if it meant getting an out, but I knew him better as an announcer. And then when I got to be with him everyday to do a show with him, I found out that he’s about a tough a guy as I’ve ever met but he’s also a kind-hearted, sensitive man at the same time.”
One of the first ballplayers to openly admit to playing with diabetes, Santo in later life underwent the amputation of both legs below the knees as a result of the disease.
“He never complained about anything and I know that he had to be in pain,” Baker said. “I know there were times he’d fall down and he wouldn’t even let you help him up. I was sad when on certain days he wouldn’t feel good and it would be a void in my life that day.
“My last year-and-a-half with the Cubs weren’t very pleasant but it was very pleasant to see him to start the day off. It also let me know that no matter what was happening and what I was going through that what it must have been like to be him… and never complain about anything.”
The relationship developed between Baker and Santo to where they would exchange turkey during the Christmas holiday.
“I have a great memory of him being very consistent in his personality and very positive toward the Cubs no matter what. He lived and died with the Cubs,” Baker said. “I really enjoyed my time with him.”
By Trevor Hayes
It’s not often J.J. Picollo feels like a kid. But it’s happened twice in two weeks: First at the All-Star Game last week in Kansas City and then Tuesday, while visiting the Hall of Fame with his family.
“Being in a place like this brings you back,” said the Royals 41-year-old assistant general manager. “The All-Star Game was unbelievable. I’d never been before and to have my family and go as a fan – to see our stadium, it was tremendous.”
As the man who oversees scouting and player development, Picollo is constantly going to games, watching players and traveling the country, trying to help build the Royals into a contender. During his four years in Kansas City, he’s helped build the team labeled as Baseball America’s No. 1 Farm System – a hefty title bestowed on the organization in 2011.
Prior to Kansas City, Picollo spent time in the Braves organization and coaching in the college ranks.
The All-Star Game may have been a first last week, and the Hall of Fame, while not a first, seemed like it. Picollo played for the 1994 Oneonta Yankees and played amateur ball at Little Falls, N.Y. (just 30 miles up the road from Cooperstown) in 1991. Between those two summers, Picollo had been to the Hall of Fame more than a half dozen times. But with some reverence in his voice, acknowledged “A lot has changed.”
In Cooperstown this week with his father, mother, wife and three children, Picollo is living the whirlwind life of a baseball exec. He arrived in Cooperstown Monday for his son Michael’s baseball tournament, following a trip to Oklahoma over the weekend, where his other son Ryan won a tournament. Meanwhile, his wife Nicole and daughter Lauren bounce from game to game, big league to Little League.
Growing up in the Philadelphia area, Picollo’s love for the game extends back as far as he can remember. His father played as an amateur and with the All-Star Game fresh in his memory, he fondly remembers seeing the different uniforms during pregame introductions and vividly remembers Dave Parker’s legendary laser-like throw in the 1978 game.
“You always dream and want to be one of the guys on out there on the foul line,” he said.
“From the time I was a little boy, (baseball is) the only thing I had a passion to do. For me it was baseball all the time. I went to bed every night listening to Harry Kalas on the radio. Now our kids grow up and it’s so much different with ESPN and the internet.”
He’d only get to see a few Phillies games a week and then maybe a few more after his parents got cable. Now his kids can watch every Royals game this season.
“Seeing them compete and their emotion reminds you of your youth and what got you to love the game,” he said.
Since he began playing college ball, Picollo can only really recount three places he felt not like a player, a coach or an executive, but like a fan.
“Being in a place like this, the All-Star Game and seeing (Cal) Ripken set and break the record as a fan in the stands – we forget that that’s why we got into this, so its good to be reminded,” Picollo said. “I felt like a little kid again.”
Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
By Jim Gates
The Oneonta Outlaws, of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, enjoyed a visit to the Hall of Fame before their late-afternoon game with the Cooperstown Hawkeyes at historic Doubleday Field on Tuesday of induction week. The squads are battling for the Mayor’s Cup, a newly created contest between the two towns that both have a team in the PCGBL, which the Outlaws hope to keep in Oneonta for the inaugural season.
Similar to the well-known Cape Cod league, the PGCBL is one of the NCAA-sanctioned development programs that permit college ballplayers to use wood bats in competition, many for the first time. This allows both pitchers and hitters to further develop their skills, while not sacrificing any eligibility time with their respective colleges. The players come from schools across the United States - with this year’s distance award going to Sheldon Lee of the University of San Francisco, whose hometown in Honolulu, Hawaii.
While visiting the museum, the team was treated to a special session in the Bullpen Theater. The collection’s staff was able to present three bats from different eras of major league history, each of which brought signs of amazement and smiles to the player’s faces. As they have been getting used to hitting with the wood sticks, the Outlaw hitters have been using a variety of size and shapes, but most fall into a fairly narrow range when compared to some early models.
Everyone on the team was awed by the Honus Wagner bat, which came in at a hefty 45 ounces, five more than their weighted warm up bat. The thickness of the handle is dramatically different than the modern bats, which helped explain how a player could use just one bat for the entire season in the early 1900s. This was followed by a lighter Ted Williams bat, and then by a modern thin-handled model used by Derek Jeter, a favorite player for many of the Outlaws.
The slow modification of the bat to the lighter, thin-handled version we see today helped the players understand a little more about baseball history, and their place in the evolution of the game. The PGCBL season will come to an end during the first week of August and the players will return to their home campuses, hopefully with improved skills in playing the game and a greater appreciation for the history of America’s National Pastime.
Jim Gates is the Librarian at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
It was a moment Gil McDougald wouldn’t soon forget.
The Yankees All-Star infielder of the 1950s and 1960s had the honor of catching the ceremonial first pitch from President Dwight D. Eisenhower at Opening Day of the 1956 season. After Eisenhower threw the first pitch, McDougald got the president to sign the ball. How could it get much better than an autographed baseball from the president?
There was just one problem. The President signed the ball, “To Joe McDougald, Best Wishes. President Eisenhower.”
The historic baseball and an original picture from that afternoon were donated to the National Hall of Fame and Museum on Sunday by the McDougald Family. The two items were presented to the Hall of Fame by Gil’s daughter-in-law Lori and his grandson, Nathan, both of whom visited the Museum on Monday.
When McDougald passed away in 2010, artifacts from his playing days were distributed throughout his family. Gil’s wife and family decided that the Museum would be the best place to preserve the two historic pieces.
The ball and picture will join the Museum’s collection of nearly 40,000 artifacts among pieces of history from the greats like McDougald’s teammates Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra. It was those same two guys whom McDougald hit in front of in the Yankees’ lineup throughout his big league career.
While President Eisenhower couldn’t remember McDougald’s name, the rest of the league did. McDougald won AL Rookie of the Year honors in 1951 playing alongside Hall of Fame outfielder Joe DiMaggio, who was in his final season.
The ’51 campaign marked the first of three straight World Series titles for McDougald and the Yankees. He went on to win five World Series and eight American League pennants in his 10-year career.
McDougald, who developed a reputation for coming through in the clutch, delivered when the Yankees needed it most in 1958. Down three games to two to the Milwaukee Braves in Game 6 of the 1958 World Series, McDougald hit a game-winning homer off of Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn in extra innings to even the series.
McDougald’s heroics fueled the Yankees’ comeback from down 3-to-1 to win the ’58 Fall Classic. By the time McDougald retired in 1960, he was a six-time All-Star and a main cog in Casey Stengel’s Yankee dynasty of the 1950s.
Now, McDougald’s grandson Nathan will try to follow Gil’s footsteps on the diamond. While Nathan admitted he and Gil didn’t share too many baseball stories, there is one thing the duo shares: Nathan wears No. 12 for one reason – to honor his late grandfather.
Six former Frank and Peggy Steele interns returned to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Friday to serve as the networking seminar panel for the current Steele interns.
Among the panel were Sarah Coffin (Class of 2010), Rayna Linowes (Class of 2011), Craig Nordquist (Class of 2010), Erin Quinn (Class of 2008), Lisa Totaro (Class of 2004) and Andy Zides (Class of 2001).
After giving the current Steele interns a brief biography of how they got to where they are, the panel handed out advice on how to make the step into the professional world.
“We really do want to help you all,” said Coffin, who is currently a Photo Archivist for the Boston Red Sox. “We have used these stepping stones to get to where we are and to give back.”
Coffin and the rest of the panel addressed questions on how to network in person as well as how to network in the technology age.
Though Coffin is relatively new to the Steele Internship Program fraternity, she stressed the importance of intranetworking throughout the summer in Cooperstown.
“Network with each other,” Coffin said. “Talk with other Steele interns. Ask them what they’re up to and what they’re doing. Keep in touch and use those skills because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Totaro, who is currently a Marketing Associate at the Sunmark Credit Union, also emphasized the importance of taking advantage of all the resources the Hall of Fame has to offer.
“This really is a special opportunity so make sure to enjoy these moments,” Totaro said. “Relish this opportunity and take time to step back and appreciate what you’ve done.”
Nordquist worked as a multi-media intern at the Museum in 2010 and is now a Stats Researcher at MLB Network. Nordquist got his current position after impressing the staff at MLB Network when he competed on the network’s trivia show, “Baseball IQ.”
Nordquist, who also spent time working with the Minnesota Twins, had some words of wisdom for the current Steele interns.
“Always enjoy the present but always be looking toward the future,” Nordquist said.
They might be scattered across the country and not necessarily working in baseball, but each former Steele intern shares a common bond that has helped them get to where they are today.
“It was the first time I was ever pushed or exhausted from a job,” Coffin said. “That work ethic…you get that from this experience and you keep it.”
Applications for the Peggy and Frank Steele Internship Program will be available at baseballhall.org in October 2012.
Comment on this post
Greg Grunberg is the epitome of a 21st century enthusiast.
The former co-star of NBC’s “Heroes” has over 1.4 million Twitter followers, he created an iPhone application called “Yowza” and jumpstarted the website talkaboutit.org to bring awareness to epilepsy.
But on Tuesday morning, Grunberg took a step back in time when he walked into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The 45-year-old actor was in town watching his kids play at a local baseball camp and decided to make the trip to the Museum.
“This place is just unbelievable,” Grunberg said.
In typical Grunberg fashion, he broke the news that he would be coming to the Hall of Fame via Twitter on June 19.
Grunberg acted on shows such as “Heroes”, “NYPD Blue” and “Lost” but even he couldn’t contain his excitement when he toured the Giamatti Research Center.
Like it is with his kids, baseball was an integral part of Grunberg’s childhood.
“I’ve always been a big baseball fan,” Grunberg said. “I grew up a Dodger fan living in L.A. and my dad and I had season tickets.”
Grunberg and company were taken into the archive, where they were shown a variety of preserved artifacts. When he wasn’t whipping out his iPhone to snap a picture of an artifact, Grunberg learned about the Hall of Fame’s efforts in the digital age.
It should come as no surprise that Grunberg took to social media to advocate a movement. Grunberg worked on a television show pilot with actress Joanna Garcia, who is married to New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher. Grunberg has since developed a friendship with the power couple.
“They are just the nicest people you’ll ever meet,” Grunberg said.
On Monday afternoon, Grunberg tweeted a message campaigning for all to vote his pal Swisher into the All-Star Game. Besides digital support, Grunberg met with Swisher after a Yankees game earlier in the month.
The duo was walking through the tunnel when Grunberg spotted Hall of Fame outfielder Reggie Jackson. Grunberg, who happened to be wearing Jackson’s No. 44 Yankees jersey, wanted to introduce himself to the man they call, “Mr. October.” Jackson initially hesitated. But once Jackson saw the jersey, Grunberg said he couldn’t have been more accommodating.
“To me, anybody can be an actor,” Grunberg said. “But to be an athlete on that level using God-given talent is so special. I get choked up just talking to them.”
Listed at 6-foot-4 during his playing career, Roberto Hernandez stands over a crowd. His numbers stand out too: 17 years in the big leagues, 1,010 games pitched, 945 strikeouts, 667 games finished, 326 saves and a 3.45 ERA in 1,071.3 innings.
And on Monday with his family and a few of his Cooperstown Dreams Park players in tow from his home in St. Petersburg, Fla., he used his height to hang behind the others and allow them to see the treasures on display at the Hall of Fame.
Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Manhattan as a Mets fan, Hernandez appreciates the history of the game he played. He fondly remembers the Mets of the 1970s, including the 1973 NL Champs, but he often saw highlights of Roberto Clemente at Shea Stadium and his legendary countryman quickly became his favorite player.
Drafted by the Angels in 1986 before a 1989 trade sent him to the White Sox, Hernandez played in Chicago from 1991 to 2007. With the White Sox in 1992, he made his only other trip to Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame Game, playing against the Mets. But during his last trip, he spent virtually the entire time in the Doubleday bullpen, not entering the game.
So this time a trip through the Museum, where he saw Clemente’s plaque and his 3,000th hit bat on display in ¡Viva Baseball!, led up to the behind-the-scenes tour. Among the artifacts the group was shown was Satchel Paige’s biography – one in which the ageless wonder talked about pitching three scoreless innings against the Red Sox at 59 years of age, allowing a single hit to Carl Yastrzemski. Asked if he could get MLB hitters out at that age, the 47-year-old vet of 10 teams said no, but he might be able to right now, though he acknowledges hitters today are in better condition than they were, even when he was at his peak in the 1990s.
A two-time All-Star, Hernandez said his legs gave out on him, but his arm could possibly still go. Four times he led the AL in games finished, including twice when he had the most in the majors. When he racked up a career high 66 games finished in 1999, he finished second in saves with 43 to saves king Mariano Rivera’s 45. The difference? Hernandez’s Tampa Bay squad only won 69 games while Rivera’s Yankees won 98.
“It wasn’t easy. We had a good bullpen that year,” Hernandez said. “Gimme 12 more wins and I beat Mo.”
In 2005 he signed a one-year deal with the Mets, returning to his boyhood home in New York. In the offseason he signed with Pittsburgh, but at the trade deadline came back to Shea along with Oliver Perez in a deal that sent Xavier Nady to the Pirates.
“It was an honor to put on that uniform, when I played there for a year-and-a-half,” he said.
Coming up, one of those Mets from his youth, Felix Millan, coached him in winter ball.
These days, it’s all about giving back to the game for Hernandez – from his coaching, to mentoring players with his former team, the Tampa Bay Rays. The future may even hold a bigger role with the Rays as a special instructor of some sort. But for now, he’s enjoying what he does, staying close to home and raising his grandson, whom he held during much of the tour while letting the others crowd around up front.
“It’s very impressive to see the meticulous care taken at preserving our history,” Hernandez said of the Hall of Fame after the tour. “It’s very refreshing for (these kids) to see what we’re talking about when we share our first hand knowledge.”
Trevor Hayes the editorial production manager for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
By John Horne
The National Baseball Hall of Fame Photo Archives houses over 500,000 photos. We, of course, use them in our displays at the Museum. We also offer copies of the photos for a reasonable fee to be used in books, magazines, personal use. Many museums from all over the United States and the world use our photos for exhibits in their Museum.
This year, the Italian American Museum (Museo Italo Americano) in San Francisco is presenting a Documentary Exhibit featuring over 150 photos from the Baseball Hall of Fame photo archives. The exhibit is called Italian Americans At Bat: From Sand Lots to the Major Leagues.
The exhibit features many Italian-American players, including nine Baseball Hall of Famers: Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Joe DiMaggio, Tommy Lasorda, Tony Lazzeri, Ernie Lombardi, Phil Rizzuto, Ron Santo and Eppa Rixey (yes, Rixey – family geneology research shows that the name was changed from Riccia to Rixey in the late 1700s).
The Museo Italo Americano is located at Fort Mason Center, Building C, San Francisco, CA 94123, and the exhibit runs from June 22 through Nov. 25, 2012. You can find more info at their website.
We are proud that people from the other side of the country will be able to enjoy photos from the National Baseball Hall of Fame Photo Archives.
John Horne is a Library Associate in the Photo Archives at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
When Walt Wilkins and the Mystiqueros walk into a building, they’re usually the ones putting on the show.
On Monday afternoon, they were the audience.
The script was flipped on the country band when the members were given a tour of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The Mystiqueros, who specialize in Texas Country Music, made the pit stop in Cooperstown in the midst of their estimated 5,000 mile concert tour across America.
Like the fans that fill the seats at their shows, the Mystiqueros weren’t shy about whipping out their camera phones to capture the sights of the Museum. The band was taken into the archive where the members were shown a variety of preserved artifacts.
While it was some of the band members’ first time at the Museum, some of them had already worked with the Hall of Fame. The Mystiqueros sang “God Bless America,” at the 2011 Hall of Fame Classic.
It was an experience the Mystiqueros haven’t forgotten.
“I’ll get messed up just talking about it,” Small said. “It was that intense. I was buzzing after that for two weeks. That was just the greatest feeling.”
The Mystiqueros will get a chance to re-live that rush Wednesday night when they sing the National Anthem at Citi Field when the New York Mets take on the Baltimore Orioles.
“It’s going to be a big day and such an elevated moment,” Walt Wilkins said. “I love that song and I’m all about America. To me, baseball is America – so getting to perform like that is just going to be awesome.”
Less than 24 hours after Saturday’s Hall of Fame Classic, the sun fired up Doubleday Field for another perfect day in Cooperstown.
All that tangibly remained of the June 16 legends game were some lines in the dirt: Bert Blyleven’s spike marks on the mound, the outline of Military All-Star Ryan Hurtado’s diving catch on the left field warning track.
On Sunday morning families gathered at historic Doubleday Field to have an old-fashioned game of catch - a fitting treat for Father's Day. (Carter Kegelman./NBHOF Library)
The echoes, however, still sounded.
Then, a new noise: The brushing of soles against the ground as parents, grandparents and children arrived for Sunday’s Family Catch. As the gates opened, they walked expectantly onto the grass, bringing with them the aroma of sun screen and leather gloves. Finding a space on the field, they began the ancient ritual of a game of catch.
Fathers and sons, moms and daughters, granddads and grandmas. It was a fitting Father’s Day scene in baseball’s hometown, where generations connect everyday.
Throughout Hall of Fame Classic Weekend – at Friday’s Youth Skills Clinic, at Saturday’s parade and game, at Sunday’s Family Catch at Doubleday Field – the National Pastime brought folks together, a centrifugal force that crosses time and culture. That force is what brings fans back to Cooperstown.
In five weeks, it will once again be on display for the world during the July 20-23 Hall of Fame Weekend. The moment will be for Barry Larkin and Ron Santo – the Class of 2012 – but the celebration will be for everyone who loves baseball.
Thank you, Cooperstown.
Craig Muder is the director of communications at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
They arrived in uniform at Doubleday Field on Friday, holding their dad’s hand with one arm and clutching their ball glove with the other.
Fathers and sons, parents and children. And in the case of the Wygant Family, four generations of baseball fans.
The annual Youth Skills Clinic, presented by the Hall of Fame and the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, was once again connecting generations through the National Pastime.
“My dad and I were here 50 years ago for the Hall of Fame game, and then my son and I were here 23 years ago,” said Gary Wygant, who traveled from Atlanta – where he is the director of recycling development for Coca-Coca Recycling – for Hall of Fame Classic Weekend. “Now, my grandson Riley is here at the Skills Clinic. We have four generations in this ballpark.”
The Youth Skills Clinic launched the Classic Weekend festivities on Friday as hundreds of children received hands-on baseball lessons from former major leaguers like John Doherty, Dmitri Young and Jesse Barfield – all of whom will play in Saturday’s Hall of Fame Classic. Riley, a White Sox fan like his father Rob Wygant, hustled from station to station in the afternoon sun, soaking in the rays and the words of wisdom from the former players.
Meanwhile, Riley’s great-grandfather – Bob Wygant – looked down at Doubleday Field from the right field stands and remembered a rainy day in 1962.
“I haven’t been back since then, but I remember like it was yesterday,” said Bob Wygant, who grew up in nearby Albany, N.Y., and attended the 1962 Hall of Fame Game with his son Gary. “It rained during the game (the contest between the New York Yankees and Milwaukee Braves was eventually canceled), and Gary and I tried to stay dry in a culvert but ended up with water up to our knees.
“I was a teacher during my working days, and to see all these kids out there – along with my grandson, as part of four generations of our family – is very special.”
The connection for families continues today in Cooperstown, with the Hall of Fame Classic at Doubleday Field. It’s a connection that baseball continues to foster – throughout the generations.
When Turk Wendell walked into the Hall of Fame on Wednesday afternoon, he wasn’t chewing licorice or brushing his teeth.
Wendell refrained from the superstitions that he practiced throughout his time as a relief pitcher in the big leagues. The 11-year big league veteran made the trip from Colorado to Cooperstown with his family to watch his kids play at a local baseball camp and added a visit to the Hall of Fame to the agenda.
Wendell and his family were given a tour of the Giamatti Research Center, where staff members brought out his personal file. While his family was treated to archived pictures and articles, Wendell reminisced about his playing days and talked about his unconventional style.
The stare-down was an art Wendell said he lived to perfect when he was on the hill.
“I tell my kids, you’ve got to be tough, aggressive and mean on the mound,” Wendell said. “You can laugh and go out to dinner with a guy after the game. But when you’re on that mound, it should be nothing but business.”
Before Wendell developed that stare-down, he grew up in Massachusetts, where he was a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan. Wendell then made his Major League debut with the Chicago Cubs.
“I had the worst of both worlds,” Wendell joked. “I rooted for the Red Sox and played for the Cubs.”
Wendell’s in-game ritual gained notoriety early on with the Cubs. It involved throwing the rosin bag as hard has he could at the mound, chewing four pieces of Brach’s black licorice, hurtling over the baselines at the end of an inning and rigorously brushing his teeth on the bench.
So would he ever consider donating one of his artifacts to the Hall of Fame?
Wendell cracked a smile when talking about the idea and admitted the old tooth brushes were probably still at the one place where everything is saved – his mom’s house.
The Reading Phillies got a little taste of the ultimate goal.
On Monday afternoon, the Double-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies got to spend a rare off-day touring the Hall of Fame and were treated to a private showing of several historic Phillies artifacts in the Bullpen Theater.
“When they told us we were doing this, we were pretty excited,” said Phillies infielder Darin Ruf. “On your journey to the Major Leagues, it’s a wonderful place to stop and look around for a while.”
Before the Phillies got the full tour of the Museum, they got to see and hear back stories about various artifacts that live in Philadelphia lore.
From Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton’s 300th win jersey to Major League Baseball’s first official hat with attached ear warmers as worn by Eric Bruntlett in the 2008 World Series, the Double-A squad saw a wide array of Phillies’ history.
“That’s all of our dreams,” Ruf said. “If we just made it to the Major Leagues, that’s one thing. Obviously, if we could have a piece of our legacy in here, it would top it all off for all of us.”
Reading manager Dusty Wathan, whose squad will travel to Binghamton for a three-game set following their day in Cooperstown, said it’s important for his players to understand the magnitude of the opportunity.
“I think it’s just really important for players to know the history of the game and where they stand in the game,” Wathan said. “To be able to see the best of the best and especially at a place like this, for guys from all over the world, to be able to come to Cooperstown is a special thing.”
By Freddy Berowski
As a reference librarian, you never know what the day may hold, who may approach you, or what questions they may have. This is especially true in the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library’s Giamatti Research Center.
Today I was approached by Elizabeth Pierro and her husband Louis. Elizabeth was inquiring about her father, Lee Riley, who Mrs. Pierro explained, “had a long minor league career.” Her main reason in coming to the library was to see if we had any holdings on him.
A search of the Baseball-Reference database found that Lee had a cup of coffee with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1944, and a further, detailed search of the Hall of Fame’s minor league contract card collection and Lee Riley player file, indicated a minor league career that spanned three decades. While arranging material for Mrs. Pierro to look at, we struck up a conversation about her family, which, as she described, “was filled with athletes.”
Not only did her father play professional ball, but two of her brothers made it big in professional sports as well. Her eldest brother, Lee Riley Jr., played football for the University of Detroit, before moving on to star with the Lions, Eagles and Giants of the NFL, and the AFL’s Titans (the team would become the Jets). Her youngest brother Pat played professional basketball for 10 seasons before becoming one of the most decorated coaches in NBA history with the Lakers, Knicks and Heat, winning five NBA championships.
Elizabeth and Pat were born two years apart, but she was separated from her by the youngest of her older siblings by 15 years. Growing up, she remembers that her and Pat moved around a lot while her father managed all over in the minor leagues. She has many stories to tell, and describes fond memories of “being bounced on (Hall of Fame manager) Tommy Lasorda’s knee” as a child.
Louis said when he first met Elizabeth, she was quite an athlete in her own right, and that she taught Pat how to throw a baseball, “She could throw the ball from home to second on a dime.” Elizabeth also competed in gymnastics, swimming and diving while in high school. But Elizabeth’s time as an athlete was before the Title IX Education Amendments of 1972, and there just weren’t as many athletic opportunities for women as there were for their male counterparts.
Her sister, Mary Kay, also competed athletically, travelling all over New York State competing in classic bowling leagues. When asked who the best athlete in the family was, neither Elizabeth, nor her husband Louis, hesitated at all: It was her brother Lenny. Louis said “I would go over to her house and her parents had all the kids’ athletic trophies on display and Lenny had the most.” Lenny never played professional sports, opting, instead, to join the US military as a paratrooper. While in the service, Lenny competed in military football and baseball leagues.
While athletics clearly ran in her blood, Elizabeth opted for a quieter life. She became an accountant with a firm in Schenectady, N.Y., upon graduation. She eventually married Louis and started a family, raising two children and is now a grandmother of four with one on the way.
Just another fascinating day at the Hall of Fame Library – where past and present come together.
Comment on this post.
Mike Hampton accomplished many accolades in his 16-year major league career that included two All-Star selections, the 1999 National League Cy Young Award runner-up, a Gold Glove Award, 148 victories and hit 16 home runs – the latter the 2nd most since 1970 for a pitcher.
But on Monday, he made it through the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for the first time.
Mike, along with his 12-year-old son Griffin, who is playing for the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Thunder for a nearby youth baseball camp, caught a glimpse of his player and photo files, explored the Museum’s three-dimensional collections and soaked in baseball history during his morning visit to the Hall of Fame.
Though he’d been to Cooperstown twice as part of the retired Hall of Fame Game tradition, in 2002 with the Colorado Rockies and in 2004 with the Atlanta Braves, this was his first opportunity to get up close with baseball history.
Hampton viewed his Library player file, featuring clips, photos and news coverage from his career, and also was reunited with the baseball hit by the Cubs’ Damon Buford on March 29, 2000, for the first game of the new millennium, played in Japan.
Hampton threw that pitch, which resulted in an RBI single for the Cubs.
“My line that day was something like 5 innings pitched, 4 hits, 2 runs, 9 walks and a strikeout. The only way I got out of giving up more runs were the (four) double plays.”
Hampton, who retired after the 2010 season, will be eligible for consideration for the Hall of Fame for the first time in 2016.
For now, he enjoyed spending the time with his son and connecting on some key moments of baseball history.
“This was a great thrill to see the game’s history, all under one roof,” Hampton said.
Brad Horn is the senior director of communications and education at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Friday was the third and final day of the 24th annual Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, which featured almost 30 presentations on such wide-ranging subjects as Lou Gehrig’s scrapbooks, a minor league mascot called Mr. Celery, black baseball at Yankee Stadium, and the first black journalist issued a press pass by the Boston Red Sox.
Co-sponsored by the State University of New York College at Oneonta and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the three-day symposium examines the impact of baseball on American culture from inter- and multi-disciplinary perspectives.Also among Friday’s varied presentations was a conversation with Ed Logan Jr., the last batboy of the legendary New York Giants before the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958. In Logan’s talk, before a standing room only crowd inside the Hall of Fame’s Learning Center, he tried to communicate what it was like to be inside baseball versus outside baseball.
Logan came from a family with baseball in its blood, as his grandfather, Fred Logan, worked the Giants clubhouse from the late 1880s before becoming clubhouse manager for both the Giants and Yankees. His father, Eddie Logan Sr., was the Giants clubhouse manager for the Giants in both New York and San Francisco
While the 16-year-old Logan became the Giants’ batboy in 1957, he had been in and around the team long before that.
“I was a junior in high school, got a work permit to get out of school early and come to the game,” Logan would later explain. “Another part of the batboy’s benefits was you got a two-week road trip during the summer so I went around to all the other stadiums and played visiting batboy.”
And Logan has lasting memories of the Giants’ final game at the Polo Grounds before moving to California the next year.
“In the last game against Pittsburgh in late September in 1957, just before the last out, (Giants trainer) Doc Bowman said, ‘Eddie, as soon as the last out is made, stay by me. Just stick by me. Take your cap off because we’re going to run to the clubhouse. Be careful, because everybody is going to run on the field and the first thing they’re going to want to do is steal your hat,’” Logan recalled. “Sure enough, that’s what happened. My father and grandfather were there all the time but they were never on the field. I was on the field for that one season.”
While in Cooperstown, Logan had the opportunity to see his grandfather’s Yankees hat that he wore in the clubhouse.
“To me it’s like coming to Mecca,” Logan said when asked about visiting the Hall of Fame for only the second time in his life. “I’d get a house next door if I could.”
Bill Francis is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
The 24th annual Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture reached its midway point with more than 20 varied presentations throughout Thursday. Whether the subject involve Kenesaw Mountain Landis, big league baseball’s first commissioner, the role of public art in baseball parks or the building of Yankee Stadium, attendees had a wide range of topics to choose from.
Co-sponsored by the State University of New York College at Oneonta and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the three-day symposium examines the impact of baseball on American culture from inter- and multi-disciplinary perspectives.
One of Thursday’s highlights was a late-morning presentation in the Hall’s Learning Center entitled “Women in Black: Pearls of Wisdom from Behind the Plate.” For more than an hour, moderator Jean Hastings Ardell interviewed female umpire Perry Barber. A former singer/songwriter who opened for Bruce Springsteen among others, Barber umpiring journey began at 28 and for the next 32 years has taken her around the world.
“My mother suggested I start umpiring Little League, and at the time she suggested it, it was the very furthest thing from my mind,” Barber said in an interview later. “But the moment I first walked onto a baseball field and encountered this strange new thing of people yelling at me and telling me I was terrible, whereas up until that point in time all I had ever been told was that I was wonderful and people loved me and praised and petted me all the time. So it was a very eye-opening experience but one that for whatever reason did not deter me as much as it made me determined to solve the puzzle of why people were behaving that way.”
Barber’s “very strange and circuitous journey” included attending the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School for a number of years.
“I attended umpire school because I realized people weren’t yelling at me so much because I was a woman as they were because I really lacked any kind of training and experience,” she said.
Barber eventually found umpiring jobs at Florida high schools, Mets fantasy camps, and intra-squad and split-squad spring training games for the Mets, in Japan, and soon will be working in the famed Cop Cod League
“I like to spread the gospel of umpiring and that it’s not all confrontations and hostility and vitriol being spewed at the umpire. That’s a very fleeting part of the overall picture,” she said. “Most of it is very challenging, mentally stimulating, and just incredibly fun. Just really one of the most wonderful, eye-opening experiences that helps me to continually grow as a person.”
Today, Barber’s image can be seen on Museum’s second floor as part of the Diamond Dreams: Women in Baseball exhibit.
“There’s a fundamental imbalance in the baseball landscape,” she said. “There’s really no rational reason why there is not a female umpire in the majors. There have been baby steps but for every baby step forward we take two steps back. It’s still a struggle but we are making inroads and perhaps in my lifetime we will see not just one but a couple (female) big league umpires.”
A full schedule of symposium events and presentations is available on-line by visiting www.baseballhall.org. Follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #HoFSymp.
The proverbial first pitch, delivered by Major League Baseball’s Official Historian John Thorn, has been thrown to begin the 24th annual Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture.
Co-sponsored by the State University of New York College at Oneonta and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the symposium examines the impact of baseball on American culture from inter- and multi-disciplinary perspectives.
This year’s three-day edition, with more than 130 registrants on hand to take in dozens of presentations being held in the Museum’s Bullpen Theater and Learning Center, got off to a impressive start with a keynote address from Thorn on Wednesday afternoon in the Grandstand Theater.
Thorn, named MLB Historian in March 2011, is the author and editor of numerous baseball books, including the recent Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game. Following in the footsteps of such past keynote speakers as filmmaker Ken Burns, former union chiefs Marvin Miller and Donald Fehr, and illustrious writers Roger Kahn, Eliot Asinof, George Plimpton and Ira Berkow, Thorn’s 30-minute talk, entitled “Baseball’s Unchanging Past: A Necessary Illusion,” touched on similar themes as his most recent work, which traces the game’s roots in the 18th century.
According to Thorn, the title of the speech “evokes not only our oddly hallowed location, this lovely place where baseball was not invented, but also America’s enduring fascination with its national game, always changing in ways so minute that it seems to remain, comfortingly, the same.
“Kierkegaard has written that life may only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards. For the duration of this conference at least, we will do our best to reverse that dictum. Hoping to grasp what happened in baseball and the larger culture – and why – we will plant our feet in the sands of the past and wiggle our toes a bit, just to see what it felt like to be alive then. The overlay of modern analytic constructs will not be worth much until we do that.”
Registrations will be accepted onsite during the Symposium in the Hall of Fame Library Atrium. A full schedule of symposium events and presentations is available on-line by visiting www.baseballhall.org.
By BRAD HORN
Three generations of descendants of amateur photographer Forrest S. Yantis of Troy, Ohio came to Cooperstown on Saturday to celebrate the opening of “Pastime Portraits,” a new exhibit that will be on display through 2012 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum featuring a collection of nearly 50 black-and-white prints taken between 1928 and 1938.
They came to celebrate the family patriarch, a gentleman insurance salesman and ardent Cleveland Indians fan, who gained the trust and friendship of players while gaining access to the field to photograph more than 200 players, creating a striking collection of original prints and negatives that tell the story of baseball in a bygone era.
“It is truly unusual for a collection of photos to have documented the game in this way,” said Erik Strohl, the Museum’s senior director for exhibitions and collections, during a morning program for visitors following the ribbon-cutting to open the exhibit. “There’s a warmth to these photos, a comfortable candidness that is only made possible by someone who has become friendly with his subjects.”
More than two dozen members of the Whitaker family traveled to Cooperstown to be a part of this special day, highlighted by the appearance of Yantis’s only child, daughter Julia, now 83, and her four grandchildren, to be a part of the ribbon-cutting and program discussion of these photographs, which had never been previously seen by a public audience.
“Dad made two 16 x 20 (inch) prints of his photos,” said Julia Whitaker. “He would give one to the player and keep the other one, sometimes having the player sign them. They were in a box under my mother’s bed for what seemed like 100 years.”
Over the last several years, the prints were studied by Marc Katz, a reporter a the Dayton Daily News, and a subsequent connection to the Hall of Fame Library led to the identification of many of the subjects featured in the images. Among the highlights of the images include stars of the time like Babe Ruth, Mickey Cochrane and Jim Bottomley, all Hall of Famers, but some of the more obscure subjects include Odell Hale and Clint Brown, relatively unknown players of the time period, whose images are exceptional includes in the exhibit.
The uncovering of the photographs led to the identification of close to 300 negatives and 200 portraits that comprise in the Yantis collection. Most of the prints featured in the exhibition are the originals printed by Yantis himself, most likely in his office. Nearly 10 of the negatives have been printed by Hall of Fame staff photographer Milo Stewart Jr., to provide a contrast between time periods of the creations. It is believed that no prints from those negatives exist, making these additions to the exhibition true originals.
“The printability of these images was superb,” said Stewart, who has worked in darkrooms since he was 10, and has been around photography his whole life. “The exposure was spot on. He knew exactly where to place his subjects. He understood the lighting and the proximity to your subjects.”
The portraits are appealing to the Museum visitors because of their large format, said Jenny Ambrose, a photo archivist at the Hall of Fame Library. “You see every feature of their face,” said Ambrose, whose research and input on the images helped the Whitaker family identify many of the Yantis images.
As works hang on the walls of the Museum’s third-floor gallery dedicated to the exhibition, the personalities and emotions of baseball of an earlier time comes to life through these magnificent images. One man’s hobby has become a celebration for the appreciation of baseball history and the important role photography has played in sharing the legacy of the National Pastime.
“This is such a great occasion to bring the entire family together to celebrate the work of our grandfather,” said Kevin Whitaker, one of Forrest’s grandsons and the father of Forrest Whitaker, named for his great-grandfather, during the Saturday program. “When you read and see people talking about these pictures, it provides a great perspective for the important work of his career. He never would have believed this today.”
Pastime Portraits will be open throughout 2012 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and is included with Museum admission.
It’s been another interesting week. Jamie Moyer once again earns a mention as he became the oldest player to record an RBI. Yan Gomes made his major-league debut for the Blue Jays last night and the Brazilian is the first player in MLB history born in a South American country not named than Venezuela (more than 270 players) or Colombia (11).
Brazil now moves off the list of never have’s like India (which doesn’t get extra points for the news that Jon Hamm will star in a movie about the two Indian cricket players who signed minor league deals with the Pirates after their country’s “Million Dollar Arm” TV show). The five-time FIFA World Cup champs now join the “countries with a single player in the majors” list with Afghanistan, American Samoa, Austria (but not Austria-Hungary), Belgium, British Honduras (presently known as Belize), China, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Guam, Honduras, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, South Vietnam and Switzerland… Seriously, if you don’t use baseball-reference.com, start and that’s not just because they are our statistical partners. It’s an amazing site that let me generate the above list.
With that said, here’s your obligatory Matt Kemp (unfortunately he went on the DL and won’t be re-writing record books for a few weeks) mention. His MLB-leading streak of 399 consecutive games ended Monday, giving Prince Fielder the title of active iron man with 219 consecutive games. Of note: Since Sept. 3, 2008, the only game Fielder missed was Sept. 13, 2010 when flu-like symptoms snapped a 327-game streak. Thanks to Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.’s record setting streak which began in 1982 and Kemp’s injury, Fielder is the first two-time active iron man since Pete Rose, who had a streak in the late 1970’s, then regained active iron man title when Steve Garvey broke his thumb in 1983.
Now here’s your week’s history:
Quick Hits: Carlos Beltran belted two home runs, a double and a triple in the Cardinals’ extra-inning loss last Friday, matching Hall of Famer Johnny Mize on July 3, 1939 as the only Cardinals since 1900 to have a similar game…That same day, Brandon Inge had his fourth game in five contests that he knocked in four runs, becoming only the second major leaguer with four four-RBI games over a five game span, tying Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig in 1931 – the season he knocked in the AL record 184…41-year-old Miguel Batista earned his first win Monday as the third Mets pitcher to record a win as a starter at 41 or older, matching Tom Glavine (13 times in 2007) and Hall of Famer Warren Spahn (four in 1965)…Derek Jeter went 1-for-5 Tuesday to move past Hall of Famer Robin Yount for 16th on the all-time hit list…On Wednesday, Jamie Moyer once again set an age-related record, as the oldest player to record an RBI after his two-run single in the fourth.
Harper and the Hall of Fame: While his career is only 18 games long, the phenom Bryce Harper seems to create headline news each day, from his Dodger Stadium debut to his howitzer-like arm to the 10 stitches over his eye. Well, on Monday at the age of 19 years and 211 days, Harper blasted his first career home run. In doing so, he broke a franchise record and challenged a Washington D.C. mark. Previously Hall of Famer Gary Carter – on Sept. 28, 1974 at 20 years, 173 days old – was the youngest player to go yard for the Expos/Nationals. As far as D.C. records, Harper missed Harmon Killebrew by 85 days as the future Hall of Famer hit his first home run for the Washington Senators on Sept. 25, 1955 at 19 years, 88 days old.
With his second career homer the next day, Harper became the sixth teenager over the last 75 years to hit home runs on back-to-back days, joining Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle (1951), Killebrew (1956), Tony Conigliaro (1964), Gary Sheffield (1988) and Ken Griffey Jr. (1989).
New Stuff to See: Bats from Josh Hamilton’s four-home run game and Joey Votto’s three-homer, walk-off grand slam contest have arrived in Cooperstown. Stay tuned to our YouTube channel for a video about them.
By TREVOR HAYES
Easily the biggest story of the week is Josh Hamilton. The Hambino has hit more home runs in four games since Monday than Jose Bautista, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez and Joey Votto have this season. The current MLB home run leader began his quiet week with a homer off Baltimore’s Jason Berken. Then on Tuesday, he joined an elite club, becoming the 16th player in major league history to hit four home runs in a single game. Finally yesterday, the O’s were able to contain him, by allowing him just one home run during the doubleheader.
Let’s get into that four homer game. He went 5-for-5 with a double for 18 total bases, setting the AL record and posting the second highest total ever (Shawn Green had 19 in a 6-for-6, four-homer game May 23, 2002 and Joe Adcock had 18 with four homers and a double on July 31, 1954). Prior to Hamilton, only Mark Whiten in 1993 and Gil Hodges in 1950 had men on base for all four homers. Elvis Andrus was on base for all four. In fact, he’s been on base for 10 of Hamilton’s 15 this season, with the other five being solo shots.
As for rarity in single game feats: 292 players have hit for the cycle, 264 no-hitters have been thrown, 234 inside-the-park home runs have been hit, 110 players have hit a homer in their first MLB at-bat, 67 players have collected six hits in a game; 59 times a pitcher struckout four in an inning, 55 players have hit two home runs in an inning, 21 rookies have thrown a no-hitter, likewise 21 perfect game have been thrown and 15 players have turned an unassisted triple play. Lastly, let me say this has been a great season for baseball. We’ve never seen a four home game and a perfect game in the same season before.
Meanwhile Sox outfielder Darnell McDonald got the loss making Sunday the first game in which two regular position players got the decision for their team since Sept. 28, 1902. In that end-of-the-year finale, both the White Sox and Browns phoned in the second game of a doubleheader with Chicago using two position-players as pitchers and St. Louis five, in a nine-inning game. Hall of Famer Jesse Burkett got the loss for the Browns.
Payback: The Orioles Ryan Flaherty, J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis went back-to-back-to-back to lead off their first inning in game one of their doubleheader versus the Rangers yesterday. The other four teams to do it: the 1987 Padres including Tony Gwynn, 2003 Braves with 500-home run hitter Gary Sheffield and 2007 Brewers which also included Hardy.
New Stuff to See: We’ve been lucky here at the Hall of Fame so far this season, seemingly getting new artifacts every week (and since it usually takes a few days after a record, event or milestone, we’ll probably receive something from Hamilton next week). Arriving in Cooperstown this week were items from the Miami Marlins home opener and Jered Weaver’s no-hitter.
From South Florida come artifacts relating to Miami’s debut on the field and the debut of Marlins Park. A media credential, lineup card are now in Cooperstown as well as on-field items including a Jose Reyes’ bat which was used to record the first Marlins hit at the new park, a baseball thrown by Josh Johnson to record a strikeout, Johnson’s cap marking the first time Miami’s M has appeared on the field.
From Los Angeles, we received a game-used ball and the jerseys worn by the Halo’s no-no battery: Jered Weaver and Chris Iannetta. Once these items are accessioned, they will be visible in the Today’s Game exhibit of the Museum.
By CRAIG MUDER
Barry Larkin’s life changed forever in January when he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
But even the biggest honor in sport couldn’t change the person that is Barry Larkin. His foundation sits on too firm of a base to be knocked off center.
Larkin and his wife Lisa took their Hall of Fame Orientation Tour on Saturday in Cooperstown. It was a whirlwind weekend for the Class of 2012 electee, flying in Friday night before a full day on Saturday of meetings and tours. The Larkins left town Sunday knowing what to expect on Hall of Fame Weekend July 20-23 – and understanding what the Hall of Fame is all about.
The 48-year-old Larkin appeared to be his usual calm and confident self all weekend. Dressed in a basic black shirt and blue jeans on Saturday, Larkin toured the Museum – the recipient of hundreds of startled glances when Hall of Fame visitors realized just who was passing by. He then met with the media, talking about his family, his life and baseball – all with the same enthusiastic yet down-to-earth manner that has won him millions of fans as an ESPN baseball analyst.
Eleven weeks from today, Larkin will climb up on the stage at the Clark Sports Center – with more than four dozen Hall of Famers sitting behind him – and officially be inducted into the Hall of Fame. But you get the feeling that those who played with and against Larkin – many of whom will be on that stage – have already inducted him into their personal halls of fame.
As good as Larkin was on the field, he’s even better off it. And nothing is going to change that.
At any point in time, there are about 4,000 artifacts on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
And at any point in time, there’s a visitor in the Museum asking: “Where is Curt Schilling’s bloody sock?” But even after turning 100 years old, Fenway is still making history. And some of that history came to Cooperstown on Saturday at Fenway Day when the Museum accepted a donation from the Red Sox of a ball, a base and a game ticket used at the April 20 game against the Yankees – a game that marked the park’s 100th birthday.
Any debate about the Museum’s “most popular” artifact must include Schilling’s hosiery from the 2004 postseason. Currently, the bloody sock is on display in the Museum’s FENtennial: Fenway Park’s First 100 Years exhibit. It’s one of almost four dozen historic pieces – including Carlton Fisk’s bat from Game 6 of the 1975 World Series – on display in FENtennial.
Fans at the Hall of Fame on Saturday got to see those artifacts up close during an Artifact Spotlight in the Museum’s Bullpen Theater.“Fenway Park is such a unique place because it’s part of the city and part of people’s lives,” said Jeff Idelson, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “Almost no other park in the big leagues has a connection like that.”
The FENtennial exhibit will remain at the Museum through the 2012 season, and the exhibit is included with regular admission to the Hall of Fame.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
This series has covered a lot of notes about age so far. I can’t help it. Maybe it’s because I’m struggling with the fact that players killing it in the majors that are younger than me. Heck, Bryce Harper has been a sensation for a week at 19-years old – almost 10 years my junior. I realize most folks would say I’m still a young(er) pup, but I’m still coming to grips with the fact that my MLB dreams are over (not entirely, those ended when I quit baseball in seventh grade after two straight seasons ended by broken bones).
Despite it being tough for me to deal with the superstars that graduated high school after me, there have been some great performances by the guys I looked up to when I was younger. Example: Chipper Jones and Jason Giambi hit walk-off homers Wednesday. They are the first duo with over 400 home runs to hit walk-off dingers the same day and the first 40-year-olds. You have to go back to 1986’s Hal McRae and Davey Lopes to find two 40-plusers end a game with a home run in the same season.
That day, the Braves-Phillies game was particularly wild as they combined for 28 runs, nearing the record for most runs scored in a game ended by a walk-off homer. That honor is held by a 39-year-old Ty Cobb, when his Tigers beat the White Sox in a 1925 contest that featured 31 runs.
Another 40-plus player suffered a serious knee injury Thursday. At 42-years-old, Mariano Rivera – the only No. 42 still playing (who also owns 42 postseason saves) – tore his ACL in his right knee. Rivera – who has said that he has made his decision about his future after this year and that the decision is irrevocable – is the all-time saves leader, and he also owns more saves since 1995 (the year he got save No. 1) than the Kansas City Royals (587), Arizona Diamondbacks (571) and Tampa Bay Rays (521).
Here’s the rest of the week that was:
Quick Hits: Last Friday, Miguel Cabrera recorded his 1,000th RBI at 29-years old, with just five players reaching that plateau faster: Mel Ott (27), Jimmie Foxx (27), Alex Rodriguez (28), Ken Griffey, Jr. (28) and Lou Gehrig (28)… With his eighth home run of the season Sunday and seventh at Yankee Stadium, Curtis Granderson tied the team record for most homers in the club’s first 10 home games, matching Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle (1956) and Yogi Berra (also in 1956) along with Alex Rodriguez (2007)… Also on Sunday, Jay Bruce became the third Reds player to homer in four straight April games, joining Hall of Famer Tony Pérez and Tony Fernandez… David Ortiz had his 38th career multi-homer game Monday, and 36th with the Sox, passing Hall of FamerJim Rice (35) and placing himself one game behind the club’s all-time leader, Hall of Famer Ted Williams… By snapping Ivan Nova’s 15-game win streak on Wednesday, the Baltimore Orioles/St. Louis Browns franchise killed a fourth 15-or-more game win streak, lumping Nova in with good company: Hall of Famers Walter Johnson (1912) andLefty Grove (1931) along with Randy Johnson (1997).
Heavenly No-No: The Angels have been blessed with good pitching for years and on Wednesday night against the Twins, Jered Weaver joined the likes of Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, Mike Witt and current teammate Ervin Santana by throwing a complete game no-hitter under the Halo. Weaver’s already got artifacts in Cooperstown: A ball from the start he made against his brother Jeff and a ball from his combined no-hitter loss with Jose Arredondo in 2008. His next task: To see if he can tie Johnny Vander Meer and throw back-to-back no-nos. He’s already shown he can blank the team he’ll face in his next start, Minnesota.
New Stuff to See: Phil Humber’s gear from his perfect game arrived. The Hall received a cap and a ball from his April 21st perfect game. And the Museum also received a jersey from the White Sox’s Paul Konerko from when Konerko hit his 400th home run on April 25. Check out our YouTube channel to see a video about how artifacts arrive in Cooperstown.
At age 92, Mel Goulart finally made it to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Monday.
A season-ticket holder of the Oakland A’s since 1968, Goulart traveled east for the first time in his life to experience the Hall of Fame with his daughter, Margaret Mary and her husband, Bill. Their five-day journey started this weekend with a visit to Niagara Falls, headed east on I-90 and will conclude on Wednesday with a trip to Fenway Park, in order to see his beloved A’s “Turn Back the Clock” when they’ll play the Red Sox in this 100th anniversary season of Fenway Park.
Goulart has been a baseball fan for nearly as long as Fenway has existed. The opportunity to celebrate his life on this baseball odyssey was the reason for this spirited visit, with Cooperstown at the heartbeat of traveling so far to experience so much of the history of the game.
A life-long Bay Area resident, Goulart has had season tickets at the Coliseum in Oakland since 1968, with his tickets marked “Section 122, Row 27, Seats 1-2” every year since.
“Those are my seats but I haven’t sat in them in years,” Goulart cracked as he visited the Museum. He now sits at the top of the section, where he’s able to avoid the stairs required with making his way down to row 27.
During his visit to Cooperstown, the Museum staff made available a few pieces of A’s history not presently on display so that Goulart could relive his own personal history through the eyes of an Oakland A’s fan. Goulart was able to hold the bat Dave Kingman used to hit his 400th career home run, back in 1985 at Seattle’s Kingdome, while playing for the A’s, as well as the cap Vida Blue wore when he threw a no-hitter in 1970.
An admitted collector himself, Goulart has signed ticket stubs from both the Oakland A’s perfect games thrown in team history – Catfish Hunter in 1968 and Dallas Braden in 2010. After all, Goulart was there for both of them.
A promising youth and semi-pro ball player in the 1930s, Goulart played against Dom DiMaggio and was a part of a Northern California baseball experience as a youth that saw many of his contemporaries make it to the major leagues.
“Dad used to say his whole life was baseball,” said his daughter, Margaret Mary. “The game has always meant so much to him.”
And at every turn, Goulart has been there, rooting for his beloved A’s. He once went across the Bay to a Giants game at Candlestick Park, but “I got dirt in my eyes because of that wind, and ever since I’ve been only a hometown rooter.”
Brad Horn is the senior director of communications and education at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and MuseumComment on this post
By TREVOR HAYES
Last week kicked off the first Seamhead Notes of the season and we talked about Jamie Moyer’s age and artifacts which have already arrived at the Hall of Fame in 2012.
Before we get in to this week’s cliff notes, there was a stat about Moyer having faced 8.9 percent of all major league batters. So, while I’m admittedly terrible at math, let me throw some numbers at you. Moyer has faced 1,430 batters at least once (totaling 17,374 plate appearances against him). As of today, 17,751 players have played in the majors, however not all have been “major league batters” thanks mostly to relief specialists, the designated hitter rule and in some part to guys who maybe played one or two games as a pinch runner or defensive replacement only. How many players have played in the majors to never get a plate appearance? There have been 1,690. Subtract that from the total number of players, then divide Moyer’s batters faced by the result: 8.9 percent of all MLB hitters since 1871.
Couple other quick residual facts from that research: Toronto’s Jason Frasor has appeared in the most games without a plate appearance at 482 and counting, followed by Arizona’s J.J. Putz. Most plate appearances without an AB award goes to Jose Parra with four (walking twice with two sac hits). Who has Jamie Moyer faced most? Former NL West rival Garrett Anderson (112 PA), while Manny Ramirez has taken him deep most (10 times) and Bernie Williams has the most hits (35 to Anderson’s 34). Okay, the last week in history:
Quick Hits: The Blue Jays broke the longest active triple play drought on Friday, turning three for the first time since 1979 – the third longest in history behind the Dodgers 47 years and 50 day drought from 1949 to 1996, and the Yankees’ 41 years and 323 days, from 1968 to 2010… Josh Willingham matched but could not break a Twins franchise record, etching his name next to two Hall of Famers in the process. He hit in 15 consecutive team games to start the season, equaling Goose Goslin in 1927 and Kirby Puckett in 1994… On Tuesday, Chipper Jones belted his fifth career birthday home run – this one marking his 40th b-day celebration. He is the seventh player go deep on his 40th-or-older birthday since 1900, including Hall of Famers Joe Morgan (1983) and Wade Boggs (1998) and current Phillie Jim Thome (2011)… On Wednesday, Paul Konerko passed Andres Galarraga and Hall of Famer Al Kaline on the all-time list with his 400th home run.
KeMVP?: If Matt Kemp was in Beast Mode last season when he made a run at the Triple Crown and finished second in MVP voting, he’s cranked Beast Mode up to full blast. Playing in his 14th game last Friday (April 20), he collected three hits and two RBIs, bringing him to 26 hits and 20 RBIs. In the span of 50 years, two other players reached 25 hits and 20 RBIs by their 15th game: Hall of Famer Willie Mays in 1962, who finished second in the MVP race, and 1997 MVP Larry Walker.
Furthermore, the following day Kemp and his partner Andre Ethier each drove in two more, giving them 22 and 21 respectively. The 1949 Red Sox are the only other team to boast teammates with more than 20 RBIs in their team’s first 15 games as Hall of Famer Ted Williams and Vern Stephens each had 21. Williams would win the AL MVP that season.
To go along with his 22 RBIs, Kemp had 27 hits and nine homers by the end of play on Saturday, April 21. Willie Mays in 1964 is the only man that can top those numbers through the first 15: 29 hits, 10 homers, 25 RBI.
New in Cooperstown: New this week in artifacts arriving at the Hall of Fame was the cap worn by Detroit’s Octavio Dotel on April 7 when he made his debut for the Detroit Tigers. A 19-year vet, Dotel has now pitched for a record 13 major-league teams, passing Matt Stairs, Ron Villone and Mike Morgan, who each played for 12 teams.
Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and MuseumComment on this post
The story of Lou Gehrig’s incomparable character and courage displayed throughout his career and his life are as impressive as the numbers that led to a plaque in Cooperstown and a legacy of Hall of Fame greatness.
When he walked away from the game he so dearly loved on July 4, 1939, Gehrig left a lasting legacy for his Yankees teammates, baseball fans and for future generations who would always celebrate his unrelenting spirit.
Each year since 1955, Phi Delta Theta International, the fraternity Gehrig pledged while at Columbia University, has presented the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award to a major league player who best exemplifies the spirit and character of Lou, both on and off the field. Since its inception, the award plaque has been in Cooperstown, where it presently resides in the Library Atrium.
The Weekend of April 20-22 in Cooperstown was “Phi Delta Theta Weekend at the Hall of Fame,” as nearly a hundred members of the Phi Delta fraternity gathered to pay tribute to Gehrig, his legacy and the role the Hall of Fame has played in maintaining and conserving the award plaque since 1955.
“Lou Gehrig is someone we can all be proud of,” said Robert L. Miller, Historian for Phi Delta Theta and key contributor to the Phi Delta Theta event in Cooperstown during his visit to the Museum. “He’s one of ours, but he exemplifies character that everyone can salute and recognize as the elite and an American icon.”
Among the participants in Cooperstown during the weekend was Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade, a tremendous baseball fan and part owner of the minor league Tennessee Smokies baseball club. For Wade, a visit to Cooperstown to salute Gehrig provided the optimal experience for a spring season getaway.
“The uniqueness of this honor for Phi Delta Theta to present the Lou Gehrig Award every year means that we are recognizing individuals who are not just good baseball players, but who are great humanitarians and exemplify the spirit of the Iron Horse,” Wade said. “Through this award, we hope that fans always remember the great character of Lou Gehrig.”
A few members of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats – a Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays – made a stop in Cooperstown Monday as they finish their trip from New Britain to Binghamton. After winning the opener against the Rock Cats, the Fisher Cats lost two and were postponed due to rain Sunday. They now face a three game-set starting tonight against the B-Mets before returning to Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester, N.H.for a seven-game homestand.
Not happy with their start to the season, several of the players’ faces lit up when they peeked through the lobby and into the plaque gallery with the Class of 1936 – Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner – at the end of the long hallowed hall. A 6-and-10 day off to reconnect with the game they love, seemed to be just what the Fisher Cats ordered.
The club returns 14 players from their 2011 Eastern League Championship. But the dream for each of the 29 players who have suited up for the Fisher Cats this season is success in the majors. Just five players have logged anytime in the majors – including Drew Hutchison who was 2-1 for New Hampshire before his major league debut last Friday, in which he started against Kansas City and earned a win after five and a third innings of work.
As the Fisher Cats got their tickets, they compared the artifacts printed on their souvenirs and started to wander the Hall, just like seven-year-old boys and not the professional athletes who will take the field an hour-and-a-half southeast of Cooperstown tonight.
The Hall of Fame is a popular stopover for minor league teams looking to escape from the grind of traveling the central New York bus circuit. It’s a chance to get perspective and dive into baseball history for a few hours, while traveling to and from places like Auburn, Batavia, Binghamton, Buffalo, Hudson Valley or Syracuse. Saturday’s perfect game author Phillip Humber visited the Hall of Fame during his two seasons with the International League’s Rochester Red Wings and now he’s made baseball history which will be preserved for future generations of fans and players to see.
‘‘I’ve seen the stuff that’s there,” the 29-year-old Humbersaid to media over the weekend. “And now, to think that something of mine is going to be there? It’s pretty awesome.’’
The Fisher Cats who visited the Museum Monday hope that with skill and a little luck, they can utter the same sentences someday.
Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
“It’s like spring break for old guys,” joked William J. Ryczek, the keynote speaker at the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Nineteenth Century Committee’s fourth annual Frederick Ivor-Campbell Base Ball Conference.
Ryczek, the author of three books on 19th century baseball, was referring to the two-day event, held at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Bullpen Theater, which concluded Saturday afternoon.
“A lot of people have done some incredible research that the general public might not be interested in hearing but to us it’s fascinating stuff,” said Ryczek, attending his fourth conference. “We all have a common interest, and for 55 of us to get together and enjoy each others company is a great time.”
Ryczek’s initial interest in 19th century baseball began in the early 1980s and came about because it was unknown to most people. “It was a big and vast void that very few people had ever touched,” he said. “So to learn about something that is unknown to most people and trying to figure out what it was all about, why things happened, why it evolved the way it did, really interested me.”
Ryczek’s used a portion of his keynote address to compare himself with the three who had given the keynote addresses in the past - John Thorn, Peter Morris and David Block – who he considers great 19th century baseball researchers.
“I’m not a great researcher. And I compare them to pitchers with a 98 mile per hour fastball like Justin Verlander and myself, in terms of research, to Jamie Moyer,” Ryczek said. “But Jamie Moyer has been a very effective major league pitcher because he knows what he can do and knows what he can’t do. He works the corners, he changes speed. I as a writer and historian can work the corners and change speeds to contribute to the knowledge of 19th century baseball.”
Attending the conference was Thorn, a prolific writer as well as Major League Baseball’s official historian, who began researching the national pastime’s pre-1900 era for many of the same reasons as Ryczek.
“What I loved about 19th century baseball when I first started looking hard at it in the early 1980s was that there were so few people who cared about it,” Thorn said. “I felt like I was going to the dark side of the moon. So much of my early work to me seemed solitary.
“So when Mark Rucker and I, who shared this enthusiasm, created the 19th century baseball research committee in 1982 we imagined that one day there might be 50 of us. And now I believe the committee size is something like 700, 800. We have a lot of people who like this stuff.”
And though Peter Mancuso, the Nineteenth Century Committee Chairman who runs the conference, initially had misgivings about holding the conference at the Hall of Fame, where it has been held since its inception, it didn’t take long to change his mind.
“I had a lot of trepidation about putting the conference in Cooperstown because I know it’s not the easiest destination to get to,” he said. “But my vice chair, Bob Bailey, was absolutely convinced that by having it in Cooperstown it would take on a life of its own. And that has really proved out to be correct.”
Bill Francis is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.Comment on this post
By DONNY LOWE
History was on display today as students from across the state filled the Hall of Fame for the New York State National History Day competition. The top two regional winners from the group documentary and individual paper groups assembled to make their presentations for their chance to move on to next round.
National History Day is a year-long educational program sponsored in New York State by the New York State Historical Association and encourages students to explore local, state, national and world history. The Hall of Fame and Museum’s Learning Center, Bullpen Theatre, and Bud Selig Center for the Archives of Major League Baseball Commissioners played host to the event. Students select a historical topic covered by the annual theme, research and create a final project that can be entered into a series of competitions, from the local to national level.
HorseheadsSenior High School student Hunter Hoobler made her presentation on Dorothea Dix in the individual paper group and was nervous before her presentation, but after the presentation said, “It is pretty amazing to come from a small town in New Yorkand come to the Hall of Fame, meet with staff, and give my presentation. It was a fun experience and I learned an interview goes much smoother when you are comfortable.”
Alyssa Baker, Abigail Sullivan and Elizabeth Renshaw of Canandaigua Central School showed their group documentary entitled Child Labor Laws: A reform for justice in the Bullpen Theater. When the judges asked why they chose the subject Renshaw said, “It was because we wanted to do a report on something still present in our own lives, something that affects us today. We have jobs and those laws help us still today.”
History Day is a way for students to connect with history and become engaged in their own past. Students not only become excited about history through their hands on experience, but they also gain valuable interview and presentation skills through the event.
Learning is an integral part of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s mission. The Hall offers students the chance to learn through events and the Education Department provides opportunities for K-12 students and teachers interactive ways to learn. These programs provide a meaningful learning experience through field trips, videoconferences and online curriculum materials that range from mathematics to science and civil rights and align with national learning standards.
Parents and students interested in National History Day can find more information and register for a competition here.
Donny Lowe is the manager web and digital media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Before and after every game in the majors and minors, club PR staffs produce game notes. They provide media with stats about how this guy does against this pitcher in this situation on this date of the week in this month. If you want to know how reigning Cy Young and MVP Justin Verlander fares in the sixth inning on the sixth day of the sixth month of the year, they’ve got it.
So throughout the season, under a new title, I’m going to be compiling a cliff notes version of history made over the past week and how it relates to the Hall of Fame. Seamheads like me (read baseball fanatics)… enjoy.
By the way, Verlander has made two career starts on June 6th, going seven innings in each. In 2007 he faced the Rangers, retiring Kenny Lofton, Michael Young and Jerry Hairston in order with seven pitches inducing a pop fly followed by a pair of grounders. In 2008 on nine pitches versus the Indians, he recorded a David Dellucci pop fly, a swinging K of Casey Blake and a flyball from Franklin Gutierrez. Very economical.
Quick Hits: Despite Hall of Famers like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson residing on the Yankees’ rolls, Curtis Granderson became the first Bomber to record a five-hit game with three dingers when he went 5-for-5 Thursday night with three home runs and a pair of singles…On Wednesday, Phillies ace Cliff Lee became the first Philadelphia pitcher to throw 10 shutout innings in a game since Steve Carlton on Sept. 21, 1981… During the Rangers’ drubbing of the Red Sox earlier in the week, Mike Napoli became the first opponent to collect three hits and four RBIs in back-to-back games at Fenway Park since Reggie Jackson with the A's in 1969…Matt Wieters’ 10th inning grand slam on Monday is one of just five extra inning slams for the Orioles in the last 50 years, a list that includes Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson on July 7, 1970.
Young at Heart, Old on the Mound: On Tuesday, Jamie Moyer became the oldest pitcher to win a game in Major League Baseball history, besting an 80-year-old record held by the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Jack Quinn. Moyer, who has faced 8.9 percent of all batters to ever play in the majors, beat the Padres at 49 years and 152 days old – topping Quinn’s record by 82 days. Moyer’s cap and his glove are on the way to the Hall of Fame.
New Stuff to See: During this young season, the Hall of Fame has been busy collecting artifacts. First to come in were a few Florida Marlins artifacts including Giancarlo (Mike) Stanton’s batting helmet complete with the Marlins “F” logo and a ball from the final game at Sun Life Stadium. More Sun Life Stadium artifacts came earlier this week when a pair of “Batters Box” seats from the final major league game played there on Sept. 28, 2011 arrived at their final home.
Along with those two Marlins offerings was a special donation from the Astros, who are celebrating their 50th anniversary this season. In March, a space helmet worn by the 1960s-era Houston groundskeepers made its way to the Museum.
Wicked Old: Fenway Park celebrated its 100th anniversary on Friday. For the team’s open house Thursday, nine artifacts from the Hall of Fame’s new FENtennial: Fenway Park’s First 100 Years exhibit as well as two Hall of Fame plaques – those of Carl Yastrzemski and Ted Williams – made the trek to Boston. Both the Yankees and the Red Sox wore throwback uniforms from 1912 on Friday.
Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.Comment on this post
The National Pastime’s earliest days were a hot topic of conversation for a group of visitors to Cooperstown on Friday.
The Society for American Baseball Research’s Nineteenth Century Committee is holding its fourth annual Frederick Ivor-Campbell Base Ball Conference at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Bullpen Theater over two days, beginning today and continuing all day Saturday. For the 55 registered attendees from across the country, it’s an opportunity to engage with others that share the same unique passion.
“I was here two years ago and it was the most fun I’ve ever had at a conference in my life, and I look forward to this year’s to be even more fun,” said Long Island’s David Nemec, an author of more than 30 books involving baseball. “The presentations are spectacular and the people are most enjoyable to be with.”
According to Peter Mancuso, the Nineteenth Century Committee Chairman who runs the conference (“actually this conference runs me,” he joked), “there’s wonderful people that participate in this conference at all levels. Even if they are not a presenter, they are in the audience asking some really profound questions. And of course we have the great talent of all of these researchers and writers – they really breathe life into the conference.”
Included among the varied research presentations are “Bridegrooms and Superbas and Dodgers … Oh My!: The Birth of Brooklyn Baseball in the 19th Century,” “The Birth of Baseball Statistics,” “Abner Graves: The Man Who Brought Baseball to Cooperstown,” “’The Great John L.’ and the National Game,” “A Comparison of Alexander Cartwright and William Wheaton” and “John B. Day, the Metropolitan Exhibition Company and the Re-establishment of Major League Baseball in New York City.”
“I learn something from almost everybody I talk to,” Nemec said. “They’ve delved into different types of research than I have. They have a different slant on certain aspects of the 19th century game. To me the 19th century game was a prism of the entire late 19th century, which was a very fluid, fast-moving time. Society and many features of the country changed very quickly, and baseball kept up with it.”
Mancuso concurred, adding, “There might be a common denominator in the room and that is a love of history. If you are a baseball enthusiast and also happen to be lover of history, this is a very unique opportunity to delve into both of those worlds. I think what really makes the conference is the people who attend it. It’s a real collection of very knowledgeable people on 19th century baseball.
“I always consider myself at this conference to be the batboy of the all-star game. I just kind of hand out the bats and they go up and hit the home runs.”
For Ivan Rodriguez, the numbers are almost beyond our ability to appreciate them.
Fourteen times an All-Star. Thirteen times a Gold Glove Award winner at catcher. More hits – 2,844 – than any other player who spent the majority of his career behind the plate. More games caught – 2,427 – than any other player.
But that’s not what I remember about Ivan Rodriguez. I remember the 19-year-old phenom who surfaced with the Rangers in 1991, gunning out would-be base stealers with such ease that his arm looked more like a whip.
I remember thinking: “This guy could hit .075 and still be the best all-around catcher in the game.”
More than two decades later, I-Rod has redefined the position in a way very few players ever have.
He’ll become eligible for election to the Hall of Fame in 2017.
When Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier 65 years ago – on April 15, 1947 at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field against the Boston Braves – he crossed the white lines on to that baseball field because he loved the game. Though he went hitless in three at-bats that April afternoon, he scored a run and handled 11 putouts at FIRST base – not the second base bag where he would become a fixture – and played the game with grace and class.
He achieved this despite having very few folks in his corner – on his team, on the opposition, in the ballpark, in the media. Perhaps only Branch Rickey, the Dodgers executive who signed Robinson, was supportive of that moment.
Had Jackie simply played the game on April 15, he would still be an important figure in American history for doing what was – at the time – thought to be the impossible. An African-American playing Major League Baseball.
But the excellence of Jack Roosevelt Robinson is that he was truly great – on the field, as a person, and in understanding his responsibility bestowed upon him on April 15, 1947.
Over the course of the next 10 major league seasons, Robinson would become one of the most dynamic players the game has ever known. He would go on to win the 1947 Rookie of the Year Award, an honor most everyone would have thought impossible on April 15 of that year.
The life of Jackie Robinson is one that we celebrate every day in Cooperstown. His impact on American culture is truly greater than the game. Players come and go. Milestones are achieved. Records are broken. But there will always be only one Jackie Robinson.
On Sunday – Jackie Robinson Day throughout baseball – we traveled his original Hall of Fame plaque to Alliance Stadium in Syracuse for fans to see how his career was immortalized in 1962, when he was elected as a first-ballot Hall of Fame player, five years after his retirement. Jackie was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame because of his achievements on the field, not because he was the first African-American to play the game.
The reference to his being the first was purposely omitted from his original plaque. Robinson did not want to be remembered simply as the first. He – and so many others – knew that he was elected to the Hall of Fame because he was one of the game’s best all-around players.
Today, when you visit Cooperstown, you will see a new plaque to honor Jackie Robinson. In 2008, the Museum took the unprecedented step to include language on his plaque to reflect his role in breaking the color barrier. With a passage of 50 years this summer since his Hall of Fame election, it is imperative that future generations know his role was very much a part of the legacy of Jackie Robinson today.
For without Jackie, and without the tremendous courage he displayed in the face of adversity and severe injustice, the game’s opportunities for players of so many cultures and races might not be possible.
Brad Horn is the senior director of communications and education for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.Comment on this post
By Donny Lowe
Today, home school students were treated to a unique educational experience at the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame’s ‘Home School Discovery’ day filled the Museum with home school students from across the area that were eager to learn more about the National Pastime with this hands-on experience.
The Museum featured multiple stations where students could take a deeper look into the history behind the art featured in the Museum’s art gallery, learn about women and girls who broke barriers to play the National Pastime, and explore how baseball equipment has evolved through the years to meet the needs of an ever-changing game.
A crowd formed around the ‘Innovation: Tools of the Trade’ station as both young and old learned how a modern baseball is made, right down to the number of stitches. Each participant eagerly awaited their turn to try on baseball gloves from when the game was in its infancy to a later model inspired by Derek Jeter.
The day was also full of interactive events where students could learn what makes the sweet spot of the bat so sweet and had the opportunity to connect live in the Bullpen Theater with the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory for a virtual tour. And before the day was out they would recreate a historic radio broadcast in the ‘Making Airwaves’ session and test their knowledge of baseball past and present during ‘So You Think You Know Baseball,’ the Hall of Fame’s interactive family game show.
To learn more about the Hall of Fame’s Home School Discovery Day program contact the Education Department at email@example.com or (607) 547-0347.
Donny Lowe is the manager, web and digital media, at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
The lady wearing the Red Sox jersey ducked under the stanchions and hurried over to the new exhibit – getting a sneak peek at history.
“Carlton Fisk used Rick Burleson’s bat to hit his home run in the 1975 World Series? I had no idea!” she said before the official opening of the Hall of Fame’s new Fenway Park exhibit. “What a story!”
It’s just one of hundreds told by FENtennial: Fenway Park’s First 100 Years – which officially opened to the public on Tuesday at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
The exhibit, located on the Museum’s second floor and included with admission to the Hall of Fame, uses artifacts like the bat Fisk used to end Game 6 of the 1975 Fall Classic – a bat he sought due to its light weight after Fisk had already caught all 12 innings of that iconic game.the public on Tuesday at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
It’s all part of the history of Fenway Park, the major leagues’ oldest cathedral which hosted its first American League game on April 20, 1912. The exhibit will remain on display through the 2012 season.
“That’s a Ted Williams jersey,” said a fan wearing a Yankees cap and jersey emblazoned with Don Mattingly’s signature No. 23. “That’s history right there.”
That’s history at the home of baseball history – in Cooperstown.
Craig Muder is the director of communications at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Today should be a national holiday. Close down the schools, shutter the offices, go home and watch baseball.
While I know this will never happen, Opening Day might be the best day of the year. Of course you’ve got the other big holidays, like Christmas, the MLB All-Star Game, New Year’s, the start and finish of the World Series and Thanksgiving. But one thing Opening Day has – shining over all the others – is the fresh start not only of the baseball season but also the beginning of summer. Yes, today’s predicted high of 47 degrees in Cooperstown isn’t exactly summer weather, but you can’t deny thinking of glorious summer days when talking about baseball.
Diehards of perennial basement dwellers like myself (a Royals fan) or say my boss (a Pirates supporter) always welcome the day in which every team is in first – though that’s not exactly true today because of last night’s opener and the Japan Series last week. Regardless, Opening Day is a day of hope, when dreamers see their franchises lifting the World Series trophy.
A fresh start. That’s what today is about. And that’s something that can be applicable to anyone, not just us seamheads who celebrate today more fervently than Columbus Day – a day which many people do get to take off.
The first Opening Day I really remember was 1994. I was too young and too new of a baseball fan – having just moved to Kansas City the prior summer – to have negative many memories of the strike. So for me, that season is marked more by my first real summer of being a baseball fan. And on Opening Day in 1994, in Mrs. Wood’s third grade classroom, the Royals game played. I bragged to my friends that my dad was in the crowd that day and vowed to go the next season. It was the coolest day of school ever, watching baseball while pretending to do math homework at my desk.
Of course it wasn’t until 2007, my first season working for the Royals, that I got to go to my first Opening Day. I skipped two classes to go and my college professors weren’t mad, instead they were jealous that I was going and they had to stay and teach.
This will be my first year not attending the Royals home opener since 2007 and I’m a little sad. Even the last three years while living here in Cooperstown, I’ve flown back home to make my pilgrimage. This year though, I’m holding out my annual Kansas City baseball trek for the All-Star Game, which will be a memorable experience in itself, but I’m sad my streak will end this season and more sad that I probably won’t make it to a major league game in April.
But I know that this Opening Day will be just as memorable as the last 18 I’ve spent as a baseball fan, watching the tickers, coming the Internet for updates while trying to get work done. It’ll be like those years in high school and college when I tried to glean every possible stat I could.
I know I won’t be as productive today as I am normally. How could I? It’s Opening Day. It’s the start to the National Pastime, the beginning of summer and a clean slate. Those sound like good enough reasons to me for a new national holiday.
Hope springs eternal today. I know in my heart the Royals will make the playoffs and win the World Series – and I wish each and every one of you a happy Opening Day!
Peter Coolbaugh brought his future bride, Renee A. Coshin, to the Hall of Fame on Monday to see the Museum’s collection of World Series rings.
Then he gave Renee a ring of her very own.
Peter proposed to Renee on Monday on the Museum’s third floor, and received the “yes” he was hoping for. The two Museum Members have known each other for about four years and have bonded through the National Pastime.
“Sports has been a huge part of our relationship,” said a tearful Renee, who was shocked when Peter popped the question. “But I had no idea he was going to do this here.”
Both Peter and Renee live in Baltimore and attend dozens of Orioles games each year. They are planning their wedding for the fall of 2013.
“I wanted to do this before Opening Day, and I think she was wondering when – not if – I was going to propose,” Peter said. “What better place to do it than right here in front of the World Series rings at the Hall of Fame.”
Craig Muder is the director of communications at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
As spring training draws to a close and teams are getting geared up for the start of the 2012 baseball season, students around the country are celebrating the return of baseball by connecting to the Hall of Fame for a unique educational experience.
The Hall of Fame’s EBBETS (Electronically Bringing Baseball Education To Students) field trip series allows students to learn about subjects such as math, civil rights history and economics, without ever leaving their classroom.
Among the more popular topics for the month of March, which happens to be Women’s History Month, was the Dirt on Their Skirts unit, which looks at the history of women in America using baseball as the backdrop.
“Learning about women in baseball reminds us all of the great women who made history just by doing what they loved,” said School Programs Associate, Emily Voss, as she spoke earlier this month to students in Linwood, N.J., about the women who broke down barriers by playing for teams like the Bloomers Girls and the Colorado Silver Bullets.
In the month of March alone, 48 classes from 17 different states (Louisiana, New York, Tennessee, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Montana, Missouri, California, Colorado, Arizona, Nebraska, West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky, South Carolina and Vermont) participated in an EBBETS field trip experience by connecting live to an educator at the Baseball Hall of Fame. In total, 765 students in grades 2-12, and 20 adults at a senior center in Ohio, connected to learn about a wide range of baseball related topics.
During the 2011-2012 school year, the education team will connect with about 15,000 students who may not otherwise have the chance to experience Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame. To learn more about the Hall of Fame’s videoconference program visit baseballhall.org/education.
Julie Wilson is the manager of school programs at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
“When they study our civilization two thousand years from now, there will only be three things that Americans will be known for: the Constitution, baseball and jazz music. They're the three most beautiful things Americans have ever created.”
So said Gerald Early, Professor of Modern Letters and the director of African and Afro-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, back in 1994, when he was interviewed for Ken Burns’ “Baseball” documentary on PBS. Since that time, lexicographers have gained access to a new set of tools: Digitized databases of full text newspapers and other publications, and they are coming up with some surprising discoveries.
One of the greatest discoveries, to date, is that “jazz” was a baseball term five years before it was a music term. “Jazz” is one of the most exciting, interesting words that American English has given to the world, and is so evocative that it was named the “Word of the Century” by the American Dialect Society in the year 2000. Over the weekend, the Boston Globe delved more into the baseball origins of jazz.
To be sure, the music that would become jazz was simmering in New Orleans and other American locales, but the name had not yet been affixed – at least in print. Some credit for this discovery, described in the above piece, certainly should go to NYU librarian George Thompson, who discovered the 1912 reference, back in 2003.
Thompson might be familiar already to baseball fans, since he made another important baseball discovery in the archives. On July 8, 2001, The Sunday New York Times carried a front-page article showcasing Thompson's discovery of two articles concerning an 1823 baseball game in Manhattan – considerably earlier than anyone had previously placed baseball in New York.
As someone who loves baseball and music – all kinds of music – the linkage of our game to jazz is extremely interesting and exciting. In the introduction to Burns’ later film on jazz, he says a couple of things about the music that could easily be about our game.
First, he says, “It has a rich tradition and its own rules, but it is brand new every night.” How many times, baseball fans, have you watched a baseball game and seen something so different or unusual that you'd never seen it before? Happens to me all the time, even though I've seen thousands of ball games.
Later in the same piece, Burns' narrator says "Above all, it swings."
Swing away, jazz, and baseball!
Tim Wiles is the director of research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Don Johnson and Jeannie Gleason love baseball – and each other.
So what better place to share their feelings – and exchange lifetime vows – than at baseball’s home in Cooperstown.
Johnson and Gleason were married Saturday at the Hall of Fame, professing their love of the game during a civil ceremony in the Museum. The two diehard New York Mets fans toured Cooperstown for the whole weekend as they launched their life together.
“Baseball is my second love – right behind Jeannie,” said Don, a subway motorman for the Metro Transit Authority in New York City. “I’ve got six years left until retirement, and then we’re moving here. This place is awesome.”
The Johnsons had planned a simple ceremony for their wedding, but hit upon the idea of getting married at the Hall of Fame when they picked up their wedding license.
“We were coming here for the honeymoon, and we thought: ‘Why not just get married here?’” Jeannie said. “We asked, and everyone at the Hall of Fame was so nice. They said: ‘Sure, come on up!’”
Now, the Johnsons’ history is part of the home of baseball history.
“I want to come to work here after I retire,” Dan said. “There’s no place like the Hall of Fame.”
The breaking news has been flying fast and furious out of Spring Training this week.
Chipper Jones is retiring. Andy Pettitte is returning. And the conjecture is resuming: Will either or both of these two fantastic players make it to Cooperstown?
Predicting the future of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame vote is best left to those who have a vote. But the eligibility rules for Hall of Fame candidates remain perfectly clear.
Start with Chipper, who announced Thursday that the 2012 season will be his last as a Braves player. If he plays in at least one game this year and hangs ‘em up as planned, Jones would be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2018. Eligible candidates must not have appeared in a big league game in five straight seasons, meaning Jones would need to stay retired in 2013, ’14, ’15, ’16 and ’17 before he appears on the BBWAA ballot.
The 1999 National League Most Valuable Player has 454 home runs and 1,561 in both the runs and RBI categories – talk about symmetry – entering the 2012 season. Among Hall of Fame third basemen – Chipper has made 82 percent of his big league appearances in the field at the hot corner – only Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews have more home runs and only Schmidt and George Brett have more RBI (Jones trails Brett, the Hall of Fame leader among third basemen, by just 35 RBI).
Pettitte, meanwhile, is returning to the big leagues after retiring following the 2010 season. Technically, Pettitte’s Hall of Fame clock has not yet been reset – since that happens only when a player appears in a regular-season game.
As of today, Pettitte remains eligible for the Hall of Fame Class of 2016 – assuming he adds 2012, ’13, ’14 and ’15 to his non-active 2011 season. The 240-game winner, who also holds the MLB record for most postseason wins with 19, has pitched in 16 big league seasons and been a part of eight World Series teams and five World Series champions.
It’s always a thrill when you get to meet a boyhood hero. And at the annual New York State Baseball Coaches Association Clinic at the Hall of Fame on Friday, I got to do just that.
My family moved to back to Kansas City in 1993, just in time for me to catch Brian McRae’s last two seasons as a Royal. Both of those seasons were the formative years when I chose players from the team being managed by Brian’s dad Hal – a fellow Royals legend – to be my favorites. During that two year span, I proudly declared notables like the younger McRae, Mike MacFarlane and 1994 Rookie of the Year Bob “The Hammer” Hamelin (and his coke-bottle glasses) as my favorites.
Retired for 13 years now McRae, now 44, lives in Kansas City and was in Cooperstown to talk to New York State coaches about their practices, approaches to the season and share tips that he used to play 10 seasons in the majors.
McRae said it had been since 2003 or 2004 since he’s been back to the Hall of Fame – a place he’d visited three times before. His favorite part?
“The Buck O’Neil statue, with me being a Kansas City guy and having a good relationship with Buck O’Neil during his time in Kansas City and I’ve spent time at the Negro Leagues Museum, so that’s kind of a neat thing,” he said. “That was once of the first things I saw when I came in. That was neat seeing that and Buck’s legacy will stand for as long as people are talking about baseball.”
During the clinic McRae talked hitting, defense, fundamentals and drills. He related his experiences to the coaches, giving them examples of what made him successful, for example McRae was an infielder-turned-outfielder. So when asked about how to keep young high school outfielders involved and interested, he said he brought his infielder mindset to the outfield.
“Every inning, I thought the ball was going to be hit to me,” he said. “I’m out here because I can do a job. I don’t want to be caught off guard. When the game is over, I’m mentally drained because I just calculated 150 pitches I thought were going to be hit to me.”
Aside from emphasizing defense – caring about your work in the field and not just at the plate – McRae talked about how he lets players use their natural talents and only highlights fundamentals such as making sure the batter is taking the shortest distance to the ball in order to square up, but he won’t mess with a player’s hands. Plenty of players have found success without “proper” mechanics, like Gary Sheffield’s wiggling bat or Kevin Youkilis’ bat held over his head.
“They found a way,” McRae said. “You wouldn’t teach that, but as you can see there are a lot of ways that you can be successful, there’s not a textbook way. So I don’t like the cookie-cutter way that everybody has to stand this way and everybody has to hold their hands this way. Because people have different shapes, sizes skill sets and you just have to find a way to work from there.”
For the former center fielder, clinics like Friday’s are almost par for the course – in some form helping younger players improve. While last week’s event was all about helping the coaches improve their programs, McRae runs a non-profit baseball organization in Kansas City called the Kansas City Sluggers, does speaking engagements through the Royals Alumni and this summer will coach a summer league team in the Coastal Plains League in Moorhead City, N.C.
“I enjoy working with the high school-age kids, college-age kids,” McRae said. “That’s where I feel I can relate the most and get the most out of them and where I feel my expertise fits. It keeps me fresh and keeps me young.”
By Jenny Ambrose
“That’s what it looks like.”
When Hall of Famer Pee Wee Reese saw Alex Traube’s photographs, he claimed the images “captured something about Spring Training – about baseball in general – which is recognizable and true to anyone who has spent time in training camps and ballparks.”
This year, the Baseball Hall of Fame Library has an extra special reason to celebrate the return of Spring Training. Photographer Alex Traube donated the images he shared with Reese to the Museum’s permanent photographic collection. Traube’s donation consists of 79, 11 x 14 inch, black and white photographs depicting Grapefruit League Spring Training in Florida in 1978, 1979 and 1980. And Pee Wee was right: The images truly capture the character of spring training.
Traube had press access to training venues, “but was entirely on my own in terms of who and what I shot,” he said.
Traube used his creativity and skill with a camera to create a portfolio of work that is remarkable both for its aesthetic quality and content. He took informal portraits of players sitting in the dugout, warming up before a game, or hanging out by the batting cage. He captured players being interviewed or photographed by the media, or signing autographs for fans. The photographs show games in progress and batting practice. Traube photographed fans in the stands wearing the striking plaids and checks particular to the era. He depicted teammates lined up across the field hats over hearts for the playing of the National Anthem, kilted marching bands, and members of a color guard rehearsing.
The photographs provide an inside view into day-to-day events at spring training, and express the flavor of preseason from an earlier decade. Reese wrote that the images “present us with a portrait of the rituals which are an everyday reality to the players.”
Traube’s photographs are now part of the Hall of Fame’s collection of more than 500,000 images, documenting every aspect of the game of baseball. They join hundreds of other photographs depicting Spring Training from the early 20th Century to the present.
Jenny Ambrose is the curator of photographs at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
It was the summer of my discontent, when baseball stopped.
For almost two months in 1981, I slept on the couch in our den – seemingly uprooted from my bed due to the cataclysmic work stoppage that rocked the National Pastime. I woke up each day and flipped on the TV (we had no access to ESPN back then, so it was the national networks) to see if the strike had ended.
Finally, on July 31, it was over. The season would resume after 713 games were canceled. And it would start with the All-Star Game in Cleveland.
On August 9, baseball returned before 72,086 fans at Cleveland Stadium. Gary Carter was the hero.
Carter’s two solo home runs – one in the fifth that tied the game at one and another in the seventh that cut the American League’s lead to 4-3 – helped the National League prevail 5-4.
More importantly, it showed that baseball was stronger than any work stoppage.
I cheered for Gary Carter that day and his performance was rewarded with the All-Star Game MVP Award.
That season Carter's Expos made their lone playoff appearance, thanks in large part to the Kid. Three years later, during one of the best seasons of his career – hitting .294 with 27 homers and a league leading 106 RBIs – Carter would again earn the All-Star Game MVP Award with another key home run.
To date, Carter is one of four players to receive the honor, joining Willie Mays, Steve Garvey and Cal Ripken.
He made baseball a better game – and the world a better place. He will be missed.
By Jeff Idelson
I’ll never forget May 20th and 21st of 2011.
I embarked on a 24-hour journey for an aspect of my job that is never comfortable and always sad: Attending a funeral.
Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew had passed away in Arizona. After lunch with Robin Yount, Paul Molitor and their wives, as well as Bob Nightengale, my friend with USA Today, I headed back to the airport to take a redeye flight home.
As I sat on the flight and drifted off, I wondered what else could happen. Harmon’s passing was the last of six Hall of Famers who had passed away in the last year: Robin Roberts, Sparky Anderson, Bob Feller, Duke Snider and Dick Williams.
As I de-boarded my flight in Newark to change planes that next morning, May 21st, my phone began to ring. It was The Kid, and I smiled. I always looked forward to conversations with Gary Carter because he was so positive, so uplifting and had a zest for life.
This time, the call was different.
Gary explained that he had been inventorying equipment with his coaches for Palm Beach Atlantic University, where he was the head baseball coach. He told me he had lost count a few times and even snapped at some of his colleagues, and he did not know why. Very uncharacteristic of the most positive person I had come to know in Baseball.
I immediately thought about what I had been reading, about the recent rash of concussions in football. “I bet you have a concussion from all of those collisions you took,” I quickly blurted out, as if I could solve the problem. Gary waited patiently for me to finish and said, “No, it’s actually four tumors wrapped around my brain.” And then he quickly added, “But I am not scared, because I have my family around me and I am going to beat this.”
And that was the essence of Gary Carter.
He fought gallantly with his family by his side, at every step. He went to Duke Medical Center to learn more. It was actually one tumor with four tentacles. And he could not have surgery: His cancer was inoperable.
Gary called the next day.
“It’s inoperable, which is going to make this a little bit tougher, but I’ll beat this,” he told me confidently. “I have my family and my faith and with that, we’ll get through this, Jeffrey,” he said. “I plan to be at Hall of Fame Weekend to see everyone.”
It never happened.
Gary was so generous of time and spirit. He traveled to Cooperstown for the 2010 Hall of Fame Classic over Father’s Day Weekend and then to Cooperstown a month later for the induction of Andre Dawson, Doug Harvey and Whitey Herzog. That would be his last visit to the place he adored so much and the Classic was the final time he participated in a baseball game. The fans adored him.
“Gary was so proud to be a Hall of Famer,” his widow Sandy told me on the phone yesterday afternoon after letting me know of Gary’s peaceful passing.
And “proud” sums up the Kid so well. He was proud of wearing a major league uniform for 19 seasons, of being a Hall of Famer, of his family and his friends.
We lost a good one yesterday. Rest in Peace #8. We miss you.
Jeff Idelson is the president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) celebrated its annual National SABR Day on Saturday, Jan. 28, with local chapters holding meetings throughout North America. The Baseball Hall of Fame recognized the work of this organization by hosting a meeting of the Cliff Kachline Chapter in the Hall of Fame’s Bullpen Theater.
Chapter president Jeff Katz opened the meeting with some general business items, including a discussion of how to promote the summer meeting which occurs every year on the Sunday evening of Induction Weekend. The chapter will try to set up a tent to hand out information that weekend. The meeting is open to all, and interested parties should drop by the tent to learn more. Research presentations were then delivered by chapter members.
The presentations included one from Professor Jon Arakaki of the State University of New York-Oneonta, who has been conducting research on the appearance of baseball on the covers of Sports Illustrated from 1954 to date. He has examined 3,299 covers for which 605 or 18.3 percent are baseball related, only five of which do not concern the major leagues. Of all the baseball covers, appearances were broken down by person, team, race and gender. The most revealing numbers relate to the breakdown by race.
During the 1950s, 88% of Sports Illustrated covers were related to Caucasians, 9% to African-Americans, and 3% to Hispanics. By the 1990s these figures had changed to 55% for Caucasians, 28% for African-American, and 16% for Hispanics. This data served to support Arakaki’s general conclusions that these magazine covers mirror our culture and represent what is a hot topic, and that they also serve to suggest who wields cultural influence at any time.
Anyone seeking additional information on the Society of American Baseball Research can check out their web site, www.sabr.org, and anyone interested in becoming involved in baseball research should consider becoming a member. The next meeting of the Cliff Kachline Chapter will be Sunday evening, July 22nd.
Jim Gates is the Librarian at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
On Sunday, World Wrestling Entertainment will air the 25th annual Royal Rumble on pay-per-view. Millions of fans all over the world are expected to tune in to see John Cena, Zach Ryder, C.M. Punk, Mick Foley and all the top WWE superstars battle for a chance to be in the main event at WrestleMania: The World Series of professional wrestling.
Professional Wrestling and baseball have a storied history. Major Leaguers like baseball’s all-time hit king Pete Rose and long-time White Sox backstop A.J. Pierzynski have participated in numerous major professional wrestling events. Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets from 1964-2009, hosted a series of WWE wrestling events featuring Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan and Bruno Sammartino, from 1972 to 1980.
WWE Legend “Macho Man” Randy Savage was a professional baseball player in the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds minor league systems before turning his sights to a career in sports entertainment. Hall of Fame third baseman Pie Traynor was a wrestling announcer for Pittsburgh’s Studio Wrestling program in the 1960s. And current WWE star Mick Foley came to Cooperstown in 2006 to give a talk at the National Baseball Hall of Fame on the baseball book he authored, Scooter.
Professional wrestling’s connection to baseball, specifically the National Baseball Hall of Fame, goes back farther than that. It goes back nearly a century – to 1914.
On April 23, 1914, at the Polo Grounds in New York City, the prodigal son returned. Star outfielder Mike Donlin, owner of a career .334 batting average at the time, came back to the New York Giants after being sold to the Boston Braves three years earlier. In honor of his return, prominent New York Giants supporters, among them politicians, actors, song writers and theatre owners, got together and presented “Turkey Mike” with a specially made trophy bat during pre-game ceremonies, honoring him as the most popular Giants player.
The Master of Ceremonies for this event was prominent New York wrestling and boxing ring announcer Joe Humphreys. Among the team boosters who had this trophy bat made for presentation to Donlin was Jess McMahon.
Jess McMahon, a prominent wrestling and boxing promoter in his own right, is the grandfather of the “Babe Ruth” of wrestling promoters, Vince McMahon. Vince McMahon is the owner of World Wrestling Entertainment, the organization that revolutionized professional wrestling from the local, regionalized exhibitions of the pre-1980s, to the world-wide, multi-million dollar phenomenon that it is today.
This bat was donated to the Hall of Fame in 1963 by Mike Donlin’s widow, Rita.
Freddy Berowski is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
By Samantha Carr
This Saturday, some of baseballs best minds will meet in cities across the country to celebrate the third annual SABR Day.
More than 30 chapters of The Society for American Baseball Research are scheduled to meet on Jan. 28, 2012 from Washington State all the way to Puerto Rico and internationally. Some chapters choose to get together and talk baseball, some play catch out in the snow and some hold research presentations with knowledgeable speakers.
“Chapters all over the country will be celebrating on Saturday,” said Hall of Fame Librarian Jim Gates. “And we will be part of that here in Cooperstown.”
SABR’s chapter in Cooperstown, the Cliff Kachline Chapter, will gather at 1 p.m. Saturday at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The meeting will convene in the Bullpen Theater and feature special guest speakers whose topics range from Sports Illustrated covers and their relation to the times to the rise of NL President Harry Pulliam and pitching.
SABR has nearly 7,000 members world-wide and was formed in August of 1971 in Cooperstown at the Baseball Hall of Fame Library. Hall of Fame members and fans are encouraged to attend and participate in the celebration.
“SABR was born in Cooperstown and now we are helping SABR celebrate its birthday,” said Gates.
Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Barry Larkin discovered exactly what it means to be a Hall of Famer Monday afternoon.
“I got the call to say I had been elected,” Larkin said. “And the next thing I knew I had 400 text messages to respond to. I’m down to 298 now.”
It will take Larkin weeks to respond to all the congratulatory notes he received after becoming the 24th shortstop elected to the Hall of Fame. His phone was filled with messages from ESPN co-workers like Karl Ravech and former teammates like Hall of Famer Tony Perez.
But the one message that almost didn’t get through belonged to a special fan.
“My daughter told me someone had called for me… She said it was Ben or Bub…,” Larkin said. “I said: ‘You mean Bud? Bud Selig?’ I couldn’t believe the Commissioner took time to call.
“It’s wonderful how many people have called or sent messages. You just can’t believe the outpouring of support.”
The incredibly humble Larkin is a favorite throughout the baseball community for his skill on the field and character off it. Few generate the universally positive reaction he draws, and it seems all of Cincinnati is celebrating the election of their hometown hero.
The Class of 2012 couldn’t be classier.
Craig Muder is the director of communications of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
By Jon Arakaki
It all started with the December 2006 issue of Memories and Dreams, the official magazine of the Baseball Hall of Fame .
Curator Lenny DiFranza’s article on the first artifacts donated to the Museum featured a 1938 photo of the Honolulu Conservatory of Music building on Main Street in Cooperstown, which was demolished to make way for the Hall of Fame and Museum. Being that I was born and raised in Hawaii, I wondered how in the world a conservatory from back home ended up in Cooperstown, let alone on the site of the Hall.
Recently, with the assistance of local historians in Cooperstown, and Museum and library staffs in Flint, Michigan and Cleveland, I was able to piece together a part of the story – although a few mysteries remain.
The Oahu Publishing Company/Honolulu Conservatory of Music was established in Flint, Michigan in the mid-1920s by half brothers Harry G. Stanley and George A. Bronson. Why Flint? Because of the auto industry, Flint attracted workers from across the U.S., including Hawaii (a territory at the time). By all indications, the Hawaiians brought their music with them, and this provided the impetus for the brothers to capitalize on the nationwide craze for this music by publishing sheet music and providing guitar instruction. Eventually, they opened 1,200 studios across the U.S., Canada, and other foreign countries.
Interestingly, one of these studios found its way to Cooperstown. In the Feb. 11, 1938 issue of The Otsego Farmer, an ad announced that Philip J. Colwell opened a Honolulu Conservatory of Music location on 29 Pioneer Street. It also invited residents to learn the “slides, slurs, variations and trick playing that puts the Hawaiian guitar in first place today.”
Business must have been brisk – on April 20, 1938, an article in The Freeman’s Journal stated that Colwell moved to a larger location at 33 Main Street, the site of the current Museum. This takes us back to the photo in Lenny’s article. By the time of the Museum’s dedication on June 12, 1939, the Conservatory building was long gone. Colwell’s business was listed in the 1938 Cooperstown Village Directory, but was nowhere to be found when the next directory was published in 1940.
So what happened? There are no indications that Colwell moved to a new location, or opened other studios in the area. Why did he fold up a business that seemed to be thriving and riding the wave of Hawaiian music’s popularity? These are questions I will continue to pursue.
Ultimately, while there wasn’t the direct connection between Cooperstown and my home state that I had hoped for, I was glad to learn about the spread of the islands’ music across the country. And I know that once Hawaiian natives Sid Fernandez, Benny Agbayani and Shane Victorino are inducted into the Hall – or so I hope – the Hawaiian connection will truly be complete!
Jon Arakaki is a Library volunteer at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and a professor at SUNY Oneonta.
The gray-haired gentlemen emerged from the entrance foyer at the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday – and no introductions were necessary.
Bob Feller, their father, could be seen in their faces. And even though it's been more than a year since Bob passed away, the visit of his sons Steve and Bruce brought the memories to life in Cooperstown.
Steve and Bruce stopped by the Hall of Fame on Wednesday to donate two documents to the Museum's Library. One was an original scorecard from their father's legendary Opening Day no-hitter on April 16, 1940. The other: Bob Feller's original contract with the Indians, hand-written on the back of stationery from a Des Moines, Iowa, hotel and signed by Feller and scout Cy Slapnicka.
"These were both in Dad's house when he passed, squirreled away in the attic," Steve Feller said. "We remember the scorecard hanging in our rec room when we were kids."
The scorecard documents the only game in big league history where all players on one team started and finished the game with the same batting average: All White Sox batters were hitting .000 after the game.
But the contract is equally fascinating. The deal gave Feller a $1 bonus, and provided that he would visit his "folks" anytime he wanted during the 1936 season, plus provided that he could play basketball in his off hours. The deal indicated that Feller would start the season playing for a team in Fargo, N.D., but the fireballing phenom went right to the majors to begin his career.
During their stop in the Museum, the Feller brothers took a look at their Dad's Hall of Fame plaque as well as others located nearby.
"Elmer Flick – he used to come to my baseball games in Solon (Ohio)," said Steve Feller of his youth baseball days. "And Hank Greenberg – we played with his sons."
It was all part of a unique childhood with an iconic father.
"These belong here – in Cooperstown," said Bruce Feller of his father's documents. "Dad would have wanted it that way, and so do we."
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.
There’s a colloquialism here in Ponce that speaks to the bravado of this southern coast historic town in Puerto Rico...”Ponce es Ponce.”
Indeed on Monday night, "Ponce is Ponce" was on full display at a local gymnasium used mostly for volleyball, named for a great basketball player from Ponce, Juan “Pachin” Vicens.
The people of Ponce turned out in droves to see the Hall of Fame plaques and were entertained by a rousing program, featuring mayor Maria Melendez Altieri’s infectious enthusiasm in presenting proclamations to Vera Clemente, Tony Perez and Roberto Alomar. The mayor also expressed her deepest thanks to the Hall of Fame and presented us gifts to show her appreciation.
Born in Ponce and raised in nearby Salinas, Robbie was the star of the evening, returning to his birthplace in the year of his Hall of Fame induction to boisterous applause. Father Sandy Sr. was also in attendance, as was Luis Clemente, Pituka Perez (Tony’s wife) and Ponce native and former Yankees reliever Luis Arroyo, who, along with Vic Power, became the first Puerto Ricans selected for an All-Star Game in 1955.
Smiles were abundant, as both Robbie and Tony spoke passionately of their appreciation for the people of Ponce. Alomar spoke in praise of how much it means to be a native son of Ponce, while Perez talked of the memories he’s shared over the years in this community, including watching winter league games here, when his son Eduardo, managed the Ponce club.
One of the single best moments of the entire trip served as the final touch to the plaque tour. Erik Strohl, our senior director for exhibitions and collections, told Sandy Sr. that he should have the honor of placing his son's plaque in its case for the long journey home. Known by his given name here on the island, Santos was aglow as he held Robbie’s plaque, beaming with joy only a father could understand. Kudos to Erik for providing Sandy a memory of a lifetime.
As the plaques were packed securely by Erik and Evan Chase, our security director, the expression on the faces of our hosts for the last four days was simply priceless. Proud, joyous, exuberant, thankful and honored were the words said, but not uttered, in the universal language of visual emotion. No words were needed to understand what this journey was all about.
Moments later, Jeff, Erik, Evan and I were on board our Department of Sports and Recreation van, bound for the 110-mile journey back to the north end of the island. A police escort the entire way from Ponce to San Juan spoke volumes about the importance of this outreach to the commonwealth.
There's a shared emotion many of us have in Cooperstown on the Monday afternoon following induction weekend every year. We are always happy that we have reached the end, knowing that we have done our absolute best to deliver lifetime memories to so many people for celebration unlike any other in baseball. Yet, we have a sadness that the journey has ended far too soon.
As the sun rose this morning while we taxied on the runway at Luis Munoz Airport in San Juan bound for Charlotte and then Albany and Cooperstown, I looked out my window and was overcome with emotion. I was reminded of that post-Induction feeling we have at the end of July in Cooperstown. For the last four days on this island, we did what we as an organization does best - made the dreams of others come true. And for the first time ever, we did so with the great fans of Puerto Rico.
There's a line spoken by Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory that motivates me everyday that I have the high honor to represent the Hall of Fame: "We are the music makers and the dreamers of the dreams."
Understanding that baseball has the power to connect cultures, families and memories unlike anything else has never appeared more genuine than what transpired over the last four days. The people of Puerto Rico were so honored and moved by this celebration that is impossible not to be realize that for so many we encountered, this was truly a dream come true that we were able to facilitate.
“From Puerto Rico to Cooperstown. From Cooperstown to Puerto Rico.”(in Spanish: “De Borinquen a Cooperstown. De Cooperstown a Borinquen.”)
It served as the title for our journey - in English and Spanish - and as we return home, it is crystal clear the journey doesn't end, and it does not have boundaries created by language. Rather, it continues a cycle of baseball history celebrated for nearly a century in the universal appreciation for the game and its heroes.
We are so honored and thankful for your kindness and hospitality, to everyone we encountered and all of those who shared a memory by viewing these treasures and baseball heroes.
Gracias Puerto Rico!
Brad Horn is the senior director of communications and education at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
The morning visit to Guayama, Puerto Rico, on Sunday carried a similar theme for the visit of the four Hall of Fame plaques and the individuals so honored: Family. Or in this case, familia.
Scheduled as a visit to celebrate the hometown and birthplace of Roberto Alomar’s mother, Guayama was the second stop of this four-city tour, with the plaques on display at the Guayama Convention Center.
Droves of local residents turned out to salute their baseball heroes. During a one-hour presentation, the mayor of Guayama, Glorimari Jaime Rodriguez, presented special proclamations for each of the three living Hall of Fame members and to Vera and Luis Clemente, representing the legacy of Roberto.
Alomar told the crowd, “This is a day that I will never forget. For the Hall of Fame family to share in this special place for me and my family is a great honor.”
Tony Perez and his wife, Pituka, shared in the excitement, as did Orlando Cepeda, who talked of his father, Perucho, playing in Guayama in his baseball career.
A special appearance before the program began by former major leaguer Jose “Cheo” Cruz was a welcome addition to the Hall of Fame lineup.
Mayor Rodriguez led an inspired program that featured comments from the head of Guayama’s youth baseball program.
Rafael Serrano, the director of Museo Deporte in Guaynabo, shared a bit of history with the audience, describing how in 1938, when professional baseball was born in Puerto Rico, it was Guayama who was the best in the game, with Perucho Cepeda and Satchel Paige leading the way.
It was a morning for familia in so many ways.
Between cities on Day 3, the Hall of Famers and traveling party stopped in a Ladi’s Place on the waterfront in Salinas. Facing the Caribbean Sea and at the end of a seemingly quiet neighborhood, Ladi’s was the place to be on a Sunday afternoon, as we were hosted as guests of Roberto Alomar. Robbie’s childhood friend from “el barrio” in Salinas, Juan M. Gonzalez is proprietor of Ladi’s and he orchestrated an epic lunch for our traveling party.
Robbie used to play baseball and basketball right around the corner from here, and today they are playing “host” to this great group. Among the most popular dishes enjoyed were Mofongo Mariscada – a sampling of lobster, shrimp, octopus and conch. We met several members of Robbie’s family and enjoyed Caribbean music. Thank you – muchas gracias – to Juan and all of the great folks at Ladi’s Place for hosting us.
Once in Salinas, the plaques were put on display at the Olympic Training facility, where a Sunday afternoon turned into Sunday night.
The afternoon and evening portion of the southern region visit in Puerto Rico featured a stop and tour of the Olympic Training Complex in Salinas. This place has it all, including a great museum dedicated to Puerto Rico’s rich Olympic sports history.
While the plaques were on display, three members of the Alomar baseball playing family were on hand. The guest of honor, Roberto, was joined by his father, Sandy Sr., and his uncle, Rafael, a great Puerto Rican ballplayer.
In fact, Rafael collected the first hit in the history of Puerto Rico’s jewel baseball field, Hiram Bithorn Stadium in October 1962.
Robbie was greeted by fans of all ages and backgrounds, many who attended elementary and high school with him.
One fan even had an enlarged team photo of Robbie’s Salinas Little League team when he was 9 years old, with a cheery Alomar pictured in the center of the team photo, clearly representing his baseball acumen, even at an early age.
When the night concluded, the caravan moved to Ponce, where the four-day tour comes to an end Monday.
Sunday will always be one remembered for family, appreciation, and the impact Roberto Alomar has had throughout his life here on the southern coast of Puerto Rico.
A very special surprise awaited Tony Perez on Friday night during the opening ceremonies of the Puerto Rico plaque tour at the Museo del Deporte de Puerto Rico in Guaynabo.
Joined by fellow Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar and Orlando Cepeda, along with Vera Clemente, the widow of Roberto Clemente, Perez was soaking in an evening of great baseball memories for Museum supporters and the unveiling of the Hall of Fame plaques on loan from Cooperstown, N.Y., for four days here in the baseball-rich island commonwealth when the surprise announcement came.
With both of his sons – Eduardo, the former major leaguer, and Victor, an actor presently living in London – in attendance, Perez received an unexpected recognition during the ceremony, as Henry Neumann, Secretary of the Department of Sports and Recreation for Puerto Rico, brought a special declaration from Governor Luis Fortuno.
Neumann read the proclamation of Tony Perez as an official “native son” of Puerto Rico, recognizing him for his dedication to the commonwealth as a family and community member, and for his impressive baseball accolades achieved while representing the island.
“We thank Tony for all that his adopted Puerto Rican man has done for Puerto Rican sports, for his native homeland, and for his children’s homeland,” said Neumann.
For Perez, who immigrated to Puerto Rico from Cuba at age 16, the honor was beyond emotional.
“It is not too easy to talk today,” said Perez to the audience of dignitaries and Museum supporters. “Since I have lived here, I feel like a Puerto Rican. I was welcomed with open arms when I got here. My wife (Pituka) has been welcomed here, my children were born here. My friends live here. This is my home.”
Following the ceremony, the plaques were unveiled and on Saturday morning, visitors began filing into the Museo del Deporte to see the plaques of their Puerto Rican heroes – Perez included – on display from Cooperstown.
Long-considered a Puerto Rican at heart, Tony Perez celebrated Friday night with the formal recognition from his adopted homeland as one of their own.
Throughout the day on Saturday, a steady stream of visitors from around the island made their way to Guaynabo to see the Hall of Fame plaques of the four Puerto Rican Hall of Fame legends.
At the Museo de Deporte del Puerto Rico, thousands filed through all day, just waiting to catch a glimpse of the Cooperstown representations of their island heroes.
One Museo visitor, Hector from nearby Bayamon, came to see Orlando Cepeda's plaque. Hector loves the Yankees and has long-followed another Puerto Rican baseball hero, Bernie Williams.
Following the public display at the Museo on Saturday night, the Hall of Fame team was treated to a night at the ballpark, as the Gigantes de Carolina hosted the Indios de Mayaguez in Puerto Rican Winter League action at Roberto Clemente Stadium.
The evening was arranged by Puerto Rican baseball historian and author Jorge Colon Delgado. A great friend to the Hall of Fame, Jorge has been one of the several islanders who made this experience seamless for us in Cooperstown.
Colon, one of the foremost historians on baseball in Puerto Rico and the statistician of the Puerto Rican Winter Leagues, has his fingers on the pulse of baseball on the island.
On Saturday night, he made our evening a very memorable experience, providing an inside look at baseball in the Caribbean leagues.
Upon arrival at the beautiful – and I mean truly beautiful – Roberto Clemente Stadium, a 12,000-seat treasure for the city of Carolina and the people of Puerto Rico, we headed right to the home clubhouse to see manager Edwin Rodriguez, who guided the Florida Marlins for the first half of the 2011 season.
Edwin, and his coaching staff of major league veterans, including Orlando Merced, Tome Cruz and others, were putting the final touches on their pre-game plan against Mayaguez, but took out time to share stories and pass along the plaque postcards of the four Puerto Rican Hall of Famers to their team.
Moments later, Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson was introduced and whisked to the mound to deliver the ceremonial first pitch. This was a very important moment to the people of Puerto Rico, as it marked the first time a representative from Cooperstown has thrown out a first pitch. As expected, without any preparation, Jeff displayed extreme coolness and confidence in delivering a strike to Carolina catcher Rene Rivera, who appeared in 27 games for the Minnesota Twins in 2011.
Both rosters were highlighted with current and former major league stars, ranging from Carolina's Pedro Valdes, who is someone of a local icon in Carolina by virtue of playing for the same Carolina club for many years in a career that included stints in Texas and Seattle, to Brendan Harris, Hiram Boccachica, Alex Cintron and Jesus Feliciano, among others.
During the game, we were showered with kindness from the Giagantes staff, sampling the local fare including empanadillas, carne frittas and the Puerto Rican version of chicken tacos.
We left Carolina with a full diet of local fare and flair, resting for two days of travels, starting Sunday morning, with the visits of the plaques to Guayama, Salinas and Ponce still on tap for the next 36 hours.
We were so thankful to the kind people of Carolina for making our evening possible, especially to Hector, Guillermo, Angelica, Edwin and everyone we met. Thanks to Jorge and his ever-lasting kindness, the game provided the ultimate transition halfway through our journey.
Here in Guaynabo, the opening ceremonies for the Puerto Rico plaque tour got under way on Friday night.
On stage, Hall of Famers Tony Perez, Orlando Cepeda and Robbie Alomar were joined by Vera Clemente in a festive reception at the Museum del Deporte de Puerto Rico.
Hall of Fame plaques of the three living Puerto Rican stars, along with the plaque of Roberto Clemente, are making their way around the island this weekend.
Other baseball dignitaries in attendance on Friday included Robbie's father, Sandy, and Tony's son, Eduardo, both former major league stars, along with former big league pitcher Ed Figueroa. Former wrestler Alvin Lopez, aka Barabas, was also in attendance.
Students from the Guaynabo School for the Arts also performed traditional Puerto Rican musical entertainment.
The festivities continue with the public viewing of the plaques today here at the Museo.
On Sunday, the plaques will visit Guyama in the morning and Salinas in the afternoon. The tour concludes Monday in Ponce.
By Erik Strohl
On Friday morning, Hall of Fame director of security Evan Chase and I were picked up at our hotel and driven to the Sports Museum of Puerto Rico in Guaynabo by local baseball historian extraordinaire Jorge Colon Delgado. Jorge also met us at the airport on arrival Thursday night, and he has been exuding excitement about our visit from the first minute.
Bringing the Hall of Fame plaques of Roberto Alomar, Orlando Cepeda, Roberto Clemente and Tony Perez to Puerto Rico has everyone connected to the Museum feeling giddy. They have been working hard for months in anticipation of our visit. It is obvious that much time has been spent in preparation for this event.
When we arrived at the Museum shortly after 10 a.m. on Friday, we were greeted by Rafi Serrano and a number of his staff who were working hard in final preparation for this evening’s extravaganza. The purpose of our morning’s visit was to supervise the installation of the four plaques.
It is obvious much care has been taken in order for the presentation of the plaques to look topnotch. The Museum constructed four sided wooden pillars about seven feet high. One side contains the plaque, while the opposite side will house a TV showing highlights from each player. The other two sides contain photos from each player's career from both their time in Puerto Rico as well as the major leagues. One of these pillars has been built for each of the four Hall of Famers.
Several employees jumped right in as the sound of power tools and the sight of screwdrivers became immediately prevalent. The employees all gathered around in excitement as each of the plaques was installed in succession. Everyone was taking photos and each staff member was pitching in. It was a fun moment and obvious to us that just participating in this pre-event was a special moment for each one of our hosts. The installation took about 15 minutes or so for each plaque, finishing up the job in a little over an hour.
Tonight will be the main event and we are all very excited. It is hopeful that the Governor of Puerto Rico will be able to attend, as well as many other local mayors and other dignitaries. And of course Alomar, Cepeda, and Perez will be present, along with Vera Clemente and other members of the Clemente family. It is sure to be a fun-filled evening and an unbridled celebration of Puerto Rican baseball.
The people here are so passionate about the game. Just hearing them talk about their heroes and the anticipation for this evening is enough to make any baseball fan feel humbled, including members of the Hall of Fame staff like myself. It is a reminder what a powerful hold baseball has on many people of various localities around the world. We have been here less than 24 hours and we already feel so very special because of the unbelievable hospitality we have received.
I can't wait for tonight. It is sure to be one special evening filled with smiles, laughter, and perhaps even a few tears. It is wonderful to see how much this game and its history mean to the people of Puerto Rico.
Erik Strohl is the senior director of exhibitions and collections for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Twelve years ago, the Hall of Fame corrected a faux pas. At the time of it’s origination, it was barely noticed, but in today’s world was considered a glaring mistake.
In 1973, when he was posthumously elected to the Hall of Fame after a tragic plane crash took his life, his plaque read “Roberto Walker Clemente” when it should have been “Roberto Clemente Walker.”
At the time, the concern was that fans would not understand the Latino tradition of one having your mother’s maiden name follow your father’s last name. In 1999 we felt it was important to correct this cultural mistake, which truly was done for the right reasons in 1973, but today would appear to be insensitive.
We brought the new plaque to San Juan, Carolina, the home town of Roberto Clemente, and a few other places in 2000. I had Clemente’s plaque postcard translated into Spanish. We handed them out to children in Puerto Rico. It was an unabashed hit.
This year we worked closely with the Museo del Deporte in Guyanabo and its director, Rafi Serrano, to bring 2011 Hall of Fame inductee Roberto Alomar’s plaque to Puerto Rico so that those from his native land who could not be in Cooperstown, would have a chance to see it. We extended the concept to honor all three Puerto Rican Hall of Famers, Alomar, Orlando Cepeda and Clemente, as well as adopted Puerto Rican son, Tany Perez, who moved to the Island from Cuba when he was 16.
We left Cooperstown Thursday, traveling from Syracuse, through JFK Airport in New York, to San Juan. Traveling with four plaques is not easy. Each one, with the backing and case, weighs close to 40 pounds. Four of us each took one as carry on luggage.
Walking through airport security, we had many quizzical looks and then there were smiles as proud central New Yorkers working security thought it was great that plaques from their home region were traveling abroad.
The flights were easy. We were met upon arrival by a delegate from the Museum here in Puerto Rico who took us to the Museum to secure the four plaques for the evening.
After checking into the hotel, we walked over to Lupi’s, a restaurant owned by former pitching great Ed Figueroa. Our group sat at a long table with Ed and had a wonderful evening catching on baseball. He was glad to see us. Dinner was terrific.
In the spirit of the Holidays, here is my baseball wish list:
10) Health and happiness to all baseball fans, players, and youth. That means fewer injuries for key players on my favorite team – and I guess yours too.
9) Lots of new artifacts from baseball history to be donated to our collection in Cooperstown. It is like Christmas morning all year long when we unwrap them.
8) For my all-time favorite player to get the 75% of the BBWAA vote and earn election to the Hall of Fame. I could get this good news soon – as he is on this year’s ballot!
7) New records, new feats and new faces for the upcoming baseball season. Who doesn’t love waking up each morning to follow a hitting streak or home run watch on the television baseball highlights? It just makes mornings easier.
6) Sunny weather – but not too hot – on July 22 in Cooperstown. Enough to make it warm and beautiful – but not turn me into a lobster.
5) A World Series Championship for my favorite team. Pretty, pretty please!
4) A fun weekend with my family while we watch as some of the game’s greatest play in the Hall of Fame Classic over Father’s Day Weekend. My family loved meeting Phil Niekro last year!
3) For the 2012 season to bring as much excitement in the second-half and postseason as 2011. I thought there couldn’t be a more exciting day than the last day of the regular season – then Game 6 of the World Series came along.
2) For a fun new year through programming and education at the Baseball Hall of Fame where we will welcome the newest additions to our family – Ron Santo and any other electees that come out of the BBWAA election on Jan. 9. My favorite time of year is when all the Hall of Famers are back home in Cooperstown.
1) I love the holidays, but once they are over, I hope for February to come quick so pitchers and catchers can report. Bring on Spring Training!
I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season – and get ready to PLAY BALL!
Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
The numbers are there for all of them.
Sixteen Gold Glove Awards for Brooks Robinson. Seven-hundred and fifty-five home runs for Hank Aaron. And – now – nine All-Star Games for Ron Santo.
All 296 Hall of Famers have the numbers. But it’s the intangibles – the integrity, the character, the dedication – that brought them to Cooperstown.
Santo’s election to the Hall of Fame on Monday was a reflection of his intangibles. Those intangibles left a legacy still felt by his teammates, his fans and his family.
“The numbers are there,” said Santo’s Chicago Cubs teammate Billy Williams. “Everybody saw the numbers. But (the Golden Era Committee electors) talked about what he did for the community.”
Robinson and Aaron – just like Williams – were on that Golden Era Committee that elected Santo to the Hall of Fame. And character lessons were not lost on Brooks and Hank.
“I had some talent, but it was my desire that made the difference,” Robinson said. “My love for the game overrode everything else.”
Santo had that same love. So did Aaron, for whom character will always be a defining trait of a Hall of Famer.
“It’s not just the stats that make you a Hall of Famer, but it’s how you carry yourself,” Aaron said. “We owe it to the public and the kids to be examples off the field, not just on it.
“That’s what life is about, not just how much you can accumulate.”
Along the way, however, the character of Hall of Famers like Robinson and Aaron led them to Cooperstown. Now, Santo – whose life touched so many other lives – joins them on the greatest team ever.
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.
You never know what you’ll run across when doing baseball research.
While looking through the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library’s clipping file for famed pitcher Johnny Vander Meer, what soon appeared was a copy of a 1938 typed letter sent by longtime Federal Bureau of Investigation director J. Edgar Hoover congratulating the Cincinnati Reds southpaw on his two consecutive no-hitters.
Hoover has been in the news of late thanks to the recently released movie, J. Edgar, starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role and directed by Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood. Hoover was the FBI’s chief from its beginnings in 1935 until his death in 1972 at the age of 77.
In the letter (which can be seen in full at the bottom of the post), typed on the chief G-Man’s letterhead and dated June 17, 1938, Hoover writes, “I did have time to glance at the sports page of one of the Miami papers and read the account of the thrilling no-hit game which you pitched against the Boston Bees, and then when I read of your second no-hit game in five days I simply could not resist dropping you this note to extend you my congratulations on this remarkable feat.”
Hoover begins the letter by telling Vander Meer that he’s been “engaged in the investigation of the Cash kidnapping case,” referring to the kidnapping of 5-year-old James B. Cash Jr., known as “Skeegie,” who had been kidnapped from his bed in Princeton, Fla. on May 28, 1938.
Later in the letter Hoover admits that baseball has always been one of his favorite sports and that he attends many games, “although I do not attend as many games as I would like, due to the pressure of my official duties.”
In fact, years later, Hoover would be considered for the job of big league baseball’s commissioner. After a 1945 speech in which he extolled the virtues of wartime baseball, Hoover’s name shot to the top as a possible successor when big league baseball’s first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, passed away in 1944. The job eventually went to Happy Chandler. When Chandler resigned his post in 1951, Hoover’s name again was bandied about.
Ellis Ryan, the principal owner of the Cleveland Indians and a member of baseball’s screening committee in search of a replacement for Chandler, said in a 1951 interview, “For instance, if J. Edgar Hoover decided to run, I’m sure he would get every vote. But that is out of the question. It would be improper for baseball to attempt to take so valuable a man away from the government.”
After sharing with Vander Meer the recent success of the FBI’s baseball team in Washington, D.C., Hoover ends the letter by wishing the hurler luck in the future, adding, “I really would be thrilled to see you pitch a third no-hit game this season.”
Hoover, once on the Little League board of directors, said that baseball would be the greatest deterrent to crime that America had ever seen. “Keep kids in sports,” his motto went, “and out of courts.”
Bill Francis is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Happy 104th birthday to Jacques Barzun, one of the most important men in baseball history. It was Barzun, the eminent French-American sociologist and historian who wrote “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball.”
Barzun’s quote has been repeated thousands of times in other sources since he first penned the words in an essay in his book “God’s Country and Mine,” way back in 1954. The book is just one of over 40 that Barzun has written or edited.
Barzun was a frequent visitor to Cooperstown during the 1980s and 1990s—not, as one might expect, because he wanted to visit the home of baseball, but rather because he is an avid opera lover and historian. He was a featured speaker at the Glimmerglass Opera’s annual Gala Weekend from 1993-2003. After that visit, he gave up travelling and returned to his adopted home in San Antonio.
But he certainly hasn’t lost his love of baseball. On one of his final visits, we welcomed him to the Hall of Fame, gave him a special tour, and presented him with a ceremonial bat inscribed both with his name and his famous quote. I was lucky enough to lead that tour, and the photo you see is from that day.
One of his local friends accompanied us on the visit, and remembers it fondly. “He certainly liked Cooperstown, and looked forward to his annual visit,” said the friend (who wishes to remain anonymous). In fact, said the friend, “After he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom…” (by fellow Texan and baseball lover George W. Bush) “…he said something to the effect of ‘Yes, that’s nice, but you should have been with me at the Baseball Hall of Fame.’” Receiving the bat, his friend said, “Thrilled him, as it would a kid.”
While Barzun’s quote is notably famous, it is always truncated beyond the point of its full meaning. Lovers of the small town aspect of Cooperstown, who might just sit on a warm spring afternoon, watching the high school team play at Doubleday Field, will like the full quote: “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball, the rules and the realities of the game, and should do it first by watching some high school or small town teams.”
Barzun’s scholarly books include two on the Glimmerglass Opera, now known as the Glimmerglass Festival. He is also the subject of a new biography, “Jacques Barzun: Portrait of a Mind,” by Michael Murray.
Happy Birthday, Jacques Barzun!
By John Odell
World Series winners have long received championship rings to commemorate their historic victories. Today’s players usually receive their rings in a formal ceremony at the start of the new season, often during the first home stand. Prior to the 1920s, however, players received decorated pins or medallions as their personal championship awards, which arrived toward the end of December. At the end of 1908, the Chicago Cubs received their second consecutive World Championship medal—and they were not happy about it.
The Cubs’ 1907 medallion had been made of gold, bore the profile of a bear cub’s head with a diamond in its teeth, and was over 1 1/2 inches in diameter, making it about the size of a silver dollar. Although the 1908 version was also gold, it was less than 3/4” across—smaller than a dime. The players were so disgusted by the award that the Sporting Life, a leading national newspaper, reported on it:
The EmblemsThe World’s Championship emblems have duly arrived, and were hailed with much derision by the Cubs, who aver that they look more like a monkey’s dream than the insignia of base ball’s proudest event. They are, to say the least, scrubby and measly, and the boys ridicule them savagely. Just why a Cincinnati firm, which evidently hasn’t taste enough to design a sewer-cover, should be given such a job, is a darksome mystery. Last season’s emblems were so inferiorly constructed that they fell apart, and the boys had to have them reset. This season’s are in the shape of a button, and look like a cross between a sick mince pie and a gilded coal-hole. Joe Tinker says he would not wear his emblem to a dog fight, and the rest of the Cubs are equally outspoken.--Sporting Life, January 9, 1909
Why do researchers so enjoy plowing through old newspapers, looking for a “find”? Because not only can you uncover wonderful and surprising information, you can get a great read. Modern journalism, while far more professional, is not half as much fun. A coalhole, by the way, is the entrance to an old-fashioned coal chute, often found in a sidewalk, and leading down to the coal bin by the furnace. Think of it as a small manhole cover.
Finally, Cubs fans and foes alike have to wonder what the players’ reactions might have been if they had known that, a century later, they would still be waiting on their next championship.
John Odell is the curator of history and research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
I have post-it notes on my bathroom mirror, my front door and my computer monitor. They say things like “Understand where you are,” “Don’t forget to enjoy it,” and “Be thankful.”
When you work at the Hall of Fame – a place people mark on calendars, plan vacations to and pencil in on bucket lists – I’ve found that I sometimes overlook what makes Cooperstown so special. I think to all of us here, it sometimes becomes just going to the office. My desk is in the basement, away from the visitors and artifacts – away from the magic. So I feel like I can’t always be blamed for forgetting.
If I let myself, I could go weeks without setting foot in the actual Museum. But I don’t. In fact over the last few weeks, I’ve given tours of the Hall to friends. About a month ago it was a Royals security guard and his son. The next week, my friend Keith and his die-hard Tiger fan grandparents. Then two weeks ago it was a high school buddy visiting from New York City. It all served as a reminder of how lucky I am – better than my post-its.
The common thread was family. While my fellow Oak Park High alum was alone, he saying kept he wants to come back with his father. I’m thankful for my father and the time we’ve spent together here. He had surgery last Friday to remove a kidney that most likely had a cancerous cyst.
Hopefully the surgery will be the extent of his battle. But I know from my prior experiences, that one of the best medicines are memories to which you can hold close. My dad helped me move here from Kansas City in 2008. We watched playoff baseball during our first night in town and saw Robin Roberts during a Voices of the Game event, then toured the Hall the next day. My family came for Father’s Day Weekend in 2010. I played catch with my dad at Doubleday and he got to see me working on the field the same field that was hosting legends like Bob Feller, Harmon Killebrew and Ozzie Smith.
Sports – and specifically baseball – have always been a bond between us. He introduced me to athletics and Boy Scouts. I think he did a pretty good job. I’m an Eagle Scout and worked on the same summer camp staff he did. Now I work at the Hall of Fame after two years with the Royals.
Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a few of the other things I’m thankful for are: The fact that I’m in Los Angeles right now with my fiancée and we could go to the beach while it might be snowing in Cooperstown; the Royals – if I get to attend my first All-Star Game in KC next summer that will make my 2012 list; and as a uniform geek the Mets and Blue Jays for ditching black. I’m thankful for a seven-game World Series – despite the Cardinals winning it. I give thanks for the game’s greats, especially my favorite Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig and my favorite Gehrig stat which I try to shoe-horn into every Memories and Dreams, social media post or even casual conversation about him. I’m thankful for stars like Justin Verlander, who can hit triple digits in the seventh and eighth; for movies like Bull Durham, Major League and one of my new favorites Moneyball (so sue me, I’m a stat geek, I loved the book, and I hope Brad Pitt wins the Oscar).
But mostly this year, I’m thankful for my family and for my dad.
Oh, I couldn’t leave it like that. That Lou Gehrig stat: Despite playing in 2,130 consecutive games without taking a day off, when they x-rayed his hands in the late 1930s, they found 17 healed fractures. I’m blown away by that.
Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
The exhibit is filled with magic moments – timeless pieces of history which tell the story of baseball’s postseason and the World Series.
Curt Schilling’s bloody sock is there, as is Willie Mays’ glove. Around every corner in the Hall of Fame’s Autumn Glory exhibit, greatness awaits.
On the far wall, a video plays – describing the heroes of each World Series. David Freese’s epic moments of a month ago are already edited in. And just a few feet away hangs Freese’s jersey, the one ripped off his back by his jubilant Cardinals’ teammates following his walk-off Game 6 home run.
History is at home in Cooperstown.
The newest version of Autumn Glory – “The Cardinals Comeback” – opened to the public for the first time on Thursday as Museum visitors got the chance to experience the 2011 World Series first-hand.
Following the Cardinals’ World Series-clinching win on Oct. 28, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum acquired nearly a dozen artifacts from the both the Cardinals and the Texas Rangers. Artifacts donated by the Cardinals and featured in the exhibit from the 107th World Series include:
Additional items featured in the exhibit to commemorate the Cardinals title include:
In addition to these treasures, the exhibit also features artifacts from the American League champions Rangers from the 2011 postseason, including:
The 2011 World Series exhibit in Autumn Glory will be on display through the 2012 Major League Baseball postseason. Entrance to the Autumn Glory exhibit is included with Museum admission.
The World Series is history, but the memories remain alive in Cooperstown.
It’s been eight days since Game 6 of the World Series, and I still haven’t caught my breath.
Watching that ninth inning – and then the 10th – I kept saying: “This can’t happen; this is not going to happen.” Then, it did.
I had no rooting interest, other than wanting to see great baseball. But that game – and really, this season – surpassed anything I could have hoped for.
The Hall of Fame will celebrate the 2011 campaign with the Top 11 Moments of 2011, which will debut Monday on the Museum’s social media channels. Through photographs and video of artifacts representing the best of 2011, we’ll re-live a season that will be remembered long after the final out of the World Series fell into Allen Craig’s glove.
The Museum accessioned over 30 artifacts from MLB this year, thanks to the unending generosity of players and teams. Through those artifacts, we’ll tell the tales of the most memorable moments, records, and accomplishments during seven months of relentlessly exciting baseball.
It all starts Monday on the Museum’s Facebook page and on Twitter with @BaseballHall.
The season is over, but the memories remain in Cooperstown.
For 25 years I have been going to World Series games, thanks in part to my quarter-century employment in baseball. The last 17 have been as a representative of the fans and history as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame staff, working to procure artifacts that will stir memories and tell stories for generations to come.
I was taught by long-time Hall of Fame employee Bill Guilfoile, who was solely responsible for assuring that history – as it unfolded – was represented in Cooperstown. Bill worked for the Museum from 1978-1996. When he asked Joe Carter for his bat that ended the 1993 World Series, waiting patiently until every reporter had finished speaking with Joe, Carter responded, “What took you so long?”
The first ask I ever made face to face, was at the 1995 All-Star Game in Texas, and I went 2-for-2, securing the bat Frank Thomas used to hit the first home run by a White Sox player in ASG history, and the bat from Jeff Conine’s eighth inning home run which afforded him MVP honors. I strolled through airport security with both bats the next morning, in the pre 9-11 era, and the pilots asked if they could swing them in the cockpit before we flew to Albany. Different times.
At an All-Star Game, the story develops quickly and you generally know as the game progresses what the story lines are and the artifacts you want to bring home to Cooperstown. This year the story was Prince Fielder as MVP in the Arizona desert. His jersey came to Cooperstown and was the only artifact we collected.
The World Series is a whole different matter.
For the last decade, Brad Horn, our PR Chief, and I have collaborated on securing artifacts. As the Series moves along, the story begins to develop. Some times it is clear as day, other times, not so much.
For instance, the story of last year’s World Series win by the Giants was pitching. In 2007 it was about the role players and not the middle of the lineup that led Boston to victory. This year, it is all about individual performance. So far.
After Games 1 and 2 in St. Louis, which the teams split, there was no trend to the series. No one was dominating. We did not think about collecting anything.
Game 3 was all Albert Pujols. When I talked with him before Game 4, he told me he wanted his spikes to represent his Series-tying three home run game in the Museum. He set his shoes aside and left them with the Cardinals clubhouse manager, Rip Rowan.
I joked with Albert that if people were going to compare him with Babe Ruth, who had thee-home run game was in 1926 and 1928 (Reggie’s was in 1977), he was going to have to learn to close games. I pointed out to him that Ruth pitched a 14-inning complete game in a 2-1 victory in 1916, and that he should work on pitching over the winter. He smiled and told me, “I don’t think so.” Of course I was kidding and comparing Albert to any great hitter in history is fair, because his numbers speak for themselves.
A win in Game Five put Nolan Ryan’s Rangers one win away from their first World Series Championship, and that’s when our plan started to take shape.
The exercise Brad and I go through is to independently of each other make a list of the 8-10 stories that will define the World Series, 50 years from now. We then compare our lists and agree on a final set of artifacts. If the Rangers had won Game 6, we would have been ready to execute. If not, we would go back to the drawing board for Game 7.
In this case, we are at that juncture.
Last night, before the game, we knew we had something from Albert. We agreed to secure items from Mike Napoli, who has had a monster Series thus far, the talented Michael Young who is the heart and soul of the Rangers, Neftali Feliz, who had saves in all three Rangers wins, and Ron Washington, who had been making all the right moves, literally and figuratively.
As the game unfolded, we decided that after Adrian Beltre’s home run, if it stood up as the decisive blow, we would ask for his bat. Then it became Josh Hamilton’s bat. And then something from Darren Oliver.
Freese right there. Time to scrap the plan and adjust. The story turned and David Freese became the hero with his ninth-inning triple and 11th inning walk-off home run.
Brad was able to talk to David as he came off the field and secure his bat and what was left of his shredded jersey. David could not have been more happy to oblige. Local boy makes good at home, winning Game 6, and nationally, with his donation. In the clubhouse afterward, he told me he could not believe we asked him for something.
“Are you really taking these items to Cooperstown,” he asked Rip, Brad and me. “Seriously, are you?” He promised to visit with his parents in the near future, as he’s not yet been to the Hall of Fame. I recommended he go home and have a glass of milk and some cookies get some sleep. “Absolutely,” he said walking out the door.
So this brings us to tonight and we’ll see how things unfold. Brad and I will now make two lists – one for each team – and see what happens. I have not had to go through this exercise since 2001 when Luis Gonzales broke his bat singling off the great Mariano Rivera, and promptly handed me his bat – which is now in Cooperstown.
Jeff Idelson is the president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Kelsey Willems' favorite baseball team, the Milwaukee Brewers, fell just short of their World Series dreams this fall.
But Kelsey and her father Bob got to live the dream of every baseball fan with an October visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Kelsey, an eighth grader at Bay View Middle School in Green Bay, Wis., was selected as the grand prize winner of the annual Step Up to the Plate @ Your Library program. The Hall of Fame and the American Library Association partner for the program, which promotes libraries and librarians as essential information resources.
As a seventh grader, Kelsey entered the contest by answering a series of baseball trivia questions developed by the Hall of Fame's Library staff.
"Our school librarian, Mrs. Wells, handed us the contest forms when we were doing research on Jackie Robinson," Kelsey said. "And Miss Cook, our language arts teacher, encouraged us to enter.
"I have to admit: My dad helped me with the answers."
Kelsey and her father's reward was a trip to Cooperstown for Saturday's World Series Gala at the Hall of Fame. Both father and daughter are Brewers fans and sported Brewers T-shirts during their Hall of Fame visit on Saturday, then watched Game 3 of the World Series in the Museum's Grandstand Theater.
"I had tickets to Game 2 of the World Series if the Brewers had gotten there, so I would have gone to Game 2 on Thursday night and then come here on Saturday," said Bob Willems. "That didn't happen, but this is still a very special trip."
Dad and daughter sought out all the Brewers' artifacts in the Museum, including Robin Yount's Hall of Fame plaque and the Brewers' locker in the Today's Game exhibit. Kelsey's favorite Brewers are Nyjer Morgan and Prince Fielder.
"The Museum was a lot bigger than I expected," Kelsey said.
For more information on the Step Up to the Plate @ Your Library program, please visit www.ala.org/@yourlibrary.
Rick Anderson has mentored some of the finest American League hurlers in the last decade as the Minnesota Twins’ pitching coach.
But on Thursday, Anderson got to see the work of some of best pitchers in any league as he toured the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Anderson, 54, visited the Hall of Fame with his wife Rhonda and daughter Ashley. The Anderson family has spent the last few days traversing the northeast in advance of a reunion of the 1986 World Champion New York Mets this weekend in New York City.
Anderson made his big league debut with the Mets in 1986, going 2-1 with a 2.72 earned-run average in 15 games that year. He helped the Mets win 108 regular-season games en route to the world championship.
“It’s great to get together with the guys and see how they all are doing,” Anderson said. “A lot of us still in the game keep in touch, like (Braves pitching coach) Roger McDowell, (Mets minor league manager) Tim Teufel and (Red Sox hitting coach) Dave Magadan.”
Anderson’s professional pitching career began just up the road from Cooperstown in Little Falls, N.Y., in 1978 with the Class A Little Falls Mets. That year, Anderson pitched for the big league club in the Hall of Fame Game when the Mets played the Tigers at Doubleday Field.
Anderson wrapped up his big league pitching career with the Royals in 1987 and 1988 after going to Kansas City in the David Cone trade before the 1987 season. He was named the Twins pitching coach before the 2002 season, overseeing two Cy Young Award-winning seasons by Johan Santana and four-time All-Star closer Joe Nathan as the Twins advanced to the playoffs six times in 10 seasons.
In 2004, Anderson returned to Cooperstown with the Twins for a Hall of Fame Game against the Braves.
“We’ve been here before, but it’s such a great place we wanted to come back on our way to the city,” Anderson said. “It’s just wonderful, all the history here. It really is a special place.”
Among the treasures of the Hall of Fame’s archives are our player files, which chronicle every player who ever entered a major league game (now numbering over 17,700). In addition, the player files also include Negro leaguers, women from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, umpires, managers, coaches, executives, exceptional minor leaguers (like Michael Jordan) and numerous others.
We add to the archive throughout the year, creating a new file each time a player enters a major league game for the first time. But perhaps no one has a more unusual debut than Astros pitcher Larry Yount, the older brother of Hall of Famer Robin Yount.
Larry Yount, you see, debuted in a game he never played in, and then never appeared again.
Drafted by the Houston Astros in 1968, Larry Yount received his promotion to the parent club in September 1971, his fourth season in pro ball. Uncle Sam, however, had just called on him to complete a week of military service, a common occurrence during the Vietnam War era. So after a week of no baseball at all, Yount finally ended up in the Astros bullpen. Maybe the layoff had an effect, and maybe not. We will never know.
On Sept. 15, Yount’s opportunity came. With the Astros trailing Atlanta 4-1 in the top of the ninth, Houston manager Harry “The Hat” Walker called Larry’s number. It was the perfect low-pressure situation to get a rookie’s feet wet. Only 6,513 attended the Wednesday night contest. The Astros were hovering around .500, some 10 games out of the NL West race, and Atlanta was also playing out the string.
As Yount warmed up, his elbow began to stiffen, but he buckled down and reported to the mound, where he was announced as the next pitcher. The pain, however, got much worse as he took his final warm-up pitches on the mound. Not wanting to risk his career in his debut, he called in the trainer, who took him out. Both surely expected that Yount’s turn would come again soon.
It never did.
Larry Yount returned to Spring Training the next year, where he was the last player cut, then returned to the minors, where he played until 1975. However, he never made it to the Show again. He pitched OK, just not well enough to be called up. His elbow was not permanently injured. “It was a non-event, a glitch that had no factor in what followed,” Yount explained later, without excuse. “I just never quite got the job done.”
For his efforts, Yount earned the distinction of being the only pitcher in major league history to “appear” in one game, never throw a single pitch, never face a batter, and never play again. However, because he was officially announced as the pitcher, he is in baseball’s record book, and he has a file in the Hall of Fame. You can look it up… at the Hall of Fame Library.
On Oct. 1, 1961, Roger Maris socked a fourth-inning solo home run off Tracy Stallard, his 61st round-tripper of the season, to not only give the Yankees a 1-0 victory over the visiting Boston Red Sox but also surpass the legendary Babe Ruth for one of the game’s most revered records.
This past Saturday afternoon, prior to a game against the Red Sox, the Yankees held a special ceremony to honor the 50th anniversary of Maris’ memorable then-record single-season feat. As part of the on-field celebration, the bat Maris swung to hit his 61st home run, as well as the 61st home run ball, were hand-delivered from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum that morning to be a part of the festivities.
The Cooperstown institution currently contains over 38,000 three-dimensional artifacts representing all facets of the game, from its inception in the mid-19th century to the present. The Museum’s collection, both on exhibit and in storage, includes over 1,900 bats and 6,600 baseballs.
The on-field ceremony included members of the Maris family, including his wife Pat, daughters Susan and Sandra, and sons Roger Jr., Kevin, Randy and Richard; Mickey Mantle’s sons David and Danny; former Yankees teammates Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Moose Skowron, Bobby Richardson and Bob Cerv; Sal Durante (fan who caught Maris’ 61st home run); and Frank Prudenti (the Yankees bat boy in 1961).
“My family and I are happy to be back in New York to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of Roger’s 61 home runs,” said Pat Maris prior to the game. “Roger was proud to wear the Yankee pinstripes and play for the great New York Yankees.
“In 1985, Roger passed away from cancer and my family will always be grateful Mr. Steinbrenner retired Roger’s No. 9 before he died, because it meant so much to him. We wish to thank the Steinbrenner family, the Yankees organization and the fans for honoring Roger today.”
Prior to the start of the Maris ceremony, in which Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter walked from the dugout to the infield to hand the bat to the Maris family and Durante walked on the field holding the ball he had famously grabbed five decades ago, members of the current Yankees team began entering the dugout. Soon Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, CC Sabathia and Joe Girardi, among others, were asking about the bat and ball in the big black case, intrigued by a fellow Yankee’s once famous exploits. A few even wanted to touch the bat for good luck.
The Yankees wouldn’t need much luck on this day, pounding their longtime rivals, a team fighting for its postseason life, on national television by a 9-1 score, Freddy Garcia tossing six scoreless innings for the win.
Bill Francis is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Watch a video of the Avett Brothers' visit
When Scott Avett made the change from tee-ball to baseball as a kid, he realized that he enjoyed the entertainment part of the game more than actually playing it.
“I liked to work on my stance and my swing and put on a show more than hitting the ball,” he said. “I guess it is good that I got into entertainment.”
And that he did.
Avett joined his brother Seth as founding members of the Avett Brothers, a folk rock band best known for their electrifying live performances. The Avett Brothers will be performing with special guests Brandi Carlile and Nicole Atkins at Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown on Sept. 27 and stopped by the Baseball Hall of Fame for a special tour on Monday.
The band formed in 2001 and has been growing in popularity since. In 2011, they were featured on the Grammy’s with a performance of “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” before joining Mumford and Sons and Bob Dylan for “Maggie’s Farm.”
“That was pretty amazing,” said Scott. “Meeting Bob Dylan was pretty incredible. We’ve been doing this for 10 years – but he has been doing this for 50 or 60. And he was much more easy-going than I expected.”
Growing up in North Carolina, Scott and Seth are Braves fans among the lucky few to be able to say they’ve played at Turner Field – it was a rock show and not baseball, but pretty cool just the same.
The band and some members of their crew learned about the history of the Hall of Fame and the Abner Doubleday Myth from the Hall of Fame’s Curator of History and Research John Odell. They also got to see artifacts from the Museum collection including a Babe Ruth jersey, a Ted Williams bat and even cap worn by former Braves manager Bobby Cox.
The band has been busy touring and working on a followup album to their hit I and Love and You expected in early 2012. Gates open for Tuesday’s show at 5 p.m. and tickets are available at Brewery Ommegang.
While the heartbeat of baseball can be found in Cooperstown throughout the year, there’s no better time to reconnect with the National Pastime than when legends are being made. As the postseason approaches, fans all over the country can connect with the Hall of Fame to get in the fall spirit.
Phillies Phans have a long and storied past that has heated up over the last few autumns. With the Induction this past summer of the architect of the revival, Philly is well represented within Cooperstown’s shrine – which is just a short day-trip away.
Life with a .473 winning percentage hasn’t always been easy for Phillies fans. They lost their 10,000th game in 2007 – joined by the Braves earlier this season in the five digit loss category. In 129 seasons, they’ve made 14 playoff appearances (including the current 98-win team, five this decade), been to seven World Series (two since 2008) and own two Championships. They didn’t win their first flag until 1980 – 98 years after their founding – as the final franchise of Major League Baseball’s original 16 to do so.
In contrast to the red-clad Phillies, over 54 years the blue-clad Philadelphia Athletics won five World Championships and nine pennants in the City of Brotherly Love. But while Connie Mack’s A’s got more recognition, the Phillies have stayed loyal to their city and their history is covered with legends from Pete Alexander, Chuck Klein, Richie Ashburn, Robin Roberts, Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt to current stars Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. In all 34 Hall of Famers have connections to the team, including six who sport the Philadelphia “P” on their Hall plaques.
From 1883 to 1913, the Phillies achieved just two second place finishes. But in 1915, the Phils made an improbable leap forward with Alexander at the forefront. After finishing sixth the year before, they reached the Fall Classic. In 1916 Dave Bancroft’s talents were added to Alexander and Eppa Rixey, keeping the team in contention. By 1917 the Phillies reached a height of five Hall of Famer with Chief Bender and Johnny Evers joining the team – a modern day club record, beat only by the 1892, squad which featured six.
In the Hall of Fame’s Baseball Timeline, the team’s next star – Chuck Klein – is represented with his 1932 MVP trophy, marking his NL-leading totals in runs, hits, home runs, total bases, slugging percentage and stolen bases; and his 300th career home run ball from 1941.
The A’s collected two World Series rings and reached a third straight Fall Classic in 1931, but then fell on hard times. It wasn’t until the Whiz Kids led by Roberts and Ashburn jumped up and grabbed the NL pennant in 1950 that the city again played in the Fall Classic. Featuring a roster with only a handful of regulars over 30, the team became know for its youth. A 1950 NL Champions banner emblazoned with “Whiz Kids”, a 1952 jersey worn by Robin Roberts, an Ashburn warm-up jacket and a cap belonging to 33-year-old closer Jim Konstanty, who became the first reliever to be named Most Valuable Player, all appear in the a Timeline.
An occasional blip over the next two decades showed there was still baseball life in Philadelphia, but the team only mustered one second place finish and one third place ranking while hovering around .500. During this time period, future U.S. Senator and Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning authored a perfect game on Father’s Day in 1964. His cap and a ticket from the perfecto against the New York Mets can be found in the Timeline. A few years later, 2011 Hall of Fame Classic participant Rick Wise threw another no-hitter, but his June 23rd, 1971 performance was more than a great pitching performance. He connected for two home runs in the 4-0 victory. His bat from the day is on exhibit in the Hall’s newest exhibit One for Books, which explores baseball records.
Schmidt got a cup of coffee in the big leagues in 1972, when Carlton joined the team. Then in 1975, Schmidt’s second full season, they broke a string of Philly losing campaigns. The following year, they made the playoffs. From 1976 to 1983 the Phillies missed the postseason just twice and reached the World Series twice, raising their first World Champion banner in 1980.
A prolific home run hitter, high-caliber defender at third base and three-time MVP, Schmidt played 18 seasons and was incredibly generous to the Hall of Fame while writing baseball history. Among the objects on display from Schmidt at the Hall are a “Tony Taylor” model bat from his four homer game on April 17, 1976 (One for the Books); a 1979 bat used to hit five homers in three games; a bat from his 1980 NL-leading 48 home run, MVP season; and his 1987 500th home run jersey (all in the Timeline).
Likewise, the four-time Cy Young Award winning Carlton dominates the Phillies artifacts after a career in which the lefty – who at one point held the title of all-time strikeout leader and is now fourth – dominated big league hitters. His 3,000th strikeout ball is in One for the Books and Carlton artifacts in the Timeline include the glove he used when setting the all-time strikeout record for a left-handed pitcher in 1980; his 1980 Cy Young Award; the ball from his NL record setting 3,117th K; his 1982 jersey and cap from when led the NL in wins and strikeouts and earned his fourth Cy Young Award; and 4,000th career strikeout ball, becoming the second pitcher to ever reach the mark.
For one last hurrah during the maroon Phillies era, the team fielded a lineup of four Hall of Famers for a season, adding Joe Morgan and Tony Perez in 1983. That team lost the Series.
The Phils reached the World Series for a fifth time in 1993, but were defeated by the Pat Gillick-led Blue Jays.
It wasn’t until Gillick came to Philly in 2006 that things really started to turn around again. A division title in 2007 followed three straight second place finishes and began the current string of five straight NL East titles which has taken the city to the World Series twice, including the 2008 World Championship. Today’s Game is a testament to the talent currently on display at Citizen’s Bank Park. Many of the artifacts from their ’08 Championship have migrated from their original home in Autumn Glory to the Phillies locker including Carlos Ruiz’s Game Three-winning batting helmet, pitcher Joe Blanton’s Game Four home run bat, Howard’s two home run bat from Game Four, closer Brad Lidge’s World Series cap and Jayson Werth’s ’08 spikes. Also in the locker are Utley’s 35-game hitting streak spikes; Howard’s 2006 league-leading 56-homer, 149 RBI MVP jersey; Rollins’ spikes from his 2007 20-triple, double and steal season, joining Tiger Curtis Granderson that same season in matching a mark completed by only Willie Mays and John Schulte; and Roy Halladay’s May 29, 2010 perfect game ball. Halladay’s cap from the game appears in One for the Books.
In his first season in Philly, Halladay took writing history a step further by throwing only the second-ever postseason no-hitter. And now that he and the Phillies are lining up for another deep October run, fans are hoping for more.
Here in Cooperstown, the air has turned brisk and the leaves are beginning to turn colors. For me, that means two things: The regular season is winding down, and the Baseball Film Festival is just around the corner.
Indeed, the Festival is less than two weeks away, and we are very excited for the great lineup of baseball themed films – a record 14 in all this year. Our lineup includes a bit of everything – from Little League Baseball in Curacao and Michigan, to Big League Baseball at Wrigley, to midnight baseball in Alaska. You can go behind the scenes at the Great American Ballpark and Fenway, or learn about grounds keeping at Camden Yards.
The Festival kicks off on Friday night, Sept. 30, and will run through Sunday afternoon, Oct. 2 in the Bullpen Theater. Tickets to each screening session are free but must be reserved, and tickets are available now to participants in the Hall of Fame’s Membership Program by calling 607-547-0397 weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET. Non-members can reserve their seats, if any remain, starting on Monday, Sept. 26.
So if you enjoy watching baseball films, be sure to mark Sept. 30 – Oct. 2 on your calendar, and reserve your tickets today.
And if you would like a sneak preview of some of the films, check out the trailers listed below.
Official ScheduleFriday, September 30thSession 1: 7:00 p.m.
Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend (27 minutes) - A portrait of Nicole Sherry, head groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards - one of only two women in that position in Major League Baseball.Produced by: Jo FilmsDirected by: Sarah Knight
Slap Back Jack: High Five Master (11 minutes) - This kid friendly stop motion short film narrated in rhyme begins when superstar baseball player, Bub Stocky, hits a walk off Grand Salami to win the big ball game for his team the Bronx Buffalo. When he tries to celebrate with his teammates, he flubs his high-fives, loses out on his lows, and punks out on his pounds. Produced by: Combover Productions/MRN Media Inc.Directed by: Mark NewellView the trailer: http://www.slapbackjack.com/
Catching Hell (1 hour, 41 minutes) - It's the pop fly that will live in infamy. When Chicagoan Steve Bartman fatefully deflected a foul ball in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, the city's long-suffering Cubs fans found someone new to blame for their cursed century without a World Series title. Produced by: ESPN FilmsDirected by: Alex Gibney
Saturday, October 1stSession 2: 10:00 a.m.
Play by Play (23 minutes) - Donn, a lonely 10-year-old, leads a vivid imaginary life as a big league ballplayer. When his schoolyard nemesis Steve accidentally learns about it, Donn is thrust into an escalating struggle to avoid being humiliated in front of his class. Produced by: Afterwork FilmsDirected by: Carlos Baena & Sureena MannView the trailer: http://www.imdb.com/video/wab/vi2452200729/
The Legend of Pinky Deras (41 minutes) - Since Little League Baseball was founded in 1939, about 40 million kids have played the sport. The list includes future Hall of Famers like Carl Yastrzemski, Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan, and hundreds of other future Major Leaguers. But of all the kids who ever played Little League, the best of the best was a boy you’ve probably never heard of. Produced by: Stunt3 MultimediaDirected by: Buddy Moorehose and Brian KrugerView the trailer: http://stunt3.com/Stunt3_Multimedia/The_Legend_of_Pinky_Deras.html
Session 3: 2:00 p.m.
Bubble Gum Champs (8 minutes) - Marc is watching a baseball game with his wife, Julie. His son’s team is losing and Marc is not so happy about it. He blames it on the coach, a Frenchman. Fed up with Marc’s attitude, Julie drops the bomb and accuses him of being a couch coach… Produced by: Eric K. BoulianneDirected by: Jean-Sebastien Beudoin Gagnon & Eric K. Boulianne
Touching the Game: Alaska (1 hour, 40 minutes) - In today’s high pressure, big dollar world of professional baseball and its accompanying media cyclone, the most poignant and refreshing perspectives are those that portray the unique and committed institutions which keep the essence and purity of our national pastime alive. The Alaska Baseball League is such an institution and offers such a perspective. Produced by: Fields of Vision and Eye Candy CinemaDirected by: Jim CarrollView the trailer: http://touchingthegame.com/alaska/trailer.shtml
Session 4: 7:00 p.m.
Christy Mathewson Day (48 minutes) - Christy Mathewson Day captures the spirit of Factoryville, PA as they celebrate their most famous resident, Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson. Members of the community tell their own history of triumphs and adversities through the framework of the yearly celebration of their favorite son. Produced by: 23circles ProductionsDirected by: Kevin MaloneView the trailer: http://www.christymathewsondayfilm.com
Boys of Summer (1 hour, 33 minutes) - On the tiny island of Curaçao, Manager Vernon Isabella has sent his Little League All-Stars to the World Series for seven consecutive years, routinely defeating such baseball powerhouses as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic to win a spot in Williamsport. How do they do it? This film tries to crack the code of Curaçao’s phenomenal success. Produced by: Keith Aumont & Ariana GarfinkelDirected by: Kevin AumontView the trailer: http://boysofsummerfilm.com/videos.html
Sunday, October 3rdSession 5: 10:00 a.m.
Black Baseball in Indiana (25 minutes) - A half-hour documentary film of original research and interviews, produced by students at Ball State University's Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry, under the advisement of Negro leagues historian and SABR member Geri Strecker.Produced by: Ball State UniversityProject Coordinator: Geri Strecker
The Queen of the People (1 hour, 4 minutes) - In 1944, Caracas hosts the 7th Amateur Baseball World Series. The organizers decide that the beauty queen of the event has to be elected via a popular vote. The title is disputed by Yolanda Leal, a school teacher from a humble neighborhood, and Oly Clemente, a young woman from Caracas’ high society. Produced by: Producciones TrianaDirected by: Juan Andrés BelloView the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhjyXz36xsI&feature=player_embedded
Session 6: 2:00 p.m.
Late August (10 minutes) - Scenes from the Babe Ruth World Series in Clifton Park, New York.Produced by: Chris WoodsDirected by: Chris Woods
Down the Line (23 minutes) - A documentary on Boston's Fenway Park that takes fans where they have never been before by celebrating Fenway's "team behind the team" - the bat boys, ball girls, clubhouse attendants and grounds crew members who make every Major League Baseball game possible.Produced by: Prospect ProductionsDirected by: Colin BarnicleView the trailer: http://www.prospectproduction.com/site/projects.html
Let’s Get Ready to Win (44 minutes) - In this 44-minute documentary, Mid-American Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Craig Lindvahl features the unforgettable Sept. 28, 2010 game in which Jay Bruce hits the walk-off home run that clinched the National League Central division title for the Cincinnati Reds, as part of a season-long look behind the scenes at the operations within Great American Ballpark.Produced by: Callan Films / Cincinnati Reds Directed by: Craig Lindvahl
Steve Light is the manager of museum programs at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
September 14, 2011, was a special day here at the Hall of Fame, as baseball fans Randy McLean and Linda Kim tied the knot in a ceremony officiated by Cooperstown Mayor Joe Booan in the Hall’s Plaque Gallery.
The newlyweds travelled from their home in Abbotsford, British Columbia, near Vancouver, to Cooperstown. It was Randy’s fourth trip to the Hall, and Linda’s second. They met in January, 2001, and recall watching the 2001 World Series together as a strong contributor to the baseball portion of their relationship.
Both are lifelong baseball fans, but for Linda, her interest in the game deepened when she met Randy. “Since being with Randy, I’ve learned many of the intricacies of the game. He always points things out a few moments before the announcers get around to saying them.”
Randy is a lifelong fan, player, and coach. “We couldn’t think of a more appropriate place to get married. We love baseball, and it was fitting,” he says. “Baseball’s been so good to me all my life. It’s just something we love. It brings me to tears sometimes, being here in the Hall of Fame, the Babe Ruth exhibit, and reading how the Babe was always there for the fans on his barnstorming tours.”
Randy roots for the Orioles, because their team colors were the same as one of his youth league teams. Linda is a Phillies fan. Since they came so far to get married, they didn’t bring a wedding party with them, so they asked June Dolhun, the Hall’s manager of group sales, and I to stand up for them as witnesses.
Dolhun says that a handful of couples marry at the Hall each year.
“It’s always special, and a lot of fun,” Dolhun said.
I have to agree: I was married in the Plaque Gallery back in 2005.
Bronx Bombers fans have a heavily beaten path from New York City to Cooperstown, the Yankees are a short drive from the Home of Baseball, where they are well represented with a record 27 World Championships.
The team’s legacy goes back almost a full century with 48 Hall of Famers tied to the interlocking NY, while 25 have made their careers on the field while wearing the pinstripes of baseball’s winningest franchise. From the early days of Wee Willie and Happy Jack to the Babe, the Iron Horse, the Clipper, the Mick, Casey, Yogi and Whitey followed by Catfish, Goose and Mr. October and more recently Bernie, Mr. November, Mo and A-Rod; the Yanks have been blessed with stardom. All of which is detailed in a special exhibit from the Associated Press at the Hall of Fame called Pinstripe Pictures.
During first two years of the American League’s existence, there was no team in New York, but the Baltimore Orioles moved to the Big Apple and became the Highlanders. While stars like Jack Chesbro, whose record 41st win of the 1904 season is celebrated with the record-setting ball in One for the Books, came first, it wasn’t however until adopting a new nickname and buying Babe Ruth from their rivals in Beantown that the Yankees really came into their own.
Ruth, of course, is one of the greatest players of all-time and as such, is honored for his record-setting career as a home run hitter in One for the Books and The Babe Ruth Room which is found within the Baseball Timeline and is dedicated to telling his story. The Yankees of the 1920s and 30s were molded in Ruth’s image, taking on the moniker Murderer’s Row with future Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig, Earle Combs, Tony Lazzeri – who is noted as the first player to hit two grand slams in a single game with a scorebook showing his feat in One for the Books – leading the lineup while Waite Hoyt and Herb Pennock were the stalwarts on the mound.
In 1928, the Bronx Bombers boasted nine future Hall of Famers with another baseball legend, Miller Huggins at the helm. By 1930, they’d reached six World Series and won three. Within the Timeline are items presented to Hoyt after the 1928 season in which he went 23-7 and won two games in the Series; a jacket, cap and mitt used by Pennock; spikes belonging to leadoff hitter and speedster Combs; and a pocket watch and warm-up sweater worn by Huggins
While Ruth aged and Gehrig came in to his prime, manager Joe McCarthy took over in 1931. The team once again was led by a future Hall of Famer and featured nine on the field for three seasons with names like Bill Dickey, Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing. As the Yanks won five more Championships in the 1930s, the team carved a larger place within baseball history and therefore in the Timeline, where Gehrig’s original Yankee Stadium locker, trophies and his uniform are on display, while a 1939 uniform from his final season in One for the Books marks the end of his consecutive games played streak – once considered an unbreakable record.
Transitioning from the Iron Horse to the Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio became the on field leader. In the 1940s New York took home four more Championships and five AL pennants, despite a small dip during World War II when the team sent several stars to the military like DiMaggio, 2009 Hall of Fame Inductee Joe Gordon, catcher Bill Dickey, and shortstop and future Voice of the Yankees Phil Rizzuto, whose popular catchphrase “Holy Cow!” inspired an exhibit that now greets visitors near the lobby at the Hall of Fame.
Within the Hall, DiMaggio has a presence within One for the Books where his record 56-game hitting streak is celebrated with an interactive video monitor inside his original Yankee Stadium locker.
As the 1950s arrived stars like Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra joined DiMaggio and the Bombers, while the legendary Professor Casey Stengel took over the reigns in 1949, capturing a record five straight Titles from 1949-53. Stengel left the team after the 1960 season, failing to reach the World Series in 1954 and 1959 – winning seven times. During this time, Don Larsen authored the lone perfect game in World Series history, which is preserved in Autumn Glory with several artifacts.
The mitt worn by Larsen’s receiver, Berra, is on display in One for the Books, while the backstop’s 1951 MVP Award – one of three he earned – along with Rizzuto’s glove and batting helmet; Stengel’s warm-up jacket and spikes; items from team architects George Weiss and Lee MacPhail and jerseys from Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle can be found in the Timeline. Mantle also has artifacts like the ball he hit for his 522nd homer, passing Ted Williams are also in the Timeline, while the bat he used to hit his 500th home run and the bat he used to hit an estimated 565-foot home run are on display in One for the Books. Also during this time period Mantle and two-time MVP Roger Maris unleashed an assault on Ruth’s home run record, with Maris breaking the mark in 1961 by hitting 61. A score sheet from the historic game, Maris’ bat and the ball from No. 61 call One for the Books their home. In Baseball at the Movies, as part of the 50th celebration of this event, there are also a number of artifacts from the movie 61* about the 1961 season including an autographed shooting script from director Billy Crystal.
After losing the 1964 World Series, it wouldn’t be until 1976 that the Bombers would make it back to the promised land and not until 1977 that they’d capture another crown. With a new crop of future Inductees, the Yankees won back-to-back titles with a team referred to as the Bronx Zoo. In the Hall of Fame’s Timeline this era is represented by Reggie Jackson’s bat from 1977, the season he earned his Mr. October nickname; a mitt and mask used by captain and catcher Thurman Munson; and Goose Gossage’s 1982 jersey, in which he struck out 102 batters in 93 innings and saved 30 games.
While the 1980s were the first decade since the Teens that the Yankees failed to win a championship, stars like captain Don Mattingly and future Hall of Famers Rickey Henderson, Phil Niekro and Dave Winfield wore the pinstripes. Each of them craved their own niche in baseball history – with Niekro and Mattingly’s record-setting time noted in One for the Books. Mattingly’s sixth grand slam bat and his eighth consecutive game with a home run bat, both from the 1987 season, appear there along with Niekro’s interlocking NY cap worn during his 3,000th career strikeout.
The Yankees reloaded and began their next dynasty in the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2000s, the players making history continued to be generous in donations. Among items the Hall has collected since the 90s began are one-handed pitcher Jim Abbott’s 1993 no-hitter cap (One for the Books); a bat used by Paul O’Neill’s during his 1994 batting title; a bat used by the second most prolific postseason home run hitter of all-time Bernie Williams during the 1996 Title run; manager Joe Torre’s 1998 World Series jersey; David Cone’s perfect game jersey from 1999 (all in the Timeline); and Hideki Matsui’s bat from the 2003 World Series when he became the first Japanese-born player to homer in the Fall Classic (Today’s Game).
Moving from old to new, the Bronx Bombers' winning tradition is marked in One for the Books where a replica of the 1996 World Series trophy is on display, donated by former team owner George Steinbrenner – who led the team to seven World Championships.
The Yankees squads of today – some of whom were around for the beginning of the 90s renaissance – have staked out their spot inside the Hall of Fame as well. In his climb up the home run leader boards, Alex Rodriguez has donated his 500th home run helmet (One for the Books); his 2009 jersey from when he tied the AL record for 30 home run and 100 RBI seasons with 13 (Today’s Game); and to 600th career home run spikes (Today’s Game). Artifacts from current captain Derek Jeter include his 1996 World Series jersey (Autumn Glory); 1998 World Series spikes (Timeline); the batting gloves he wore to become the Yankees all-time hits leader, passing Gehrig (Today’s Game); and his 3,000th hit batting gloves and helmet from earlier this year (Today’s Game). And Panamanian-born closer Mariano Rivera – who just this week reached 600 career saves – donated among other items, his cap from save No. 400 (Today’s Game), the 1999 World Series spikes in which he recorded two of his 23 consecutive saves (¡Viva Baseball!) and his 2009 two-save World Series cap.
Ron Kittle spent 10 big league seasons as a prolific power hitter, and even today – at 53 years old – that power is still evident in a firm grip and muscular shoulders.
But as Kittle toured the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, the former outfielder with the White Sox, Yankees, Indians and Orioles was more focused on the game off the field than anything he did on the baseball diamond.
Kittle, who hit 176 big league homers from 1982-91, was in Cooperstown on business when he stopped by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for his first behind-the-scenes visit. Kittle had been to the home of baseball previously, including a 1988 trip as a member of the Cleveland Indians for the Hall of Fame Game at Doubleday Field.
"There was no score, and I came up to pinch hit late in the game," Kittle said. "I told (Cubs catcher) Jody Davis that I was going to hit a home run to end this thing, and I did. But Ryne Sandberg came up in the bottom of the ninth and homered – On a check swing! – to tie the game."
The game was called after nine innings with the score tied at 1, leaving both Kittle and Sandberg with a memorable moment. But it was not Kittle's first brush with a Hall of Famer. Passing by a photo of Sandy Koufax in the Hall's archive on Wednesday, Kittle recounted his days as a Dodgers' minor leaguer.
"I came into the Dodgers' organization with Mike Scioscia as a catcher," said Kittle, who was signed by the Dodgers as an amateur free agent in 1977. "Down in Spring Training, they had strings across the batter's box to teach pitchers control, and this guy got on the mound and started throwing to me and putting it right where he wanted. After he finished, someone said: 'Don't you know who that was? That was Sandy Koufax.' I'll never forget that."
On Wednesday, Kittle took home more memories after learning about the Hall of Fame's commitment to preserve baseball history.
"I love hearing stories about things that go on behind the scenes," Kittle said. "And to see all this is incredible."
The Tigers’ 2011 resurgence has brought the team’s legends of yesteryear – like Cobb, Greenberg and Kaline – together with the stars of today like Cabrera and Verlander. Tiger fans might not be able to make it to Oakland this weekend to see their team continue its march toward the division crown, but Cooperstown offers a chance to follow along from afar while celebrating the team’s legacy in person.
And there is plenty to see for Bengal Believers at the Hall of Fame. To date, 25 Hall of Famers have worn Detroit’s Old English D, including 10 who entered the Hall of Fame sporting that signature D on their plaques.
While he’s preceded in history by Hall of Fame exec Ed Barrow and teammate Sam Crawford, Ty Cobb was the first Tiger elected to the Hall of Fame – having been a part of the inaugural class of 1936. Cobb, who led the Tigers to pennants in 1907, 1908 and 1909, won an MVP Award in 1911 (at the time a player could only win one during his career) with an other-worldly batting average of .420. He’s well represented in the Hall of Fame both in the Museum’s Baseball Timeline and in the newest exhibit One for the Books. Artifacts like the 1909 and 1911 Honeyboy Evans trophies, awarded to the all-time career batting leader for batting titles in those seasons, as well as sliding pads worn by the former all-time leader in stolen bases, are on exhibit in Cooperstown. Other artifacts from Cobb in the two exhibits include bats used during a career in which he won 11 batting titles; spikes worn during his career; and even a glove used by the stellar-fielding star, who holds the major league record for most games played in the outfield with 2,934.
The Tigers’ 1930s and 40s dynasty has a section devoted to it in the Timeline, marking the achievements of Hall of Famers like Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Mickey Cochrane and Hal Newhouser. From 1934 to 1945, this core group took Detroit to the World Series four times, winning in 1935 and 1945. The ’36 team holds the franchise record by fielding a lineup of four future Hall of Fame players and player/manager Cochrane. Found within the exhibit about these Motown Mashers are Cochrane’s catcher’s mitt; Gehringer’s bronzed second baseman glove; a home run ball from Greenberg’s 1940 league-leading campaign; a cap and jersey worn by Newhouser; and a number of awards, trophies and trinkets given to the group.
Between Fall Classic appearances in 1945 and 1968, notable Hall of Famers like third baseman and batting wizard George Kell, future senator and ace pitcher Jim Bunning and Mr. Tiger himself – Al Kaline – joined the team. Representing this trio in the Timeline are a pair of silver bats awarded to Kell for batting titles in 1943 (in the Interstate League) and 1949; Bunning’s spikes from his first career no-hitter – thrown at Fenway on July 20, 1958; and a uniform from Kaline who helped lead the Tigers back to the Fall Classic in 1968 when they topped the Cardinals to become World Champions. This group is also represented in One for the Books by Kaline’s 3,000th hit bat and the glove worn by 1968 and 1969 Cy Young Award winner, Denny McLain, who in 1968 became the first big leaguer to win 30 games in a season since 1934.
After Kaline retired, the torch passed to veteran manager Sparky Anderson, who after having won two World Series titles with the Cincinnati Reds, helmed a 1980s Tigers team poised to make some noise. In 1984, they won the World Series – and reached the ALCS again in 1987. Those teams have a spot in Cooperstown with Kirk Gibson’s 1987 batting helmet, Lou Whitaker’s 1984 championship jersey, Alan Trammel’s 1983 Gold Glove jersey, and Jack Morris 1984 no-hitter cap appearing in the Timeline alongside a 1984 Series cap from Sparky.
Recent Detroit squads have plenty of artifacts at the Hall of Fame, celebrating their success. Since winning the AL pennant in 2006, the Tigers have generously donated items found in Today’s Game such as: Bats from 2006 ALCS MVP Placido Polanco and ALCS Game Four walk-off home run slugger Magglio Ordonez, (in ¡Viva Baseball!); a jersey from Curtis Granderson, who joined Willie Mays and Frank Schulte as the only players with at least 20 doubles, triples, home runs and steals in a single season in 2007.
Other items within the Hall’s walls include a piece of the Tiger Stadium outfield wall (in Sacred Ground); and in Today’s Game the cap worn by Brian Moehler on April 11, 2000, when he became the first pitcher to start a game at Comerica Park; and the spikes from Armando Galarraga’s near perfect game on June 2, 2010, while first base from the game resides in One for the Books.
Hurricane Irene blew through Upstate New York in less than 24 hours.
But the damage it left behind won’t soon be forgotten.
Dave Lord and his team of firefighters from the East Bay area of California received the call from New York State looking for rescue workers to make the trip and be available for help following the storm.
Soon 34 men and women from the Alameda County, Oakland, Fremont, Richmond, Hayward and Contra Costa County Fire Departments were on their way to New York. Originally assigned to Brooklyn by the Office of Emergency Management, the team was soon split up and assigned upstate.
“The mission changed twice on us,” Lord said. “When we landed at La Guardia airport, we helped in Brooklyn as the storm came through the five boroughs. But the water kept coming up and up and soon we were split up between Essex County and 14 of us were reassigned to Delhi in Delaware County.”
Two towns southeast of Cooperstown, Margaretsville and Fleishmanns, saw severe damage with flooding. These rescue workers answered the call and were there to help.
“There was severe damage,” Lord said. “There were houses washed off their foundations. The whole downtown infrastructure was decimated. I was standing next to a building and the high water mark was a good foot over my head.”
Lord’s team worked to do reconnaissance, assess the damage and provide resource management. Once that work was done, the team began actually assigning resources out to help people of the community.
“It was a pretty scary time for those folks.”
With their hard work behind them, the firemen couldn’t get a flight back to California for a few days – so they decided to make a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Mostly Giants fans, the men walked through the Autumn Glory exhibit featuring artifacts from the 2010 World Series on Friday.
No one had been to the Museum before, and a number of the guys said this visit was something they have always wanted to do and put on their bucket list.
“I’ve got chills,” said Lord.
I am lucky enough to walk through the Baseball Hall of Fame everyday. But it gave me chills to meet men who spend their lives helping others.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I woke up to beautiful late summer/early fall conditions. Warm temperatures and a good-looking day.
After my morning run and breakfast, I headed to the office to pick up a few things before leaving for Albany International Airport. I was on my way to Baltimore to see Cal Ripken, who was planning to retire at season’s end.
The purpose of the meeting was to determine what artifacts Cal would consider sending to the Hall of Fame, once the season ended, as well as how they would be presented to us. Would it be at the ballpark? Quietly, or in a ceremony? The day of the final game or some other time?
Cal had a long history of presenting historic artifacts to the Museum, so we knew he understood the enormity of his career concluding, and how we would recognize this sure-fire, first-ballot future Hall of Famer in Cooperstown.
I left the Hall of Fame at 8:30 am for an 11 a.m. flight on Southwest Airlines. From there, I planned to make my way to Cal’s hometown, Aberdeen, Md., for a lunch-time meeting with Cal and Orioles PR chief John Maroon. We had arranged the meeting a few weeks prior, and picked September 11 because it was an off-day for the Orioles, who returned home on a redeye from Seattle after playing on the 10th.
As I left Cooperstown that morning, I tuned the radio dial to the 50,000-watt news station out of Albany, WGY Radio. I was about 40 miles north and west of Cooperstown when I heard about the planes hitting the World Trade Center and then the Pentagon. Without the benefit of owning a cell phone at the time and without access to a television, I listened in amazement, not realizing the enormity of what was happening.
Then the report came that all airports were closed. I was already really nervous and frightened hearing about the plane crashes and when it was reported that all airports were closed, I was more than happy to turn around, which I had been contemplating anyhow. When I returned to the Hall of Fame and put on the television, I realized the severity of what had happened.
We ended up having the meeting by telephone a few weeks later. I went to Baltimore for Cal's final game. Afterward at the press conference, he took off his jersey and handed it to me along with his glove, with his kids by his side. I flew home to Cooperstown with the artifacts the next morning, where they were put on exhibit as a remembrance of Cal’s indelible career, and – to me – as a reminder of a tragic day in American history.
I recently crossed paths with one of our older gloves, which I knew was used by Rube Waddell in a 20-inning game. The smooth, brown leather glove, lacking a web, laces between the fingers and nearly any padding, looks more like a driving or work glove than the early-20th century baseball glove it is. It has long intrigued me, so I took the time and opportunity to research both the game and the glove.
Legendary Philadelphia Athletics manager Connie Mack donated the glove to the Hall of Fame in 1942 – an artifact from a game the Athletics had played in Boston 37 years earlier, on July 4, 1905. On that day, Philadelphia’s Rube Waddell pulled the glove on in preparation for confronting Cy Young, as the pair of future Hall of Fame pitchers faced off in the second game of an Independence Day doubleheader. Young, 38, might have been a decade older than Waddell, but he was still the ace of the Boston Americans (today’s Red Sox), and had thrown a perfect game the year before at home to beat Waddell.
At the start of the game, Waddell promptly gave up two Boston runs in the bottom of the first; however, these would be the last runs the Americans would score for the next 19 innings. The ageless Young matched the Philadelphia pitcher, giving up only a two-run homer in the sixth, and at the end of nine the score was tied, 2-2.
This being the era when pitchers generally completed what they started and pitch counts were unheard of, both hurlers came back and pitched scoreless 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th innings. And still the game continued. At the end of 19 innings, both Waddell and Young were still going strong, pitching out of jams and recording outs by the bushel. Across the game’s last 10 innings, each side recorded just four hits. Waddell had pitched the equivalent of two consecutive shutouts. Finally, in the top of the 20th inning, the Boston defense stumbled behind Young, giving up two unearned runs and yielding a 4-2 lead to the visiting Athletics. Over 20 innings, Young had racked up nine strikeouts and walked no one.
It was at this point, of course, that Philadelphia manager Connie Mack decided to bring in the Athletics closer—NOT. Like every other pitcher of the era, Waddell was his own “closer” (neither the term nor the position having been invented yet), so he resumed his place on the mound, with this glove, where he recorded the last three outs to close out the epic game for the win. Waddell had struck out 11 and walked only four.
The game itself was played much more briskly than might be expected. The teams combined for 28 hits, nine errors, and left a combined 28 men on base, but the game was over in just 3:31, scarcely longer than today’s average nine-inning game. Boston made no substitutions in the game, Philly only one—shortstop John Knight, who was knocked out by a Cy Young pitch to the head in the 20th inning. Most of the ballplayers, in fact, played all of both games that day, including Ossee Schrecongost (“Ossee Schreck” in the press), the stalwart Athletics catcher who set a still-standing record of 29 innings caught in one day.
After the game, Waddell guessed he threw more than 250 pitches; Young estimated 290. After such a marathon, how good could the pitchers be the next time they climbed the mound? Amazingly, not only did both players make their next start but they pitched wonderfully. After two days of rest (typical for the era) they faced each other again on July 7. Waddell repeated his victory over Young, this time by a 2-1 score, but only Young pitched a complete game. Waddell did not leave the game because he was tired, however; he had hurt his hand stopping a grounder and was replaced in the eighth by another future Hall of Famer, Chief Bender, who closed out the win!
That is really what baseball broadcasters are. Whether they are giving play-by-play of live game action on the radio or providing commentary about team chemistry on television – they are the voices that bring the game to life.
There are the broadcasters who remind me of childhood – the ones whose voices I never mistake. There are the ones I’ve grown to love, because they bring live action from my favorite team each night.
There are broadcasters who root for the home team, ones who talk about statistics and ones who get emotional when they see a great play. These men and women make the game interesting when you can’t be there in person.
I’ve learned a lot about baseball from broadcasters. You learn nuances of the game that may go unnoticed when taking in the game by yourself. Sometimes commentary even provides insight into players that you wouldn’t know otherwise – like how a pitcher has been working on a new delivery or how teammates got into an argument during batting practice before the game.
Sometimes broadcasters are Hall of Fame ballplayers who spent 20 years in the big leagues and sometimes they are just a sports fan who grew up loving the game.
During his acceptance speech for the 2010 Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting, Jon Miller told the story of the moment that changed his life as a kid in Candlestick Park.
“I'm looking into that visiting broadcast booth and right in the middle of an inning there's a batter at the plate and that broadcaster says, ‘There's a curve ball, low and outside, Ball 2’,” said Miller. “And then he grabbed a big handful of, I thought it was french fries, and he jammed all these french fries into his mouth and he's chewing on those fries, and while he's still chewing the next pitch comes in and he says, without missing a beat, "There's a fast ball outside, Ball 3." Then he grabbed a cup full of whatever. He took a big pull on that cup. And as a ten year old I sat there and said, ‘That is the life for me’.”
Throughout the month of September, fans will have a chance to celebrate their favorite broadcasters by voting online to determine three of the ten finalists for the 2012 Ford C. Frick Award. Voting will take place on the Hall of Fame’s Facebook page, from Sept. 1 through Sept. 30.
Seventy-five candidates will appear on the fan ballot – two representing every current big league team and 15 at-large selections. The three highest vote-getters will join seven other candidates as finalists for the Award. Make sure your voice is heard and vote!
Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
The last Hall Monitor topic of two 600 home run hitters squaring off in the same game seems so long ago after the week’s events. But to follow-up, it did happen on Sunday. Alex Rodriguez and the Yanks met Jim Thome and the Twins marked the A.L.’s first 600 vs. 600. Here’s what’s happened since:
These go to 11: Just arrived in Cooperstown: Albert Pujols’ batting gloves and bat from his 30th home run of 2011 made it to their final destination at the beginning of the week. Pujols deposited his 30th into the PNC Park bleachers on Aug. 16. That historic stroke made the man known as The Machine the first player to hit 30 or more home runs in each of his first 11 seasons.
A pair of sevens: The American League Cy Young favorite is arguably Justin Verlander, and on Monday night he extended a winning streak to seven starts for the second time this season. The Tigers’ ace also compiled seven straight victories from May 29 to June 30. Over the last 50, years only three other pitchers have had two streaks of seven or more in the same season. Each led their league in wins and earned the Cy Young Award. Fellow Tiger Denny McLain did it in the first of his back-to-back Cy Young seasons while winning 31 in 1968. Cardinals Hall of Famer Bob Gibson did it in 1970 with 23 wins and the Twins’ Frank Viola did it in 1988, winning 24.
Movin’ on up: Baseball’s active strikeout leader inched his way a little further up the all-time list on Wednesday as the Marlins' Javier Vazquez passed Don Drysdale for 30th place. By striking out 11 Reds, the 34-year-old Vazquez now has 2,494 K’s. When Drysdale retied in 1969 he was eighth with 2,486 behind Hall of Fame names like Johnson, Young, Bunning, Spahn, Feller and Keefe. Vazquez should be able to reach 29th this season as Christy Mathewson is just 13 strikeouts away.
Rookie Backstop Power: The Tigers’ Rudy York and Matt Nokes, Red Sox Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk, the Dodgers’ Mike Piazza and the Cubs’ Geovany Soto did it – and now the Blue Jays’ J.P Arencibia has too. In a loss to Kansas City Thursday, Arencibia became the sixth rookie to hit 20 home runs as a catcher, joining good company that includes 32 All-Star selections, 14 Silver Sluggers, three Rookie of the Year Award and of course, a Hall of Famer.
A grand old game in the Bronx: Lastly we have an MLB first. Robinson Cano, Russell Martin and Curtis Ganderson literally slammed the Yankees into the record books Thursday when the three made the Bronx Bombers the first team to hit three grand slams in a game. The 22-9 drubbing of the A’s made history in a lot of ways.
History notes other than the grand trio include from yesterday's massacre: The Yanks tied a record by having three players with at least five RBIs; they matched the record for largest winning margin by a team which trailed by at least six; they became the fourth team to score at least four runs in four consecutive innings; and Martin is just the second catcher and third Pinstriper, regardless of position, to go 5-for-5 with two home runs and five or more RBIs. He joins current Tigers backstop Victor Martinez who did it as an Indian in 2004 and fellow Yankees Joe DiMaggio (July 9, 1937) and Danny Tartabull (Sept. 8, 1992).
Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Tomorrow night could be a historic night for the American League – featuring two 600 home run hitters in the same game. Of course there are factors to keep it from happening until Sunday or even next month – and then again, the event could be postponed indefinitely.
On Monday night, Jim Thome, in back-to-back at-bats, connected for home runs No. 599 and 600, joining an elite club consisting of just seven other players – three of whom are Hall of Famers and the other four, like Thome, aren't yet eligible.
Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Hank Aaron are responsible for the only games in which two 600 Club members were featured in the same game, all of which happening under the National League banner. The American League has never one, but it could happen this weekend in Minneapolis.
Last night, Alex Rodriguez's Yankees started a four-game series in Minnesota against baseball's newest edition to the elite club, Thome, and his Twins. But Rodriguez is on the disabled list. News reports say he could be in the lineup tomorrow and with the Bronx Bombers fighting for a division crown, he very well could be. He's played in four rehab games already, but the slightest setback in clearing him for play after knee surgery could postpone his return.
Should that happen, or if Thome – a 40-year-old designated hitter, who could retire at the end of the season – gets a day off, the two teams do meet again on Sept. 19th as a makeup for the rainout on April 6th. Another factor that could stop the AL's first 600-600 game: Thome's name is circulating the rumor mill as a waiver trade candidate, though a move elsewhere in AL could just alter the time and location for his matchup against Rodriguez.
With only eight members of the 600 Club, it has been rare for two 600 home run hitters to be active for an extended period of time together. The inaugural member, Babe Ruth, retired almost 35 years before the Giants Mays joined him at 600 at the end of 1969. The Braves Aaron joined Mays two years later, but once Mays retired in 1973 and Aaron in 1976, it was a full 25 years before Barry Bonds launched his 600th in 2002. Sammy Sosa, wearing a Ranger's uniform, played just one season – 2007 – before he and the Giants Bonds both hung 'em up without meeting in interleague. Next was Ken Griffey Jr. who reached 600 in 2008. During Junior's final season last year, Alex Rodriguez reached the plateau – but two months after Griffey's retirement from the Mariners – and that brings us to Thome.
For those curious, Mays and Aaron played in 24 games against each other after both achieved 600 home runs, including the game in which Aaron hit his 600th on April 27, 1971, off of fellow future Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. 1971 featured the most action, with the two taking the field together 13 times. With Mays as a Met they met four times in 1972 and seven times in 1973. In those 24 games, Aaron hit home runs eight times by himself, Mays had one on May 9, 1971 and they both went deep on May 8, 1971.
One last note, there have actually been three games featuring two 600 Club members on the same team: the 1971-73 All-Star Games. Both featured Aaron and Mays on the NL rosters, and the two were in the starting lineups for the 1972 and 1973 games.
Known as the “Master of Alternate History,” New York Times best selling author Harry Turtledove has delighted fans for decades with his fantastic “what if?” tales.
Stories such as “World War” and “Colonization,” a series of books which follow the invasion of Earth by a Race of alien lizards during World War II and the hundred years that follow (with quite a few baseball references too, including a couple of lizard middle infielders and Mickey Mantle playing in the Major Leagues against the Yankees for the Kansas City Blues) and “The House that George Built,” a novella about Babe Ruth and baseball, if the Babe never made it.
Recently, the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library has added to its permanent collection the manuscripts for two of Harry Turtledove’s alternate history works, the aforementioned “The House that George Built” and “The Stars and Rockets.”
The Hall of Fame Library contains more than three million documents on baseball, including a file for every player who has appeared in a major league game and thousands of books on the National Pastime.
“The House that George Built” follows an alternate timeline where the Federal League never established a presence in Baltimore in 1914, thus Orioles owner Jack Dunn never felt the need to sell Babe Ruth’s contract. In this reality, Ruth’s role in the game’s history was flipped with that of 1920s Pacific Coast League superstar Buzz Arlett, who became the game’s “Babe Ruth” with the Babe only getting Buzz’s cup of coffee.
“The Stars and Rockets” is a fantastical tale that connects the Roswell incident of 1947 with Joe Bauman’s 72 home run season for the Class-C Roswell Rockets in 1954, and some fans that are out of this world.
Harry Turtledove grew up on the West Coast and began his love affair with our National Pastime when his father began taking him to Pacific Coast League games of the Hollywood Stars and Los Angeles Angels. His Major League allegiance was to the Yankees originally, but that changed when the Angels became an MLB franchise.
“I was a Yankee fan before the majors came to L.A.; I've pretty much but not entirely got over that, but still generally root for the AL over the NL. The AL Angels, I like. Dunno why, but I do. When they finally won the Series in 2002 . . . It's very strange getting something in your 50s that you've wanted since you were eleven.”
In his critically acclaimed World War/Colonization series which began in the 1990s, among those characters featured were several members of the Decatur Commodores, a Three-I league minor league baseball team in 1942. Although he didn’t know it at the time, one of those ballplayers, Sam Yeager, would become the central character in all eight books.
“I thought it would be interesting” Turtledove said. “I didn't know what all would happen to Sam when I started writing about him – I tend to work by the seat of my pants. And it gave me an excuse to research Minor League Baseball and actually do something with what I found out, so that was cool, too. Back in the day, of course, a lot more guys made careers of the minor leagues than happens now, but there are still a few.”
Although he has no current plans for a full length alternate history baseball novel, Mr. Turtledove says “I'll go for it in a heartbeat” if he develops “any ideas along those lines that I think people would buy.”
When he first got out of college, before finding his true calling, he tried to get a job in baseball with the Dodgers and Angels. Turtledove described the type of work he was searching for as “Something – anything – involving PR and stats, which were the kind of things a guy who wrote halfway decently and was a stat geek could do. I struck out twice, but at least I struck out swinging.”
Who knows, maybe in some other reality Harry Turtledove did get a job in baseball.
Tom Brunansky was surprised after looking through a pair of manila folders containing both images and stories from his 14 years in the big leagues.
Evan after a career that included 271 home runs and a World Series ring, Brunansky was amazed to find his career documented in Cooperstown.
"It's pretty special and neat that not only my mom would collect that," he said afterward, "but the Hall of Fame would as well."
Brunansky, currently the hitting coach for the New Britain Rock Cats, a Double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins in the Eastern League, was with about 10 members of his team inside the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center on Wednesday morning as they checked out the clippings and photo files of the player nicknamed "Bruno."
"Oh, it got a lot of laughs, a lot of stories, and a lot of things that after a course of a career you kind of seem to forget about," Brunansky said of his Hall of Fame files.
In a playing career (1981-94) spent mostly with the Twins, the longtime right-fielder finished with 1,543 hits, 919 RBI, a .245 batting average and an All-Star Game selection in 1985.
For Brunansky, who will celebrate his 51st birthday on Aug. 20, the chance to come to Cooperstown arose thanks to a Rock Cats' series against the Binghamton Mets – another Eastern League team located about an hour from the home of baseball.
"They try and make these trips for the kids who haven't been here, and I've never been here, so it was obviously well worth getting up early to come on out," he said. "We play tonight, so we've got an early bus, but to bring these kids out and to see part of history is pretty cool.
"I always knew the Hall of Fame was kind of neat because of all the things that were here, but to see the degree and how far they've gone and how much work has been put into it is amazing," he added. "I love the cleats, I love the gloves, I love the baseballs, I love the bats – that's the stuff I enjoy seeing."
While he enjoyed the baseball artifacts, what Brunansky really wanted to see was the Hall of Fame plaques.
"The Plaque Gallery was kind of neat, too, because I liked going through there and seeing who I played against and who were teammates."
One of the newest plaques on display belong to 2011 inductee Bert Blyleven, a teammate of Brunansky's with the Twins from 1985 to 1988.
"Bert was one of the ultimate gamers," Brunansky said. "The one thing about having Bert as a teammate is every fifth day he took the ball, gave you the best chance to win that day, and always competed."
Bill Francis is a Library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
It began 40 years ago today – Aug. 10, 1971 – at the Hall of Fame Library.
Four decades later, the Society for American Baseball Research has grown into one of the most influential research organizations in the sport. And on Wednesday, SABR members new and old took time to celebrate where it all began.
More than two dozen SABR members gathered at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's Learning Center to swap stories and memories. Tom Hufford, one of the original 16 who was at the inaugural meeting 40 years ago, gave the keynote address to a group of devoted members including MLB Historian John Thorn and researcher extraordinaire Pete Palmer.
"The great things about this organization," said Hufford, who was a student at Virginia Tech when he joined SABR, "is that you learn things all the time."
Today, SABR has more than 6,000 members in 35 chapters around the world – including the Cliff Kachline Chapter in Cooperstown. Kachline, the Hall of Fame's longtime historian who passed away in 2010, was also among the first 16 members of SABR present at that initial meeting in 1971.
"In the spring of 1971, Bob Davids, who had freelanced for years for the Sporting News, sent letters to about 40 'statistorians' – baseball fans who he knew to have a strong interest in the numbers of the game," Hufford said. "He thought there might be about 25 to 30 people out there who would want to join an organization like this.
"Dues were $10. Cliff Kachline helped us organize that first meeting at the Hall of Fame a day after the 1971 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. And within a month, we had 50 members. Within a year, we were up over 100 – and we thought we might have something."
Today, SABR has a new national office in Phoenix, Ariz. And the research produced by SABR members touches thousands of fans every day.
Forty years ago, that research began in earnest.
"I think SABR members feel like coming to Cooperstown is coming home," said Marc Appleman, SABR's executive director. "Being in SABR is wanting to share your love of baseball with others. And that's what the Hall of Fame is about, too."
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
By Ana Apostoleris
"Preserving History. Honoring Excellence. Connecting Generations." This is the Hall of Fame's mission statement, and, as a Hall of Fame public programming intern for the past two months, I've been able to see this succinct string of words as a daily reality.
"Connecting Generations," especially, rings true as the Hall blends together past and future for the wide variety of visitors who come through our doors, as well as for me personally.
The Hall, of course, is largely commemorative. Baseball has a history in this country that no other sport has; here, I get to live that history every day, through patrons as well as programs. We have people in their 80s and older coming in every day, some of whom have been here more times than they can count, some of whom are making the trip for the first time in their lives. For the most part, they all have stories – I've met people who saw Babe Ruth play when they were young, who grew up in Boston rooting for the Braves, who remember the days before integration. They're here to remember their childhoods and the game they watched growing up.
I also took this internship with an eye on my future. Baseball has been my lifelong passion, and as a 20-year-old college student, my ongoing goal is to get myself into the best position I can to turn my passion into a career. I see the same kind of forward thinking from visitors, usually young. We have the thousands of Little Leaguers who dream of being Major Leaguers, for whom the Hall of Fame represents the ultimate end goal. We have others whose baseball dreams come from different angles – for example, the eloquent 16-year-old who participated in our "Making Airwaves" radio recreation program, calling Hank Aaron's 715th home run, and who later told me that his dream is to be a broadcaster and that he'd made sure his family woke up early so they wouldn't miss the program. On a less long-term scale, these young visitors are afforded the same opportunity to explore their love of baseball and to connect with their future goals that I am.
Of course, it's also about the present, which, as always, is the intersection between past and future. My present is contributing as much as I can to the museum while I'm here, so that visitors can make the most out of what is for some a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
It's these 10 weeks, where I get to walk through the Plaque Gallery on my way to the office every morning and run my hand over Lou Gehrig's plaque for luck. It's been the opportunity to discover the history of the game I love while exploring my own future, and I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend my summer vacation.
Ana Apostoleris is a public programming intern in the Class of 2011 Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program. For more information on the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program, please click here http://baseballhall.org/education/internship-program/internship-program.
An American musical icon visited the home of America's National pastime late Thursday as singer-songwriter Steve Earle toured the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, along with his band “The Dukes (and Dutchesses).”
Earle and his bandmates thoroughly enjoyed their tour on the eve of his Friday night performance in Cooperstown at nearby Brewery Ommegang, where he is headlining an Americana festival, also featuring the music of the Felice Brothers and Langhorne Slim.
For Earle, a lifelong diehard Yankees fan, despite his Texas upbringing, the trip to Cooperstown capped his affinity for the game and his fandom.
"I'm not a very good social guest at a baseball game," Earle said as he and his bandmates viewed historic imagery in the Museum's photo collection. "When I go to a game, I tune out everything else to focus on the action on the field. I have no problem eliminating the outside world while at a ballpark."
Also joining the tour were Earle's bandmate and wife, Allison Moorer, and the couple's 18-month-old son, John Henry.
Throughout their summer musical travels, the Dukes have already caught some major baseball moments along the way, including Roy Halladay's heat-fatigued start at Wrigley Field against the Cubs and the drama-filled Angels-Tigers clash in Detroit, featuring a near-no hitter of Justin Verlander and the ejection of Jered Weaver.
In addition to a collections visit to see the storage of three-dimensional items, Earle and the Dukes spent several hours in the Museum Thursday on a day when nearly 3,000 visitors toured Cooperstown, strolling through baseball history. Earle even got an up close view of the promissory note transaction that sent Babe Ruth from Boston to the Yankees.
Tonight, Earle and the Dukes will resume their journey down the road of Americana music, but with the inspiration of the National Game and history fueling their troubadour spirit.
By Chris Duffy
A day in the life of the stereotypical intern has the basic ingredients of a Dilbert comic strip. Each day's forecast typically calls for eight hours of filing papers, answering phones and periodically refilling the "World's Greatest Boss" coffee mug.
Fortunately, my time as a Public Programs intern at the Hall of Fame has been far from stereotypical. Words such as extraordinary, unforgettable and surreal properly reflect my Cooperstown experience.
My morning begins with a scenic commute through the Hall of Fame Plaque Gallery, where bronze portraits of baseball legends rest peacefully in silent alcoves. Roberto Clemente's gaze, Stan the Man's smile and Ty Cobb's smirk greet me as I pass by quietly, not wanting to disrupt the stillness of the moment.
Then, the doors open, the Hall of Fame roars to life and the public programs begin.
My purpose this summer is to develop, prepare and conduct daily programs for fans to enjoy. My favorite part of programming? The passionate visitors. Whether I'm demonstrating the sweet spot on a bat, or recreating Hank Aaron's 715th home run call, the fans' love for the game is always evident.
Artifact spotlights, which present artifacts not currently on display in the Museum, are particularly special programs to run. The treasures presented bring out the utmost zeal from fans of all ages. I will never forget the man from Milwaukee with the youthful glint in his eyes as I held Craig Biggio's batting gloves; I will always remember the young girl from Florida gazing at Derek Jeter's bat like it was fashioned from solid gold.
Moments like these are amazing because my experience with baseball has come full circle. Before this summer, I was simply a fan. Now, I contribute to improving the experience for other fans and sustaining the legacy of America's national pastime.
No papers, phones or coffee mugs. Just fun, excitement and passion for the game of baseball.
Chris Duffy is a public programs intern in the Class of 2011 Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program. For more information on the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program, please click here http://baseballhall.org/education/internship-program/internship-program.
Ray Durham looked down at the photo on the table in the Hall of Fame's archive – and his eyes lit up. Another photo was lying on top of the first picture, leaving only the lower half of the depicted player visible.
But Durham did not need a face to recognize his former White Sox teammate.
"That's Frank!" said Durham, referring to two-time American League MVP Frank Thomas. "He's the only guy who could hit while he was lifting his leg like that."
In an instant, it was the mid-1990s all over again – when Durham and Thomas teamed up in Chicago to power one of the AL's most potent offenses.
It was a trip back in time, courtesy of the magic of Cooperstown.
The 39-year-old Durham, who retired following the 2008 season after a 14-year big league career with the White Sox, A's, Giants and Brewers that featured two All-Star Game selections, toured the Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday with his family. But he was not the only big league connection at the Museum.
JP Ricciardi, the former Blue Jays general manager, also visited the Museum with his family – including his son Dante, who is playing in a tournament this week in Cooperstown. Ricciardi, who headed up the Jays' front office for eight seasons between 2002 and 2009, is now a special assistant to Mets general manager Sandy Alderson.
"When I was coach in the Yankees' system in the 1980s, we lived in Oneonta (located about 20 minutes from Cooperstown, and the former home of a Yankees minor league affiliate) for a while," Ricciardi said. "I've been to the Hall of Fame before, but never like this."
Ricciardi got to hold a Babe Ruth bat as well as a Honus Wagner model, marveling at the weight of bats from the early 20th Century.
"This is incredible," Ricciardi said. "What a day!"
From All-Stars to front-office masterminds. Just another summer day at the home of baseball.
The brain aneurysm that changed John Olerud’s life is visible today by only a small indentation on the left side of his forehead.
But the effects of that event shape Olerud’s outlook to this day – and has left the 17-year big league veteran with a deep sense of gratitude.
Olerud visited the Baseball Hall of Fame on Thursday with his wife, Kelly; two of their children, Garrett and Jessica; and his in-laws. The 42-year-old Olerud, who lives in the Pacific Northwest, made the trip to Cooperstown based on the recommendation of former teammate Ed Sprague.
“Ed told me what an incredible visit he had, getting to see all the history,” Olerud said. “I have to say: He was right.”
Olerud, looking very much like the strapping 6-foot-5, 205-pound first baseman he was with the Blue Jays, Mets, Mariners, Yankees and Red Sox from 1989-2005, marveled at Museum artifacts like a Babe Ruth bat and a Roberto Clemente cap.
He even held a bat that he donated to the Hall of Fame in 2000 after recording the first-ever hit at Detroit’s Comerica Park as a member of the Mariners.
His .295 career batting average, 2,239 hits, two All-Star Game selections and three Gold Glove Awards were enough to secure him a place on the 2011 Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame ballot. But the modest Olerud, a key member of the Blue Jays’ back-to-back World Series winners in 1992-93, downplayed his own accomplishments.
“I’m just so thankful to have had the chance to get married, have kids and play the game I love,” said Olerud, who suffered the aneurysm while he was working out at Washington State University in 1988, but recovered to debut with the Jays in 1989 after bypassing the minor leagues entirely. “When you’re playing, you don’t really think about something like the Hall of Fame because you’re just trying to help the team and keep yourself in the lineup. And now that I’m retired, I’ve been so involved with my family, it seems like that time when I played is so far away.
“But to come here and see all this, it reminds you of how fortunate you are to play baseball.”
Despite the fact that Stan and Jeff Van Gundy have made their names in basketball, the brothers' affection for a game that uses a much smaller ball was evident with their visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Wednesday.
"We've been meaning to come here for awhile," said Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, who also brought with him his 16-year-old son Michael. "With work schedules and we both have families and other things around it was hard, but finally Jeff just said, 'Get a date and I'll go,' so we came up with a date."
While Stan was making his first visit to Cooperstown, Jeff Van Gundy, who coached the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets prior to his current gig broadcasting the NBA for ABC/ESPN, thinks he might have come years ago, adding, "I think I was here before once when I was in high school but now I'm not totally clear."
But what was clear was how much the siblings were enjoying their Hall of Fame visit.
"It's just unbelievable," Stan Van Gundy said. "We've been baseball fans since we were little kids and been meaning to come here for years and years and years. It's incredible how much stuff is here and how much history is here. You really feel connected to it. There's just an overwhelming amount of ... things."
With a father who was a basketball coach, the Van Gundy brothers were exposed to that game from an early age. But as Stan explained, baseball brought with it a special family dynamic.
"We're all involved in basketball and so we weren't really together at a lot of games. We were watching my dad's team or watching Jeff play a game or watching me play a game or whatever, but baseball's something you can do together," Stan said. "And it's been the same way with me and my son. He may come to my games or I might go to his games but we're rarely at a basketball game together. Baseball we can share. It's a family experience. I remember going to baseball games with my family, so I think that's been a big part of it."
For Jeff Van Gundy, an A's fan whose family lived in the Bay area in the 1970s, an early baseball memory comes from the 1972 World Series between Oakland pitcher Rollie Fingers and Reds batter Johnny Bench.
"I still remember vividly (A's manager) Dick Williams walking out to the mound and calling for an intentional walk and they throw the strike. It was one of the great memories of my life," Jeff said. "And I can still remember that we used to go out for a dollar and sit in the bleachers (in Oakland)."
Having lived in Florida for many years, Stan Van Gundy now roots for the Marlins.
"The 2003 World Series with the Marlins, we were living in Miami and got to know some of those guys," Stan said. "And probably my biggest baseball memory is Jeff Conine throwing J.T. Snow out at home plate in the first round of the playoffs. The only time a play at the plate ended a series. And J.T. Snow tries to run Pudge Rodriguez over and he comes up with the ball.
"Baseball's so many memories for all of us. And to be here, where there's memories from the entire history of the game... It's really overwhelming."
While the National Football League settled its lockout this week, the National Baseball Association is currently embroiled on one of its own. When asked for their thoughts on the current impasse, Stan Van Gundy politely demurred, explaining that he could be fined by the league for making a comment. But brother Jeff was under no restrictions.
"I think it'll work out eventually," Jeff said. "Obviously it'll involve compromise, the owners will win, and it will start late. And it will harm everybody and everything. What's always forgotten in these is the person who is just striving to live paycheck to paycheck and gotten laid off. That's the unfortunate thing about all these things. We talk about what's in it for the owners or for the players but we often forget so many of the other people that are impacted by these types of lockouts."
Bill Francis is a library associate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
It was the day before Induction Sunday, so this moment in the first-base dugout at Doubleday Field was a rare chance to sit down.
One-hundred yards away, the Hall of Fame Awards Presentation was just getting started. On the stage was Terry Cashman, telling the assembled crowd about how he came to write his classic piece of baseball nostalgia "Talkin' Baseball (Willie, Mickey and The Duke)."
I was tired, I was hot (Saturday featured another day of 90-plus degree temperatures in Cooperstown) and I was thinking about the next item on my to-do list.
And then Terry Cashman started to sing.
The Whiz Kids had won it; Bobby Thomson had done it; and Yogi read the comics all the while...
I have never felt tears well up that quickly.
We're talking baseball; Kluszewski, Campanella...
Suddenly, it was 1981 all over again. I was 12 years old, in love with this game and its history, and Terry Cashman was singing to me. I decoded each line of the song like it was a treasure.
Talkin' baseball; The Man and Bobby Feller...
The first time I heard that song, I knew there were kindred spirits out there. Others felt the same love, and Cashman had captured that feeling. In the days before the internet and when ESPN was in its infancy, the song was a unifying force.
The Scooter, The Barber and the Newk; They knew them all from Boston to Dubuque...
All the controversies, trials and quibbling, it's all just background noise. This game can still be perfect; and the memory of it can still make me cry.
It was all on display this weekend in Cooperstown.
Especially Willie, Mickey and The Duke...
Thank you, Terry, for giving us fans our piece of history. And thank you for coming to Cooperstown.
<a href="http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=835f9b64ff" _mce_href="http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=835f9b64ff" >National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony</a>
Sandy Alomar Sr. bounded up the steps to the first tee on Saturday, looking – except for his graying hair – much like the gritty middle infielder who played 15 big league seasons from 1964-78.
At 67 years old, the father of Roberto Alomar hasn’t slowed down a bit. And while celebrating his son’s induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend, Sandy Sr. is determined to enjoy every minute of the experience.
Sandy Sr. has renewed many friendships this weekend at the Hall of Fame as he prepares to watch Roberto be inducted at 1:30 p.m. ET Sunday in Cooperstown. He spent Saturday morning on the golf course at the Baseball Hall of Fame Invitational, blasting drives down the center of the fairway.
“It’s been a terrific weekend,” Sandy Sr. said. “I am proud to be here for my son.”
Bert Blyleven, who along with Pat Gillick and Roberto Alomar comprises the Class of 2011, also had family in the Invitational: His son Todd Blyleven and his brother Joe Blyleven.
“It’s great to be here with my family,” Blyleven said. “It’s just an amazing feeling.”
It’s about to get even better – during weekend that is all about family and Cooperstown.
Jerry Howarth is a Toronto institution, having been a member of the Blue Jays radio team for three decades. During that time, his press box seat enabled him to witness firsthand the accomplishments of two of this year’s inductees – general manager Pat Gillick and second baseman Robert Alomar – as they enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
“I came to the Blue Jays in 1982, my first full season, and I met Pat and we had a lot in common,” said Howarth, an invited guest of Gillick’s to this year’s Induction Weekend, after attending, appropriately enough, a presentation by author Curt Smith on his new book, A Talk in the Park: Nine Decades of Baseball Tales from the Broadcast Booth, that was held before a full house inside the Bullpen Theater on Friday afternoon. “We’re both from California, we both love baseball, and he was very good to me as I started to enjoy Blue Jays broadcasts. He was encouraging.
“But I could tell that he was someone special, too, who listened, communicated well, and had a bevy of scouts that were so loyal to him. Then I began to see the Blue Jays grow. I saw his patience and steadfastness. And sure enough he took that team – orchestrated it from the very beginning - and won those two World Series in 1992 and ’93.”
As for Alomar, Howarth says he and Willie Mays are the two best players he’s seen in his life.
“I grew up in San Francisco and I watched Willie Mays every day. We all wanted to be like Willie,” Howarth said. “And then we acquired Roberto in 1991, and he was with the Blue Jays through 1995. He’s the best player I’ve ever seen with Willie. By putting those two together I’m talking about all the aspects of the game – the proverbial five-tool player. But more than that, he had instincts, he could beat you in a game with a home run, a bunt, a stolen base, a fielding play, it didn’t matter. A wonderful passion and desire to make himself ever better.
“And Roberto stood out with the Blue Jays. They would not have won those World Series without him, but having said that, Pat together great teams. But Roberto stood out. And there’s no substitute for defense and Roberto provided the best defense that I’ve ever seen.”
Having recently spent time with both Gillick and Alomar, can Howarth predict the emotional state of the pair as they stand before thousands on Sunday afternoon?
“Pat will be balling like a baby up there because I’ve seen him cry at John Olerud getting a base hit. I can’t wait to hear his speech. I’m sure there will be a lot of Kleenex up there,” Howarth said with a laugh. “And Roberto, too. Roberto is from a baseball family and I think he appreciates his career and what he’s done.
“And remember, too, both of them, especially Roberto, they’re doing this for a country, Canada, and they feel that. They know the presence that they have in an entire nation. So that makes it very extraordinary for them.”
Curt Smith was 11 years old the first time he visited the Baseball Hall of Fame, and he's been back more than 75 times since.
"And the novelty hasn't faded," he said.
But for visitors in Cooperstown for Hall of Fame Weekend, Smith's Authors' Series program made it a visit to remember. Smith, a columnist, University of Rochester lecturer and former presidential speechwriter, has written a new book entitled A Talk in the Park: Nine Decades of Tales from the Broadcast Booth.
"This book features 116 announcers – the largest collection of any sports book ever – sharing stories from baseball history," said Smith. "Some are very poignant and touching and others - it is like the book Joe Garagiola wrote called Baseball is a Funny Game. It's true."
And Smith delighted Hall of Fame visitors on Friday by sharing stories from a number of chapters in the book.
Like Ken Harrelson, broadcaster for the Chicago White Sox and former major leaguer who defended his one handed catch by saying, " with hands as bad as mine, one hand is better than two."
Or Steve Blass, who was one of the only players in baseball history who was traded in Little League. He was moved from the Yankees to the Giants because the Yankees didn't have a uniform small enough to fit him. Each big league team and network is represented in the book – so every baseball fan can find something that touches their baseball experience. The voice of the Toronto Blue Jays, Jerry Howarth, in town for the induction of Roberto Alomar and Pat Gillick, attended the program and shared some laughs at stories of his broadcast colleagues.
Garagiola once said to Yogi Berra that he was amazed that Berra was such a world figure, he drew more applause than a president or prime minister. When he asked Berra how he explained it, Berra responded, "Easy, I'm a better hitter."
The book is available in the Museum Bookstore and a portion of the proceeds from the book benefit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
One final story told by Smith was a quote from 2008 Ford C. Frick Award winner Dave Niehaus, broadcaster for the Seattle Mariners who passed away last year at the young age of 75. Niehaus described his impressions of Cooperstown.
"When you come here you know there is no place like it in the world. It's like going to Disney World, but you don't have to pay for rides."
The telltale signs were all there on Thursday.
Former major leaguers Paul Blair and Ron Blomberg, signing autographs along Main Street.
SUVs streaming in and out of the village, carrying the likes of Bill Mazeroski, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan as they arrive for their annual July visit to Central New York.
Fans craning their necks on the sidewalks, hoping for a glimpse of greatness.
Hall of Fame Weekend is here. Let the celebration begin.
By night’s end on Thursday, almost all of the 50-plus Hall of Famers scheduled to return to Hall of Fame Weekend will have arrived in Cooperstown. On the hottest day of the year in Otsego County, the “cool” factor was in full force as the game’s greatest stars made their way back to the home of baseball.
On Friday, the action begins in earnest as Ozzie Smith hosts the annual PLAY Ball Museum fundraiser with his Hall of Fame friends Rod Carew, Andre Dawson and Whitey Herzog. Saturday features the new Hall of Fame Spotlight Series from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Doubleday Field, followed by the new Awards Presentation at 4:30 p.m. The Parade of Legends wraps up a full day of fun at 6 p.m. on Main Street.
Then, the feature attraction: The 2011 Induction Ceremony at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Clark Sports Center. Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Pat Gillick – the Class of 2011 – arrived in town midweek to soak in every minute. In just three days, they will have experienced the crowning moment of their professional careers.
It will be over in a heartbeat, baseball’s best weekend. But today, it’s all about anticipation.
Actor Billy Baldwin is certainly a recognizable face after starring in such films as Backdraft, Sliver and Fair Game, but on Friday he was just another fan of the New York Yankees taking in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum experience with his family.
A member of the famed acting clan that includes brothers Alec, Daniel and Stephen, Baldwin lives in Santa Barbara, Calif., but is spending part of the summer in Skaneateles, N.Y., near Syracuse. When the opportunity arose he jumped at the chance to visit Cooperstown with son Vance, a brother-in-law and two nephews.
“Last year I said, ‘We’re going to Cooperstown while we’re in Skaneateles,’ but we never got around to it,” he said while walking to lunch. “This year I said, ‘I’ll be darned if I come up here for another two or three years and we don’t get there. I am going this year.’”
Before they saw the Museum, Baldwin and his family would receive a behind-the-scenes from Senior Curator Tom Shieber, where the actor was able to hold the bat used by Ted Williams to slug his final home run. Baldwin was certainly impressive in his knowledge of the history of the national pastime, whether it be marveling at the home run prowess of Babe Ruth when measured against the other teams in the league or explaining how Joe DiMaggio’s homer production was hampered by playing his home games at Yankee Stadium.
Baldwin, who unabashedly admits to balling his eyes out when he watches Kevin Costner play catch with his dad in Field of Dreams, also explained his love of the game that is also evident in his son.
“I don’t know how to articulate it … It’s weird because I consider myself a big baseball fan but I’m not one of those guys who sits down with a pad and pen and does all the stats of every game,” Baldwin said. “I’m a huge baseball fan and I’m a diehard Yankees fan and probably watch or listen to a portion of about 100 games a year.
“But if there’s such a thing as having a metronome for your life, for me it starts with pitchers and catchers and goes all the way through October, hopefully with the Yankees in the postseason,” he added with a grin. “In these trying times with the economy not doing well and all sorts of struggles across the country and around the globe, I don’t want to be constantly reminded of all the tough stuff that’s going on. I find that the number one anecdote for that for me is baseball.”
Thanks to a father who once was an usher at Brooklyn’s beloved Ebbets Field, the Baldwin brothers were exposed to the game at a young age. But Billy Baldwin, with a famed wrestling coach living nearby, eventually turned his attentions to the mat.
“Growing up my favorite game was baseball, and I was best at baseball, but I made a mistake when I was in 10th grade,” he recalled. “I ran with this posse of guys on my wrestling team and we all gave up everything we were doing to wrestle all year and I walked away from baseball.
“Obviously, I have the build of a small basketball player or a baseball player or a tennis player and not a wrestler,” he said jokingly. “I was a pretty good wrestler - I won more than I lost - but I was just more of a natural baseball player. I should have stuck with it.”
As for which of the Baldwin brothers was the best baseball player, Billy claimed it was pretty close between him Daniel, who he said had “kind of like a Boog Powell type of build” before laughingly sharing stories of concussions the older sibling inflicted on him during childhood.
By Scot Mondore
One of the things I enjoy most about my job is that the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is fun – and it makes people happy when they are here. As with most museums, our visitors come from all walks of life – including those who are retired, or even in the prime of their career.
I had the great fortune to meet one such individual who is in the prime of his career on Thursday. This young man is from a small town not to far from Cooperstown – a little town called Wells Bridge, N.Y. Nicholas Zorda been to Cooperstown before, visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame numerous times, including as a member of the Otego, N.Y., American Legion baseball team during the 1998 and 1999 seasons. He was a first baseman for the team and had the opportunity to play on historic Doubleday Field.
On Thursday, he visited the Hall of Fame with many members of his family, including his wife Kristy, two-year-old daughter Cali, and four-year-old son, Cooper, who incidentally is named after one of his favorite towns – Cooperstown. He was also accompanied by his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and colleagues – this was not the typical baseball fan visit, but a special visit, because Navy Career Counselor First Class Nicholas Zorda chose to reenlist for three more years in the United States Navy in a little ceremony in the Hall of Fame Plaque Gallery.
Petty Officer First Class Zorda could have stayed at his office and reenlisted, but he wanted to share this moment with everyone who means so much to him, in a place that means so much to him. A lifelong St. Louis Cardinals supporter, Nicholas is a big fan of Bob Feller who also served in the Navy, as well as Stan Musial – an icon of the Cardinals’ rich tradition.
He was happy to be here, and we were happy to have him.
Scot Mondore is the director of licensing and sales at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Born and raised in Chicago, young Gene Walter was a fan of such Windy City legends as Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams. Recently, the former big league hurler visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum to not only revisit his childhood but share his past with his family.
On his way to Boston for business from his home outside Louisville, Ky., Walter, a southpaw relief pitcher for four big league seasons (1985-88) with the San Diego Padres, New York Mets and Seattle Mariners, made a stop in Cooperstown along with his wife and two young sons on Saturday afternoon.
“I definitely wanted to have the family visit Cooperstown and I wanted to get a chance to see it again,” said Walter, soon after he and his family checked out his clipping and photo files at the Hall of Fame Library. “Obviously being a baseball player your dreams at an early age involve one day being a member of the Hall of Fame, but certainly being a part of Major League Baseball was a great thrill and a great honor.”
Walter, who has worked as a financial planner since retiring as a professional player in 1993, made his only other Hall of Fame visit back in 1992 when he and a few teammates from the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs, including future big leaguer David Weathers, made the trek on an off-day.
“It sends chills up your spine,” is how Walter explains his feelings when walking through the Cooperstown institution. “When you grow up watching the greats, and I grew up watching baseball in the late 1960s and early ‘70s before free agency when teams played together for long periods of time, those guys are special to me.”
A trio of Walter’s former big league teammates would end up with their bronze likenesses in the Hall of Fame Plaque Gallery.
“With the Padres, Tony Gwynn was a consummate professional and just a great teammate, Goose (Gossage) was a great competitor who just gritted his teeth and reared back and intimidated and basically threw the heck out of the ball,” Walter recalled. “And with the Mets, Gary (Carter) was someone who just loved being out on the field.”
Reflecting on his own playing career, which included a 4-7 won-loss record and 3.74 ERA in 128 big league games, Walter says it was just a great opportunity to get to the majors.
“There was nothing etched in stone that I’d play one day professionally let alone get to the big leagues,” Walter said. “I was the Padres last pick in ’82 and I had a hurt arm in college that year and was fortunate enough to get drafted. I was the 29th round pick for the Padres and their last, and I was the first guy to make it to the big leagues out of that draft with them. The only thing that was disappointing is that the arm didn’t hold up long enough to give me the opportunity to play as long as I wanted to play.
“When you reach the big leagues and have a certain level of performance, and that performance lasts a year and a half and then you have an injury and you’re no longer a major league pitcher it’s tough. But you battle and you try to hang in there,” he added. “You’ve got to love to compete, you’ve got to love to put that uniform on and go out there. At the end of my career I was better at working out than getting people out, and you can’t hang around a long time like that.”
The baseball world has descended on Phoenix, Ariz., for the Mid-Summer Classic – including the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Since Friday, the masses have flocked to Major League Baseball’s annual FanFest at the Phoenix Convention Center, just blocks away from Chase Field, where they can experience the world’s largest interactive baseball fan event. Fans have taken advantage of batting cages, clinics, free autograph sessions, retail locations and of course, an exhibit put together by our curators at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
For the Hall of Fame staff in Phoenix this week, we have the unique opportunity to interact with fans here in Arizona, hear some of their favorite baseball moments and bring a bit of Cooperstown across the country to them. In addition to our exhibit, the Hall of Fame has offered live interactive programs throughout the day.
Each day at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., I’ve had the opportunity to present hands-on programs to enthusiastic FanFest attendees. At 11, our Tools of the Trade program breaks down the evolution of baseballs, bats, and gloves – using replica artifacts from the Hall of Fame’s Education Collection. As part of the program, audience volunteers are able to come on stage and work together to try to put a number of different gloves and bats in chronological order. So far, our fans have had great success in their efforts.
At 2, we shift gears a bit and delve into the science behind the National Pastime, as we conduct experiments with our audience to find the sweet spot of the bat, learn about the impact of weather and altitude on the ball and unlock the secrets of the curveball and knuckleball. In addition to these programs, fans have a chance to test their baseball knowledge during our popular Hall of Fame Trivia contest.
All in all, our FanFest experience has allowed the Hall of Fame staff a great chance to interact with fans who share our love for the National Pastime. If you are in the Phoenix area, stop on by – Fan Fest continues right up through Tuesday’s All-Star Game.
Here we are, basically at the halfway point. Many point to the All-Star break as the halfway mark, though that’s not entirely true this season. Seventeen teams are slated to play their 90th game tonight. Baltimore has the fewest games played and tonight will be the Orioles’ 86th contest. Plenty of storylines are swirling with Albert Pujols’ injury, Derek Jeter’s quest for 3,000 and much more. Here’s how the last week has gone.
The Cy Young Returns: On Sunday, the Blue Jays 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay started in Toronto, wearing a Phillies uniform. The outcome was a complete game victory for Doc in his first start as an opposing pitcher since leaving the Jays. Halladay is the sixth former Cy Young to notch a complete game “W” in his first road start against the team for which he won the Cy Young Award. The others include: Hall of Famers Catfish Hunter as a Yankee a season after leaving Oakland in 1975; Tom Seaver after being traded by the Mets to the Reds in 1977; and 300-game winner Randy Johnson in 1999 as a Diamondback against the Mariners.
First-year Oriole mashers: Before this season, Frank Robinson was the only player to collect 20 home runs by the All-Star break in his first season in Baltimore. He had 21 in 1966, the same year he won the AL MVP Award and the Triple Crown. Robinson now has company as Mark Reynolds hit two home runs on Monday, giving him 20 before the break in his first season in Birdland.
Independence Day Fun: Vance Worley led the red-white-and-blue clad Phillies to a 1-0 victory on the Fourth of July. For fans in the city that is home to the Liberty Bell and Ben Franklin, they can now claim a .500 record on the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. With Hall of Famers from Chuck Klein and Mike Schmidt to Pete Alexander and Steve Carlton, in 201 July 4th games since 1883, Philadelphia’s record is now 101-100.
A fellow N.L. East red-white-and-blue team, the Nationals, also won on Monday. The team in the Nation’s Capital now sports a .633 winning percentage on the Fourth of July. At 31 wins and 18 losses, it’s the best mark for any team with at least 20 Independence Day tilts. Of course, the majority of the franchise’s wins came while playing in another country powered by Hall of Famers Gary Carter, Andre Dawson and Dick Williams – though as Les Expos de Montreal, they still wore red-white-and-blue uniforms.
Verlander matching Newhouser: Tiger All-Star Justin Verlander, who’s scheduled to throw again this weekend, has been dominant this season, especially so in his last eight starts. After Tuesday, he’s thrown at least seven innings and given up two-or-fewer runs in each of his last eight. It’s rarified air for Detroit pitchers. In 1945, future Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser put together the only other streak like Verlander’s – a nine-game string en route to one of his two MVP Awards.
Youngsters walkin’ off: Mike Stanton became the third youngest player to hit a walk-off home run when he went yard in the bottom of the 10th on Wednesday. At 21, Stanton’s game-winner gave Florida a 7-6 win over the Phillies. Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews is the youngest, when at 20-years-old he decided a game for the Boston Braves in 1952, also beating the Phillies. Fellow Marlin Alex Gonzalez hit a walk-off homer in 1998 – also 21, but slightly younger than Stanton.
Mike McCormick had experienced much in his baseball career, from making his big league debut 55 years ago at the age of 17, to capturing the 1967 National League Cy Young Award, and surrendering Hank Aaron’s 500th career home run. But it wasn’t until this week that the longtime left-handed pitcher visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
“It’s the first time that I’ve been to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and shame on me,” McCormick said on Thursday afternoon. “I’ve heard about it, obviously, my whole career and honored to be in it in different ways, not as an elected person. It’s been a wonderful day so far and we’re looking forward to the rest of it.”
The 72-year-old McCormick is a native Californian who moved with his wife to Pinehurst, N.C. eight years ago. Now retired, he spends time on the golf course and keeping up with his beloved Giants thanks to a cable television baseball package. He was visiting Cooperstown with one of his daughters, her husband, and their two children. Soon after the family arrived, they were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum.
“You come in as the average citizen and you see the exhibits but you don’t see what’s behind those exhibits,” McCormick said. “They have some incredible things that they shared with my family and me that, had it not been under the conditions, we wouldn’t even be aware that such things existed.”
After a heralded prep career in a Los Angeles suburb in which he posted records of 49-4 in American Legion and 34-4 in high school, McCormick spent 16 seasons (1956-71) as a major league hurler. Because of the rules at the time, his reported $50,000 signing bonus from the New York Giants demanded he stay on the big league roster for his first two professional seasons.
“I wanted to be a baseball player,” McCormick recalled. “And all at once I was thrust into it at 17 and it was whole different world, let me tell you. I grew up real fast.”
While McCormick spent most of his time with the Giants, first in New York and then with San Francisco after the franchise moved in 1958, he also saw time with the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Senators, New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals. His career, which ended with a 134-128 won-loss record, was highlighted by his 22 wins in 1967 that helped him capture the senior circuit’s top pitching prize.
“When I was healthy, I don’t want to say I was the best but I was among the best. I just had a struggle staying healthy,” McCormick said. “I went my first six years feeling fine then all at once I ran into a sore shoulder which set me back the next three years. I stayed in the major leagues but I was really a nonproductive individual. Then I got to Washington and re-established that I had some value, where I had three or four good years, one of which one was the Cy Young Award year. But then I had back problems and had to succumb to a back operation.”
Walking through the Plaque Gallery, McCormick not only saw the bronze likenesses of such former teammates as Willie Mays, Gaylord Perry, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal and Orlando Cepeda, but also legendary opponents like Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Stan Musial and Mickey Mantle.
“I’ve been blessed to have played with and against the finest in the game,” McCormick said. “I pitched in both leagues in the 1950s and ‘60s, an era I consider one of baseball’s best ever.”
Before continuing on his first-ever Hall of Fame visit, McCormick added, “It’s an incredible place. I would tell everybody that has an opportunity that this is the place to come.”
The man with the glasses and the gray mustache walked beside me that Cooperstown afternoon, heading to a pressconference following his Hall of Fame Induction Speech.
"Mr. Williams, congratulations," was all I could muster on that July 2008 day, less than one month into my new job at the Hall of Fame.
"Thank you!" Dick Williams beamed back at me. "I never thought I would be here."
Me either, Dick. Me either.
I didn't know Dick Williams that well. After that first meeting, we'd bump into each other at Hall of Fame Weekend or at the Hall of Fame Classic. But there will always be a connection between me and this one-of-a-kind manager.
First, there was his book. Published in 1990, "No More Mr. Nice Guy" – by Williams with Bill Plaschke – became one of my favorite looks inside the game. Williams pulled no punches, recounting his career and family life in startling detail.
Growing up in the 1970s, I had not thought kindly of Williams, who always seemed a bit harsh. But after reading his life story, I found a deep respect for a man whose passion for winning produced great triumph – and sometimes heartache.
So on July 27, 2008, I found myself escorting a man I felt I knew like a friend. It calmed me, soothed me... in the face of great nervousness as I began my dream job in Cooperstown.
It was like coming home.
Dick, you may not have known this, but you'll always have a special place in my heart.
Your memory lives on in the place where history remains forever young: Cooperstown.
By Lenny DiFranza
The All-Star Game is still five days away, but FanFest starts the entertainment tomorrow and baseball history will be there.
The Hall of Fame team is putting the finishing touches on our FanFest exhibit in Phoenix, luckily unimpeded by the remarkable dust storm that hit the city Tuesday night – a fast-moving wall of dirt that was reported as a mile high and a hundred miles wide! Safe inside the Phoenix Convention Center, the last pieces to go into place will be used for presentations.
The opportunity to explore the host city is one of the fringe benefits of working at FanFest. We've taken advantage of this trip by going to the Heard Museum, with exhibits demonstrating and interpreting the arts and cultures of the Native peoples of the Americas. It's an impressive collection and inspiring for us to see how another world-class museum works.
We also visited the Arizona Latino Art and Cultural Center, a thriving studio, gallery and theater located just a block from the convention center. We'll be bringing some new ideas with us when we return to Cooperstown.
For this year’s FanFest, we're bringing some gems from our film archive, including highlights from the 1971 All-Star Game. Forty years ago, baseball's best put on a memorable hitting display in Detroit, with six home runs by future Hall of Famers. We'll also show highlights from the game 10 years later, 1981, when Gary Carter led the National League to victory. Another video program celebrates the Arizona Diamondbacks thrilling, seven-game defeat of the New York Yankees in the 2001 World Series.
Our live programs include a hands-on review of the evolution of equipment, showing examples of the bats, balls, gloves and other "tools of the trade" that major leaguers have used over the game's many years, and giving fans a chance to take a close look at the latest innovative equipment.
Our most popular live program returns this year: Hall of Fame Trivia. Fans can test their knowledge of baseball history, compete for prizes and have a lot of fun. If you are in the area for the All-Star Game, join the festivities and stop over and see the Hall of Fame team.
Lenny DiFranza is the assistant curator of new media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Next week, the All-Star Game will bring baseball’s biggest stars to Phoenix, Ariz., for the game’s midsummer classic. While the players seek to entertain fans in events like the Home Run Derby, the Baseball Hall of Fame will bring baseball history to life with artifacts from the game’s greats.
The Hall of Fame team arrived in Phoenix on July 4th so we could get started early the next day. We braved a 110 degree evening to find dinner.
By the following morning, we had learned that the heat wave had passed and we could expect a seasonable 107 degrees – quite a change from the weather in Cooperstown. We spent the morning unpacking the more than 100 artifacts we shipped from Cooperstown.
The Hall of Fame has been traveling to FanFest for many years, and even though we make changes every year, we have developed a regular routine. This year was no different, and everything has gone smoothly – of course there are always surprises along the way.
Fans who visit us in Phoenix will see a Dodgers cap worn by Jackie Robinson in 1955, the year of Brooklyn's only World Series victory. Diamondbacks items include the hat worn by Curt Schilling after 9/11 through the World Series, as well as the bat used by Luis Gonzalez to knock in the series-clinching run for Arizona's only World Championship.
We still have a couple days to finish preparations for the video presentations and live demonstrations that fans can enjoy here July 8th through the 12th. Check back for updates about our progress and the opening of FanFest 2011.
By Jeff Ideslon
I spend a lot of time walking through the Museum with celebrities. Some have very little interest, others modest – and then there's the serious fan, like Kenny Loggins.
The popular musician was in town Thursday to play a benefit show for Hospice at Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown, fronting his band Blue Sky Riders, which includes vocalist Georgia Middleman and bass player/guitarist Gary Burr.
The very accomplished Loggins won Best Male Pop Vocal Grammy for "This Is It" in 1980, and co-wrote the 1979 Grammy-winning Song of The Year "What A Fool Believes" with his long-time friend, Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers.
Along with his son Luke, who is entering his senior year at Santa Barbara High School and pitches for the baseball team, Loggins spent Thursday afternoon at the Hall of Fame. The two completely immersed themselves in the history of the game.
Loggins, who played youth baseball through the Babe Ruth level, played catch with all five of his children through the years. "I wanted them to know baseball like I did," he said. "Luke has a much better temperament for the game than I did. He handles adversity well."
Growing up in Alhambra, Calif., Loggins and his dad would sit in the kitchen and listen to Vin Scully call Dodger games on the radio. "I grew up with Koufax and Drysdale. It seemed like one of them pitched every day."
Walking through the Hall of Fame's collections, "Oh my God, this is in great shape," he said, marveling at the wonderful conservation of the jersey.
Holding a Stan Musial game-used bat he looked skyward and said, "This is my day. 'The Man' was unbelievable." I explained to Loggins that Musial was a five-tool player – he could hit for power and average, run, throw and catch. I asked him if he knew any five-tool musicians.
Without even thinking, he answered exactly as Graham Nash did two years ago when I asked him the same question: "Prince." Loggins added Stevie Wonder and Nash added Stephen Stills.
After seeing Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson sweaters, Loggins asked where he could get one. "I wish these were still in vogue. These are beautiful," he said.
Finally, while holding the bat Ted Williams used for his 521st and final home run, he noticed that part of the Louisville Slugger trademark was the word, 'powerized.' "Do you think I could get my guitar powerized?" he asked his Burr and me.
After seeing artifacts from Willie Mays, Orel Hershiser, and so many other, he softly said to no one in particular, "You forget how short a baseball career is. " How true.
Two hours later, Loggins concluded, "This Museum is incredibly well done. It is interactive and exciting, and chock full of great contextual information. It plays well to my son Luke, who's in high school and also to older folks, like Gary and me. The experience really took me back in time, right back to my childhood."
With overcast days and rain for much of the last week in Cooperstown, the appearance of a player once known as “Mr. Clean” on Main Street was cause for Mother Nature to shape up and give the Home of Baseball a beautiful summer day.
Steve Garvey – the 19-year big league vet, 10-time All-Star and 1974 N.L. MVP – visited the Hall of Fame on Monday with his son Sean’s 12-and-under Little League traveling team, the Desert Longhorns.
“It’s always an honor to come to the ultimate sports Hall of Fame,” Garvey said. “To see its presentation of the sport is really something. I really do love just coming here and seeing the photos of Cy Young, Honus Wagner and the rest.”
Now considered a Dodger legend, Garvey played for LA from 1969 to 1982 before a five-year stint in San Diego. With an always-present respect for the game, Garvey set a National League record with 1,207 consecutive games played, hit .294 during his career and was a member of the 1981 World Champion Dodgers. With all his achievements, his youth growing up in awe of the game has carried to his adulthood.
“I’ve always seen myself as a historian of the game,” Garvey said. “I served as a batboy for Brooklyn in 1956, so I sat on a bench next to Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese and Carl Furillo. It has been fun to see the history of a team – that I am closely tied to – progress from Brooklyn to LA.”
Garvey, who is now 62 and 24 years removed from his playing days, keeps busy between his motivational speaking engagements, his brand management company Garvey Media Group and the advisory role he holds with the Dodgers. He also recently celebrated the high school graduation and Amateur Draft selection of his son Ryan, who was taken in the 15th round by the Phillies.
While in Cooperstown, Sean Garvey’s team met with Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson, who imparted the importance strong character and integrity on the Longhorns by pointing to Garvey and his 19 seasons in the bigs. When the team and parents started clapping and cheering, he quickly hushed them with a smile and a wave of the arms, not wanting the moment to be about him.
“It’s great for kids this age to see (the Hall),” he said. “I think it makes them better ballplayers. They get a sense of appreciation for the game’s history.”
It’s been a couple of busy weeks – sorry for slacking on our weekly Cooperstown Chatter update from around the Majors. It was a great Father’s Day in Upstate New York and it’s been a great week since.
The Shields Sunshine Express: James Shields has dominated the Marlins this season. On May 22, he threw nine scoreless innings and struck out 13. On Father’s Day, he yet again took advantage of the Fish, striking out 10 in another nine innings of scoreless ball. Since 1990, Shields feat of two nine-inning, 10-or-more K starts against the same team has been accomplished just three other times: Hideo Nomo stymied the Giants twice in 1995, David Cone also got the Giants twice in 1992 and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan shut down the White Sox in 1990.
Old Big Mac: For the second time in Major League history, there is an 80-plus year old serving as skipper. On Monday, 80-year old Jack McKeon was named interim manager of the Marlins. McKeon joins the Tall Tactician, Hall of Famer Connie Mack, as the only octogenarians to lead big league clubs. Mack ended his career at 87 in 1950, his 50th season leading the Philadelphia Athletics.
Monday’s change at the top in Miami came with McKeon’s Florida squad losing its 19th game in 20 contests. During the slide, 10 of the defeats have been by one run – becoming the second team to go 1-19 over 20 games with 10 one-run losses. The other was the 1943 Philadelphia Athletics, managed by the then 80-year old Mack.
Master-Lee: Cliff Lee’s Tuesday night start continued his Phabulous, Phanatical Phillie pitching with a second straight shutout. In June, he is 4-0 with a 0.27 ERA in four starts and has a chance to run the table with one more scheduled start on the 28th. Since World War II, only four Phils have finished a month with a sub-1.00 ERA, with the last being Hall of Famer Jim Bunning’s 0.87 in August 1967.
With back-to-back shutouts, Lee is the first pitcher to accomplish the feat since 2004 and just the fourth in the last 35 seasons. Should Lee throw a third straight shutout, he would join Robin Roberts in 1950 as the only Phillies pitchers to go back-to-back-to-back in the live ball era.
Speedy Weeks: The A’s have a promising young speedster. Jemile Weeks scored three runs and stole two bases at Citi Field on Tuesday. Just three other Oakland rookies have put together that kind of day since the the A’s moved to Oakland:: Felix Jose (July 11, 1990), Luis Polonia (June 20, 1987) and all-time steals, all-time runs leader, Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson (Sept. 14, 1979).
Around the Majors: There are two major events on the Hall of Fame calendar this weekend. They’ll be taking place in Detroit and the Bronx.
In Detroit on Sunday afternoon, Sparky Anderson’s iconic No. 11 will take its rightful place on the Comerica Park wall alongside the team’s seven other retired numbers. In the Tigers 111-year history, Charlie Gehringer (2), Hank Greenberg (5), Willie Horton (23), Al Kaline (6), Hal Newhouser (16) and Jackie Robinson (42) have had numbers retired. Anderson will be represented by members of his family, including his three children.
Also on Sunday in New York, the Yankees will hold their 65th Old-Timers’ Day with over 50 retired former Yanks on hand. Among those will be Hall of Fame family members Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Goose Gossage, Helen Hunter (widow of Jim "Catfish" Hunter) and Reggie Jackson.
Rick Wise was the starting second baseman for The Knucksies in the 2011 Hall of Fame Classic on Sunday, but exactly 40 years ago today he was the toast of baseball.
On June 23, 1971, the 25-year-old Wise pitched a no-hitter and added two home runs to lead the visiting Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-0 over the Cincinnati Reds at Riverfront Stadium. In his nine-inning stint, the righty faced just 28 batters, walked one (Dave Concepcion with one out in the sixth inning), struck out two, and raised his record to 8-4 on the way to a 17-win season.
After serving as an instructor during Saturday’s Legends for Youth Skills Clinic at Doubleday Field, Wise talk about that memorable day from four decades ago.
“I was coming off the flu and I felt very weak,” said Wise, after taking a seat in the third base dugout. “And it was hot, too. It was Cincinnati and the heat was coming off the carpet there. Man, it was smoking. But I think it sweated it out of me. I remember warming up and it seemed like the ball was stopping about halfway to the catcher. I said to myself, ‘Man, I better locate my pitches because this team with Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez can do some severe damage with their hitters.’
“But I had a good tempo and they were putting the ball in play early. I only made 94 pitches that day and it has an hour and 53 minutes. And only six balls were hit out of the infield, and I wasn’t a groundball pitcher either. I was a fly ball pitcher.”
Now 65, Wise ended his 18-year big league playing career in 1982 before embarking on a couple dozen seasons as a coach at almost every level of baseball before retiring in 2008. Sporting a ring given to members of the 1975 American League champion Boston Red Sox (Wise was the wining pitcher in Game 6 of the ’75 World Series in which Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk hit his memorable home run), he delighted in stating that he is one of the few people to appear in a Little League World Series, a Babe Ruth League World Series and Major League Baseball World Series.
Proud of his hitting, Wise finished the 1971 season twice hitting two home runs in a game.
“But that was the National League game. My first nine years were in the National League – seven with the Phillies and two with the Cardinals – and I had 15 home runs after nine years,” Wise recalled. “Then I went to the American League for six years and never picked up a bat again. My final team was San Diego but by that time my skills were completely diminished as far as hand-eye coordination.”
According to Wise, when he was coaching in the New York-Penn League, he brought his Auburn, N.Y. team from nearby Oneonta to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and donated from his no-hitter game the bat, his glove and a ball to the Cooperstown institution. The bat can currently be seen in the Museum’s newest exhibit, One for the Books: Baseball Record and the Stories Behind Them.
For the Class of 2011 at the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program, the Baseball Hall of Fame will mark the start of their professional careers.
But – as author Kenneth Shropshire demonstrated Wednesday during an intern seminar – their career paths promise to be filled with more adventure than they could ever imagine.
Shropshire, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, shared his career story during a Sports Business seminar as part of the Steele Internship summer lineup. A graduate of Stanford University and Columbia Law School, Shropshire turned to sports law after a football career at Stanford. He later worked at a firm that handled projects for the Los Angeles Lakers and former Dodgers All-Star first baseman Steve Garvey.
“I thought I was headed toward being a sports agent, negotiating contracts for my friends who made it to the NFL and in other pro sports,” Shropshire said. “But eventually I took a job with the Los Angeles Olympic Committee, and I was put in charge of boxing by the head of the Committee, Peter Ueberroth.”
Ueberroth, who later became the Commissioner of Baseball, recognized Shropshire’s talent quickly. Shropshire, in turn, hired Harvey Schiller as the competition director for boxing. Schiller is now a member of the Board of Directors at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
“That was Harvey’s first job in sports business,” Shropshire said. “It shows that if you hire the right people and let them do their job, they can make you look very good.”
Wednesday’s program was one of many for the 20 interns in the Class of 2011 at the Hall of Fame – all of which are interspersed with their daily duties in one of more than a dozen departments.
The Steele Internship Program at the Hall of Fame is held over 10 weeks every summer, and applications for the Class of 2012 will be accepted this fall. For more information, click here.
Mike Vrabel has a lot on his plate this summer.
There’s his impending free agency as a 14-year National Football League veteran. Then there’s his job on the NFL Players Association Executive Committee, making him a key player in negotiations during the current NFL lockout.
But first and foremost, Mike Vrabel is a dad to 10-year-old Tyler and 9-year-old Carter. So when it came time for Tyler’s baseball team to play in a tournament in Cooperstown, Vrabel knew where he belonged.
“I told the Players Association: ‘I have to take this week off to be with my family,’” said Vrabel, who visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Tuesday with Tyler’s team. “No matter what is happening, I’m not going to put my family second.”
Vrabel’s wife Jennifer joined the tour of the Museum, with Tyler and his buddies enjoying every exhibit – especially Today’s Game, which features artifacts from current players and teams. The team is based in and around Detroit, Mich., although Vrabel and his family live in Columbus, Ohio. Vrabel played college football for Ohio State, which is located in Columbus.
“I played with Ryan Miller at Ohio State, and Ryan’s older brother Gordon coaches this youth team,” Vrabel said. “Tyler really likes the team and will play in about four tournaments with them this year.”
Vrabel grew up in the football hotbed of northeast Ohio, playing youth baseball until about the eighth grade. But he soon morphed into a 6-foot-4, 250-pound tackling machine who starred at defensive end for the Buckeyes before being converted to a linebacker when he was drafted by the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers in 1997. After four years with the Steelers, Vrabel played eight seasons with the New England Patriots – winning Super Bowl titles in 2001, 2003 and 2004 – before spending the last two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. He began his work with the NFLPA when he was with the Steelers.
“Young players sometimes aren’t aware of all the history surrounding the game they play,” Vrabel said. “That’s OK, but I think it’s important that they learn it to get a feeling of what the players did who came before.
“I tell Tyler: ‘I may be a better football player than he is right now, but he’s already a better baseball player than I ever was.”
Under beautiful sunny skies, baseball fans from around the country spent Saturday afternoon at Doubleday Field for the inaugural Classic Fest during Hall of Fame Classic Weekend.
Whether it was competing in a trivia game, being fitted for a balloon animal hat, or learning about baseball card collecting, families were enjoying the day and celebrating Father’s Day Weekend on the legendary diamond.
Seven-year-old friends Victoria Marrero and Samantha Shilling met in the morning at the Legends for Youth Skills Clinic. Marrero hails from Brooklyn and Shilling is from Maryland, but you’d never guess these two weren’t best friends.
“We just met this morning,” said Marrero.
Former major leaguers took the field at 9 a.m. to share their baseball knowledge with youngsters.
“We learned how to pitch and hit,” said Shilling.
By 1 p.m. the girls had ladybug balloon bracelets and tried out their skills at the MLB Network Strike Zone, where fans could test their pitching accuracy. Fans got to meet Pappy, the mascot for the Tri-City ValleyCats and even some former major leaguers like Dave Henderson who showed off his 1989 World Series ring.
“Are you fast?” Henderson asked a young fan who replied in the affirmative. “Then I can’t let you try on my ring – because I won’t be able to catch you.”
Henderson joked with fans and posed for pictures along side other players like Steve Grilli, John Doherty and Frank Catalanotto.
A table dedicated to the making of a baseball taught fans that there are 369 yards of string wrapped inside a ball, which would measure almost four football fields. Fans were able to compare a ball from the late 1800s that used lemon peel stitches to a current major league baseball.
“They call is a lemon peel because all the stitches end in a point and you could peel it like a lemon,” said Jennifer Rodger, a member of the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the Hall of Fame for the summer.
Near the infield, Bill “Spaceman” Lee was entertaining fans of all ages, preparing for his role tomorrow when he joins six Hall of Famers and 25 former major leaguers in the position of Designated Humorist in the Hall of Fame Classic.
“Hitting and pitching, that’s all I do,” said Lee. “It’s the running part that I don’t want to do – it’s starting to hurt at my age.”
A jokester known for his wacky antics, Lee pitched for 14 seasons in the majors from 1969-82 and is the third-winningest lefty in Red Sox history. At age 63, Lee became the oldest person to pitch in and win a minor league game on September 5, 2010 when he made an appearance for the Brockton Rox. Lee donated his cap from the game to the Hall of Fame.
“I may need that back because they want me to play another year,” said Lee. “Last year I was day-to-day, but this year I told them I am hour-to-hour.”
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 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.
Growing up playing Strat-O-Matic, waffle ball and stick ball, Doug Glanville learned to love the game of baseball from his brother.
“I give a lot of credit to my brother for teaching me the game and developing a passion for the game that I still have today,” said Glanville.
With his slight frame and athletic build, fans could easily believe that this was the same player who stole 168 bases during his nine-year major league career. Glanville will show off that speed when he takes the field along with six Hall of Famers and 20 other former major leaguers for the Hall of Fame Classic on Sunday.
But on Friday, fans got to listen to Glanville share stories from his life and career that are written in his book, The Game from Where I Stand: A Ballplayer’s Inside View during an Authors' Series event at the Hall of Fame.
Glanville, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with an engineering degree which he finished up after being drafted his junior year of college, currently writes a column for the New York Times called "Heading Home," works for ESPN and is on the Executive Board of Athletes Against Drugs. He played for the Cubs, Phillies and Rangers from 1996-2004.
"Heading Home" was really a human column that gained a lot of positive feedback and sparked the book deal. The book focuses on real elements like Glanville playing through his father’s illness and the transition that ballplayers make when they finish their career and go back to the real world.
“That transition is the moment you realize the game is no longer an option, or you choose to make a change form what everyone around you knows you for,” said Glanville. “I like to say it is when chasing the dream becomes running from the nightmare. And for ballplayers retirement happens at like 34 or 35, so they have to mature a lot faster in a kid’s game.”
Glanville has successfully made that transition. He will be chasing around his 3-year-old at home when he hears from friends that are still in the game.
“My challenges are a little different from Jimmy Rollins – who is trying to hit a slider,” he said.
Now, Glanville wants to see the human element come back to baseball. And on Father’s Day, he will entertain the crowd with his skills for families to enjoy.
“My goal is to share my human experience. So inspire people by being human,” he said. “That is the best thing about this game, you don’t have to be a superhero to play it - it can give everyone possibility.”
The father-son bond in baseball undoubtedly goes back to the sport’s beginnings and continues to thrive, whether that entails playing catch in the front yard, attending a game together, or debating the travails of a favorite team.
With Father’s Day just around the corner, that special relationship was in evidence with a trio of minor leaguers who visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Wednesday afternoon.
Throughout major league history, there have been slightly more than 200 players whose father also spent time in The Show. Included in this unique group are infielder Josh Barfield, outfielder John Mayberry Jr. and pitcher Jason Grilli – all current members of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, who visited Cooperstown.
For Josh Barfield, a big leaguer from 2006-09, his father Jesse – a 12-year major league right fielder with the Blue Jays and Yankees who led the American League with 40 home runs in 1986 – was the main reason he chose to pursue baseball as a career.
“He’s the reason that I play,” Josh Barfield said. “I loved watching him. He was always my hero, my favorite player growing up. He’s why I play, he’s the reason I am who I am as a person, so it’s cool that he gets to see me play now.
“I think we (teammates Mayberry Jr. and Grilli) all have that unique situation of growing up around the game, which is pretty special. I was at the field every day, and for me it was fun. You get to go and watch the game that you love, you get to be around your buddies, so it was a lot of fun for me.”
So what are Josh Barfield’s plans on Sunday?
“I talk to him every day,” he said, “but Father’s Day is special just because it’s a time to just say: ‘Thank you for what you’ve done.’”
John Mayberry Jr. has spent parts of the last three seasons with the Phillies, following in the footsteps of his father, a first baseman who clubbed 255 homers over 15 major league seasons spent with four different clubs.
“I grew up around the game and I’ve always loved it, so it’s a dream come true for me to be able to play,” John Mayberry Jr. said. “It was great to get a firsthand glimpse of what big league life is all about.”
It’s connections like these that will be celebrated on Sunday at the Hall of Fame Classic in Cooperstown. Tickets for the annual Father’s Day legends game are available this week at the Hall of Fame and on Sunday at Doubleday Field.
As for his relationship with his father, John Mayberry Jr. said: “My dad and I are in pretty consistent contact, but I’m guessing it’s no different than any other close father-son relationship.”
They stood together in the Museum’s archive, father and son of Major League Baseball fame.
Jose Cruz Sr. and Jose Cruz Jr. have 31 big league seasons between them. But nothing prepared them for their visit to Cooperstown.
“This is unbelievable,” said Jose Cruz Jr., in town this week with his children – Jose Sr.’s grandchildren – for a youth baseball tournament. “The history is here… guys that I played with, Hall of Famers… . I’m still here and I can’t wait to come back!”
The pair and their families visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Tuesday. Jose Cruz Sr., a 19-year big league veteran best known for his 13 years with the Astros, looks remarkably the same as the smooth left-handed swinger who knocked line drives around the National League during the 1980s. Now 63, Cruz paid special attention to two exhibits: One featuring new Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar, who like Cruz was born in Puerto Rico.
The other exhibit? One featuring Hall of Famer Stan Musial, who was an executive with the St. Louis Cardinals when Cruz signed with the team as an amateur free agent in 1966.
“Stan the Man was my hero,” said Cruz, now a special assistant to the general manager for the Astros.
Jose Cruz Jr., 37, is only three years removed from a 12-year big league career that saw him hit 204 homers and capture a Gold Glove Award for his outfield play in 2003. A student of baseball history, Cruz Jr. tested his father on baseball trivia throughout his visit.
Father and son, bonding through baseball. Seems fitting during a week that will feature the annual Hall of Fame Classic on Father’s Day – Sunday, June 19 – in Cooperstown.
The connection – even at the game’s highest level – remains unbreakable.
He doesn’t strike the average onlooker as a former Major Leaguer. But the impact Luis Gonzalez made on the game of baseball is unmistakable, his place in history is secure and – despite his unassuming looks – he is a recognizable figure for fans.
Fans know him as the offensive star of the 2001 World Champion Diamondbacks – the man with 57 home runs and the Game 7 game-winning hit off Mariano Rivera. They remember his 30 game-hitting streak (a bat from which resides in Cooperstown along with his Game 7 bat). In Arizona, he’s the first player to have his number retired and he’s now immortalized each during each D-backs home game as the racing Gonzo – a more than eight-foot tall caricature of the 19-year vet – that competes in against Mark Grace, Randy Johnson and Matt Williams.
This summer he’ll serve as the All-Star Game Ambassador when the Mid-Summer Classic heads to Chase Field in Phoenix. But on Monday, Gonzo sported a little gray stubble on his face and a grey Arizona T-Rex’s T-shirt while at the Hall of Fame with his son’s Little League team for the second straight year. “There are a lot of hopes and dreams in baseball,” Gonzalez said. “That’s why it’s so exciting to bring the kids. It’s exciting to be able to show them your artifacts and show them you actually did something in the game.”
Gonzalez, his brother Rex and a former minor league teammate of Rex’s coach the T-Rexes who are competing in a weeklong tournament at nearby Cooperstown Dreams Park. Like last summer, Gonzalez and the T-Rexes met with Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson before touring the Museum.
Idelson briefed the team on the Hall’s history and purpose before telling them about the importance of character, integrity and good sportsmanship in baseball. After posing for a few photos with the young ballplayers, Idelson wished them luck for the remainder of their week in Cooperstown and told them to enjoy the Museum.
“It gives these young kids a chance to come out and see the history,” Gonzalez said. “When they leave here, it’s amazing to see how they appreciate everything. This is the history of the game and it means a lot to them.”
The Hall of Fame’s newest exhibit One for the Books: Baseball Records and the Stories Behind Them opened over Memorial Day Weekend. Over the past few weeks, visitors have been able to get a full view of the new space and all it has to offer.
Although the videos and interactive trivia quiz are pretty cool, the most interesting piece in the exhibit may be the Digital Top Ten Towers.
Located in the center of the exhibit, the two large four-screen displays allow visitors to experience records like never before in the Museum. Dozens of statistics are available in lists based on batting, fielding, pitching and team categories.
Each statistic displays the year’s active and career single-season record holders and active and career all-time record holders. And visitors can scroll through time and view the lists at any point in baseball history.
One family scrolled to 2011 and saw that Yankees captain Derek Jeter had 2,989 career hits (2,990 as of this morning) and is No. 1 on the active list. Dressed in her Jeter jersey, mom showed her son that her favorite player was just 11 hits from a sacred milestone. Her husband then pressed on Jeter’s name and the screen revealed more information, including all the lists that Jeter appears on.
The Top Ten Tower allows fans to learn about players like former Yankees infielder Snuffy Stirnweiss, who was on the active single-season lists in both doubles and triples in 1950. They can learn that in 1907, Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie led all second baseman in all-time and active career fielding percentage with a .962 average. Or that Maury Wills played 165 games at shortstop in 1962.
They may have only been on exhibit for a few weeks, but the Top Ten Towers are quickly becoming a fan favorite. One fan can be checking out the home run lists in 2011 while just around the corner, another is viewing the shutouts top ten from 1945.
“Walter Johnson had the most all-time career shutouts with 110,” said a fan to his son. “Think that will ever be broken? I don’t think so.”
Baseball and music have a rich history together. The Hall of Fame honored that history at the 2010 Induction Ceremony by celebrating John Fogerty’s classic baseball song “Centerfield”.
That tradition will continue this year when Terry Cashman’s hit “Talkin’ Baseball (Willie, Mickey and the Duke)” will be honored during Hall of Fame Weekend 2011. On Friday, a musical group a little newer to the scene got their first taste of Cooperstown.
The Baseball Project is a musical group that formed in 2007 to perform songs about baseball. The group is made up of Steve Wynn (also of Dream Syndicate), his wife Linda Pitmon, Scott McCaughey (also of The Minus 5) and Mike Mills of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee R.E.M.
“The song ideas are flowing,” said Wynn during their visit to the Hall of Fame.
The Baseball Project will be performing tonight at Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown and had to make a stop at baseball heaven as part of the trip. The group and some of their crew received a “backstage” tour of the Hall of Fame and were able to go into the Museum’s collections storage to see some artifacts not currently on display.
“I feel like I could really hit something with this,” said Mills when he felt the weight of the bat Ted Williams used to record his last hit.
The group got to see the trombone case from the baseball classic, “The Natural,” as well as items like a ball signed by astronauts.
“Baseball is all weaved in with American culture, so there are all kinds of items that relate,” said Mills.
McCoughey’s favorite artifact was a Babe Ruth jersey he got to hold and be photographed with.
“My dad’s favorite player was Ruth, so this is pretty cool,” he said.
The group, who released their second album Volume 2: High and Inside in March, checked out artifacts like a jersey worn by the Braves manager Billy Southworth made of satin to show up better under lighting during night games and even some snare drums used by the Brooklyn Dodgers Symphony Band.
One thing is for sure – the band finally got the official answer to a lyrical question they have had for years about the baseball classic “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” when they got to view the original sheet music in the Hall of Fame’s collection.
“Now we know the real lyrics – it’s never get back, not ever.”
Don’t be surprised if the group is inspired by their trip to Cooperstown to write a hit that is honored at a Hall of Fame Weekend in the near future.
It’s a little late, but it is time for another installment of Hall Monitor, bringing you a sliver of stats and news with a Hall of Fame twist. Here’s a look at last week.
Pitchers can hit too: On Thursday, Carlos Zambrano beat the Mets and as is his prerogative, he did it at the plate too. Big Z’s 3-for-3 game with a W was the eighth of his career, which is the highest total since Bob Gibson. He also has the most three-hit wins in Cubs history – two more than Hall of Famers Grover Alexander or Mordecai Brown. How does he compare with the greatest hitter to ever toe the rubber? Babe Ruth collected five three-hit wins.
It always comes back to Ruth: Also from the Elias Sports Bureau comes a tidbit about Ruth’s connection to Wilson Valdez – the Phillies utility infielder who gained a W when he took the mound in the 19th inning. On Wednesday – though technically Thursday – Valdez matched Ruth, the last player to earn a win after having started the game in a position other than pitcher. Valdez started the game at second base and 6 hours, 11 minutes later, he was the winner.
On Oct. 1, 1921 Ruth started game two of a double-dip in left, but pitched the final four innings to gain the win. He was however much less impressive, giving up four runs while Valdez struck out the reigning N.L. MVP, the Reds’ Joey Votto. Valdez’s hat is already in Cooperstown, arriving Friday afternoon.
Big Hitters: Carl Crawford may have broken out of his extended slump with back-to-back four hit games including a pair of triples on Thursday. He joins teammate Dustin Pedroia and Hall of Famers Jim Rice and Wade Boggs – who did it three times – as the only Sox to collect back-to-back four-hit games since 1969.
Likewise, Baltimore’s Noland Reimold collected four hits on Thursday. He teed off the Royals for a pair of homers as well, becoming the fourth O’s player in the history of Camden Yards to produce a 4-for-4 day with two homers. The others: Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Belle and 2011 Hall of Fame Electee Roberto Alomar.
Mo gets 1,000: Mariano Rivera pitched his 1,000th game Wednesday. Among players to pitch for just one team, he’s been the leader for a while. Hall of Famer Walter Johnson is in second with 802, all with the Senators.
The multi-hit, five-RBI club: Last Sunday, the Indians’ Asdrubal Cabrera became the fourth player to go 5-for-5 or better with two or more home runs and at least five RBIs in an interleague game. The other three are Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Josh Hamilton and Dustin Pedroia.
Meanwhile on the same day, Alexei Ramirez went 4-for-5 with a homer and five batted in as the White Sox topped the Dodgers. Ramirez’s name is now among legends as the fifth Sox shortstop in history to collect four while driving in five runs in a game. The others to do so were Hall of Famer Luke Appling, Chico Carrasquel, Craig Wilson and Jose Valentin.
The Cincy-N.Y. Exhibition: Baseball history is on display everywhere.
In Cincinnati, they are celebrating the Reds’ 1961 N.L. Championship season and their matchup in the World Series against the Yankees. They’ll have more pomp and circumstance later this summer when the Bronx Bombers visit, but open right now in the Reds Museum is an exhibit dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the “Ragamuffin Reds,” led by ’61 N.L. MVP and future Hall of Famer Frank Robinson.
Back in the Bronx, New York just opened a new tribute to former Yankee owner and Hall of Fame Board member George Steinbrenner. The exhibit looks back at the great teams the Boss helped construct in and includes all seven of his World Series rings.
Over the history of the game, ballplayers have gotten bigger and stronger, the equipment used for protection has improved and the skills that are considered important have changed.
Today, greater emphasis is put on players getting on base and driving in runs rather than walking or stealing bases like a hundred years ago. But Hall of Famer Joe Morgan doesn’t think these differences matter too much when it comes to the level of play in the major leagues.
“If you were a great player in the past, you’d be a great player today – and if you’re a great player today, you’d be a great player in the past,” he said.
Morgan visited Cooperstown Saturday along with fellow Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Phil Niekro to celebrate the opening of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s brand new exhibit One for the Books: Baseball Records and the Stories Behind Them.
“Numbers give us something to compare players of different eras – something for players to chase,” said Morgan. “They serve as a measuring stick, but they don’t tell the whole story.”
That is true for Phil Niekro.
Niekro earned his 3,000th strikeout while with the New York Yankees on July 4, 1984. His strike-three knuckleball flew by a swinging Rangers hitter, Larry Parrish, and also by his catcher Butch Wynegar. Parrish reached base safely on a drop-third strike, but the K still counted. The cap Niekro was wearing is on display in One for the Books.
Stories like these are told in the third-floor exhibit that features more than 200 artifacts representing records in batting, home runs, pitching, base running, fielding, team records and a seventh category that includes tallest, oldest, most seasons played and records held by umpires.
“It’s all here,” said Niekro. “It blows my mind to see what the exhibit really is. To know that these guys actually did this and set these records. I don’t know if guys try to break records until they get real close to it and say: ‘Gee, I’ve really got a chance to break this.’”
The exhibit is the most technologically advanced in the Museum’s history and is the first to be funded by a wide-spread capital campaign. The majority of records that are represented are from the Major Leagues, but also celebrated are records from the minor leagues, Negro leagues, All American Girls Professional Baseball League, Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan and even Little League Baseball.
“I’m not a big record guy,” Niekro said. “But when you come and see them all like this, you really see what these guys accomplished.”
Joe Morgan and Phil Niekro walked into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Friday like two old friends returning home.
Niekro, with his ever-present smile and twinkling eyes; Morgan, with his deep baritone ringing out against the Museum walls.
Time, as always, stands still in Cooperstown.
But Morgan and Niekro were on hand to help the Hall of Fame look toward the future with the opening of the Museum’s new One for the Books exhibit. Friday evening featured a sneak preview of the groundbreaking salute to records, and Saturday will bring the official opening along with a 1 p.m. Voices of the Game program with Morgan, Niekro and Cal Ripken at Cooperstown Central School. A handful of tickets remain for the event and can be purchased at the Museum on Saturday.
Morgan, Vice Chairman of the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors, still reacts with wonder during his trips to Cooperstown.
“I had never really been here until I was elected in 1990, but now every time I come I see something different,” Morgan said. “It’s just amazing to see all the artifacts in person. I really get a little chill inside when I see Babe Ruth’s bat or Ted Williams’ jersey.
“I’m still amazed every time I come here.”
Working at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, you never know who you might bump into, whether it be a star or a journeyman. In this case, it was Jeff Manto, your prototypical journeyman, a ballplayer who spent time with eight different big league teams over a nine-year career.
But unlike most who have toiled at the end of a major league roster, Manto had one three-game stretch in which he accomplished something that few in the game can lay claim to. As a member of the Baltimore Orioles in 1995, Manto tied a major league record, joining such legendary names as Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Jimmie Foxx, Mike Schmidt, Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols, when he became the 20th player to hit four home runs in four consecutive at-bats.
Manto was awestruck when he and his family visited the Museum in November 1997 for another look at the bat he used for his rare feat, an artifact that at the time was on exhibit.
“I’ve got my youngest child with me and I want to make sure I get a picture with her with the bat,” said Manto some 14 years ago. “Plus, it’s nice to get away from home (the Philadelphia suburb of Langhorn) and Cooperstown is a great place to visit. We had a five-hour drive with the kids, but we lucked out and we had a van with videos, so we survived.”
According to Manto, currently the roving minor league hitting instructor for the Chicago White Sox, it was “truly humbling” when the Hall of Fame initially asked for the bat.
“In 1995 when the Hall of Fame called down to Baltimore to ask for the bat, I almost got goose bumps,” Manto recalled. “To be a part of the Hall of Fame, and to reach some kind of immortality in the game that you love, is something special that I’ll cherish for a long time. Hopefully, my family beyond me will cherish it also.”
While names like Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Cy Young and Nolan Ryan dominate the national pastime’s record book, it was great to see the look on the face of a utility player with 164 career hits, 31 homers and a .230 batting average who made the pilgrimage to Cooperstown in order to share his shining moment on the diamond with the ones closest to him.
More stories like this can be found in the Museum’s new exhibit, One for the Books: Baseball Records and the Stories Behind Them, which opens on Saturday.
Bill Francis is a Library Associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Sports are a distraction and escapism from the world. But they can teach us, too. Athletes show us what it means to do out best and serve as role models for ideals like character, courage, perseverance and dedication.
Wednesday morning when I got to work, a co-worker informed me that Paul Splittorff had passed away. I wasn't shocked, but I am still deeply saddened. Nine days ago, the Royals announced that the longtime broadcaster and club leader in victories had oral cancer and melanoma.
There’s no way I can write something better or more comprehensive about the passing of Splittorff than what the fine folks at the Kansas City Star and with the Royals have already produced.
What I can say is that it was a pleasure to have Splitt in my life and relate what he meant to me. I worked for the Royals in 2007 and 2008 and got the chance to meet the “Ole Lefthander” a few times. Unfortunately, in 2008 when I worked in the press box, he was taking a hiatus from broadcasting after an illness robbed him of his voice. During the 2008 Big 12 basketball season, Splitt – who called it all from Royals baseball to college basketball and high school football – was forced to take a break from broadcasting due to a virus that also caused him to lose weight.
Ever determined – a trait that he exhibited from day one in the Royals organization – he worked his way back to the booth and was doing analysis on Opening Day in 2009. His speech slurred and voice shaky, he left the team during the middle of an early season road trip. It was too much, too soon. Ultimately, he never fully returned to his year-round second career, but he was always working to get there.
Last season he worked mostly on pre- and post-game shows, which I unfortunately couldn’t see living out of the K.C. market. Even up to the announcement of his battle with cancer on May 16, Splitt was still working – almost 27 years after moving seamlessly from the field to the booth.
He retired in July 1984 – I was born in November of that year – to make room for the Royals young staff to grow despite earning a spot on the team with a club high 13 wins the season before. He was a workhorse. A career .537 win percentage and 166 victories with a 3.81 ERA and 88 complete games – his numbers aren’t flashy. In 1990 he didn’t receive a vote from the BBWAA for Hall of Fame election – but he is a Kansas City legend: a 1987 Inductee to the Royals Hall of Fame, the team’s first 20-game winner and its leader in victories since 1975.
The closest I ever came to seeing him pitch is from video highlights and that ESPN miniseries “The Bronx is Burning” from a years back. A generation older friends and family can tell me all about his dominance on the mound and the numerous memorable matchups with the hated Yankees in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
I joined the Splittorff bandwagon in 1993 when my family moved to Kansas City – nine years after his 14-season playing career came to a close. K.C.’s Ford C. Frick Award winner, Denny Mathews, never broadcast on TV much and as a typical kid growing up in the 1990s, I watched more TV than was good for me – which included hours of Royals baseball. So maybe more so than Denny, Splitt’s voice and a combination of Dave Armstrong, Bob Davis and Fred White formed the soundtrack to my childhood summers.
People always say they feel like their favorite team's broadcasters are like family because they feel like they spend so much time with them. Splitt was drafted in 1968 before the team ever played a game, transitioned to broadcasting immediately after his retirement in 1984 and was still on Royals TV broadcasts this season. Kansas City – myself included –spent a lot of time with Splitt.
So to the three Paul Splittorffs I know – the one with the high-leg kick, coke-bottle lenses and pinpoint accuracy from old highlights; the one whose voice is the background to several nights spent playing or doing homework in front of the TV; and the one who I was humbled to meet as I started my professional career – I will always remember you. And more importantly, I will never forget the lessons you taught me with your steady delivery, on and off the field.
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 first 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.
His signature television role has James Denton portraying a plumber, a man accustomed to behind-the-scenes areas in buildings.
But when Denton – one of the stars of the ABC hit television series "Desperate Housewives" – visited the Baseball Hall of Fame on Thursday, his tour of the Museum archives left him with an unaccustomed sense of wonderment.
“This is amazing,” said the 48-year-old Denton, who has played Mike Delfino on 'Desperate Housewives' since it first debuted in 2004. “Just to have a look around… We’re going to stay until they throw us out.”
Denton visited the Museum with his brother, David Denton, and friends Mike Petty and Robert Diehl – each of whom refer to him as “Jamie.” Dressed in a polo shirt and jeans, the chiseled Denton is a lifelong baseball fan who is also part owner of the Orange County Flyers of the independent Golden Baseball League.
“The closest I ever got to the Hall of Fame before this was when I played Sandy Koufax in a movie,” Denton said. “Let me tell you, it was a lot easier making people believe that I was a left-handed pitcher than it was convincing them I was a Jewish kid from Brooklyn.”
Denton, who grew up in Tennessee and now roots for the Minnesota Twins, showed off a keen knowledge of history during his tour, asking about subjects ranging from Babe Ruth to former broadcaster-turned-President Ronald Reagan.
But many of the Museum’s artifacts – like a Gil Hodges jersey and a Honus Wagner bat – left the talented actor virtually speechless.
“We’re never going to forget this day,” Denton said. “The history here is just something else.”
As the son of the legendary creator of "Candid Camera," Peter Funt is the keeper of literally thousands of historic moments.
But because his father, Allen Funt, was such a huge baseball fan, Peter’s favorite topic just might be the National Pastime. And during a trip to Cooperstown on Wednesday with his son, Peter Funt reveled in the history that comes to life every day at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Funt, 63, helped his father sustain the "Candid Camera" franchise after Allen Funt created it – first as a radio program called "Candid Microphone" – in the late 1940s. "Candid Camera," a prototype reality television series which used hidden cameras and microphones to capture subjects in surrealistic moments, ran on CBS from 1960-67 and then in syndication from 1974-79, with Allen Funt as the host.
Peter joined Allen in 1987 and hosted versions of the show from 1998-2004. During all of those years, the Funts never tired of using baseball as a subject on their show.
“I grew up in Westchester County, N.Y., in Croton-on-Hudson, and I loved the Yankees, just like my father,” Peter Funt said. “So we always loved to have baseball players on the show.
“We did a show in 1960 where Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra were caddies on a golf course, offering unwanted advice on the first tee. It’s unbelievable, but no one recognized them dressed as caddies – even after Mickey took a club and belted a drive 300 yards down the middle of the fairway.”
Later, in 2001, Peter Funt revisited the baseball theme on the show when Yankees manager Joe Torre allowed Funt to pose as a Commissioner’s office representative concerned about the number of times players were spitting during games.
“Jorge Posada was so concerned, but then we revealed the cameras and he was so happy,” Funt said.
Today, Funt, who lives in Pebble Beach, Calif., writes a syndicated newspaper column – and continues to inject baseball into his work wherever possible. His love of the game – he is now a Giants fan – led him to travel to the Northeast this week after picking up his son Danny from Georgetown University.
After stopping to see several minor league games, Peter and Danny made their first visit to Cooperstown.
“I don’t know how I grew up a baseball fan and never made it to Cooperstown before today,” Peter Funt said. “But I’m sold now. After seeing all the history here, I’m a walking advertisement for this place.”
For my first four decades, I knew Harmon Killebrew the way I knew most of the 17,000-plus other men who played Major League Baseball: Through ink on a page.
He was the mighty slugger, the six-time American League home run champion. He was the heart of the 1965 AL champion Minnesota Twins, even though an injury that year limited him to just 113 games.
I always thought it spoke volumes about that Twins team that they were able to win the pennant without a dominant season from their best player. Little did I know that Harmon’s mere presence in the clubhouse was – quite possibly – a bigger influence than anything he did on the field.
Killebrew’s passing on Tuesday brought an end to a life that exuded positive energy. Anyone meeting Harmon in the last 20 years – and having never known he was a player – would have felt it a privilege just to know a man for whom decency and honesty was a way of life.
I know I did.
The fact that he hit 573 home runs and played on 13 All-Star teams seemed secondary to the core values Killebrew promoted by his daily actions. The mere mention of his name brought a smile to the lips of anyone who met him.
If his name was erased from every record book ever printed, Harmon Killebrew would still have been a Hall of Fame human being.
Dan Quisenberry was never the type to grab headlines and national attention. He was a solid performer and a reliable closer. He won a World Series and appeared in every game of another Fall Classic. He pitched 12 seasons in the Majors, but he was anything but a typical ballplayer.
Quiz wrote poetry. He was a shutdown reliever, but he relied not on a blow-away fastball but pinpoint control, deception and a submarine delivery that confused hitters and earned him the nickname “The Australian,” because he came from down under.
He might have been the wackiest guy to play for the Royals – though with personalities like “The Mad Hungarian” Al Hrabosky having worn a K.C. uniform that might be a tough title to hold. But in Kansas City, everyone who slots into the back of the Royals bullpen must live up to Quiz.
Growing up in Kansas City, I’ve gotten a steady diet of two things – bad baseball to watch and plenty of chatter about the team’s successful past. Quisenberry is talked about with great respect. I was at his Induction to the Royals Hall of Fame and remember the sadness throughout the Metro area when he passed away after a bought with brain cancer.
A unique personality off the field, when Quisenberry took the mound hitters could expect a fight and lots of strikes. Using the solid defense behind him, he picked away at the zone. He gave up just 11 walks in 1983 and 12 in 1984 over a combined 268 innings, and was runnerup for the Cy Young Award in both years.
As guys like Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter began to define the modern day closer, in some ways Quisenberry was right there. He set the single season record for saves in 1983 with 45 – a mark that is still tied for tops in the Royals record books. It was the first time any pitcher had reached 40 saves in a single season. In 1984 Quiz threatened his own record, ending the season with 44, while Sutter saved 45. The two shared the mark until Dave Righetti got 46 in 1986. Jeff Reardon joined Quisenberry as the only pitchers with a pair of 40-save seasons in 1988 and then in 1992, he broke Quiz’s AL saves record, a mark he’d held since passing Fingers in 1987.
As the position of closer evolved in the 1980s, several pitchers put their stamp on the game, but today’s advanced metrics show how good Quisenberry was. His Adjusted ERA+ (which factors ballpark tendencies and season averages) of 146 ties him for fifth all-time. The names above him: Mariano Rivera, Pedro Martinez, Jim Devlin and Lefty Grove. He’s tied with Water Johnson and Hoyt Wilhelm. His career rate of 1.4 walks per nine innings pitched is the lowest since 1926 and fifth lowest since 1901.
One lasting impression Quiz holds on the closer position is his ties to the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award (originally called Fireman of the Year). From 1980 to 1985, he earned five gold-plated firefighter's helmets, including four in a row. During that span he yeilded only the 1981 honors to Fingers (who won four in his career). Rivera is the only pitcher to match Quiz’s five Awards and noone has won more than two in a row.
Through the years, Quiz has become one of my favorite players, and the bobblehead of him wearing a fireman’s hat that sits on my desk is one of my favorite pieces of memorabilia not only because of the record it represents, but the player and story behind it. The Hall of Fame’s newest exhibit, One for the Books, which opens May 28, is focused on that exact concept. It seeks to not only glorify the game’s greatest records, but the rich stories behind the records.
When I arrived at the Hall of Fame in March of 1998 as a first year graduate-student intern in Museum Studies, my first job was to do an assessment of the original cartoon art and illustration collection.
Containing hundreds of original pieces, the archive is a small treasure trove of the sports cartoon/illustration art form from the late 1800s to the present day. I knew very little about this subject at the time, but found it very interesting and happily delved into the trove without hesitation. I soon became an admirer of this art form, not just from an artistic standpoint, but also how the cartoon image is used as a vehicle for communication and dissemination of information. Cartoons, like photos, are worth a thousand words, but they have the added benefit of allowing for the artist’s personal interpretation and style as both art and written commentary. This topic interested me so much I eventually wrote my Masters thesis on this subject.
It was during this time I was first exposed to the work of Bill Gallo, the longtime sports cartoonist of the New York Daily News (he ascended to the job in 1960 following the death of colleague and fellow cartooning luminary Leo O’Mealia). I grew up in Pennsylvania and had no access to New York newspapers, so his artistic prowess and longevity as a sports cartoonist were unknown to me. With Bill’s passing this last Tuesday at the age of 88, the world lost one of the last icons and best examples of a dying breed in modern journalism: the sports cartoonist. The Hall has over 20 original pieces of Gallo cartoon art, as well as many copies of cartoons as printed in newspapers, periodicals and other ephemera. The original artwork is mostly single frame cartoons as they appeared in the Daily News, with most relating to the election of specific Hall of Famers or some event in Yankees or Mets history. Often with a friendly hand-written note to a former Hall executive, these pieces are little time capsules which transport us back to a different time and place.
Topics covered in the collection include the inductions of Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Duke Snider, Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal, Stan Musial, Roy Campanella and Ducky Medwick. Casey Stengel was a favorite topic of Gallo, and we have several which highlight the “Ol’ Perfessor,” including one of him being added to Mt. Rushmore. Other topics include the 1968 and 1984 All-Star Games, as well as, more recently, the 2000 New York Subway Series. Of course, Basement Bertha (the ever-hopeful but always distressed Mets fan) is also prevalent.
I never met Bill Gallo, but I know I would have loved the chance. His legacy will live on as his work is remembered by millions of readers over the last 50 years. The Hall of Fame will do its part to protect that legacy by preserving and sharing the original examples of his work which will remain forever in our archives. As technology has rapidly changed both modes of personal communication and mass media, I still take great pleasure in looking at a cartoon and absorbing what it is trying to convey. A world of information in a simple hand-drawn picture. This has been the case since humans first painted images on the walls of caves.
The Hall of Fame is glad to have a part in this historical continuum by saving the artwork of Gallo and other accomplished artists and cartoonists. Just another medium telling the story of baseball’s impact on American culture.
The player’s face was obscured by the in-progress construction of the Hall of Fame’s new One for the Books exhibit. But his chiseled lower body left little doubt about the man depicted holding a base over his head.
If there was any question about his identity, it was removed when the “1,406” came into view. As records go, Rickey Henderson’s stolen base mark may be one of the safest in all of baseball.
One for the Books: Baseball Records and the Stories Behind Them will feature the exploits of the stolen base king along with hundreds of other stories in an exhibit that will open May 28 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. One for the Books, located adjacent to Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream on the Museum’s third floor, will be the Hall’s most technologically advanced exhibit yet – allowing visitors an interactive experience as they learn the stories behind the game’s iconic records.
But at its heart, the exhibit is about the people who created these records through talent and determination. The Hall of Fame will welcome many of those record holders to Cooperstown May 28 for a special Voices of the Game program as part of the exhibit opening.
Henderson, elected to the Hall of Fame in 2009 after a career where set standards in stolen bases (1,406), unintentional walks (2,129) and runs (2,295), will join fellow Hall of Famers Rod Carew, Reggie Jackson, Joe Morgan and Cal Ripken Jr. on stage for the program.
Museum members can reserve seats, which cost $10 for adults and $5 for children, now by calling 607-547-0397. For more information about becoming a Museum member, click here.
Just 16 days till a historic exhibit opening – and a chance to listen to the stories behind that history – in Cooperstown. Until then, Rickey’s face may be hidden, but his story remains for all to see at the Hall of Fame.
I’ve been a Royals fan for most of my life. Ever since my family moved back to Kansas City in 1993, I’ve cheered for the Boys in Blue.
Unfortunately, Bo Jackson was already gone by the time I fell in love with the Royals. His last season in K.C. was 1990. But I remember seeing his larger-than-life persona everywhere. Even in rural Oklahoma, where baseball and football weren’t on my attention landscape, Bo was there.
Between Nike’s “Bo Knows” campaign, his Heisman Trophy, playing in the NFL “as a hobby” and his All-Star Game MVP Award, Jackson’s exploits became folk legends. He’s like Paul Bunyan and John Henry wrapped in to one when people talk about his run, literally up the wall in Baltimore, or his throw from the warning track in left to gun down Harold Reynolds at the plate in the Kingdom.
Video of him doing amazing things in Royals Powder Blue is engrained in my mind. But I’ve only seen the man in the person twice. The first time was in 1994 – the last season of his career. Jackson was on the warning track, chatting with fans before a June Angels-Royals matchup at Kauffman Stadium. The photo I have from that night shows a massive man – even after hip replacement surgery. He was an impressive sight.
Looking back at the box scores, Jackson only played in two of the three games that series. My memory is fuzzy as to which game I went to, so I may not have even seen him play. But the record of his career will lives on, not just in my mind, but in baseball lore.
In fact, among his more amazing accomplishments, one feat actually made it into the record books – since steps taken on a wall while parallel to a field and number of astonishing outfield assists to create plays at the plate aren’t official stats.
In July and August of 1990, Jackson tied the record for home runs in consecutive at-bats. It’s an interesting story, as most Bo legends are. On July 17, 1990, Jackson connected for home runs in his first three at-bats, pounding Yankees starter Andy Hawkins to the tune of seven RBI. He hit one in the first inning with Hall of Famer George Brett on base, connected for another blast in the top of the third – scoring Brett again – and hit his third in three trips to the plate in the fifth, scoring Brett a third time and adding Kevin Seitzer to his runs batted in. Even the Yankee crowd had to applaud. Brett called the performance colossal.
But in the bottom of the sixth, fellow two-sport star Deion Sanders came up with the Yanks threatening. A run had just scored and with a man on third, the Royals were up 8-5. Sanders hit a fly to deep right-center and Jackson started tracking it. Jackson’s diving stab missed the ball and the Yankees’ speedy rookie circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run. Jackson was removed from the game and put on the disabled list the next day with a partially dislocated left shoulder, missing out on his chance for the coveted four home runs in a single game.
But Bo wouldn’t rest without setting some kind of record. The first ball he saw in his first at-bat back from the DL, he hit for a monstrous shot at then-Royals Stadium on Aug. 26th. Estimated at 450 feet, he said he saw the ball’s threads on the offering from imposing Seattle ace Randy Johnson.
Twenty-five batters have hit home runs in four consecutive at-bats, but I can almost guarantee none did it quite like the iconic Jackson. I saw him for the second time in person on Opening Day this spring in Kansas City. Impeccably dressed in a suit, he still looked like a man who could do amazing things. While Jackson’s specific record won’t be included in the Hall of Fame’s new One for the Books, the story behind his achievement is what the Hall’s new exhibit is all about, which makes me excited for the opening on May 28th.
The World Series Trophy’s annual trip to Upstate New York continues until the Hall of Fame closes on Sunday at 5 p.m.
Like past champs, The 2010 World Champion Giants are having their day(s) in Cooperstown with special events, guided tours and a public viewing of the 2010 World Series Trophy in the Library Atrium.
It’s been a unique celebration so far as fans throughout the day have taken advantage of their chance to brush with history. Earlier today, Museum visitors got a special treat as the Hall connected with San Francisco live for a tour of AT&T Park and a lesson in Giants history via videoconference.
Among programs that are being offered all weekend are guided tours through the Hall of Fame, focused on the 129-year history of the New York/San Francisco Giants. The tours start at the Museum Membership Services Desk and begin at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Also still being offered is a chance to test your knowledge of one of baseball’s oldest teams by answering trivia questions in Giants Jeopardy. That event will be offered at noon Sunday in the Bullpen Theater.
The other big event tomorrow are a pair Giants-centric Artifact Spotlights at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. in The Learning Center, allowing visitors a chance to see up close, artifacts not currently on display in the Hall and hear the story behind the historic items.
To cap off the Giants Celebration, visitors should also seek out Autumn Glory to see the exhibit displaying key items from the Giants 2010 Championship run. Included in the exhibit are Series MVP Edgar Renteria’s bat from his game-winning home run in Game 5, staff ace and two-game World Series winner Tim Lincecum’s Game 5 road jersey, Rookie of the Year Buster Posey’s catcher’s mask and spikes and much more.
All programs and activities are included with Museum admission, so for fans looking to get even more close than usual to history, the can by snapping their pictures with baseball’s iconic trophy in the Home of Baseball.
It is no secret that Bert Blyleven loves the game of baseball.
“There is no better feeling than taking a mound against a major league hitter and trying to throw a ball to the catcher’s mitt before he hits it a country mile,” Blyleven said.
Blyleven shared his passion with fans at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Thursday during his orientation visit when he took part in an impromptu Museum program for lucky fans in Cooperstown. Blyleven took time off from his job as a Twins’ TV color analyst to visit the Museum in preparation for his election as part of the Class of 2011.
After playfully leading the crowd through some stretching exercises, a relaxed and honest Blyleven let his personality shine, sharing stories from his career and interacting with the audience.
“I still miss that baseball in my hand,” said Blyleven. “That may be why I’m so interested in the history of the ball and how it’s changed.”
Blyleven got a first hand look at baseball history this week as he toured the Museum in advance of his Induction on July 24 as part of Hall of Fame Weekend 2011. And all that history brought back memories of chasing foul balls at Anaheim Stadium near where he grew up in Garden Grove, Calif.
“My friend and I would bike down to the stadium and go to the season-ticket holder gate,” said Blyleven. “We would politely ask fans for extra tickets and it would only take about 10-15 minutes before someone would hand us a couple extras. We were young kids who were just fans of the game.”
Blyleven and his friends would chase foul balls down the right field line and collect as many as they could. Once the game was over, the fans exited and only the writers were left in the ballpark, he would hide in the bathroom while field staff cleaned the stadium and turned the lights off.
“When we knew it was just the writers left we would come out of the bathroom, jump the small fence and run into one of the dugouts,” he said. “The lights were all off and it was dark. We would sit there and fantasize about playing on that field. Of course we would look around and try to collect anything else we could find; I had a ton of old rosin bags from that stadium.”
When the writers filed out of the press box, Blyleven and his buddies knew they would not be seen.
“We would run out onto the field and pick a position,” he said. “As a high school pitcher, I’d run to the mound. I’d pretend to wind up and deliver the pitch and everyone would run out to right field and catch the imaginary fly ball.”
Less than a year later, Blyleven was a 19-year old right-hander, had been drafted by Minnesota and called up to the big leagues. On July 9, 1970 Blyleven took that same mound, starting for the Twins in his first game against the California Angels, with his parents and friends all in attendance. This time with the lights on.
“I remember I couldn’t move,” he said. “My legs wouldn’t let me. So I stepped off the mound with both feet and picked up the rosin bag and thought to myself, ‘Gee, I have a lot of these at home’.”
The fan in the Red Sox cap got to within 20 feet of the Cooperstown visitor when he stopped dead in his tracks, eyes wide-eyed and mouth agape.
A moment later, Bert Blyleven approached the gentleman with a smile and his hand extended.
“How are you today?” Blyleven asked.
“I’m great,” the fan replied. “You know, Bert, it’s about time you got into the Hall of Fame.”
With that, the fan was gone – and Blyleven continued his stroll down the Main Street sidewalk. A Hall of Fame pitcher, and a down-to-earth person.
Blyleven took his Orientation Tour with his wife Gayle on Tuesday, preparing for his July 24 induction in Cooperstown as a member of the Class of 2011. Before touring the Museum and the archive, he took a short stroll over to Doubleday Field – reminiscing about his trip to Cooperstown in 1980 for the Hall of Fame Game while a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
On the way back to the Museum, Blyleven – dressed in a Twins windbreaker (he has broadcast Twins games on TV for the last 16 years) and blue jeans – chatted with fans on Main Street and even stopped by a few stores.
On his tour, Blyleven cheerily greeted fans lucky enough to be visiting the Hall of Fame on a once-in-a-lifetime day.
“I want to learn about Cy Young; I want to see a baseball used by Walter Johnson,” Blyleven said of his Hall of Fame brethren. “Walter Johnson had 110 shutouts? Are you kidding? How do you do that?”
Blyleven had 60 shutouts himself, powering a Hall of Fame career that included 287 wins and 242 complete games. But it was the majesty of the moment that impacted Blyleven the most on Tuesday.
“I got to play a kids’ game for 23 years in the big leagues,” Blyleven said. “That’s what this is all about, right? A kid’s dream is to be here in Cooperstown.
“If you love baseball, you have to come here. This is a baseball fan’s dream come true.”
Baseball history comes alive every day at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, but during New York State History Day, the topics grow to cover a wider range of the past.
Cooperstown has been the location of New York State History Day for more than 10 years now, and continued that tradition Friday, hosting a competition for a yearlong educational program where students from all over New York State learn an exciting way to study history and present their ideas.
“Each year the competition has a theme and this year’s is Debate and Diplomacy in History,” said John Odell, the curator of history and research for the Hall of Fame and a judge for the competition. “Then each student can choose their topic in that theme. This year’s run from Ancient Greece all the way to the Patriot Act.”
Students express what they have learned through a paper, creative and original performance, documentary, website or exhibit in either a junior division (6-8th grade) or senior division (9-12th grade). They have won at local and regional competitions before competing at the state level.
“Over 400 kids will participate today and the top students will have a chance to go on to nationals,” said Jim Gates, Librarian for the Hall of Fame and also a judge. “There are college scholarships awarded there, so for those that move on, the rewards can be quite substantial.”
The Baseball Hall of Fame is only one location for students to explore during History Day as judging is also taking place at the The Farmers’ Museum, Fenimore Art Museum and Otesaga Resort Hotel. Cooperstown Village Historian Hugh MacDougall, who spent 30 years as a diplomat in Africa and Asia with the U.S. State Department before retiring, teamed with Odell and Gates to judge papers on Friday. They received the works two weeks in advance to preview and read them before the student is interviewed.
“The interview is meant to clarify questions the judges have on the paper, rather than affect the rating or scoring,” said MacDougall. “It gives us a chance to speak with the student and find out why they chose their topic and made the choices they did.”
Students have strict rules for their research and must meet proper style, citation and source requirements.
“One of the goals of this program is to maintain the excitement about history these kids have and educationally, to learn the research process, which can be a real challenge,” said Gates. “It allows them to develop critical thinking and analysis skills.”
Not only do students get a chance to tour world-class Museums and present their work, they are encouraged to meet students from other schools, exchange ideas and gain new insight. Through this experience, students learn all of the hard work that goes into understanding a topic of history and gain context as to why it was important.
“The students are encouraged to take a topic and apply it broadly to the real world,” said Odell. “They have to make interpretations of the topic and draw conclusions about how it applies to American culture, which is very much what we do at the Hall of Fame with baseball history.”
On Tuesday, a man donning a familiar Pittsburgh Pirates uniform No. 21 stood before a crowd of fans at the Hall of Fame and told the story of his life.
No, it wasn’t the real Roberto Clemente, who died in a plane crash while bringing relief supplies to Nicaragua following an earthquake in 1972. Instead, actor Greg Kenney performed his family-friendly performance of Roberto: Chat with an Angel.
“After a while, the powers that be allow you to come back and tell your story – as an angel of course,” he said.
The program is part of Youth Baseball Week at the Baseball Hall of Fame. With many kids out of school for Spring Break, the Museum has provided daily educational programs for kids of all ages through Friday.
Kenney who writes and performs about figures in history as part of Educate Us Productions has presented in 12 states over the past 11 years. At the Hall of Fame on Monday, Kenney told the story of Jackie Robinson in Jackie: Cross the Line.
Other programs throughout the week will allow visitors to recreate a baseball game radio broadcast, virtually connect to the Louisville Slugger Museum and learn about the science behind the game.
“I was known for my basket-style catch and my rocket arm,” Kenney said as Clemente.
Kenney told the story of Clemente’s upbringing, how he was faced with racism, and his successful career as a Hall of Fame baseball player. The wide-range of topics and stories showed kids and adults alike how Clemente overcame challenges to earn respect.
“My wife Vera gave me some advice when I first wanted to quit baseball,” said Kenney. “She told me ‘You never quit when you’re down – you have to give it one more try’. And that advice I want to pass along to my young friends at the Baseball Hall of Fame.”
A packed room in the brand new Learning Center at the Museum took those words to heart and learned about a man who not only won four batting crowns and smacked 3,000 hits, but was known for his humanitarianism, integrity and smile.
“There was one thing that made me very happy about playing Major League Baseball…the fans,” said Kenney. “The kids were the ones who truly made me happy because the kids really love baseball.”
Known for signing autographs for hours and always earning admiration from his teammates, Clemente won the hearts of baseball lovers during his career as Kenney won them all over again with his program. For kids on break from school, there are still important lessons to learn – and Kenney used baseball and the story of one of its legends to teach kids one on Tuesday.
“You have to keep on working to reach the goals you set for yourself in your life.”
There are 292 bronze plaques in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and 203 of them are players.
This July, Pat Gillick will become the 32nd baseball executive to be inducted and just the fourth team architect following Ed Barrow, Branch Rickey and George Weiss. He spent 50 years in baseball as an executive with the Blue Jays, Orioles, Mariners and Phillies, building three World Series championship teams.
“These gloves look like hockey gloves,” said Gillick after seeing some artifacts of mitts used in the late 1800s.
Fitting, coming from a man who spent his most productive years in hockey country as Toronto’s general manager.
Gillick toured the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Tuesday during his orientation of Cooperstown to get ready for Hall of Fame Weekend 2011. Gillick’s wife Doris joined him on a walk through the Museum, led by Erik Strohl, the Hall of Fame’s senior director of exhibits and collections.
Gillick spent the day meeting with Hall of Fame staff and becoming familiar with the Hall of Fame and surrounding area to prepare for his induction. On July 24th, he will be joined by Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven as the class of 2011 on stage at the Clark Sports Center for the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
His bronze plaque will be unveiled and he will deliver a speech in front of family and friends, thousands of fans and members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, where the men who have created baseball history will be on stage to welcome him to the team.
Before the pressure and emotion of the weekend is upon him, Gillick used Tuesday to reflect on the game he has spent his life dedicated to.
“That’d be different, to wear a sweater instead of a jacket,” Gillick said to his wife when they viewed a warm-up sweater worn by Hall of Fame Yankees manager Miller Huggins in 1925.
Gillick soaked in the baseball history, chatting with baseball writers about changes to the game like the handles of bats and the style of play.
“There have been a lot of guys with high leg kicks,” said Gillick. “But not in the last 15 years or so. I can only think of a couple of guys. Everyone is trying to simplify and get back to basics.”
Gillick is a part of baseball history and will soon know what it feels like to be among legends, enshrined in the Plaque Gallery next to the other giants of the game.
I cannot remember a time when I did not understand baseball.
Not to say that the game came easy to me (I was a Little League benchwarmer) or that I could out-manage Casey Stengel. But as far back as my memory goes, I can recall being able to follow the game.
Clearly, it was not always so. And with the help of the Hall of Fame’s new Swinging Away exhibit, I can image what it must have felt like when I was a child and the game was a mystery.
Swinging Away: How Cricket and Baseball Connect debuted in Cooperstown on Sunday to rave reviews from curious fans and cricket experts. The exhibit, created in conjunction with the Marylebone Cricket Club in London and on display at the Hall of Fame through February, explores the links between the two bat-and-ball games that enthrall fans the world over.
But beyond certain basic similarities, the games are totally different. Watching a cricket match – with the passion of the players and fans but without a personal clue of what is going on – I can picture what it must have been like at five years old, watching the Pirates play on TV while my dad rooted for Lumber Company legends like Willie Stargell, Al Oliver and Dave Parker.
An out? A double play? A BALK?
It’s like learning a whole new language. And yet, given enough time, I could envision learning to appreciate the intricacies of cricket.
I’ll have the chance in June in Cooperstown, when the Haverford College cricket team will play a match just minutes from the Hall of Fame as part of Cricket Weekend. Until then, I’ll rely on our topnotch educational team – which spent Sunday teaching Museum visitors the game through hands-on demonstrations – to get me up to speed.
Remember that first foreign language class in school? That’s cricket for a baseball fanatic. You get the concept, but your first language – or sport – will always feel more comfortable.
It is, however, worth the effort.
They came from all over the Northeast, claiming their annual spots at the front of the line.
They came from all over Otsego County, Cooperstown friends and neighbors wanting to be a part of the Father’s Day fun.
They came for tickets for the June 19 Hall of Fame Classic. They left with future memories in hand.
Fans began lining up at the Baseball Hall of Fame for the annual Hall of Fame Classic Ticket Sale in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday morning, braving a chilly April day with hot coffee, portable chairs and winter coats. They’ll return to Cooperstown for the June 18-19 Hall of Fame Classic Weekend, assured of their place at what is fast becoming baseball’s newest must-see event.
Hall of Famers Andre Dawson, Goose Gossage, Phil Niekro, Tony Pérez, Jim Rice, Ozzie Smith and Dick Williams will headline the Classic, with former big leaguers Frank Catalanotto, Steve Garvey, Doug Glanville, Bill Lee, Dale Murphy, Willie Wilson, Rick Wise and Dmitri Young also scheduled to appear.
Following Saturday’s one-day sale, tickets will be available exclusively to participants in the Hall of Fame’s Membership Program from April 17-24 at www.baseballhall.org or by calling 1-866-849-7770. Starting April 25, any remaining tickets will be made available to the general public.
Just 63 day to go until the perfect Father’s Day Weekend in Cooperstown.
For decades, he was only ink on a page in my memory – a stat line worth recalling in the baseball encyclopedia.
You remember players like Eddie Joost, whose numbers were so unique. Then – if you’re lucky – those black-and-white numbers come to life.
Such was the day in Cooperstown in 2008 when the former Philadelphia A’s shortstop and manager visited the Baseball Hall of Fame. At the time, Joost was 92 and sharp as a tack, a carrier of living history.
Joost was featured in a Museum program that day, thrilling visitors with his memories and insight. The 17-year big league veteran played for the Reds and Braves during his first eight years, then experienced a revival in 1947 when – at age 31 – he became the A’s regular shortstop. For the next six seasons, Joost never drew fewer than 103 walks and averaged 18 home runs a season – rare totals for a shortstop of those days.
He managed the A’s in their last season in Philadelphia in 1954. At the time of his passing on Tuesday, he was the oldest former big league manager – a title that now passes to former Red Sox skipper Johnny Pesky.
Born on June 5, 1916, when Babe Ruth had yet to reach double-figures in career home runs, Joost lived to see baseball shape – and re-shape – the American experience.
That history lives on in Cooperstown.
By Tina Zayat
Until the fall of 1998, I hadn’t really noticed. Three baseball players would make me notice.
McGwire. Sosa. Griffey.
I didn’t realize how much baseball meant to people until Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey, Jr. showed me as they chased Roger Maris’ single-season record of 61 home runs.
I had worked at the Baseball Hall of Fame, in the Museum Store, four years in 1998, and it was easy to see the power baseball had on visitors and staff alike that summer, albeit with a twinge of sadness that Maris’ record might be broken. Weathering the stormy 1994 strike, baseball needed a ray of light. The chase represented hope and the thrill of it was contagious. People were talking about it everywhere. It gave people a common bond and gave those without much baseball knowledge, like myself, a chance to belong. Our exhibits crew hung a gigantic scoreboard in the lobby only adding to the excitement.
Would the record be broken? When? Who would it be?
September 8, 1998: Mark McGwire breaks the record with home run number 62. What makes it special to me is the very next day, September 9, we received his uniform, bat and ball. Escorted by New York State Police, then Executive Director of Communications and Education – now Hall of Fame President – Jeff Idelson, was carrying the bat in a large, black duffle bag into the Hall of Fame as I was walking out.
I immediately thought, “How COOL is THIS? Those things were just making baseball history and now they’re in Cooperstown! I’m WITNESSING THIS. I WORK HERE!”
I finally understood how our visitors feel when they see artifacts that bring back their favorite memories or from moments in baseball history they’ve always wanted to see. When McGwire’s artifacts were displayed in the lobby, I was able to see, for the first time, how people reacted. It was heartwarming to see people smile, talk history and make personal connections. Baseball became more than just a game to me in those moments, and that’s what our new One for the Books exhibit opening May 28 is all about.
I’ve worked here for 17 years and I’ll always be grateful to the Chase for granting me a deeper appreciation for baseball history and reminding me how fun it is to work here.
Tina Zayat is a fulfillment and shipping associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.