Results tagged ‘ Hank Aaron ’
A little over eight years ago, back in June of 2006, I took a trip with my family to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, as part of a two week journey around the Northeast. I wasn’t extremely into baseball back then, but I enjoyed it just enough that I would’ve gotten a decent experience out of the visit. However, it wasn’t meant to be. Due to major flooding in the surrounding area, the Hall of Fame was closed, and we had to settle for a visit to a nearby baseball wax museum — an interesting place, but one that obviously paled in comparison to the main attraction in town.
In the years since, I’ve become one of the biggest baseball fans you’ll ever meet, constantly following the game and studying up on the stars of today and years past. Therefore, it had slowly become a must for me to make it back to Cooperstown at some point during my life. Although I imagined a return trip would take place a couple of decades or more from the time I last made the long trek up to New York from North Carolina, a plan for my dad, grandpa and I to take another trip to the Hall of Fame was quickly orchestrated over the past few months. And thus, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the three of us made our way to New York.
On Saturday, November 29th, we got up early and made the drive from our hotel in Binghamton, NY, over to Cooperstown, arriving at a little bit after 9:00 in the morning:
As you may have noticed, there was snow on both of the trees to each side of the doors, as well as icicles hanging at various lengths from the roof. The cause of the snow and ice is one element of the trip that wasn’t present in June of 2006: cold weather. Far from the warm summer temperatures of our last visit, it was fairly cold (as is to be expected in late November), with the day starting off at around 10 degrees. But, thankfully, the Hall of Fame doesn’t close for cold temperatures, and we were actually able to make it past the front door this time around.
Upon entering the Hall and purchasing our tickets, we walked up the stairs to the second floor, where we caught a brief introduction movie, before beginning the tour of the museum.
One of the first pieces of memorabilia that we saw, and one of the most interesting of the day, was an old baseball that was used to “prove” that Abner Doubleday was the inventor of baseball, back in 1839:
However, contrary to popular belief, Doubleday didn’t invent baseball. As the display discussed, Doubleday was given credit for the sport’s origin, but a version of baseball had been being played for numerous years prior to 1839. Although the exact inventor of baseball isn’t fully known, credit for the rules of today’s version of the game — 90 feet between bases; 9 innings; 9 players per team — was awarded to Alexander Cartwright, the “Father of Modern Baseball”.
But while the invention of baseball wasn’t Abner Doubleday’s, there was an interesting non-baseball item that was in fact his own:
As a lover of history, including the Civil War era, these shoulder epaulets belonging to Doubleday during the war were very cool to see. Though not directly related to baseball, I came to find that the off the wall items such as these — not just baseballs, bats, jerseys, etc. — were some of the most interesting things to see.
But the baseball memorabilia was amazing as well; especially that of baseball’s well known all-time greats, such as Honus Wagner. Playing from 1897 through 1917, mainly for the Pittsburgh Pirates, there was a locker filled with Wagner stuff, such as one of Wagner’s full uniforms (used while he was a manager):
Wagner’s 1909 T206 baseball card holds the record for the most valuable sports card in existence, having sold for a whopping 2.8 million dollars back in 2007. So seeing the rare items tied directly to Wagner was amazing.
But things kept getting better and better as the journey through the museum continued. Next up was an entire section dedicated to the most well known player in baseball history: Babe Ruth. Among the items on display were a baseball estimated to have been hit by Ruth over 500 feet (picture 1); Ruth’s glove from the 1926 World Series (picture 2); a display of various things, such as one of Ruth’s bats (picture 3); and an autographed Babe Ruth baseball (picture 4):
Following the Ruth exhibit, there was an exhibit dedicated the Negro Leagues, titled “Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience”. The most well known Negro League player has to be Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier back in 1947, going on to be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. However, the exhibit focused on more than just Robinson. Also included in the exhibit, that helped tell the story of the Negro Leagues, were uniforms worn by Satchel Paige (left) and James “Cool Papa” Bell (right):
Paige is likely the most widely known Negro League pitcher, having pitched three shutout innings against the Boston Red Sox in 1965 at the age of 59, becoming the oldest player ever to play in the majors. Bell, while not as much of a household name as Paige, was just as amazing in his own way. Possessing blazing speed, it was said that Bell could “turn off the light and be under the covers before the room got dark” and that Bell once “hit a ball up the middle of the field and was struck by the ball as he slid into second base”. Though merely stories people liked to tell, it goes to show just how much Bell’s speed stood out to people.
Next in line on the path through the museum was “Diamond Dreams”, which showcased the many roles that women have played throughout the history of baseball, including playing the game themselves. The 1992 movie ‘A League of Their Own’, staring Tom Hanks, Geena David and Madonna, among others, covered this very topic of women playing the baseball. And therefore, the exhibit included costumes from the movie itself:
After spending some time reading about the history of women in baseball, the three of us then made our way through a collection of items from 1930-1970, including things used by all-time greats, Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle, before finding ourselves in a portion of the museum dedicated to Latin American baseball players, entitled ‘Viva Baseball’:
Although everything in the exhibit was interesting and fun to learn about, there were some items that interested me more than others. Two of the key items for me were David Ortiz’s 2004 World Series jersey (left), from the year the Red Sox broke their 86-year Championship drought, as well as a jersey worn by Albert Pujols (right) during his 2001 Rookie of the Year winning season:
The next section we came upon covered baseball up through the year 2000. Some of the top things around the exhibit were a Tom Seaver display (Seaver holds the record for highest Hall of Fame induction voting percentage, with 98.8 %) that included the red cleats from his 300th career win (picture 1); George Brett’s pine tar bat from 1983 (picture 2); Robin Yount’s batting helmet from his 3,000th hit (picture 3); and Derek Jeter’s 1998 World Series cleats (picture 4):
That’s one of the reasons I most enjoyed the last room of the second floor that had items from the last decade or so of the game. One of the great things about these items was that I could remembered seeing a lot of the unique events they were tied to take place on TV, either live or in a recap of the game. The room was organized into thirty different lockers (one for each team) positioned around the walls, with several items for each team in each locker.
Remember back in 2012 when Orioles’ slugger Chris Davis came on to finish out the marathon 16 inning game on the mound against the Red Sox after beginning the game as the designated hitter? Well, the cap Davis was wearing was there:
In fact, pretty much anything of significance that has happened within the past number of years was included in this exhibit. The cleats Miguel Cabrera was wearing the night he secured baseball’s first Triple Crown since 1967 (picture 1); the cleats Mike Trout wore when he recorded his first career cycle (picture 2); Jim Thome’s 600th career home run (picture 3); and the cap Mariano Rivera wore during his final All-Star outing of his career in 2013 (picture 4):
It was all there.
Also in the room — in a display case in the very center — was an arrangement of items specifically from the 2014 Major League Baseball season. Although a bat from Jose Abreu’s rookie year was awesome to see, as were the cleats Albert Pujols was wearing when he blasted his 500th career home run, the thing that stood out to me the most was the jersey worn by Mo’ne David during the Little League World Series:
Having watched Davis pitch on T.V. throughout the series, as well as seeing her on the cover of Sports Illustrated and basically anywhere you looked, it was awesome to see the jersey used by the first girl to earn a win in Little League World Series history.
After taking in all the things from this season, and doing my best to photograph it all, we all made our way up to the third floor of the museum. There, in a Hank Aaron exhibit, we saw another unique item not directly related to baseball, like the Abner Doubleday epaulets talked about earlier — bricks from Aaron’s childhood home in Alabama:
That was pretty remarkable to see after watching him hit that historic blast over and over on T.V.
However, as we all know, Aaron’s career mark of 755 home runs didn’t stand. Barry Bonds went on to pass Aaron, with his 756th home run coming on August 7, 2007. The helmet Bonds was wearing when he hit the homer was on display, as was the ball itself:
You may have noticed that the ball has an asterisk cut out of the cover. The story behind that lies with Marc Ecko — the person who bought the ball online for $752,467. After purchasing the baseball, Ecko held an online contest to determine its fate. Voters had three choices: put an asterisk on the ball; leave it alone; or shoot it to the moon. Around half of the ten million votes said an asterisk should be added before the balls donation. And thus became the ball you see above.
Also in this room, focusing on records and such, were some pretty incredible things. Among them was Derek Jeter’s batting gloves from his 3,000th hit game (picture 1); a cap from each of Nolan Ryan’s record seven career no-hitters (picture 2); first base from Armando Galarraga’s infamous near-perfect game (picture 3); a ball from the 2007 game in which the Rangers defeated the Orioles 30-3 (picture 4); the jersey from Roy Halladay’s postseason no-hitter in 2010 (picture 5); and, my personal favorite item, possibly of the entire museum, the glove Willie Mays used to make “The Catch” in the 1954 World Series (picture 6):
In all, I took more pictures in this one section of the museum than any other section. It was truly amazing stuff.
Towards the end of items on the third floor was a display with memorabilia solely from the 2014 World Series between the Giants and the Royals. Watching every single inning on T.V. as it happened, is was awesome to see some items from the series in person. But the one thing that stood out the most was rookie pitcher Yordano Ventura’s cap that he wore for his game six start:
In addition to being a standout item because of the great outing Ventura had, it’s the inscription on the cap that makes it stand out the most. After the tragic death of 22-year-old Cardinals’ prospect, Oscar Taveras, Ventura took to the mound with “RIP O.T # 18” written on his hat as a tribute to his native Dominican Republic friend. It was touching on T.V., and even more so in person.
Once we had viewed all there was to see on the third floor, my grandpa, dad and I headed down the street to grab a bite of lunch at a nearby restaurant before returning to continue walking around the Hall of Fame. Believe it or not, after over three hours spent at the Hall (and after 35 pictures and 2,000 words in this blog post), there was still more to see and do.
After returning to the Hall of Fame, we headed over to an art exhibit, which normally isn’t my thing but really intrigued me this time around. Following that, we headed through a room dedicated to this year’s Hall of Fame inductees — Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux — before arriving to the Hall of Fame’s main point of interest: The Hall of Fame Gallery:
With the current number of Hall of Famers standing at 306 total people — 211 players, 35 negro leaguers, 28 executives, 22 managers and 10 umpires — there were a lot of plaques to cover, but we made our way around to every single one.
As with every part of the museum, there were a few portions (in this case, people) that stood out the most.
The first of such was the inaugural class of five plaques (located at the far end of the picture above), being of Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson, all of which were inducted in 1936 — three years before the Hall of Fame’s opening in 1939:
Standing out as a member of the Hall of Fame that isn’t necessarily as known as the everyday players such as Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Cy Young, etc., was Wesley Branch Rickey (left), accompanied by Jackie Robinson (right):
Rickey was the person who brought Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers in 1945, making him the first African American player to break baseball’s color barrier when he made his debut two years later.
Another lesser known member is Effa Manley — the only woman in the baseball Hall of Fame:
Manley was greatly involved in the Negro Leagues as the only woman owner among an industry of male owners. Her induction came in 2006 as a “reflection of her commitment to baseball and civil rights”.
One last person who is more known for what he did than who he was is Bill Veeck:
Mostly known for his stunt of bringing the shortest player in MLB history to the plate in 1951 — 3 foot 7 inch tall Eddie Gaedel — Veeck made a major impact on the game, stating, “I try not to break the rules but merely to test their elasticity”.
Upon completion of viewing all of the plaques, we made a brief stop by the gift shop, where I picked up a T-shirt and a magnet to commemorate my second trip and first successful visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Following that, after half a dozen hours or so spent at the Hall of Fame, my dad, grandpa and I swung by historic Doubleday Field, which was covered in snow . . . :
I didn’t fully know what to expect from the Baseball Hall of Fame. Sometimes you can get your hopes up so high that the actual experience fails to meet those lofty expectations. But I can honestly say that the Hall of Fame completely blew away all my expectations. It was so well set up and so greatly stocked with some incredible pieces of baseball history that there was no way I could document it all — both with my camera or in this blog post.
So, if you haven’t, go see the Hall of Fame for yourself. It’s truly something that every single baseball fan should do at least once in their lifetime. You’ll never forget it.
For the first time since 1971, there will be six living Hall of Fame inductees enshrined in Cooperstown on July 27th, in this the 75th anniversary of the museum. It was announced on Wednesday that Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas would be joining Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre, who were elected in December, as part of the 2014 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame class.
Maddux, Glavine and Thomas — the first player elected to have played the majority of their games as a designated hitter — all received above 80 percent of the vote, and each were elected on their first time on the ballot. This marks the first time since 1999 that three first-ballot nominees (Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount) were elected, and just the second time in history.
Maddux saw the most votes, earning 97.2 percent of the 571 voters’ approval, making him the eighth highest vote getter in Hall of Fame voting history, behind Tony Gwynn (97.61), Hank Aaron (97.83), George Brett (98.19), Ty Cobb (98.23), Cal Ripken Jr.(98.53), Nolan Ryan (98.79) and Tom Seaver (98.84).
All three players were extremely deserving, no doubt about it, but many people feel that a couple of players who were just as “deserving” didn’t get enough recognition.
None more so than Craig Biggio, who received 74.8 percent of the vote, falling a mere two votes shy of the 75 percent necessary for induction. Biggio becomes the third player to miss getting in by two or fewer votes, joining Pie Traynor and Nellie Fox, who both eventually made it into the Hall of Fame.
Mike Piazza is another player that didn’t earn enough of the vote to be elected, but could’ve easily been elected in. Piazza’s percentage, as with Biggio, was likely hurt by the great amount of talent on this year’s ballot, but it’s still surprising to me that he didn’t come a bit closer.
Nonetheless, both Biggio and Piazza will likely be voted in next year.
Players who may not ever be elected, however, include Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, who all saw drops in percentages from last year, and are all linked in one way or another to performance enhancing drugs (PED’s). Clemens was the top vote getter of them all, but received just 35.4 percent of the vote, down from 37.6 percent in 2013 — no where near the percentage needed. Rafael Palmeiro, who is also associated to PED’s, didn’t even receive the necessary 5 percent to remain on the ballot for next year, getting just 4.4 percent.
Palmeiro is one of 16 players from this year who will not be on the ballot for next year. Those players include the likes of Eric Gagne and Kenny Rogers, among others, who were good players but not good enough for the Hall of Fame. Jack Morris will also not be returning next year, as although he received 61.5 percent of the vote, this was his 15th and final year of eligibility.
Looking forward to the 2015 Hall of Fame ballot, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Gary Sheffield and Nomar Garciaparra will all be making their first appearance, and that could make it tough for really good players such as Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent, who received 20.3 percent and 15.2 percent of the vote this year, respectively, to make much progress. Only time will tell how the voters decide.
But one thing is for sure: Next year’s Hall of Fame class has the potential to be even more exciting than this one. And that’s truly saying a lot after the memorable class of 2014.
Homering three times in Sunday night’s game versus the Texas Rangers–increasing his season stats to 11 homers and 47 RBI’s, to go along with a .387 batting average–there’s no denying that Miguel Cabrera is currently the best hitter in all of baseball. Having won the Triple Crown last season–the first player to do so since Carl Yastrezemski, in 1967–Cabrera is currently on a good pace to do so again, as he’s already ahead of his stats from last year; some by a fairly good margin.
Through 43 games played, Cabrera is batting 83 points higher, with three more home runs and thirteen more RBI’s than he had through the same number of games last season, in which he won the Triple Crown. If Cabrera can continue his hot pace, he stands a good chance of becoming just the third player in the history of Major League Baseball to win two Triple Crown awards in their career–Ted Williams and Rogers Hornsby being the other players. (No player has ever accomplished the feat in back-to-back seasons.)
As is to be expected with a player as good as Cabrera, many are beginning to form comparisons of his stats to other players’, such as HOFer Hank Aaron, as well as star players, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez. ESPN even went as far as to say that Miguel Cabrera is the Babe Ruth of our generation, in a tweet after Cabrera’s three home run performance Sunday night. While I strongly disagree with that statement, I do agree that Cabrera is one of the best hitters the game has ever seen.
Therefore, although there’s still a lot of the season left, in which anything can happen, Miguel Cabrera is a player you need to be keeping an eye on. Regardless of if he wins his second straight Triple Crown award, you’re watching a player that will inevitably go down as one of the games all-time greats, once all is said and done. That alone is reason enough to take the time to appreciate just how good Miguel Cabrera is while he’s still around.
With Spring Training a month away–putting the 2013 regular season at just under 3 months away–I thought I’d take the time to type up a blog post covering six all-time MLB career records (3 hitting, 3 pitching) and whether or not I believe there are any active players that have a shot at eventually breaking the records, sometime down the line, many seasons from now.
Keep in mind, this is all purely speculative. I have no way of knowing how long a particular player will play, whether or not they’ll remain healthy throughout their entire career, or whether they can keep on producing the kind of stats they’ve shown, and I feel, they’re capable of. Each of those three elements are extremely crucial when it comes to a player being able to break any of the following records:
All-Time Record for career Hits: 4,256 (Pete Rose)
Closest: Derek Jeter, with 3,304 career hits, is currently the closest active player to Pete Rose’s mark of 4,256.
Best Chance: Derek Jeter, sitting 952 hits back of Pete Rose, stands the best chance of breaking Rose’s record, in my mind, of any other player currently in the majors. What it’s going to come down to for Jeter is how healthy he can stay, and subsequently, how many more years he can play. If he can play as long as Rose did–up until age 45–I see Jeter passing Rose fairly easily, as that gives him another seven seasons to rack up hits, and even if he starts to slump downward, and begins to collect only 140 hits a season, he would still end his career with a total of 4,284 hits. Though, with Jeter being a team player, and not focusing on personal stats, I’m not sure I can picture him playing long enough to get the job done.
Worth Watching: While it’s still far too early to be making any long shot predictions, Starlin Castro is one of the main players worth keeping an eye on in the many years to come. Castro will be a mere 23 years old when the 2013 season commences and has already collected 529 career hits. If he can play into his early 40’s, and keep pace with the electric start to his career, he could be nearing Rose’s (possibly Jeter’s by then?) record for career hits a couple decades down the road.
All-Time Record for career Homeruns: 762 (Barry Bonds)
Closest: Alex Rodriguez, with 647 career home runs, is currently the closest active player to Barry Bonds’ mark of 762.
Best Chance: Alex Rodriguez, sitting 115 homers back of Barry Bonds, is the closest of any current player to Barry Bonds’ record for homers, however, I don’t feel he has a very good chance at passing Bonds. With his injury tendency, and age, I don’t see A-rod getting too far past 700, if he gets there at all. Albert Pujols on the other hand, with 475 career home runs, stands a slightly better chance, in my opinion, than A-rod. Though, I feel he could end up sharing in the same fate as Rodriguez; coming up just short of 762. At age 33, even if Pujols played until age 40, and could keep up his career constant of 30 home runs a season, he would end his career with only 685 home runs. Still 77 back of Bonds.
Worth Watching: It’s still early into his career, but Giancarlo Stanton (age 23) is a player worth watching in the coming years, as he continues to add to his current total of 93 career home runs. I found it interesting when I discovered that Albert Pujols (71), Hank Aaron (63), Barry Bonds (41) nor Babe Ruth (9) had as many home runs as Stanton, going into their age 23 season. That’s impressive. While I’m by no means comparing Stanton to Babe Ruth (just yet) I’m simply saying that if Stanton can go on a run of blasting 40+ homers a season, for the next few seasons, I could see him coming up extremely close to the record that Bonds currently holds, if he doesn’t in fact break it.
All-Time Record for career RBI’s: 2,297 (Hank Aaron)
Closest: Alex Rodriguez, with 1,950 RBI’s, is currently the closest active player to Hank Aaron’s mark of 2,297.
Best Chance: Alex Rodriguez is currently the closest player to the record for RBI’s, however, just as with career home runs, his health is going to bring him up just short of the record. Also as with the home run category, the next closest in line behind A-rod is Albert Pujols, who currently has 1,434 career RBI’s. While Pujols has been able to drive in no fewer than 100 runs in every one of his 12 career seasons thus far–with the exception being 2011, when he only drove in 99 runs–I don’t see him having enough 100 RBI seasons left to break the record. As it stands now, Pujols is 863 RBI’s back of Aaron, meaning it would take just over eight more seasons of 100+ RBI’s to pass him.
Worth Watching: Miguel Cabrera, currently with 1,123 career RBI’s, is a player worth watching moving forward, if you weren’t already. At age 29, Cabrera could have another 11 seasons ahead of him, and if he can accumulate around 100 RBI’s a season, he could end up passing Aaron for RBI’s, around a decade from now. Although 100+ RBI’s a season, for 11 season, will be difficult (if not impossible) to do, as he gets older, if anyone can do it, I imagine the 2012 Triple Crown winner can.
All-Time Record for career Strikeouts: 5,714 (Nolan Ryan)
Closest: Andy Pettitte, with 2,320 strikeouts, is currently the closest active player to Nolan Ryan’s mark of 5,714.
Best Chance: I’m not even going to waste time talking about this record. No active player–or future player for that matter–stands a chance at breaking Nolan Ryan’s all-time record of 5,714 strikeouts. While Andy Pettitte is the closest active player, he’s still 3,394 strikeouts away from Ryan; truly showing just how hard it is to do what Nolan Ryan was able to accomplish.
Worth Watching: Though it’s likely that no player will ever surpass Ryan for career strikeouts, the player most worth watching, in my mind, is Felix Hernandez. Hernandez is only 26 years old, and has already amassed 1,487 career strikeouts. If he can continue to pitch up until age 40–14 more seasons of 200+ strikeouts–he stands a good chance of ending his career with over 4,000 strikeouts. Still nearly 2,000 shy of Ryan’s record, but impressive nonetheless, as only four players in the history of baseball have been able to accumulate 4,000 strikeouts or more.
All-Time Record for career ERA: 1.82 (Ed Walsh)
Closest: Mariano Rivera, with an ERA of 2.21, is currently the closest active player to Ed Walsh’s mark of 1.82.
Best Chance: The way pitching works nowadays, I don’t think it’s possible for a pitcher to end with a career ERA below 2.00; at least for a starting pitcher, that is. Evidence of that being that Mariano Rivera is the only active player in all of Major League Baseball with a career ERA below 3.00; and thus falls into the category of ‘best chance’ of breaking the record. But not even Rivera, with his 2.21 ERA, has a chance at a career ERA below 2.00. As even if he doesn’t allow a single earned run in this his (more than likely) final season, his career ERA would still stand above 2.00, at 2.11.
Worth Watching: There really aren’t any pitchers worth watching. I’d say Walsh’s record is fairly safe. As stated, no current player in the majors has a career ERA below 3.00, so as it stands, no active player has a shot at a career ERA below 2.00.
All-Time Record for career Wins: 511 (Cy Young)
Closest: Andy Pettitte, with 245 wins, is currently the closest active player to Cy Young’s mark of 511 wins.
Best Chance: Andy Pettite is the closest of any player to Cy Young’s mark of 511 career wins, but even so, he sits 266 wins back. Thus, let’s face it: There is never going to be another 500-game winning pitcher, as pitching isn’t gone about the same way as it was back then. As such, I find it more of a fair comparison to match today’s players up against a guy like Greg Maddux, who ended his career with 355 wins. Of those, C.C. Sabathia, age 32, stands the best shot, in my mind, of reaching the 300 win plateau. Currently with 191 career wins, if Sabathia can pitch another 8 seasons, and rack up 14+ wins a season, he should get there without a problem; as keeping with my logic, he would end his career with at least 303 wins.
Worth Watching: While there are never going to be any more 500-game winning pitchers, the current pitcher (besides Sabathia) worth keeping an eye on, for the possibility of reaching 300 career wins, is Justin Verlander. Verlander, age 29, doesn’t stand an extremely good chance, in my opinion, of reaching 300 wins, as although he’s still fairly young, he only has 124 career wins. Therefore, it would take 11 straight seasons of 16+ wins to reach the 300 win mark. Not very likely, but then again, it’s Justin Verlander. I wouldn’t put anything past him.
What do you think? Does any (active or future) player stand a chance at breaking any of the six all-time records listed above? Leave a comment with your thoughts.
With the 2013 Hall of Fame class set to be announced tomorrow at Noon, on MLB Network, I thought it would be fun to post a blog entry on all of the Hall of Fame players I’ve ever seen in person. If my memory serves me correctly, I’ve only encountered a total of nine members of the baseball Hall of Fame. Furthermore–an interesting point to make–every HOF encounter I can recall ever having has taken place within the past seven months.
I might be forgetting a player I saw in one of the earlier years of my life, but I’m fairly sure that the following are the only HOF players I’ve been lucky enough to see in person:
JOHNNY BENCH-JOE MORGAN
Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan were the first two members of the Hall of Fame that I can recall seeing. Admittedly, I was around 100 feet away from them, but it still counts, as we were all in the same live scenario at the same time. This particular interaction came on June 23, 2012, in Cincinnati, Ohio. (If you’d like to read all about the entire day–where I actually got to shake hands, and take pictures, with several Reds’ HOF’ers–feel free to check it out HERE.)
Basically, as far as Bench’s and Morgan’s purpose goes for being in ‘Cincy’, Sean Casey and Dan Driessen were at Great American Ballpark with the sole purpose being that they were getting officially inducted into the Cincinnati Reds’ Hall of Fame. The Reds decided to bring back a couple dozen members of their HOF, and Morgan and Bench happened to be two of the players they brought out to the ballpark:
I realize it’s not the most flattering picture, but it’s the only one I took of the two of them together. In case you can’t tell, Johnny Bench is the one in the white shirt, putting on his jacket, and Joe Morgan is the one just to the left of him; also putting on his jacket.
The next six Hall of Fame encounters I’ve had came while on a trip out to Kansas City, Missouri, to the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby:
CAL RIPKEN JR.-TONY GWYNN
I ran into Cal Ripken Jr. at around 6:30 in the morning, on July 9, 2012, shortly after chatting with Ryan Howard. Ripken was surrounded by several media members at the time and was having a conversation with Manny Machado:
I could’ve (and should’ve) waited until Ripken was finished doing was he was doing and approached him to ask for an autograph, but, in addition to it being early in the morning–with me still being half asleep–I regretfully neglected to take a ball card of Ripken out to Kansas City. I still kick myself about it, but you can’t go back in time. Perhaps I’ll run into Ripken again sometime down the road, but if not, at least I’ll always have the memory of our encounter.
My Tony Gwynn sighting came just a few hours later, only a couple hundred feet away from where my Cal Ripken Jr. encounter had occurred. Gwynn was set to sign autographs for an endless line of fans–many of which had been in line for a couple of hours–and I, in anticipation of his arrival, positioned myself off to the side of the crowd, as I waited for Gwynn. I ended up standing there for what seemed like forever, as Gwynn didn’t show up until 45 minutes after his scheduled appearance time. I was tempted to leave about 30 minutes into the wait, but I’m glad I didn’t. The extra 15 minutes of patience allowed me to be able to add another HOF’er to the list, as well as get a picture:
BARRY LARKIN-REGGIE JACKSON-HANK AARON-GEORGE BRETT
Barry Larkin would be the next Hall of Famer I would come across while out in Kansas City. Just to the right of where I took in most of the All-Star workout day’s batting practice, Larkin was hard at work, as an episode of ‘Baseball Tonight’ was being filmed. There’s not much more I can say about my Larkin sighting, so I’ll go ahead and leave you with a photo:
Reggie Jackson has the most interesting story (in my mind) of any other HOF player I’ve ever seen in person. My first (notice I said *first*) sighting of Jackson came shortly before the start of the home run derby, when he made his way out onto the field to throw out the first pitch:
It was great to see such a great player–one of only four to ever hit three home runs in a World Series game–in person, but little did I know, at the time, that this story would only get better from there. The next morning, I was sitting in the Kansas City airport terminal, when who walks by? Reggie Jackson. That’s right, Mr. October himself just so happened to be on the same flight (he was in first class) as I was. How cool is that?! It’ll be hard to ever top the encounter I had with Jackson out in KC, but you never know….
Jumping back to the day before I saw Jackson in the airport terminal–with it still being July 9th–the next Hall of Famer I spotted was Hank Aaron. It wasn’t the best sighting ever, as it took me at least 30 seconds to locate him, after he was shown on the center field jumbotron, and I ended up with only a 5 second, or so, sighting; leading to a blurry photo:
Aaron is arguably the best player I saw out in Kansas City; perhaps the best of all the HOF’ers I’ve ever seen in person.
The last HOF encounter I had, on my trip to Kansas City, was George Brett. I first spotted Brett down by the field when he made his was to the broadcasting table to do an interview/play-by-play type thing, during a portion of the derby. Brett wasn’t out for long, thus I don’t have anything all that interesting to talk about, but he was, however, out in the open long enough for me to take a photo:
The most recent story I have of a face-to-face encounter with me and a Hall of Fame member occurred on July 18, 2012, in Durham, North Carolina. The Lehigh Valley Ironpigs were in town taking on the Durham Bulls and Sandberg just so happened to be managing the visiting Ironpigs. Unlike the eight HOF’ers I had seen before, I was actually successful in getting an autograph from Sandberg–two if you want to be technical:
The autographs I was able to get from Ryne Sandberg. (The Sharpie was running out.)
It was easier than I thought it would be, as I found it unusually simple to work my way down by the dugout, and to my surprise, Sandberg signed for nearly ten minutes; so that certainly helped out as well. I forgot to bring along my camera to this particular game, so you’ll have to take my word for it that I met Sandberg. (I suppose the above autographs are proof enough.)
So there you have it. Those are the nine Hall of Famers that I can remember seeing in person. If Mark McGwire, Bernie Williams and/or Sandy Alomar end up having their names called tomorrow, when the 2013 Hall of Fame voting results are announced, I can add anywhere from one to three more names to the list, as I’ve seen all three players before.
I have a feeling, however, that I’ll be stuck at nine players until at least the 2014 vote.
How many MLB Hall of Famers have you seen in person? I’d love to hear your answer, with the story behind it (if there is one), in the comments section below.