Results tagged ‘ Dave Winfield ’
Former Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield is among four Hall of Fame players who will make up the inaugural class of the Negro Leagues Baseball Hall of Game. Lou Brock, Joe Morgan and the late Roberto Clemente will also be honored Saturday in induction ceremonies at the Negro League Baseball Museum and Gem Theater in Kansas City, Mo.
The day-long festivities include a press conference, VIP meet-and-greet, reception and dinner at the NLBM — followed by the Hall of Game inductions at the Gem Theater at 8 p.m.
The Hall of Game will annually honor former major league players who best exemplified the spirit and signature style of play that made Negro Leagues baseball a fan favorite. Inductees will also receive permanent recognition as part of the future Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center being developed by the NLBM at the site of the Paseo YMCA where Andrew “Rube” Foster established the Negro National League Feb. 13, 1920.
“This is truly a historic and proud day as we continue our efforts to celebrate the heritage of baseball,” NLBM president Bob Kendrick said. “The Hall of Game celebrates both the style and substance of the Negro Leagues which represented professional baseball at its absolute finest. Our inaugural class of Major League inductees were all, in their unique ways, connected to the Negro Leagues experience. Their play was reflective and reminiscent of that common thread and we’re delighted to welcome them into the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.”
In 2008, Winfield developed the Major League Baseball honorary draft of Negro League players by all 30 MLB teams. “It was a bridge between baseball’s past and baseball’s present,” said Winfield, who had 465 home runs among his 3,110 career hits over 22 seasons. “For all the surviving players and everyone involved, it was a wonderful day.”
David Robertson will represent the Yankees as one of the 30 club finalists for the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet, which recognizes a major league player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.
The Clemente Award pays tribute to his achievements and character by recognizing current players who understand the value of helping others. The 15-time All-Star and Hall of Famer died in a plane crash New Year’s Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
David and his wife, Erin founded High Socks for Hope (a 501c3 nonprofit corporation) after tornadoes devastated his hometown of Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 2011. High Socks for Hope’s mission is to lend support to charities and organizations helping those affected by tragedies and provide humanitarian services for individuals in need.
In addition to helping residents of Tuscaloosa, High Socks for Hope has provided aid to those affected by the May 20, 2013, tornado in Moore, Okla., as well as individuals in New York who were affected by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. To help raise money for those in Tuscaloosa, Robertson donated $100 for every strikeout he recorded throughout the 2011-2012 seasons. The righthander racked up 181 strikeouts over the stretch. He has continued his pledge in the 2013 season for the residents of Moore.
In June of this year, the Robertsons teamed up with volunteers from NBTY Helping Hands to help welcome home families displaced by Hurricane Sandy. The Robertsons delivered and unloaded new furniture for four families in Far Rockaway, Queens, and made an additional donation to help furnish homes for six other families in the Far Rockaway area.
The Yankees will recognize D-Rob’s nomination for this year’s Clemente Award with an on-field ceremony Friday prior to their 7:05 p.m. game against the Giants.
Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 17, fans may participate in the process of selecting the national Roberto Clemente Award winner by visiting ChevyBaseball.com, which is powered by MLB Advanced Media, to vote for one of the 30 club nominees. Voting ends Sunday, Oct. 6, and participating fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the 2013 World Series, where the national winner of the Roberto Clemente Award will be announced. The winner of the fan vote will receive one vote among those cast by the selection panel.
Yankees players who have received the Clemente Award were Ron Guidry in 1984, Don Baylor in 1985 and Derek Jeter in 2009. Others who played for the Yankees but won the award while with other clubs were Phil Niekro with the Braves in 1980, Dave Winfield with the Twins in 1994 and Al Leiter with the Mets in 2000. Leiter’s broadcast partner in the YES Network booth, Ken Singleton, won the award in 1982 with the Orioles.
Among the other winners are Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Brooks Robinson, Al Kaline, Willie Stargell, Lou Brock, Rod Carew, Gary Carter, Cal Ripken Jr., Barry Larkin, Ozzie Smith, Kirby Puckett and Tony Gwynn. Last year’s winner was Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw.
I saw something Thursday that I never saw before nor ever expected to see – Derek Jeter not running hard to first base. Jeter is on my list of players I have covered over the years who always – always – gave it their all running down the line, right up there with Pete Rose, Dave Winfield and Mookie Wilson.
So when I saw Jeet jogging the final third of the way to first base in the sixth inning I figured something was up. When Yankees manager Joe Girardi sent Brett Gardner up as a pinch hitter for Jeter in the eighth, my suspicions were confirmed. After the game, Suzyn Waldman of WCBS Radio and Meredith Marakovits of the YES Network were informed that Jeter would be unavailable for an on-field, postgame interview.
The warm and fuzzy feeling brought on by Jeter’s return to the Bronx Thursday turned gloomy when it was learned that in his first game back with the Yankees in 2013 Jeter felt tightness in his right quadriceps. Actually, the muscle tightened up slightly in his previous at-bat when he also tried to beat out a ground ball.
The Captain did that all game. He was not at shortstop but as the designated hitter as Girardi decided to ease Jeter back into the mix. DJ beat out an infield single in his first at-bat to the absolute delight of the Yankee Stadium crowd of 40,381 and grounded out his other three times up. On the last one, the quad wouldn’t allow him to go full throttle, which is as rare a sight as there can be in the major leagues.
Of course, Jeter considered the situation minor and fully expects to be back in the lineup Friday night against the Twins.
“It’s not frustrating yet,” he said. “We’ll see what the tests say. I hope it’s not a big deal.”
We have been down the road with Jeter before on these matters. He played much of the 2012 postseason on a weak left ankle that eventually gave way and shattered to knock him out of the American League Championship Series against the Tigers. While on the rehabilitation trail, the ankle broke in another spot pushing his recovery back toward the All-Star break, which is next week.
Jeter is back in pinstripes earlier than planned although later than he wanted. He could have done without the at-bats in the minors but acknowledged, “I understand you have to play games, but I felt that I was ready.”
The original plan was for Jeter to come back to the Yankees and play Friday night after another game as a DH for Triple A Scranton. Jeter was surprised when he returned a call from general manager Brian Cashman telling him to come to New York for Thursday’s game.
Leg injuries to Gardner and Travis Hafner Wednesday night had left the Yankees short. Jeter reached his Manhattan apartment at around 2:30 a.m., got to sleep at around 4, woke up at 6:30 and could not get back to sleep so he decided to get up and go to the Stadium early.
“No disrespect to rehab assignments, but this is Yankee Stadium,” Jeter said. “There’s a huge difference. For me, it was almost like Opening Day. The fans gave me a nice ovation.”
No one in the Stadium could hear the tape of the late Bob Sheppard announcing Jeter as he strode to the plate in the first inning because of the crowd’s reaction. The plate appearance allowed Jeter to tie teammate Mariano Rivera for the most seasons played (19) with the Yankees.
“I thought about that first at-bat ever since I got hurt,” Jeter said, “and I knew I was going to swing at the first pitch.”
Which he did; he hit a topper down the third base line and beat it out for his first hit of the year. He showed no leg problems running to third on a single by Robinson Cano and had a nice trot to the plate on Vernon Wells’ scoring fly ball. On that other trot in the sixth, Jeet was credited with a run batted in as Luis Cruz scored from third base. It was a nice beginning for Jeter, who got his first hit, first run and first RBI out of the way all in the same game.
Perhaps it was just an illusion, but all the Yankees seemed to have more spring in their step with the Captain back. They overcame deficits of 3-0 and 4-1 to take an 8-4 decision and earn a split of the four-game set with the Royals, which is meaningful after having lost the first two games. Three straight two-out singles by Lyle Overbay, Zoilo Almonte and Eduardo Nunez produced four runs in the fifth as the Yankees took control of the game.
The winning decision went to Andy Petttitte (6-5), who passed Bob Gibson on the all-time list of pitching victories with 252. It was not vintage Pettitte, who made an error on a bunt play and had his outfielders working overtime running down long drives. The way the offense has struggled so much of the season, three-run deficits can seem enormous to the Yankees, but Pettitte and the bullpen held KC scoreless after the second inning and waited for the hitters to take their cue from Jeter.
Now it is a matter of waiting for the test results to determine the severity of Jeter’s condition. At 39, the healing process can have more delays, which Jeter understands if reluctantly.
“Age doesn’t creep into my mind when I’m playing,” he said. “Maybe in the morning. . .”
So we wait for Friday morning and hope Thursday wasn’t too good to be true.
I remember the first time I walked out on the field at Citi Field the year it opened in 2009 and looked at the left field wall and thought what a mistake the Mets made. Instead of an eight-foot high fence such as the one at old Shea Stadium, the same area at Citi Field had a 16-foot wall that resembled the old San Diego Stadium, later known as Jack Murphy Stadium and Qualcomm Stadium.
Whatever name the San Diego yard had, it was a lousy idea to have such a wall around the outfield because it took away the possibility of an outfielder making a home run-robbing catch. I remember Dave Winfield making a fence-climbing grab in left field at Yankee Stadium during a playoff game in 1981 and telling me afterwards, “I couldn’t have done that in San Diego.”
In the same vein, one of the Mets’ greatest postseason moments at Shea could not have occurred at Citi Field in its first three seasons. Left fielder Endy Chavez’s leaping, glove-extending grab of a drive by Scott Rolen denied the Cardinals third baseman a two-run home run in the sixth inning of Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series.
I covered that game for MLB.com and recall writing a story that rated Chavez’s play with those of other New York outfielders in postseason play, such as the World Series catches by the Dodgers’ Al Gionfriddo off the Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio in 1947, the Giants’ Willie Mays off the Indians’ Vic Wertz in 1954, the Dodgers’ Sandy Amoros off the Yankees’ Yogi Berra in 1955, the Yankees’ Mickey Mantle off the Dodgers’ Gil Hodges in 1956, the two beauties by the Mets’ Tommie Agee off the Orioles’ Elrod Hendricks and Paul Blair in 1969 and the Yankees’ Paul O’Neill’s hamstring-straining, game-ending rundown of a drive by the Braves’ Luis Polonia in 1996.
Although the Mets eventually lost the game and the series, Chavez’s catch has been defined as the greatest defensive play in Shea’s history, with only Ron Swoboda’s belly-flop snaring of a Brooks Robinson liner in Game 4 of the 1969 World Series qualifying as a rival, another play to which I referred in the 2006 NLCS story.
All of this came to mind Monday night when Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner took away a potential two-run home run by Daniel Murphy in the sixth inning that preserved at the time a 1-0 lead for the Bombers. Gardner was able to make such a smashing play because the Mets had the good sense to change the dimensions prior to the 2012 season.
Part of the reason for the change was that Mets right-handed hitters, particularly David Wright, the face of the franchise, were getting psyched out by the unfriendly distances. Wright and his pals would continually watch well-struck drives turn into 400-foot outs. But the best part may have been the erection of an eight-foot fence in front of the previous one. It created a party deck that has been a featured seating section and has allowed the outfielders to have a chance to act like Jesse James once in a while.
“Thank goodness it’s a part of the park where it’s a fence, not a wall,” Gardner said after the game. “The poles out there have got some pretty good pads in front of them, so I’m fine. It wouldn’t be as difficult if I was a little taller [5-foot-10]. You’ve just got to hope that you’re able to get a good clean jump. You want to get back there close to the fence as possible, but you don’t want to run into the fence or hit the fence on the way up. I was able to time it just right.”
It was a gem of a play, one that pitcher Phil Hughes called the best catch he ever saw from the mound. It certainly was reminiscent of the play Chavez made. Unfortunately for the Yankees, it was also similar to Chavez’s play in that the opposition came back to win the game.
Former Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield is among five Hall of Famers who will help select the design of a coin destined to become a favorite of baseball fans and coin collectors for generations to come.
Winfield was joined by Joe Morgan, Brooks Robinson, Ozzie Smith and Don Sutton on the panel selected by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and the United States Mint to help choose the image for the obverse (heads side) of the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin.
The design competition, which began April 11 and runs through noon May 11, is open to United States citizens and permanent residents ages 14 and older. The winner of the design competition will be awarded $5,000 and the winner’s initials will appear on the minted coins.
“This is a Hall of Fame lineup that’s sure to produce a winner,” Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said. “Our Hall of Fame members show year-round support for our efforts to fulfill our mission to Preserve History, Honor Excellence and Connect Generations, and this is yet another example of the legends of the game stepping to the plate for the Museum. We are so appreciative of the efforts of Joe, Brooks, Ozzie, Don and Dave – and we all look forward to the final design selection.”
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Richard Hanna (R-NY) sponsored the National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2012. The Coin Act calls for a three-coin program of $5 gold, $1 silver, and half-dollar clad coins, and requires a competition to select a common obverse design emblematic of the game of baseball.
“The Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin creates a lasting legacy for baseball and our national pastime,” Winfield said. “It is an honor for me to be a judge in this competition, to review submissions and help select the winning design that will appear on these coins. This program will ensure that the Hall of Fame can reach new audiences through its award-winning educational programs from Cooperstown for audiences around the world.”
In addition, the $5 gold and $1 silver coins will be the first “curved” coins minted and issued by the United States Mint, with the reverses (tail sides) being convex to more closely resemble a baseball and the obverses being concave to provide a more dramatic design. The winning obverse design will be unveiled later this year.
Guidelines for submitting designs include:
• The obverse design must be “emblematic of the game of baseball” and must include the inscriptions “Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” and “2014.”
• Two-dimensional designs must be monochrome, not color, and three-dimensional models must be made using neutral plaster or a durable plastic material and should be approximately 8” in diameter.
• Designs must not include the name or depiction of a real player or any other person, living or not.
• Designs must not include depictions, names, emblems, logos, trademarks or any other indicia associated with any specific commercial, private, educational, civic, religious, sports, or other organizations whose membership or ownership is not universal, including any current or former baseball team, either professional or amateur.
• Designs must not include any depiction of a real baseball stadium, field, arena, either in whole or in part, whether or not currently existing or in use.
• Employees of the Department of the Treasury, including the United States Mint and other Treasury offices and bureaus, are ineligible.
A Kids’ Baseball Coin Design Challenge for children ages 13 and younger is also being held separately through May 23. Winners of the Kids’ Baseball Coin Design Challenge for children ages 13 and under will receive a $1 silver National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin and a certificate. The winning children’s designs will also be showcased on the Department of the Treasury, United States Mint and National Baseball Hall of Fame websites. The Kids’ Baseball Coin Design Challenge is hosted on Challenge.gov. For more information, please visit http://www.usmint.gov/kids/kidsbatterup.
For both the design competition and the kids’ challenge, the United States Mint will be working with the U.S. Government website, http://www.challenge.gov. For guidelines, rules and entry instructions, please visit http://www.baseballhall.org/coin-design and http://www.usmint.gov.
Not to be flippant about it, but the Yankees saved their worst for last. Their season ended with a thud Thursday as Detroit completed a four-game sweep of the American League Championship Series with a convincing 8-1 victory. It marked the second consecutive season that the Tigers eliminated the Yankees from the postseason, becoming the first team to do that since the New York Giants in the World Series of 1921 and 1922. A year later, the Yankees won the first of their 27 championships, so maybe this will be a good omen.
Nothing feels good to the Yankees now. Getting swept in a postseason series is something the franchise is not used to. It had not happened to the Yankees since the 1980 ALCS when they lost in three games to the Royals back when the series was still a best-of-5. The Yankees had played 36 postseason series without getting swept before Thursday.
It is not at all that difficult to analyze what went wrong for the Yankees. They simply did not hit. They scored in only three of the 39 innings of the series and only six runs total. They never had the lead for a single inning in the series, something that happened to them only once before, in the 1963 World Series when they were swept by the Dodgers.
Actually, the Yankees’ offense was pretty scarce throughout the postseason, but they were picked up by their pitching staff. The remarkable work of the rotation also ended Thursday as CC Sabathia, who got the Yanks into the ALCS with a complete-game triumph over the Orioles in Game 5 of the AL Division Series, came apart.
But what the Yankees needed more than a big game from CC Thursday was a big game from the lineup. Nick Swisher came up with his first run-scoring hit with a runner in scoring position in this postseason with a double in the sixth inning, but that was it as the team that set a franchise record with 245 home runs this year continued to falter in the postseason. A team that averaged 1.5 home runs per game during the regular season had only seven home runs in nine postseason games.
Raul Ibanez supplied most of the muscle with three dramatic home runs, but the Yankees got no homers from their usual sluggers – Swisher, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano. It was not just a power outage, either. The Yankees’ team batting average was .157 in the ALCS and .188 overall in the postseason.
Ibanez’s heroics pinch hitting for Rodriguez in Game 4 of the ALDS unfortunately created a media circus around A-Rod, who had been rendered helpless against right-handed pitching in postseason play (0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts) and was benched in the final game of the ALDS and the last two games of the ALCS. Rodriguez has taken the blunt of the blame for the Yanks’ ouster, which is unfair.
He was part of the problem but by no means all of it. Eric Chavez, who replaced Rodriguez at third base, was hitless in 16 at-bats and made two costly errors in the ALCS. Curtis Granderson, who hit 43 home runs during the regular season, homered in Game 5 of the ALDS but was 0-for-11 in the ALCS. He had only two hits other than the home runs in 30 postseason at-bats and struck out 16 times. Swisher hit .167 with 10 strikeouts.
Then there was the strange case of Cano, who endured one of the cruelest postseasons for a New York player that brought to mind the struggles of Yankees right fielder Dave Winfield (1-for-22 in the 1981 World Series) and Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges (0-for-21 in the 1952 World Series).
Cano entered the postseason as the hottest hitter in baseball with a streak of nine multi-hit games in which he went 24-for-39, a .615 tear. The All-Star second baseman managed only three hits in 40 postseason at-bats (.075), including 1-for-18 (.056) against Detroit pitching. Cano went 29 at-bats without a hit over one stretch, the longest postseason drought in club history, which covers a lot of ground. This was the Yankees’ 51st postseason covering 73 series.
As it turned out, 2012 was a season in which the Yankees peaked too soon. They were running away with the AL East by mid-July with a double-digit lead and then had to fight and claw to finish in first place at season’s end. The same Baltimore team that hounded them in the regular season pushed them to the full five games of the ALDS. A talented Detroit staff headed by the game’s most talent pitcher, Justin Verlander, kept the Yankees’ bat silenced.
Now silence is all there is left of the Yankees’ season.
For the second time this homestand, Mark Teixeira’s hustle helped the Yankees build a run. The first baseman, not known for his foot speed, hit into the over-shift the Mariners were employing against him, but second baseman Kyle Seager was so deep in right field that Tex has a chance to beat the play at first, which he did for a single as Derek Jeter scored the tying run from third.
Against the Red Sox in the Yankees’ first game of the homestand, Teixeira busted down the line to avoid grounding into an inning-ending double play and kept the inning alive for Raul Ibanez, who followed with a two-run home run. In that case, Tex’s hustle resulted in three runs for the Yankees. No one ever tires of watching players go all-out on the field.
Dave Winfield was the best I ever saw in that regard. The big guy was always in full-throttle mode. He agreed with Joe DiMaggio’s philosophy that somebody in the stands might be seeing him for the first time and he didn’t want that person to think he loafed. Jeter, who grew up a big Winfield fan, is the same way. It was nice to hear Angels rookie center fielder Mike Trout make that point about Jeter last month.
It is a quality that should rub off on more players.
Curtis Granderson received the Heart and Hustle Award from another Yankees center fielder, Mickey Rivers, before Tuesday night’s game at Yankee Stadium. Granderson, the Yankees’ current center fielder, is the team’s representative for the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association’s annual award to honor active player who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game.
The MLBPAA formed 30 committees comprised of alumni players with established relationships to each club. One player from each major league team is chosen by the committees based on the passion, desire and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field. As the season draws to a close, fans, all alumni and active players will vote to select the final winner from the 30 team winners.
Previous overall winners were Craig Biggio in 2006 and ’07, Grady Sizemore in 2008, Albert Pujols in 2009, Roy Halladay in 2010 and Torii Hunter in 2011.
The final winner for 2012 will be announced Tuesday, Nov. 13, at the 13th annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York. The event is the primary fundraiser for the series of free Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics, which impact more than 10,000 children each year. Two of my favorite people in the game, Dave Winfield and Rusty Staub, will be honored at this year’s dinner. To purchase tickets for the event, visit http://ow.ly/ch395.
Ichiro Suzuki got right into the swing of things for the Yankees Monday night. Accorded a standing ovation from grateful Mariners fans when he came to bat for the first time as a Yankee in the second inning at Safeco Field, Ichiro lashed a single to center field. Soon after that, he stole second base.
Speed has been an element largely lacking in the Yankees’ offense since mid April when Brett Gardner went on the disabled list because of a wrist injury. Gardner being lost for the rest of the season following surgery prompted Yankees general manager Brian Cashman to make the move for Ichiro. If he proves to have plenty of life left in those 38-year-old legs, Suzuki can be a major addition to the Yankees.
Ichiro wore uniform No. 51 for 12 seasons with the Mariners but recognized that the number is identified strongly with Bernie Williams on the Yankees. The number is not retired, but it has not been given to another player since Williams departed after the 2006 season. Suzuki has chosen to wear No. 31 with the Yankees. Probably the former Yankee mostly associated with that number is Hall of Famer Dave Winfield.
This is the second time a former Mariners player who wore No. 51 in Seattle could not get the number after being traded to the Yankees. The other was pitcher Randy Johnson. Williams was still playing for the Yankees when the Big Unit pitched for them in 2005 and ’06 and had to wear No. 41 instead.
With Ichiro joining Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees are the first team to have three players with more than 2,500 hits since 1928 when the Philadelphia Athletics had Eddie Collins, Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker. The year before that, the A’s had Collins, Cobb and Zack Wheat.
Despite all the attention focused on Suzuki Monday night, it was another Japanese-born Yankee who grabbed the spotlight. Hiroki Kuroda tamed the Mariners on one run, three hits and one walk with nine strikeouts in seven innings to win his fourth straight decision. The righthander over his past 11 starts is 7-1 with a 2.49 ERA in 76 innings to lower his season ERA from 4.56 to 3.34.
The Yankees’ 4-1 victory over the Mariners and Kevin Millwood ended the four-game losing streak from Oakland. The Yanks were more like themselves with 11 hits, including A-Rod’s 15th home run of the season and career No. 644. Rodriguez also doubled. Mark Teixeira had two doubles and a single and drove in a run. The other runs were driven home by Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Former Yankees managers Lou Piniella and Joe Torre were among the baseball people who came to the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Induction Weekend. I kidded them that they must be rehearsing for when their time comes for induction. In another two years, both will likely be on the Veterans Committee’s ballot from the Expansion Era for their careers as managers.
Lou was here for both of Sunday’s inductees, Barry Larkin and the late Ron Santo. Larkin was the shortstop on Piniella’s Reds team that won the 1990 World Series in a sweep of the Athletics. During his time as manager of the Cubs, Piniella also became a friend of Santo, the former third baseman who later was a fixture at Wrigley Field as a broadcaster.
Santo died last year, and his widow, Vicki, gave a moving acceptance speech. How she got through it without breaking down was amazing to me. She painted a brilliant picture of the man who was as identified with the Cubs as former teammates Ernie Banks and Billy Williams, who were on hand for the ceremony. They were among the 45 Hall of Famers who attended the ceremony, including Yankees favorites Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Dave Winfield, Phil Niekro and Rickey Henderson.
Larkin told a story about how Piniella addressed the Reds in 1990 before the start of spring training and explained to them that he did not like losing and that he did not intend for this team to lose. Cincinnati won its first nine games that season and went wire to wire to win the National League West, the division the Reds were in before the NL Central was created with realignment in 1994. They defeated the Pirates in the NL Championship Series before sweeping the A’s in the World Series, so Lou kept his promise about not losing.
Larkin was that baseball rarity that played his entire career for his hometown team. I could think of only three other Hall of Famers who did that, and all were Yankees – Lou Gehrig, Phil Rizzuto and Whitey Ford. Gehrig grew up on the West Side of Manhattan, the Scooter in Brooklyn and Ford in the Queens neighborhood of Astoria, and each spent his entire playing career in the Bronx.
I remember when Paul O’Neill was traded to the Yankees from the Reds in 1993, and a lot of people said that he would have trouble playing in New York. O’Neill, who was also on that ’90 Reds team and like Larkin had grown up in Cincinnati, told me once that he never had any doubts that he would do well in New York. He was not unfamiliar with the city because his sister, Molly, then the food critic for the New York Times, lived there for many years.
“There was a lot more pressure on me playing for the Reds because it was my hometown,” Paulie said. “I never felt that kind of pressure in New York. The fans in New York welcomed me and got behind me early on. I enjoyed the New York experience a lot more than Cincinnati.”
Torre came up for Saturday’s program at Doubleday Field for former teammate Tim McCarver, who was honored with the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting alongside Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun as the J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner for baseball writing. Joe and Timmy were teammates with the Cardinals and have remained good friends over the years.
Among the people McCarver credited for his playing career, which covered four decades from 1959 through 1980, was Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey, a career Yankee. McCarver said that in those pre-draft years of the 1950s that he almost signed with the Yankees because he was so impressed by Dickey but wound up signing with the Cardinals.
“Bill Dickey gave me the greatest piece of advice I ever received for a catcher,” McCarver said. “He told me, ‘Be a pitcher’s friend.’ And I am happy to say that a couple of Hall of Famers who are up on this stage with me have been lifelong friends, Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton.”