Results tagged ‘ Rookie of the Year ’
Was that Brandon Allen who hit a home run in the third deck of right field at Yankee Stadium in the second inning Tuesday night, or Dick Allen?
Not too many balls have reached that level of the new Stadium since its opening in 2009. Mark Teixeira drove one up there last year, and regular Stadium basher Russell Branyan also parked one in that section. Brandon Allen joined the group with his blast off Bartolo Colon.
Dick Allen, who was both a Rookie of the Year (National League, 1964, with the Phillies) and a Most Valuable Player (American League, 1972, with the White Sox) was a masher of the first order in the 1960s and ‘70s. He hit 351 home runs, several of them in orbit. Dick Allen was a right-handed batter, however, so the chances of his hitting one into the upper deck in right field at the Stadium was pretty remote.
I recall that back in his era Allen was a player mentioned about having a chance to hit a fair ball out of the old Stadium along with Mickey Mantle, Harmon Killebrew and Frank Howard. No one ever did it.
Brandon Allen, a left-handed batter, came to Oakland on the July 31 trading deadline from Arizona in a deal for pitcher Brad Ziegler. Allen began the year in the minors and hit .172 in 11 games for the Diamondbacks before the trade. He entered Tuesday night’s game batting .379 in nine games, but this was his first home run for the A’s and fourth of the year and long enough to count for two.
Happy anniversary, Derek Jeter! The captain broke into the major leagues 16 years ago Sunday in the same city where the Yankees were – Seattle – but a different venue – the Kingdome, a far cry from the beauteous Safeco Field.
Jeter was called up from Triple A Columbus to fill in at shortstop while regular Tony Fernandez was on the disabled list. Not wanting to put too much pressure on the former first-round draft choice who was still a month away from his 21st birthday, then manager Buck Showalter batted Jeter ninth in the order.
DJ went hitless in five at-bats and handled both his chances in the field without incident in an 8-7, 12-inning loss. He got his first major-league hit the next night, a single in the fifth inning off Mariners righthander Tim Belcher.
Jeter played in 13 games and batted .234 with three doubles, one triple and seven RBI in 47 at-bats and committed two errors before returning to Triple A. He was a September call-up and got one more hit, a double, to finish with a .250 major-league average that season.
Jeter returned to Seattle when the Yankees made their first post-season appearance in 14 years in the first American League Division Series. He was not on the roster but was part of the traveling unit and got his first look at the post-season, a portion of the big-league season with which he has become especially familiar since his 1996 AL Rookie of the Year season in 1996.
Along the way, Jeter ended up setting franchise records in hits, stolen bases and at-bats and is on the verge of becoming the first player to get 3,000 hits while wearing a Yankees uniform. Before the year is out, he is likely to replace Mickey Mantle as the club leader in games played. The kid from Kalamazoo has come a long way since May 29, 1995.
On the 31st anniversary of Thurman Munson’s death in a small plane crash, discussion among Yankees fans often centers on why he is not in the Hall of Fame. The answer is simple. He was not elected. The question is: Why?
Munson is one of the strangest cases in Hall of Fame voting, which is conducted by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America of members with 10 or more consecutive years of coverage. On the face of it, his credentials are impressive. The hard-nosed catcher earned Rookie of the Year (1970) and Most Valuable Player (1976) honors from the BBWAA, drove in 100 or more runs three times, batted .300 five times, won three Gold Gloves, was named to seven All-Star teams and was one of the centerpieces of Yankees teams that won two World Series.
So what went wrong come election time? For one thing, his career was short. Munson played in 11 seasons and hit .292 with 113 home runs. Hall of Fame voters tend to lose for comparisons when voting. There was one obvious comparison for Munson, and that was Roy Campanella, the Brooklyn Dodgers catcher of the 1950s whose career was also shortened (to 10 years) because of a tragic auto accident that paralyzed him.
In his decade in the majors, Campy batted .276 with 242 home runs, played on five World Series teams (winning only once, in 1955), drove in more than 100 runs three times, hit .300 three times, was named to eight All-Star teams and was the National League MVP three times. The Gold Glove was not established until 1957, his last season, but he was acknowledged as one of the game’s best receivers and handlers of pitchers. The writers elected him to the Hall of Fame in 1969 in his fifth year of eligibility.
There does not seem to be much difference, does there? Well, there was one major difference between the two, and that was the matter of personality. Munson was popular with many of his teammates, from Bobby Murcer to Lou Piniella to Jim “Catfish” Hunter to Goose Gossage and beyond, but he was not as well liked by writers for the most part.
Munson had a prickly relationship with the press. He was gruff and impatient. Campanella, on the other hand, was one of the nicest human beings to grace a major-league clubhouse. Extremely popular with teammates and the press alike, Campy’s departure from the game left a definite void, and writers felt he was deserving of Hall recognition eventually.
Should how a player treats the press matter in Hall voting? No, and in most cases it doesn’t. Truth be told, Mickey Mantle wasn’t very sweet with writers during his career. Neither were Willie Mays or Hank Aaron or Warren Spahn or Frank Robinson. And BBWAA members could write encyclopedias about how nasty Eddie Murray was to them. Not everybody in baseball is Yogi Berra or Stan Musial or Ernie Banks. Yet the malicious ones were voted into the Hall by writers anyway, so it is not about that.
What did hurt Munson was that perhaps due to his standoffishness with the press he had no one or previous few championing his case other than Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, whose opinion was prejudiced to say the least. The Boss felt his players should have won every award for which they were candidates and berated voters if it didn’t happen, so his campaigning carried no weight.
Munson’s best vote total was his first year on the ballot, in 1981, when he received 62 votes for 15 percent. He never got more than 10 percent of the vote after that. Munson remained on the ballot the full 15 years, which is amazing considering that he annually gathered only 30 to 40 votes.
My own view is that Munson’s chance to make the Hall was hurt by his going on the ballot immediately. The five-year waiting rule that went into effect in the mid-1950s is waved in the case of players who die. When Roberto Clemente was killed in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve in 1972, there was a movement by writers to override the five-year wait and vote him in. A special election was held during spring training in 1973 and Clemente received 93 percent of the vote.
Clemente was a fairly obvious Hall of Fame choice, however, with 3,000 hits, an MVP Award, a World Series MVP and a dozen Gold Gloves, even though his relationship with the press was along the lines of Munson’s.
The five-year waiting period is a good rule. It allows perspective to become part of the equation in evaluating a player’s career. Campanella had to wait five years because he did not die. Munson went on the ballot too soon for his supporters’ good. Had writers been able to step back for five years and then look at his career, I feel that his chances would have been better.
Now Munson’s case falls to the Veterans Committee. As chairman of the BBWAA’s Historical Overview Committee which forms the Veterans Committee ballots, I can tell you that Munson get his day in court and just may make it one of these years.