Results tagged ‘ Barry Larkin ’

Reds salute Jeter with honored shortstops

Walt Jocketty, Derek Jeter, Todd Frazier
(USA Today photo)

The gifts keep coming for Derek Jeter. Normally the Captain has been honored by teams in his final trip to that particular city. Since the Yankees do not travel to Cincinnati this year (barring a Yanks-Reds World Series, that is), the Reds made a presentation to DJ before Saturday’s game at Yankee Stadium.

General manager Walt Jocketty and All-Star third baseman Todd Frazier, a New Jersey native, gave Jeter encased uniform jerseys of former Reds captains Dave Concepcion and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, autographed by both former shortstops.

Frazier was a member of the Toms River, N.J., team that won the Little League World Series in 1998. When the team was honored that year before a game at Yankee Stadium, Frazier, then 12, stood alongside Jeter at shortstop during the National Anthem.

Piniella, Torre pay respects at Hall of Fame

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.”

Yogi makes trip to Hall after all

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Yogi Berra is here after all.

Yogi was not on the original list of returning Hall of Famers for this year’s Induction Weekend at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He was not expected to attend due to some recent health concerns.

But there he was in the lobby of the Otesaga Hotel Thursday night with his wife, Carmen, and son, Larry.

“He called me the other day and asked what I was doing this weekend,” Larry told me. “I said I had nothing planned. ‘Good,’ he said. ‘You can drive me to the Hall of Fame.’ He and Mom just love this weekend. They couldn’t stay away.”

Yogi and Carmen are treated like royalty, as well they should be. One by one, Hall of Famers from Bert Blyleven to Billy Williams to Al Kaline to Eddie Murray to Ozzie Smith to Robin Yount to George Brett to Tony Perez came over to talk to the Berras. Yogi was getting around pretty well on his cane.

“Hey, this weekend is about fun,” Yogi said, “and I could use some fun.”

Whitey Ford and his wife, Joan, were also walking around the lobby. Whitey seemed surprised when I told him Yogi was here.

“Oh,” Whitey said, “I was hoping he wouldn’t come until Monday.”

Only a joke, of course. The Yankees’ most popular batterymates remain the closest of friends.

The Sunday induction ceremony is for former Reds shortstop Barry Larkin, who was elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, and the late Cubs third baseman Ron Santo, who was elected by the Golden Era Committee. Also to be honored Saturday will be Tim McCarver with the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting and Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for baseball writing. Legendary Cardinals managers Red Schoendienst, Whitey Herzog and Tony La Russa will also be part of the Saturday program.

Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson and I greeted Larkin and his family as they pulled up in front of the hotel.

“This is just the beginning,” Jeff told Barry.

“I know,” Larkin said, “I can’t wait.”

Among the people Larkin sent invitations to for Induction Weekend was Derek Jeter, but the Yankees’ captain is with the team for a weekend series in Oakland, Calif.

“I knew he couldn’t come, but I wanted him to know I was thinking of him,” Larkin said. “He is one of the guys you think of when it comes to shortstops. He’ll be here someday, too.”

Plenty of All-Stars have artifacts in Hall of Fame

The National Baseball Hall of Fame didn’t exist when the All-Star Game had its beginnings in 1933 at old Comiskey Park in Chicago, but the connection between the Midsummer Classic and the Cooperstown museum that opened in 1939 has become enriched over the years.

More than 45 percent of the 68 All-Stars named to the 2012 American League and National League squads for Tuesday night’s game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., are already represented in Cooperstown by artifacts in the Hall of Fame’s permanent collection.

Of the Yankees who are on this year’s AL All-Star team, second baseman Robinson Cano is represented at the Hall by the bat he used when he became one of three Yankees to hit grand slams in a game Aug. 25, 2011. Center fielder Curtis Granderson has a jersey from the 2007 season and a bat from 2011 in the Hall. Pitcher CC Sabathia donated the spikes he wore April 16, 2009 in his first game at the current Yankee Stadium.

Shortstop Derek Jeter has more than a dozen artifacts in the collection, including his batting helmet and gloves from his 3,000th hit July 9, 2011 against the Rays at the Stadium.

Here are the other 2012 All-Stars and their artifacts at the Hall of Fame:

American League

Adrian Beltre (Rangers) – Bat used to hit grand slam on May 21, 2000; Team Dominican Republic jersey from 2006 World Baseball Classic; jersey from Game 4 of 2011 ALDS.
Billy Butler (Royals) – Cap from Sept, 26, 2009 game when he hit his 50th double of the season.
Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) – Batting helmet from Team Venezuela from the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Yu Darvish (Rangers) – Spikes from 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Prince Fielder (Tigers) – Jersey from 2011 All-Star Game; bat used by Fielder when he became the youngest player to hit 50 home runs in a season in 2007.
Josh Hamilton (Rangers) – Bat used when he hit four home runs in a game May 8, 2012.
Felix Hernandez (Mariners) – Cap from Team Venezuela at 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Ian Kinsler (Rangers) – Bat from his 6-for-6 game April 15, 2009
Joe Mauer (Twins) – Bat and jersey from the 2009 season, when he won his third AL batting title.
David Ortiz (Red Sox) – 2004 Red Sox home World Series jersey; batting helmet used in 2005 when he set the single-season home run record for a designated hitter; and spikes from when he set the all-time home run record for a DH Sept. 15, 2009.
Justin Verlander (Tigers) – Balls from 2007 and 2011 no-hitters and jersey from his 20th victory Aug. 27, 2011.
Jered Weaver (Angels) – Ball from June 20, 2009 when brothers Jered and Jeff Weaver opposed each other on the mound; ball and jersey from May 2, 2012 no-hitter.

National League

Carlos Beltran (Cardinals) – Jersey from 2004 postseason; cap worn while with Team Puerto Rico in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Melky Cabrera (Giants) – Batting helmet from when he hit for the cycle Aug. 2, 2009.
Matt Cain (Giants) – Ball, cap, spikes, first base and dirt from the pitching mound from his June 13, 2012 perfect game.
David Freese (Cardinals) – Game-worn jersey and bat from his Game 6 walk-off home run in the 2011 World Series.
Rafael Furcal (Cardinals) – Cap from his unassisted triple play Aug. 10, 2003.
Cole Hamels (Phillies) – 2008 World Series jersey.
Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) – Jersey from his 2011 Cy Young Award season.
Craig Kimbrel (Braves) – Spikes from his rookie record 41st save in 2011.
Jonathan Papelbon (Phillies) – Glove from the 2007 season.
Buster Posey (Giants) – Catcher’s mask and spikes from the 2010 World Series.
Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins) – Batting helmet from the final “Florida” Marlins game Sept. 28, 2011.
Stephen Strasberg (Nationals) – Cap worn in his major-league debut June 8, 2010.
Dan Uggla (Braves) – Bat from 2008 when he became one of four Marlins with at least 25 home runs.
Joey Votto (Reds) – Bat from his May 13, 2012 walk-off grand slam as part of a three-homer game.
David Wright (Mets) – Bat from Team USA from the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

Class of 2012 Hall of Fame members Barry Larkin and Ron Santo left indelible marks in All-Star competition. Larkin was named to 12 All-Star Games (only Jeter, Luis Aparicio, Cal Ripken Jr. and Ozzie Smith have been selected to more All-Star Games as shortstops). Santo made nine All-Star appearances at third base. They will be enshrined July 22 during Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown.

The connection between the All-Star Game and Cooperstown may best be summed up in the second annual game in 1934 at the Polo Grounds in New York. Counting players, managers and umpires, 31 future Hall of Famers took the field that day – the one game in baseball history that featured the most future Hall of Famers.

Yanks’ top draft pick signed, ready to start career

The Yankees got their man in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. Dante Bichette Jr. came to contract terms with the Yankees Saturday and reported to Class A Tampa, which will open its Gulf Coast League season Monday.

“We were excited to be able to draft Dante and are even more excited to get him signed,” said Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees’ Vice President of Amateur Scouting. “Coming to an agreement this quickly will allow Dante to get a full season under his belt in 2011, and gets him ahead of the curve in many ways.”

Bichette, the Yankees’ first choice and the 51st pick overall in Compensation Round A, is a 6-foot-1, 215-pound third baseman who had a monster senior year at Orangewood Christian High School in Maitland, Fla., which lost in the finals of the Florida Class 2-A state tournament.

He batted .640 with 58 runs, 14 doubles, 10 home runs and 40 RBI in 30 games and 86 at-bats. Bichette was named the All-Central Florida Baseball Player of the Year by the Orlando Sentinel each of the past two seasons. Following his junior year, Bichette was selected an Under Armour All-America and named his team’s most valuable player.

He is the son of former major league outfielder Dante Bichette, who played in 1,704 games in 14 years with the Angels, Brewers, Rockies, Reds and Red Sox and hit .299 with 274 home runs. The senior Bichette, a teammate in Colorado of Yankees manager Joe Girardi, was a four-time All-Star who was second to Reds shortstop Barry Larkin in the National League Most Valuable Player Award voting in 1995 when he led the NL in hits, homers, RBI, total bases and slugging.

The junior Bichette, a right-handed batter, was ranked by Baseball America as the 15th-best overall player out of the state of Florida in this year’s draft. In 2005, Bichette participated in the Little League World Series with his Maitland, Fla. team.

Another holiday list

As each year comes to a close, baseball writers center on their annual responsibility of voting for the Hall of Fame. Ballots are mailed out to writers Dec. 1 and due back in the hands to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America by a Dec. 31 postmark.

So it is not just Santa Claus who makes a list and checks it twice come the Christmas season.

As secretary-treasurer of the BBWAA, I have conducted the election since 1995, the year Mike Schmidt was elected. I will be busy with Hall of Fame business the next few days but will find time to share some thoughts with Yankees fans about the election. Results will be announced at 2 p.m. Wednesday on,, and the MLB Network.

The ballot contains 33 names this year, eight of whom spent a portion of their careers with the Yankees, including two of the most popular figures in the franchise’s history, first basemen Don Mattingly and Tino Martinez. Others on the ballot who spent time with the Yankees are pitchers Kevin Brown, Al Leiter and Lee Smith, outfielders Tim Raines and Raul Mondesi and first baseman John Olerud.

Mattingly has been on the ballot for 10 years and has never done better than 28 percent of the vote going back to his first year. To gain entry into Cooperstown, 75 percent is required. Mattingly was at 16.1 percent last year. Martinez, his successor at first base for the Yankees, is a first-time candidate this year. It is doubtful writers will find Tino’s candidacy all that compelling, any more than they did another Yankees fan favorite Paul O’Neill two years ago. Martinez’s goal should be to get five percent of the vote necessary to stay on the ballot, which players must do to stay in contention for the full 15 years of eligibility. O’Neill failed to do that and was dropped after one year.

Brown, whose time with the Yankees was filled with controversy, had a fine career, but New York fans rarely saw him at his best except when he pitched against the Yankees for the Rangers. Yankees fans know Brown for breaking his pitching hand in anger and his implosion on the mound in Game 7 of the 2004 American League Championship, the franchise’s worst moment.

Leiter started and ended his career with the Yankees but had his best seasons with the Blue Jays, Marlins and Mets. His 162-132 record and 3.80 ERA does not spell immortality.

Raines, on the other hand, is an interesting case. He came to the Yankees after years with the Expos and White Sox and was a key role player on the World Series title teams of 1996, ’98 and ’99. With 2,605 hits and 808 stolen bases, Raines has some Hall of Fame numbers, but after three years on the ballot he has done no better than 30 percent.

Smith, Olerud and Mondesi had limited time in pinstripes. Olerud and Mondesi are on the ballot for the first time and are not likely to get the five percent of the vote necessary to stay on the ballot. Smith, who pitched in only eight games for the Yankees in 1993, once held the major-record for saves with 478 but has yet to attract even half the vote in eight previous elections.

The favorites this time around are second baseman Roberto Alomar and pitcher Bert Blyleven, each of whom came close last year. Blyleven was on 74.2 percent of the ballots cast and missed by five votes. Alomar missed by eight votes at 397, or 73.7 percent.

The only player not to get elected when eligible the year after getting more than 70 percent in the vote was pitcher Jim Bunning. He was on 74 percent of the ballots in 1988 and missed by four votes. The next year, however, with a thicker ballot consisting of first-year inductees Johnny Bench and Carl Yastrzemski and fellow pitching greats Gaylord Perry and Fergie Jenkins, Bunning lost 34 votes and dropped 11 percent in his final year on the ballot. He was eventually elected by the Veterans Committee in 1996.
The most accomplished of the new names are first basemen Jeff Bagwell and Rafael Palmeiro and outfielders Juan Gonzalez and Larry Walker. Palmeiro and Gonzalez will have a rough time.

Despite being only the fourth player in history to get more than 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, Palmeiro is a long shot because of his positive test for anabolic steroids in 2005, the same year he testified before Congress that he had never taken them. Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray, the only other members of both the 3,000 Hit and 500 Home Run Clubs were elected in their first years of eligibility.

Gonzales, a two-time AL Most Valuable Player, showed up in the Mitchell Report as a steroids user, which could hurt his chances for a big vote. After all, Mark McGwire with his 587 home runs has been on the ballot for four years and is hovering at 23 percent.

Bagwell, who had an amazing career (.297, 449 home runs, 1,529 RBI, 1,517 runs, .408 on-base percentage, .540 slugging percentage), never failed a drug test but faced suspicions of possible performance-enhancing aid after he felt in love with the weight room in the mid-1990s. Walker, like Bagwell a National League MVP, had some very good years in Montreal and then some monster years in Colorado. Will the Coors Field effect hurt his chances?

See, this voting stuff isn’t easy. After thorough study, I finally filled out my ballot.

Checks went to Alomar, Bagwell, Blyleven, Walker, Mattingly, Raines, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff and Jack Morris.

My take on Bagwell was that he is innocent until proved guilty. Larkin is following a path not dissimilar to another NL MVP middle infielder who took a few years to get to Cooperstown, Ryne Sandberg. Ask any Yankees fan who watched the 1995 Division Series about Edgar Martinez, who was simply one of the greatest right-handed hitters I ever saw. McGriff, who came through the Yankees system but was traded away, slugged 493 homers the clean way and made a major difference on the only Atlanta Braves team to win a World Series. Morris was the ace of every staff for which he pitched, including three teams that won the World Series – the 1984 Tigers, ’91 Twins and ’92 Blue Jays.

Let the arguments begin. I’ll be back after the election.