Tag Archive | "Baseball Hall Of Fame"

Cardinals Officially Unveil Team Hall of Fame

Today, Cardinals ownership topped the bill at the annual Cardinals Care Winter Warm Up, by officially announcing the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum, which will be a part of the soon-to-debut Ballpark Village construct. While the existence of the Hall of Fame has long been a known quantity to the BPV experience, until today the exact features, location and inductees where not known.

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At noon today, flanked by former manager Tony La Russa and hords of gathered media, the duo of DeWitts, team chairman William Jr and team president Bill III, clarified the entire situation, announcing not only the Hall of Fame’s structure, but the inaugural induction class, the voting process and the structure of the experience within Ballpark Village. It was made clear that Hall of Fame, made possible through a co-op with Edward Jones, would have an inaugural class of 22 members, a mixture of currently retired numbers and dignitaries, honored within Busch Stadium Cardinal past and other inductees to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

The initial class was determined by a mixture of voters from the long-standing team media, Hall of Fame members and varied baseball association, noted as the Red Ribbon Committee. This group decided upon the deserving honorees as well as the rubric for future inductees to come.

The initial 22 Cardinal class will be compromised of Jim Bottomley, Ken Boyer, Lou Brock, Gussie Busch, Jack Buck, Dizzy Dean, Frankie Frisch, Bob Gibson, Chick Hafey, Jesse Haines, Whitey Herzog, Rogers Hornsby, Tony La Russa, Joe Medwick, Johnny Mize, Stan Musial, Branch Rickey, Red Schoendienst, Enos Slaughter, Ozzie Smith, Billy Southworth and Bruce Sutter.

The curriculum for the forthcoming Hall of Fame is a unique interaction between expert analysis and fan interation. DeWitt III expounded,  “When a new class is inducted any given year, there are two cases in the gallery that will showcase the memorabilia of the new inductees.”  To be eligible a player must have played a minimum of three years for the Cardinals and have been retired for three years. There will be two categories that the Hall is based on, a veterans committee of players that competed more than 40 years ago and a modern class of Cardinals since then.

The Red Ribbon Committee will nominate a ballot of 6-10 modern players from a group of 25, and then elect one member from the veterans group themselves, largely to preserve the integrity of the Hall. At that point, the fans will become involved. Starting March 1st, at Cardinals.com, there will be an open for vote two members from the modern ballot. A fourth member can be elected in any given year, if cho0sen, as a deserving coach, executive or prominent off field contributor.

At that point, then the team will continue forward with the pageantry of the event. The full class will be announced in late April, and plaques will mark inductees into the Hall. The inaugural induction class will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame on Saturday, August 16 in a weekend celebration at Ballpark Village and Busch Stadium.

The Hall exhibit and plaques will remain a free display outside of the Cardinal Museum, while there will be an entry fee to the full museum, with relics and memboribila from both the Cardinal Hall of Famers and great moments of the franchise’s extensive history. Many of these items have come directly from the current and former Cardinals themselves, holdovers from the former Cardinal Museum located with the Bowling Hall of Fame, private auctions and even the Baseball Hall of Fame itself.

The forward aimed goal of Ballpark Village is to bring an expansive element to the Cardinal experience, and round out both game days and the downtown experience, overall. Yet in their usual habit, the Cardinals will move forward with a conscious grasp on the past. The Cardinal Hall of Fame looks be a fair balance between both, and will make sure that the past is both present and represented in the years to come.

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Legend of the Fall: Beltran Continues His Quest

The heroics of Carlos Beltran in the month of October are nothing new. He ranks in the top 10 nearly every major postseason category that an individual can find himself in. However, in last night’s game one of the National League Championship Series, he had his signature effort as a Cardinal during the season’s final month. In the process he single-handedly carried the team to series-opening victory, as well as continued to make an increasingly convincing case for how his legacy will be rewarded.

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Beltran took the world on his shoulders, as his two-run third inning double started the offense, and remained the entire output until his RBI single ten innings later earned a grueling win to a grueling start to the NLCS. In a matchup that saw just three lead changes scattered across 13 pitchers for both sides, it was the two defining hits by Beltran that made the complete difference in the Cardinals 3-2 victory.

Yet, the moment of the game came in the top of the tenth inning, when Beltran showcased why the team leans on him so heavily at this point. After Jon Jay misplayed a Mark Ellis line drive into the right center field gap, which resulted in a one out triple, the club found itself in about as big of a bind as possible. After intentionally walking Hanley Ramirez to reach Michael Young with a double play situation in play, Trevor Rosenthal found himself in a do or die scenario.

Young did exactly what he has supposed to do, which was put the ball in the air to the outfield. The ball he hit would have been Jay’s to take in any other scenario, but this was far from that; it was the game on the line. With this crossroads clear and evident, Beltran moved over from right to overrule his outfield mate, and uncorked the type of throw which helped make him a Gold Glove center fielder three times over, cutting down Ellis at home plate and giving the Cardinals another life.

Helping to make good on a dominant, seven scoreless inning collaboration from the Cardinal bullpen, poetically, the game came back around to Beltran came back to the plate again in the thirteenth inning and capped his legend securing evening. With two on and one out in the 13th, Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly finally unleashed his closer Kenly Jansen, owner of one of the most dominant fastballs in the game. But Beltran worked the count in his favor so he could face that pitch on his terms, which resulted in him lining a base hit in right field, which brought in Daniel Descalso (who had a clutch flare hit to start the inning) and closed out a hard-fought win to start the series.

For Beltran, his reputation simply grows at the highest peak of the season again. It has been nine years since his record-setting eight home run October debut with the Houston Astros. In the time since, he has grown his career, seemingly lost his peak to injury and then rebuilt it in a new role. All along, he’s become a new player in the season’s final month, the type of postseason legend that is rightfully mentioned along the lines of Jeter, Jackson and Ruth.

There are a few things each name in that group has in common, and it is that their efforts evenly resulted in a World Series victory. Despite reaching the NLCS four times and reaching the seventh game of each appearance, he has yet to be able to breakthrough to game’s final level. The debate continues on whether Beltran is a Hall of Fame-caliber player, but one thing that is a consensus is that the conversation starts, and finishes, with the efforts he turns in during this point in the season. And when it comes time for that discussion to ultimately be decided on, the game he began this season’s NLCS with will be remembered as a strong indicator of just how exceptional he truly has been. But where the season ends, and how much further he can fuel this particular Cardinal team, could ultimately be the decider.

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George Brett Takes Over As Hitting Coach

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KANSAS CITY, MO (May 30, 2013) – The Kansas City Royals announced today that George Brett and Pedro Grifol will assume the interim hitting coach and major league special assignment coach roles, respectively, effective tonight when the Royals play in St. Louis at 7:15 p.m.  In a corresponding move, the Royals have reassigned coaches Jack Maloof and Andre David to the minor league organization.

“Obviously things have not gone as we would have expected and in light of the downturn in offensive production and poor results we’ve decided to make a change,” said Dayton Moore, Royals’ Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager.  “First of all, I can’t thank Jack and Andre enough for accepting this challenge with the Major League club.  They are both tremendously knowledgeable and hard working men who have already made our organization stronger by their work in the system.  I’m thankful that this organization has one of the greatest hitters and more importantly one of the greatest competitors our game has ever seen in George Brett and he has accepted our offer to join the coaching staff on an interim basis.  We’ve also added Pedro Grifol, who brings a wealth of knowledge to our staff and will work various aspects of the coaching staff.”

Brett, 60, is the Royals’ all-time hit leader with 3,154 during a playing career that spanned 1973-1993 and was capped with his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.  His familiar #5 was retired by the organization on May 14, 1994.  He is the only player in Major League history to win batting titles in three different decades, winning the American League crown in 1976, 1980 and 1990.  His 1980 season will always be remembered for his run at the elusive .400 mark, finishing the campaign with a .390 average and winning the American League Most Valuable Player Award.  A 13-time All-Star, Brett is the club’s all-time leader in every offensive category with the exception of stolen bases.  He was also a Rawlings Gold Glove winner for his work at third base.  Retired as a player following the ’93 season, this is Brett’s first-ever in-season coaching role in baseball.  He has served as a Vice President of Baseball Operations since his retirement and has worked on the field during spring training for the organization.

Grifol, 43, is in his first year in the Royals’ organization, initially assigned as the hitting coach for the Surprise Royals.  He joined Kansas City after 13 seasons in the Seattle chain, serving most recently as manager for High Desert (A) in 2012.  Previous roles have included area scout, manager at Everett (2003-05), Coordinator of Instruction (2006-08) and Director of Minor League Operations (2008-11).  Pedro was also on the Mariners’ major league staff for the second half of the 2010 season.  He was also the Winter League manager this past year for the Venezuela squad where Alcides Escobar played.  A Florida native, Grifol was the Florida State High School Player of the Year in 1988 out of Christopher Columbus High School and then helped Florida State University to the College World Series in 1989 and 1991, earning All-America honors in ’91.

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UCB Roundtable: Who’s Worthy of Cardinal Immortality?

The United Cardinal Bloggers is having its annual preseason Roundtable discussion this month, where a variety of topics surrounding the St. Louis Cardinals organization are presented, and then analyzed by the membership. Yesterday was my day to poise my question, and the direction of choice was to cover the past, present and future, all in wrapped up in one.

Busch_Stadium Retired Numbers

Since the current ownership of the team took over, the standing rule on retired numbers has been that they are only officially retired once a player is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

However, in this era of Cardinal baseball (which has been arguably as successful as any), there are a lack of true Hall of Fame candidates. However, when you consider the era, players like Jim Edmonds, Yadier Molina, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright have all made monumental contributions to the team success….not to mention a certain former first baseman as well.

With that considered, how do you feel about the Cardinals’ policy on retired numbers, and which current-to-recently former Cardinals could/should deserve the honor? Here is a transcript of the discussion, and some varying opinions on candidates and on the policy itself:

Daniel Solzman: I was not a fan when #15 was re-issued.  Likewise, if #5 is issued again, I will not be happy about it.  If 29 gets issued to someone other than Chris Carpenter, I imagine a cluster of the fan base will be upset.  If Holliday stays healthy, he might be the other player to be joining Molina on that list.

I think Edmonds should see his jersey retired.  He might not get in on first ballot but I think, when you factor in those defensive gems, the HOF should vote him in.  His numbers are similar to Dale Murphy but his average was 20 points hire than Dale’s, which could and should make a difference.

It should be noted that while the debate to retire 51 officially rages on, the jersey has yet to be issued.

(Matt) Holliday is signed through 16 with an option for 17.  Barring a trade, he will have played most of his career as a Cardinal.  If the option for 17 gets picked up, he will have played 8.5 seasons as a Cardinal. All things considered, he should finish with some solid numbers worthy of 7 being retired.

Daniel Shoptaw: I understand the Cardinals’ position on retired numbers.  You hate to have a wide swath of numbers unavailable for use.  I mean, look at the Yanks–they are going to have start using triple digits in a decade or so.  You don’t want to be too free and easy with retirement–it’s supposed to be an honor.  Plus, who knows what the feelings of the fan base are going to be down the road.  I mean, if they’d retired 25 immediately after McGwire’s retirement, which could have been a sticky situation.

The unofficial retiring brings about some of the same problems.  Obviously 57 is retired, even though it’s not with the official group.  You start running out of numbers if you keep everyone of them that belonged to a “True Cardinal” off the backs of the next generation.

That said, I do think the Cards are going to need to make exceptions for Carpenter and Molina (if he needs it).  Those were two of the focal points of a great stretch of Cardinal baseball and should be honored in some way. While I appreciate Matt Holliday, I think one of things about the number retirement is that it has to be a player that captured the fans’ imagination as well as being a great player.  Ozzie, Lou, Gibby all have legends around them, true or not.  They were more than just good players, they were icons.

Carp has that.  Molina has that.  Holliday?  I don’t think so and I don’t know that, barring some dramatics, he’ll ever get there.  He’s a great player and I’m glad we have him, but I don’t see him as a candidate for retirement if his career–his solid, remarkable career–continues on this path.

J.D. Norton: I like the Cards policy, but I think they should step out a bit and put #15 up.  Yes, I think Jim Edmonds belongs in the HOF.  If you look at players like Dawson and Rice and then put Edmonds in the discussion, it’s a no brainer to me.  I think the Cards should lead the charge, retire his number now and hope that helps.  For those who disagree, name me 10 CF’ers who have better numbers than JE.  There’s 14 CF’ers in the HOF.  Even MLBN had Edmonds in the top 10 CF’ers of all-time.

Wes Keene: The policy is good. There’s a lot of emotion tied up with sports, and every few years we’ve got someone that’s easy to view as a hero on the team. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you’ve got to have some method to keep the warm and fuzzies from running you out of numbers. I find the practice of predicting HOF inductees to be daunting so I don’t try. I’m not a writer, so I don’t get a vote, and the ones who do frequently befuddle me.

Since the retired number pool will be a subset of the HOF Cardinals, it gets even dicier. Given how rare retiring a number is, I’d suspect it’s Carp or Molina, but not both.

Dathan Brooks: I’d suggest that the organization’s policy, while perhaps not perfect, is as close as it can be.  A policy is exactly what’s necessary, too.  Case-by-case basis simply wouldn’t work, so I say good for them.  I think it speaks to the ownership of this team that they take this so seriously, too, let’s not let that go unsaid.  But I’ve said it before…let’s take a high-level view of where “we” are right now.  Off the top of my head, and without digging deep, which means I’m sure to miss/forget some, numbers that are spoken for/taken/unlikely to be issued soon/retired today, include:

1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 17, 20, 24, 25, 29, 32, 42, 45, 51, 57.

I know, Wainwright & others are left off the list while Yadi is included.  Might they reissue some of these?  Sure.  I’m just saying, there are twenty numbers here, more than half of which are below 25. You can’t just go retiring numbers for every fan favorite, or hold sacred a uniform number because a guy we really really liked once wore it–it just isn’t feasible.  I wrote about this on some blog a long time ago (too lazy to look it up), but the line, “Now batting, number 386, outfielder, Tony Gwynn IV” comes to mind from that blog post.  The Cards would simply run out of retired numbers too near into the future, and have to start coming up with creative (read: non-purist/traditionalist) ways to ID players.  (Symbols?  “The player formerly known as….”?  LOL  I kid, of course)

In any event, it’s a good problem to have.

Bob Netherton: I think the current policy on retired numbers is ridiculous.  While you don’t want to retire the number of every good player that comes through the system, a bit of easing on the current policy would go a long way to reward players like Curt Flood, Willie McGee and Chris Carpenter.

The counter-argument is the team will run out of numbers and start needing triple digits for jersey numbers.

With all due respect, pfffffffft.

We are talking about one of the most storied franchises in baseball, not the Miami Marlins or Colorado Rockies. A bit of perspective can help soft through this mess. We are only talking 3 or 4 players in a decade where the team has has monster success (40s, 60s, 80s, 00s).   There might be decades (50s, 70s, 90s) where there are at most one. Over 100 years, that’s still less than 30 numbers.  It takes about 40 numbers to field a team (25 plus DL). We are good for another century. Lets retire Flood and McGee now and get ready for Carpenter in a couple of years.

Christine Coleman: As many have already said, some kind of policy is definitely needed for retired numbers because it can get out of hand for a team like the Cardinals with such a long and rich tradition. The policy currently in place, with retiring numbers for Hall of Fame players, seems to work well since it sets the standard. I will mention, since I don’t think anyone else has yet, that Ken Boyer’s number is retired and he’s not in the Hall of Fame — other than Tony La Russa, who of course will be in the Hall of Fame, he’s the only non-Hall-of-Famer.

The practice of unofficially retiring numbers by not issuing them has its place, but it also does reach a point where numbers have to be used too. Keeping 51 and 57 out of circulation are good, and necessary, moves. It makes sense to not issue 15 as well, and not to use 5 right now anyway. But I saw someone complaining on Twitter last weekend that number 12 is being used already. If the Cards can’t issue a number because Lance Berkman wore it, that’s when triple-digit uniform numbers are going to be needed soon.

Bill Ivie: I like the current policy but I think, with current plans for Ballpark Village, it can be amended.

Since the team is building a Cardinals Hall Of Fame and museum, retired numbers should only belong to Cardinals Hall Of Famers, not necessarily Cardinals in Cooperstown.  This would allow guys like Darryl Kile, Willie McGee, Jim Edmonds to be honored in that way.

At the same time, I must say that I do not feel that all of these names need a number retired.  Wille was great for the team in the 80′s and Jimmy did his part in the 00′s.  But what about Vince Coleman who shattered records in the 80′s and was a big part of some post-season runs (minus tarp incidents).  If we look at his place in history, he probably deserves to be in this discussion.  But wait…that’s number 29…that’s Carp!  Carp had a major impact for a few years too.  Like Vince, he was hurt at times and wasn’t key in everything the team did during his tenure.  Who gets the number?

It’s a can of worms I don’t want to open up.  I think the Cards HOF alleviates some of this.  Willie McGee can be a Cardinal HOF member without his jersey retired.  It gives the opportunity to honor players for being a great Cardinal and also to honor players for being the best in the league and finding Cooperstown.

When do we retire #25?  How quickly do we retire #5, knowing that he is in a personal services contract with his current team long after he retires?

Brian Vaughn: I think there’s definitely a middle ground between necessitating a player’s Hall induction as a requirement to have his number required and letting any above average player have the honor. I say this largely because Hall of Fame voting is getting weirder and weirder; players aren’t exactly getting in based on merit thanks to some truly obnoxious voters, so I think there has to be a better way. Players like Carpenter particularly gave the Cardinals quite a large chunk of service time and excellence, and there’s something to be said for that.

John Nagel: To me, having a players number retired doesn’t make them a better player in my eyes. I agree with many that having too many waters down the award. Why can we still not honor players in other ways? Having a retired number should be set aside for HOF players.

Its to early to decide on Pujols. I say no on Edmonds and so far no on Wainwright. If Yadi continues on his path then he could be a yes. If the Cards continue with the HOF = number retired rule then Carpenter is a no as well.
Kevin Reynolds: I think the “only retire HOF numbers” policy is a necessity. Before long, finding numbers for players is going to be difficult enough. Besides, once you start amending the retired numbers rule, then you have to ask, “Where does it stop?”
I also feel the reason the question of retiring numbers has become significant is because the delay of the Cards HoF in Ballpark Village has left St. Louis with no obvious method to honor memorable Cardinal players and coaches. Carpenter deserves a sacred place in the future Cards HoF, but not on the wall of Busch Stadium.
Now, I might be in favor of a wall inside the fan tunnels of Busch that lists memorable Cardinal numbers/players like Carp and Edmonds…but leave the retired numbers wall for Baseball HOFers. That’s an exclusive group, and should be kept that way going forward.

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Negro League Widow Passes Away

HiltonSmithLouise Smith, widow of Hilton Smith, has passed away at the age of 98 years old.

Hilton Smith is a hall of fame pitcher famous for his time in Negro League Baseball with the Kansas City Monarchs.  During his playing career, according to the Hall Of Fame, he was credited with 20 wins in each of his 12 seasons with the Monarchs.

Possibly best known for his relief appearances behind the great Satchel Paige, Smith pitched in six consecutive “East-West All Star Games” from 1937-1942.  He was considered by many to be the best pitcher in black baseball but was largely overlooked due to his quiet demeanor, a stark contrast to that of Paige’s.

Hilton hurled a no-hitter in 1937 and according to many sources did not lose a single competition in 1938.  During the winter of 1946, he pitched the Vargas team in the Venezuelan league to the championship.  The following March, he would pitch for the Vargas team in an exhibition game in Venezuela against the New York Yankees.  He would allow one hit over five innings and be credited with the win in a 4-3 ballgame.

Smith would decline an offer from the Brooklyn Dodgers as baseball’s color barrier came crashing down, eventually retiring in 1948.  He would go on to teach, coach, and eventually become a scout for the Chicago Cubs.  He passed away in 1983 and was inducted into Cooperstown in 2001 by the Veteran’s Committee.

Louise Humphrey would marry Hilton Smith in 1934.  The couple would have two children during their marriage.  During an interview for the 2005 Oral History film, Louise would recount how she turned down Hilton’s marriage proposal at first because she did not want to marry a ballplayer.  Ultimately, she identified that he was a professional man and was rewarded with being able to see areas of the world she never thought possible.

From the “Did You Know” section of his Baseball Hall Of Fame Bio:

Hilton Smith advised Kansas City Monarchs owner J.L. Wilkinson to sign Jackie Robinson to a contract with the powerhouse Negro American League club?

According the the Negro League Baseball Museum, Louise visited the museum for “one last tour” earlier this week.

You can visit the Negro League Baseball Museum’s website by clicking this link.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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George Brett and Bernie Williams to Manage SiriusXM All-Star Futures Teams

Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett, who spent his entire 21-year career with the Kansas City Royals, will manage the U.S. Team and five-time American League All-Star outfielder Bernie Williams will lead the World Team in the 2012 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday, July 8th at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

The SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, which is now in its 14th year, features the top Minor League prospects competing in a nine-inning contest as part of Taco Bell All-Star Sunday.  The game will begin at 5:00 p.m. (ET)/4:00 p.m. (CT) and can be viewed live on ESPN2, ESPN2 HD and MLB.com.  SiriusXM, the Official Satellite Radio Partner of Major League Baseball, will provide play-by-play coverage of the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on MLB Network Radio (XM channel 89) in addition to SiriusXM’s other comprehensive live coverage from Kansas City.  The game will also be available to SiriusXM subscribers on the SiriusXM Internet Radio App for smart phones and mobile devices and online at SiriusXM.com.  Taco Bell All-Star Sunday is the first of three days of All-Star events at Kauffman Stadium, culminating with the 83rd All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 10th.

Brett, who was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999, is the only Royal who is enshrined in Cooperstown.  A second round pick in the 1971 First-Year Player Draft, Brett hit .305 with 317 home runs, 1,595 RBI and 665 doubles while leading the Royals’ 1985 World Series Championship squad.  He was the A.L. Most Valuable Player in 1980 after after winning a batting title with a .390 average, which was the highest in Baseball since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941.  Brett, who also posted 24 home runs and a career-high 118 RBI in 1980, finished in the top three in MVP voting three additional times.  He was a 13-time A.L. All-Star, representing the Royals in the Midsummer Classic each year from 1976-1988.  Brett was a three-time A.L. batting champion (1976, 1980, 1990), becoming the first player to win the batting title in three different decades.  He is one of 28 members of baseball’s 3,000 hit club, and his 3,154 hits rank 15th all-time.  Brett hit .340 with nine home runs and 19 RBI in six League Championship Series and hit .373 in his two World Series.  He won the Gold Glove for A.L. third basemen in 1985.  George is now in his 19th year as Vice President of Baseball Operations with the Royals, and his number 5 was retired by the club in 1994, when he entered the club’s Hall of Fame.

Williams, who spent his entire 16-year career with the Yankees, hit .297 with 287 home runs and 1,257 RBI, and was a member of four World Series Championship teams (1996, 1998-2000).  The San Juan, Puerto Rico native signed with the Yankees in 1985 at age 17, and made his Major League debut in 1991.  Williams, who won the A.L. batting title in 1998 after hitting .339, posted six straight seasons of at least 20 home runs from 1996-2001, including a career-best 30 home runs and 121 RBI in 2000.  The switch-hitter hit .321 during 41 League Championship Series games and he was named the 1996 ALCS MVP after batting .474 with two home runs, three doubles and six RBI in the five-game series.  He is a four-time A.L. Gold Glove winner (1997-2000) and he won a Silver Slugger Award in 2002.  Bernie ranks first all-time in the Postseason with 80 RBI, second with 128 hits, 22 home runs, 29 doubles and 83 runs, and third with 121 games played.  In Yankees history, Williams ranks third in doubles (449), fifth in hits (2,336), sixth in runs (1,366), games played (2,076) and RBI (1,257), and seventh in home runs (287).

Rosters for the 2012 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game will be announced on Thursday afternoon.  Coaches for the U.S. and World Team are as follows:

U.S. Team Coaches
Duane Espy Manager, Tulsa Drillers Colorado Rockies Texas League / AA
Tom Filer Pitching Coach, Indianapolis Indians Pittsburgh Pirates International League / AAA
Tony Franklin Manager, Trenton Thunder New York Yankees Eastern League / AA
Mike Jirschele Manager, Omaha Storm Chasers Kansas City Royals Pacific Coast League / AAA
Jim Pankovits Manager, Jackson Generals Seattle Mariners Southern League / AA
John Wathan Special Assistant, Player Dev. & Scouting Kansas City Royals
Chris DeLucia Medical Operations Coordinator Kansas City Royals
World Team Coaches
Arnie Beyeler Manager, Pawtucket Red Sox Boston Red Sox International League / AAA
Steve Buechele Manager, Frisco RoughRiders Texas Rangers Texas League / AA
Darren Bush Manager, Sacramento River Cats Oakland Athletics Pacific Coast League / AAA
Rouglas Odor Hitting Coach, Akron Aeros Cleveland Indians Eastern League / AA
Turner Ward Manager, Mobile BayBears Arizona Diamondbacks Southern League / AA
Ruben Niebla Pitching Coach, Columbus Clippers Cleveland Indians International League / AAA
Jeff Paxson Athletic Trainer, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Milwaukee Brewers Midwest League / A

The Minor League Baseball Umpires who will work the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game are Kolin Kline (home plate) of the Southern League, Tom Woodring (first base) of the Eastern League, Nick Bailey (second base) of the Pacific Coast League and Spencer Flynn (third base) of the Southern League.

Tickets are still available for purchase for the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game by visiting www.allstargame.com, calling 1-888-326-3378 or visiting the Royals box office at Kauffman Stadium.

The 2012 All-Star Game will be played at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday, July 10th.  The 83rd All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International’s independent feed.  Pregame ceremonies will begin at 7:30 p.m. (EDT)/6:30 p.m. (CDT).  ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game.  MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.  For more information, please visit allstargame.com or royals.com/asg.

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Introducing the Hall Of Very Good series

Friends, Romans, fellow baseball fans…

It seems like just yesterday that I took a discussion I had with a buddy about Albert Belle and banged out a quick opinion piece on his Hall of Fame credentials. Now, five years and more than 1300 posts later, The Hall of Very Good™ is set to celebrate its birthday in style.

And you’re all invited…free of charge!

Beginning Monday, June 18, we (yes, “we”…more on that later) are kicking off the month long “HOVG Heroes” series. What exactly is “HOVG Heroes”? It’s funny that I suggested you asked…let me lay it out for you.

From the time you hit the site next Monday through the Friday leading up to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony July 22 in Cooperstown , you’ll be greeted, daily, with a new, different, original post hitting The Hall of Very Good™. And the nature of these pieces is simple…to shed light on those players that haven’t been invited to join the immortals in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Sound familiar? It should. The very notion of a “Hall of Very Good” is something I started doing five years ago and now, I’ve got a few dozen of my favorite people contributing original pieces where they share the stories of their favorite players.

And I’ll tell you this…it was easy to get people to take part.

I’ll be releasing some of the names via The Hall of Very Good™ Facebook page and Twitter account throughout the upcoming week and I can assure you this…each contributor has their own unique style. These aren’t people who you haven’t heard of either. In the mix are guys who you’ve seen, heard and read on a national level. And since I was fortunate enough to be the Baseball Bloggers Alliance’s first general baseball blog…you know I had to partner up with some of its most creative writers as well.

But the star studded list of contributors isn’t even the best part about “HOVG Heroes”.

At the conclusion of this series, we’ll actually be inducting someone into The Hall of Very Good™. Yes, five weeks from now, there will be, officially, an inaugural member of The Hall of Very Good™.

Who is it? You’ll know the week of July 16.

“Hall of Fame Chatter, Milestones and Musings”…it’s what The Hall of Very Good™ has been about since day one and with the help of countless individuals, it’s what it will continue to be about.

All the best

Shawn

The Hall of Very Good™
Succumb to the trend…follow The Hall of Very Good™ on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HOVG.

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Ozzie’s Shadow

In sports, music, and entertainment, legends come along every so often that need only a first name. The Babe, Pele, Madonna (or Lady Gaga’s mom as many of my friends commented during the Super Bowl), Usher, Prince, P Diddy/Daddy/Dandy or whatever the latest name is. If we are talking about basketball and I say “MJ”, you immediately know who I am referring to. If we are talking music, and I say “MJ” you know immediately who I mean.

In sports, those one-name figures cast a shadow so large that it takes a long time before it feels right to watch anyone else play “their” position on “their” team. I was flipping through the channels just the other day, and stopped on the Chicago Bulls game for just a few minutes. Derrick Rose is one of the NBA’s best players, no question about it. For me, it still just does not feel right watching a Bulls superstar not named Michael, even though he has not worn a Bulls jersey since 1996.

In Cardinal Nation, there is a larger-than-life player that also walked away from the game in 1996. He also needs only one name to be remembered; of course I am talking about Ozzie. Ozzie (Smith) was Rookie of the Year in 1978, won an astounding 13-straight Gold Gloves from 1980-1992, played in 15 All-Star Games, was runner-up MVP in 1987 despite not hitting one home run, and was eventually voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In what I consider the most telling stat, Ozzie led the team in WAR (wins above replacement) each season from 1983-1995 (check out Derek Goold’s piece for a great read on this). No other Cardinal has led the team in WAR that many consecutive seasons.

*Quick sidenote: Just as a means of showing the effect of inflation and free-agency on the game, Ozzie made $31.5M during his 15 seasons with the Cardinals.

More than incredible stats, he was the face of the Whiteyball era, and provided 15 years of excellent shortstop play that has not been matched since. He was the back-flip to start the game. He was the guy that kept you glued to the TV not knowing just what he might do next. It still does not feel quite right to me watching anyone else play shortstop for the Cardinals. It takes time to fill the shoes of the legend…actually that is not correct…it takes time to be OK with them not being filled. Ozzie’s shadow still looms large.

This article will look briefly at Ozzie’s career, the shortstops since Ozzie, and what we can reasonably expect from the shortstop position this season with Rafael Furcal as the starter.

During Ozzie’s 15 years with the Cardinals, he had 1944 hits, 644 RBIs, 433 SBs, and a .272 BA. He was the perfect offensive spark during the Whiteyball era of manufacuring runs. Let’s take 1995 and 1996 (age 40 and 41 seasons) out of the equation for a minute and look at average production between 1982-1994.

During those years Ozzie averaged the following line per season:

Ozzie Smith 1982-1994

AB        R       2B    3B   HR    RBI    SB   BB   Avg

521      72     25    4      2        49      32    64   .273

While these are good offensive numbers, he would not be a Hall-of-Famer simply based on this offensive production alone.

Average WAR 1982-94: 4.42      Total WAR 1982-94: 57.5

WAR by Season

1982: 4.0   1983: 3.0   1984: 4.4   1985: 5.7   1986: 5.3   1987: 7.1   1988: 5.5   1989: 6.3   1990: 2.8   1991: 4.7   1992: 4.3

1993: 2.5   1994: 1.9

WAR factors in defensive play (runs saved above replacement level), and Ozzie’s D was a huge factor in his outstanding WAR levels during his Cardinal years. Only once since he retired has a Cardinal shortstop (Edgar Renteria 2003) had a season WAR higher than Ozzie’s average WAR as a Cardinal. No Cardinal shortstop has topped his season total of 7.1 in 1987. That is impressive.

Here are the season averages for shortstops post-Ozzie. If they were the primary starter all year, only their stats will be measured. If multiple players started a significant number of games, their numbers will be combined for the year(s) being measured. All stat lines are an average per season of the year(s) measured.

Royce Clayton 1997

AB        R       2B    3B   HR    RBI    SB   BB   Avg

576     75      39    5      9         61     30   33   .266

WAR: 2.6

Royce Clayton, Luis Ordaz, David Howard 1998

AB        R       2B    3B   HR    RBI    SB   BB   Avg

546      83      25    2      6        49     21    64   .214

WAR: -1.5

Edgar Renteria 1999-2004

AB        R       2B    3B   HR    RBI    SB   BB   Avg

560      83      35    2     12      75      25   51   .290

Average WAR 1999-2004: 3.0      Total WAR 1999-2004: 18

WAR by Season

1999: 1.4   2000: 2.2   2001: 1.2   2002: 4.2   2003: 6.5   2004: 2.5

David Eckstein 2005-2006

AB        R       2B    3B   HR    RBI    SB   BB   Avg

565      79      22    4     5         42     9      43    .293

Average WAR 2005-2006: 3.2      Total WAR 2005-2006: 6.4

WAR by Season

2005: 4.2   2006: 2.2

David Eckstein, Brendan Ryan 2007

AB        R       2B    3B   HR    RBI    SB   BB   Avg

614      88      32     0     7        43      17   39   .302

WAR: 3.2

Cesar Izturis, Brendan Ryan 2008

AB        R       2B    3B   HR    RBI    SB   BB   Avg

611       80     19     3      1        34      31   45    .264

WAR: 1.8

Brendan Ryan, Julio Lugo, Tyler Greene 2009

AB        R       2B    3B   HR    RBI    SB   BB   Avg

646       88     33     11    7       57     23   45    .277

WAR: 3.9

Brendan Ryan, Tyler Greene 2010

AB        R       2B    3B   HR    RBI    SB   BB   Avg

543     64     24     3      3         46     22   46    .223

WAR: 1.4

Ryan Theriot, Nick Punto, Daniel Descalso, Rafael Furcal 2011

2011 saw each of these four guys start at shortstop at some point. Everyone but Descalso saw significant playing time at another infield position so short of going through 162 box scores, there is no easy way to split out production from shortstop position for 162 games. For the sake of this article, we will look at the WAR totals for each of the four players that manned the position at some point

Theriot 2011 WAR: 0.00    NIck Punto 2011 WAR: 1.5   Descalso 2011 WAR: 1.2   Furcal 2011 WAR: 1.4

The numbers above show the Cardinals have not received anywhere near the production at shortstop they had during the Ozzie years. Save a couple of Renteria’s seasons and one of Eckstein’s, the Cardinals shortstops have produced at average to below-average levels.

Cardinal fans hope that changes in 2012. Reversing that trend falls on the shoulders of Rafael Furcal. He will have the opportunity to be the everyday shortstop this season, and gives the Cardinals a prototypical leader hitter they have not had in a number of years.

While Furcal will certainly not be Ozzie this year (age 34 season), he does provide hope for good, consistent play that is long overdue at shortstop. If he can stay healthy and approach career norms, he could give the Cardinals better production at the position than they have since 2003. Going back to Furcal’s rookie season of 2000, he has posted the following WAR totals in seasons where he has been healthy:

2000: 3.6   2002: 2.1   2003: 4.9   2004: 2.6   2005: 5.9   2006: 3.0   2007:  1.3   2009: 2.4   2010:  3.8  

A return to 2010 production would exceed the average of the Renteria, Eckstein, and Clayton years. A return to 2005 production, while very unlikely at age 34, would be the best season for a Cardinal shortstop since 2003 and 1989 before that.

Ozzie’s shadow still looms large over the Cardinal shortstop position. He was a once-in-a-generation shortstop. We may never see another like him wear the birds on the bat. But there is hope at shortstop for the 2012 season. There is also a kid by the name of Ryan Jackson that will be at Memphis this year. He is pretty darn good, and will have his chance to be the shortstop of the future. Ozzie’s shoes can never be filled. Furcal and Jackson, however, could be a significant upgrade over what the Cardinals have seen for the last 15 seasons.

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Cardinals Hall Of Fame Website Debuts

NEW CARDINALS HALL OF FAME MUSEUM WEBSITE DEBUTS

On Line Museum Celebrates Team History, Showcases Extensive Cardinals Collection and Engages Fans

ST. LOUIS, Mo., January 30, 2011— The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum debuted a new website ( www.cardinals.com/museum ) today that showcases the team’s extensive collection of baseball memorabilia, while encouraging fans to explore and learn more about the rich 121-year history of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The web site ( www.cardinals.com/museum ) includes hundreds of historical photographs, several fresh virtual exhibits and dozens of informative videos that go inside the collection and highlight the biographies of some of the greatest Cardinals in team history. The new web page (www.cardinals.com/museum) also has interactive elements designed to encourage fan input and engage fans.

“We wanted to create a place to showcase our vast museum collection, while giving fans a chance to learn more about the rich history of the Cardinals,” said Bill DeWitt III, President of the Cardinals.

The Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum collection is the largest team-held collection in baseball and is second only to National Baseball Hall of Fame in terms of size with over 15,000 memorabilia items and over 80,000 archival photographs. While the museum has been closed since 2008, artifacts from the Cardinals Hall of Fame museum are currently featured throughout Busch Stadium, including in the team’s front office, Cardinals Team Store and Cardinals Club, as well as part of periodic special exhibits within the community.

“This website is a great way for us to further the educational mission of the museum, while making our collection available to fans all over the world in a free and fun format,” said Vicki Bryant, Vice President of Event Services and Merchandising. “Our museum staff and Major League Baseball did a fantastic job with the designing the web site to bring the rich history of the Cardinals alive.”

The virtual museum (www.cardinals.com/museum) features several unique exhibits such as the story of the Cardinals 11 World Championships, Stan “The Man” Musial and a look at how the Cardinals got their name. The website also includes a “Question from the Fans” section where fans are encouraged to give their personal account of games, eras or players. This interactive ability will allow the team to gather and share individual experiences as they continue to tell the story of the organization.

Other sections of the site (www.cardinals.com/museum) include, “Cardinalographies,” an in-depth look at an era in Cardinals history or biography of a Cardinals great; “Inside the Collection,” a unique look at individual items from a special Cardinals moment; and the Cardinals Museum “Theme of the Week,” where each week the museum will offer a topic that will be discussed at length.  The site is designed to be updated often as new chapters in team history are written each season.

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Hall Monitor: Baseball Reference Ranks Royals’ Chances at Cooperstown

For failing to garner 5% of votes cast this year, Juan Gonzalez will be dropped from the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot next year, leaving the Kansas City Royals with no former players on the regular ballot.

Jason Kendall

Do the Royals have any chance of getting a player in the Hall anytime soon? It’s looking like it will be a very long time.

As I documented in a previous article, few former Royals have ever received significant support to be in the Hall. In fact, few have ever even received the requisite 5% to remain eligible.

Two current players with an outside chance at making it might even consider wearing the Royals’ cap, were they to make it to Cooperstown. Carlos Beltran and Johnny Damon have a shot, and each spent a significant portion of his career in KC.

But according to a Baseball-Reference ranking system, a couple of other former Royals might actually have a better shot at making the hall. A graph called the Hall of Fame Monitor shows that the next in line with the best shot at the Hall is actually none other than… Jason Kendall.

Shocked? I was.

Next after Kendall? Roberto Hernandez.

Disgusted? I was.

The system ranks former players and attempts to predict the chances of current and recently retired players of being elected to the Hall. It awards points for a variety of accomplishments and especially rewards longevity and offensive output from catchers and shortstops. The system describes itself as follows:

This is another Jamesian creation. It attempts to assess how likely (not how deserving) an active player is to make the Hall of Fame. It’s rough scale is 100 means a good possibility and 130 is a virtual cinch. It isn’t hard and fast, but it does a pretty good job.

Gonzalez actually came in with a rating of 120, the exact same rating as the newly inducted Barry Larkin. Gonzalez ranks ahead of a number of Hall of Famers, including recently elected outfielder Andre Dawson. But Gonzalez was undoubtedly penalized for his link to performance-enhancing drugs.

With Gonzalez now gonzo, the former Royal with the most reasonable chance now is Kendall with a 108 ranking. But while the system says a 100 ranking would indicate a chance, don’t tell that to former Royals Vida Blue, David Cone and Bob Boone. Each was over 100 and got nary a sniff from the voters.

Beltran comes in surprisingly low (in my mind) at just 92. He is penalized mostly for a low number of career hits and a low career average. When he reaches 400 homers and 2000 career hits (this season?), his ranking will jump considerably.

Damon sits currently at 90 points. If he could somehow reach the 3000 hit mark (273 away) he would become a virtual lock for the Hall. According to the system, that’s about his only shot.

Such systems are not without flaws, and it’s not hard to find some rankings you disagree with. Personally I don’t like seeing Hernandez (93 points) come in ahead of Dan Quisenberry (77) and Jeff Montgomery (74).

But like the system or not, it illustrates the sad truth. Unless the Royals acquire some aged star who’s playing out the twilight of his career (see former Royals Harmon Killebrew, Gaylord Perry and Orlando Cepeda), it could be more than a decade before we think about a Royal joining George Brett in Cooperstown.

Former Royals Chances of Making the Hall of Fame, According to the Baseball Reference Hall of Fame Monitor:

Batters eligible – Top 200 all time (rank #, total points):

#116 (tie) Juan Gonzalez – 120 points
#153 (tie) Bob Boone – 102 points
#176 Vada Pinson – 95 points
#177 (tie) Benito Santiago – 94 points

Batters not yet eligible – Top 100 (rank #, total points):

#27 (tie) Jason Kendall – 108 points
#38 Carlos Beltran – 92 points
#40 Johnny Damon – 90 points
#77 Mark Grudzielanek – 49 points
#78 (tie) Jermaine Dye – 48 points
#78 (tie) Mike Sweeney – 48 points

Pitchers eligible – Top 200 (rank #, total points):

#78 (tie) Vida Blue – 114 points
#93 David Cone – 103 points
#152 (tie) Dan Quisenberry – 77 points
#161 (tie) Jeff Montgomery – 74 points
#167 (tie) Bret Saberhagen – 70 points

Pitchers not yet eligible – Top 100 (rank #, total points):

#17 Roberto Hernandez – 93 points
#43 (tie) Tom Gordon – 47 points
#58 (tie) Joakim Soria – 34 points
#67 (tie) Zach Greinke – 22 points
#95 (tie) Octavio Dotel – 19 points

Batters already in – Top 200 (rank #, total points):

#39 George Brett – 210 points
#55 (tie) Harmon Killebrew – 178 points
#108 (tie) Orlando Cepeda – 126 points

Pitchers already in – Top 200 (rank #, total points):

#29 Gaylord Perry – 177 points

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