Baseball Hall of Fame Welcomes Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar

Alomar Hall of Fame

The 2011 Baseball Hall of Fame class is Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar, as they were elected to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday (check out our article on the 2010 class here). Alomar finally got enough votes in his second year on the ballot, while Blyleven was elected in his 14th year on the ballot. None of the new players on the ballot this year even came close to being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, revealing that the voters were ready to make a statement about rumors on performance enhancing drugs. Overall, it was a solid class.

According to Major League Baseball, only four players who appeared on the ballot for the first time collected enough votes to remain on the ballot next year. They were Jeff Bagwell with 242 votes (41.7 percent), Larry Walker with 118 votes (20.3 percent), Rafael Palmeiro with 64 votes (11 percent), and Juan Gonzalez with 30 votes (5.2 percent). Players not receiving enough votes included Harold Baines, John Franco, John Olerud, and Bret Boone. The requirement is to receive at least 5 percent of the total votes to make it on to another ballot.

Though some of this voting is getting pretty controversial, this was a day to celebrate the achievements of Alomar and Blyleven, whether fans feel they deserve to be elected or not. They received enough votes from their peers, even though there had been doubts that Blyleven was ever going to receive enough support to be called one of the best pitchers of all time.

During his career, Alomar played for seven teams, making his biggest marks as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians. He ended his career with 2,724 hits; 1,508 runs; and 474 stolen bases. Alomar was also a 12-time All Star, won 10 Gold Glove Awards at second base, and also won four Silver Slugger Awards at second base. Along the way, he won two World Series rings as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, and played in five American League Championship Series.

Blyleven played his career for five teams, spending 11 years with the Minnesota Twins. He ended his career with a record of 287-250; 3,701 strike outs; and in 1985 finished first in the league with 24 complete games. Blyleven was an All-Star just twice in his career, and never won a Cy Young Award. He won 20 games for the Twins back in 1973, and had a 19-7 record for the Cleveland Indians in 1984. Blyleven also won two World Series titles, one for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1979 and another for the Minnesota Twins in 1987.

David Wells and Over Two Decades in Baseball

David Wells pitching

David Wells was one of his generation’s winningest and most durable pitchers, and he was never afraid to give his opinion on any issue, which has often led to controversy. After his impressive MLB career, he has found a calling coaching high school baseball.

The Start

Born in Torrance, California in 1963, Wells came up through the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization, a second round choice in the 1982 amateur draft. When he made it to the majors in 1987, Wells was used mainly as a reliever, and in fact it was not until he joined the Tigers in 1993 that he was made a full-time starter. With Toronto he had been 47-37, pitching in relief and making most of his starts after his first three years with the club. Possessing an average fastball but a very good curve and changeup, David Wells had great control from the beginning of his long stint in the majors, never walking more than 53 men in a single season, and less than 700 in well over 3,000 inning of work during his career.

From Detroit, Wells went to the Orioles where he had a less than spectacular 1996, going 11-14 with an earned run average over 5.00. The Yankees picked up David as a free-agent in 1997 and something about wearing the pinstripes agreed with Wells. Although he was 34 at the time and had never won more than 16 games in a season, Wells became one of New York’s most reliable starting hurlers. He went 16-10 in 1997 and then followed that up with a phenomenal 18-4 mark in 1998. He walked just 29 men that year as opposed to 163 strikeouts, and finished third in the Cy Young voting behind Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez.

Perfect Game

On May 17th, 1998, David Wells became the second Yankee to throw a perfect game. Eerily, the only other that had done so up to that point was Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series, and Wells had attended the same San Diego high school that Larsen had gone to; and both had reputations for partying and enjoying the night life. On that day against the Minnesota Twins, Wells was in command throughout, striking out eleven men and winning 4-0, getting Pat Meares to pop out to right fielder Paul O’Neill for the final out. The Yankees rushed the mound and had all they could do to carry the portly Wells off the field. Listed at 250 pounds, but weighing considerably more, Wells has looked more like a professional wrestler than a major league pitcher his entire career, but he has always had a rubber arm.

Here’s a video of his last out and perfect game celebration:

Trades and New Teams

To get Roger Clemens away from the Blue Jays in the winter following his fine 1998 campaign, New York traded Wells to Toronto. He went 37-18 the two years he was back there, including his only twenty win season in 2000 at the age of 37. Toronto turned around and dealt the outspoken Wells to the White Sox, where he looked to be finished after experiencing back problems and throwing just 100 innings in 2001. But New York took another chance on Wells in 2002, and he responded with one of his best years, going 19-7. He was 15-7 in 2003 before signing with the Padres as a free agent, where he was a respectable 12-8 in 2004. The Red Sox inked him to a contract in 2005 and he went 15-7, and then was out for most of the 2006 season with various aliments before returning to go a combined 3-5 for Boston and the Padres.

Post-Season Maestro

Wells has pitched well in the post-season, particularly with the Yankees, where in four regular seasons he put up a sterling 68-28 record. As a member of the Bronx Bombers, David is 7-2 in the playoffs, and overall he is 10-5 in 27 post-season appearances, the first nine of those in relief with Toronto. His 3.17 earned run average in these contests is almost a full run lower than his 4.07 career standard. Wells’ mouth has gotten him into trouble frequently, as he has clashed with everyone in the game from Yankees’ skipper Joe Torre to baseball’s commissioner, Bud Selig. Wells has given his opinion on the steroids issue in no uncertain terms, not afraid to call out players he thinks are juiced, and has written a book that so incensed the Yankee brass that he was fined $100,000 by the club for some of his comments in it.

Overall a Great Career

Wells is probably not a serious Hall of Fame candidate despite his 230 wins. His earned run average is much too high to be considered for such an honor, and he has given up more hits than innings pitched over his career. But few pitchers have done more with less than have David Wells, who is one of just 17 men to have ever pitched a perfect game, and will always be remembered for coming up big in the games that mattered the most.

How to Meet a Baseball Player

As the warm days of summer take over, the American population is taken over by their love affair with baseball and more importantly baseball players. The crowd watches with awe as their favorite baseball player swings the bat and rounds the bases. Baseball players for the most part, are some of the nicest guys out there. They remember when they stood around before and after games trying to meet their favorite players. It is for this reason that meeting a baseball player can be such a joy. They are usually more then happy to sign an autograph and pose for a picture.

As with all sports, there are the occasional “prima donnas” out there in baseball. For the purpose of this article we will ignore these anomalies. They make the rest of their sport look bad and do not deserve to be given the time needed to try and meet them. Follow these easy steps to meet a baseball player and fulfill your dream.

Steps to Take

First step is to do a little research on your favorite baseball player and team. Go on to the baseball team’s website and look up information about the ballpark in which they play. This will give you vital information about what time the gates open for games and when they allow people to watch batting practice.

Second step is very simple. While on the baseball team’s site buy tickets to a game. If your baseball team only allows people to watch batting practice on a weekend game, buy tickets for a weekend game to meet a baseball player.

Third step takes a little bit of planning. You will need to head out to the ballpark well before they open the gates to watch batting practice. There will be many people trying to meet a baseball player. You will want to secure the best spot possible when they open the gates to do this yourself.

Fourth step takes some baseball hustle. When the gates to the baseball stadium open you want to make your way as fast as you can to the lower level next to your team’s dugout. You want to position yourself next to the rail so you are as close as you can get to the baseball players.

Getting baseball autographs

Fifth step is the final home run. Stand there and smile. You can help your cause by holding out an item and marker for the baseball player to autograph. Well your baseball player is signing an autograph for you, remember to thank him for all of the hard work that he does on the field for the baseball team.

Bonus Tips

If you would like to meet a starting pitcher, you need to go to a baseball game when he is not starting. Starting pitcher warm up out in the bullpen and are not around where the fans are.

Checkout your baseball team’s website. Many teams have festivals to raise money for a good cause during the year. At these festivals, they set out table where baseball players sit and sign autographs and meet the fans.

Hack Wilson’s Baseball Record

Hack Wilson memorial plaque

Standing five foot six inches tall and weighing 195 pounds, Lewis Robert “Hack” Wilson did not look like a baseball player. His barrel chest and huge arms made him resemble a weight lifter more than a hitter. He had ridiculously small feet for his frame, wearing a size six shoe. But for a span of seven National League seasons, when he had a bat in his hand, Hack Wilson may have been the most feared hitter in the game. And although many of his records have fallen by the wayside during the deluge of slugging feats of the past few years, Hack Wilson still owns one; one that may never be broken because in 1930 he drove in 191 runs!

The Beginning

Hack Wilson was born in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania on April 26th, 1900. He joined the workforce at an early age, shunning education after the sixth grade. He started playing baseball and saw that he had a propensity for the sport. He also had a propensity for drinking and fighting, and his alcoholism would haunt him the rest of his life. He was in the Virginia League in 1923, where he won the Triple Crown and was brought up by the New York Giants at the end of the season. In New York, he got his nickname; it was given him due to either his resemblance to a professional wrestler named George Hackenschmidt or his “hack” fielding in the outfield. Either way the name stuck, and in 1924 he found himself beginning the year with the Giants. He batted .295 with 57 RBI and knocked in three runs in the World Series.

The next season saw Wilson, who constantly battled with manager John McGraw over his drinking, hit only .239 in limited action. He was sent down to the minors to clean up his act, but the New York club didn’t renew his option in 1925 and he was claimed by the Cubs. McGraw went to his grave claiming that a clerical error was to blame for what proved to be a big mistake.

At age 26, Hack Wilson became a star with the Chicago Cubs. His manager, Joe McCarthy, knew how to handle him and he responded with five consecutive 100 plus RBI seasons. He hit for power and average and his size and name made him a fan favorite in the Windy City. He would lead the league in strikeouts, but he also had hitting streaks of 25 and 27 games and took the home run crown in the National League in 1926,’27, and ’28. In 1929, Hack Wilson hit .345 with 39 home runs and 159 RBI. Wilson carried the Cubs to the World Series, but he lost a pair of fly balls in the sun in the seventh inning of critical Game Four, leading to a ten run inning for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics and the loss of an eight run lead. The Cubs lost the series in five games, and Hack Wilson wore the goat horns, even though he hit .471.

1930 Campaign

If he had done nothing else to distinguish himself, Hack Wilson would have had a nice little career. But his 1930 campaign was one of the most impressive of any major leaguer in history. The ball was reputed to be “juiced” up that summer to increase attendance and action. Several players put up incredible numbers. Jimmy Foxx, Chuck Klein, Babe Ruth, and Lou Gehrig all cleared the 150 RBI plateau. Hack Wilson, however, not only cleared this level, he climbed a totally separate mountain. He hit .356 and blasted 56 home runs. It was not until 69 years later that Mark McGuire would break that National League homer standard. But it was his RBI number that still stands today and has rarely been approached. In 155 games, Hack Wilson had 191 RBI! The only challenge to that record was made by Gehrig in 1931, a year later, when he fell seven short. Since 1938, no hitter has come within 25 RBI of this record.

Joe McCarthy left after the 1930 season, and any chance Hack Wilson had to stay a huge star in baseball left with him. Rogers Hornsby replaced McCarthy, and he had no tolerance for Wilson’s alcohol consumption. The two butted heads all season long and Wilson’s stats suffered greatly. He hit only.261 with a mere 61 RBI and played in only 112 games. He was dealt after the season to the lowly Brooklyn Dodgers, where he briefly shone with 123 RBI in 1932. His revival was short lived however and after two poor seasons in 1933 and 1934, Hack Wilson was out of baseball for good.

Drinking Problems Continued

Hack moved to Baltimore where he continued to drink himself into an early grave. He took a job as a groundskeeper after working in a defense plant during WWII. As his health began to worsen, he went on radio programs to denounce drinking. He died in Baltimore at the age of 48 on November 23rd. 1948.

Good Enough to be Elected

In 1348 games, Hack Wilson had 1062 RBI, with 244 home runs among his 1461 hits. Although not overwhelming by Hall of Fame standards, he was elected to the Hall in 1979 by the Veterans’ Committee, based on his .307 lifetime average and his fabulous 1930 season. They must also have taken into account the toll that his drinking took on his career. As for Hack Wilson, he once had this take on his alcohol problem during his playing days. Joe McCarthy, to teach him a lesson, dropped a worm into a glass of gin and he and Wilson watched it die. He asked Hack Wilson what that had taught him. Hack replied, “If you drink, you won’t have worms.”

2010 Class Inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame: Andre Dawson Only New Player Elected

The 2010 Baseball Hall of Fame class has been announced. The only player heading into the Hall of Fame is Andre Dawson, who had been on the ballot for a while, and now finds his place among the best players in the history of baseball.

Missing Players

The 2010 Baseball Hall of Fame class does not include second baseman Roberto Alomar and shortstop Barry Larkin. Alomar put together an amazing career with the Indians and Blue Jays among other teams, but he led those Blue Jays to two World Series titles and took home 10 Gold Gloves in his career. Barry Larkin played his full career with the Cincinnati Reds, becoming the first shortstop to ever hit 30 home runs and steal 20 bases in the same season. He also has a World Series ring from 1990 with the Reds.

What Does It Take?

To get on the ballot you have to play at least 10 seasons in Major League Baseball, and then wait five years before the Baseball Writers of America votes on whether or not they should be in the baseball Hall of Fame. Voters don’t just take statistics into account, but also how they were portrayed, and how the player carried themselves both on and off the field. When the voting is done by more than 500 members of the committee, it takes 75% of the votes for a player to make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame. There are also a limited number of years that they can appear on the ballot before they are taken off, but if not elected in their first year of the ballot they do get more chances.

There were 26 players on the 2010 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, but each voter could only choose 10 players to put on their individual ballots. Some of the players didn’t ever really stand a chance, like Mike Jackson and David Segui, who made it on the ballot because they were good players for a long period of time, but won’t get the Hall of Fame voters on their side because they weren’t “great” players. All of the players that didn’t get 75% of the vote, but met the minimum number of votes will return on the ballot for the 2011 Hall of Fame vote, and will stay on the ballot for as long as they stay below the maximum number of years allowed and above the minimum number of votes required.

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