May 10, 2007

For Ripken, a preview of Cooperstown: Cal Ripken walked through the Hall of Fame gallery honoring the members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and saw where his plaque would be. He was enjoying his orientation tour of the Hall yesterday, but it was a surrealistic moment, because Cal Ripken was being shown where he would take his place among baseball's gods.

posted by BornIcon to baseball at 06:58 AM - 30 comments

That has to be a strange feeling to see where your plaque and bust will be. He seems so down to Earth, I'm sure he has a hard time seeing himself among baseballs greatest ever. He just seems like a guys guy. Let's face it. He did what us common people do every day. He went to work and did his job. No excuses, no playing hookie, no whining, no complaining. Congratulations Cal.

posted by dbt302 at 07:42 AM on May 10, 2007

Cal deserves everything he is getting...He just played and played hard like the old guys...If anyone one of you baseball fans get the chance to go to the Hall of Fame, GO GO GO, from the minute you walk in the hair on the back of your neck will stand up..Pictures, plaques, busts, bats, balls, gloves , letters etc....being older than most of you I remember the old guys starting with a older Ruth and Lefty Grove, Glover Cleveland Alexander, Cobb, Hornsby, Gehrig, young Ted Williams, Mantle, Aaron, Mathews, Koufax,Drysdale, Mays,Nap Lojie, Shoeless Joe father use to talk about some of the older guys some of the names I can't remember..Paige, Gibson I was lucky I got to see these guys play and play they did. My father said that Shoeless Joe was the best overall player he ever saw..but the Ruth was unbelieveable because he was baseball for so many in this country..I remember seeing him in 33 as a rather fat player that looked at times that he could barely run to first much less play the outfield. But against the Tigers at that time his age was middle thirties, he played a game that I will never forget. 4 for 5 and he hit some balls that I think today are still traveling. As a 12 year old I remember every pitch and play. He lumbered out to his position and the first batter hit a liner at his feet and he played it like Al Kaline did 30 years latter, he turn with his back to the plate fielded the ball and fired a 6 foot high lineshot to the second baseman and got the player trying to make a single into a double. He only got one homerun that day but it was so far up in the third deck that had he hit it a little higher it would have cleared the roof with plenty to spare. He had earlier in his career hit one out of Tiger Stadium but this one Dad said would have got farther.. Gibson was another player with talent like Ruth but they were two different kinds of players. Both hit the living hell out of the ball. But to me Ted Williams was the best hitters I have ever seen..Had he not played in Boston and been in a ballpark that was hitter friendly and not spend 5 years of his best playing time in the military during the war, Bonds would be at least another 100plus homers away from the record. All the others in the hall of fame have stats that will blow your mind...Brothers Trayor, Wagner, the list goes on just go and you will come away talking to yourself no matter what your age.... Congrats to Cal he played the game the way it was intended to be played. From his first atbat to his last.....

posted by The Old Man at 12:37 PM on May 10, 2007

Surreal or not, its got to be a good feeling to walk those halls and know damn well that you belong there.

posted by tahoemoj at 12:57 PM on May 10, 2007

Thanks This Old Man. That's the first time I've read any post on this site from a guy who actually saw Ruth play. So, is Bonds comparable?

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:13 PM on May 10, 2007

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Old Man. Great stuff. I remember my 1st time taking a trip to Copperstown and that feeling that you spoke of where the hair on the back of your neck stand up, you were right on point with that. The aura in that place is so overwhelming that anyone that truly loves baseball will understand that feeling. Good question, Weedy. So what do you say Old Man?

posted by BornIcon at 01:16 PM on May 10, 2007

Holy cats, I wish Sportsfilter had a favorite comment feature just so I could add The Old Man's comment. Awesome, sir. Thank you for sharing that!

posted by Joey Michaels at 01:18 PM on May 10, 2007

Hey Guys, Don't keep bringing the water to my eyes.....The answer to your question is very easy..Anyone that loves baseball and knows anything about its past will cry like a baby when they pass the doors of the Hall...My kids and grandkids all say that sometimes I live in the past.. I really don't think that is true. The past is what it is all about whether baseball or life. You are what you are because of the past it is as simple as that..My youngest son, loves Warren Spahn, but he as great as he was had nothing on Grover Cleveland Alexander and even Koufax. The story everyone has heard about Alexander is true, he had a very had time of it for whatever reasons, but on the mound with a baseball in his hands there was few is any that could match him pitch for pitch, except for Sandy Koufax and the last 5 years he pitched. I heard a common years ago, from Hank Aaron, that if Sandy Koufax started throwing at batters he would retire..Babe Ruth said there wasn't a pitcher he couldn't hit and believe me he was right, but it would have been very interesting had he been able to bat against Sandy in his prime.. You are right about the aura of Copperstown and the feeling that it gives you. I have heard that one of the Sports shows is trying to get together clips, photos and individuals on tape showing some of the greatest players of the past. There still are lots of people around that have seen some of these players. Players are players here or in the past and it is still the same game today as 100 years ago..Although I don't think the players of todays' game with the exception of a few, could have survived playing in the 20's30's. The talent base today is very watered down and a lot of the hitters that make it today wouldn't be able to do it then. Pitchers doctored up the balls, sharpened up their cleats, played a hell of a lot harder than todays' ball players and there wasn't some many stupid rules and regulations to interfer with playing the game as it was meant to be played. Everyone says the players of today are bigger, faster, stronger than before, well guys some maybe but look at the stats of Ruth 6' 3" 190 and as quick as a cat with the arm to post world series records that lasted until Ford broke them in the 60's. Believe me there wasn't a pitcher in baseball that was going to take on Ruth in his prime. Same goes for Hornsby, Jackson and the rest. Cobb was as he was portraited an asshole period. I like to call him the Rose of his era as far as putting the ball in play. Very few had his talent then or now. You guys make me feel that baseball isn't dead and that the fans still like the game. I maybe be old but I am certainly not dead yet and I listen, like my father and grandfather did to the games on the radio since as long as I can remember. So do my kids and grandkids. Now if we can get a League President or Commis that knows what the hell he is doing.....Thanks for you great comments. Old Man

posted by The Old Man at 01:43 PM on May 10, 2007

Wow is the only word that I can think of to describe what I've just read, Old Man. History was always my favorite and you my friend are a walking, talking, living, breathing baseball historian. I would love to hear more about the past legends that played the game and what you think of the current crop of players considered to be future Hall of Famers. What do you think about the way the game is played today and do you think (or know of) any players of the past that used any type of performance enhancing-anything. Also, what do you think of the alcohol ban that's being implemented in team clubhouses? We should all be thanking you, Old Man. Thank you for the knowledge.

posted by BornIcon at 02:03 PM on May 10, 2007

Those are some fitting diatribes for your handle. All joking aside, interesting read, thank you. My uncle works at the library across the street from the Hall and does research for the institution. He always has great stories too.

posted by charlatan at 02:39 PM on May 10, 2007

My grandkids are screaming at me using the computer this afternoon, like who are you talking too.....The alcohol ban is so wrong from one stand point being 21 years old is legal to drink and who in the hell do you think you are stopping men(pural) from drinking after the game.. It is sold in the stands so why not stop it too..Landis who personally I thought was a total and complete idiot in capital letters. Good for the game out of his mouth was nothing but bullshit and horsecrap. He was nothing but a dictator plain and simple..It was to an certain point his way or the highway and all that sav ing baseball was just that bullshit bullshit so on and so forth. If the players break the rules then punish them for it. Why punish all the players because a few are not able to rule themselves with the proper etiquette and candor. Some of the other players I got to see...let me remember well as I have said in the past Cobb was Cobb, you can can't question his talent because the stats are right there and don't lie.. Walter Johnson was the closest I can think to Koufax and Ryan. He wasn't unhitable but he beat you with his thinking and placement of his pitches and his fastball is right there with Koufax, Ryan, Feller although Feller will tell you different, Feller was a great pitcher but I am sorry he wasn't as he would put it the best of the best. A old man living in a dream world. On any given day he was one of the best but as a complete pitcher wasn't consistent enough to put him in with the other top three. I say Bob Feller pitch in Cleveland and the one thing you didn't do was crowd the plate or else wait for a pitch in your ear..Hornsby was like Shoeless Joe so smooth and graceful that it looked like an art.I didn't get to see Gehrig much but it seemed so natural for him that it made it look easy. Same goes for most of the early legends. Traynor, Najoie and Wagner. My kids and most of the sports writers of today say you can't compare yesterday and today. But I will completely disagree with that statement and here is the reason.. The game is very simple and it hasn't really changed in over a 100 years, HIT THE PITCHED BALL & run period, nothing but some of the rules are different, yes, today players have changed due to eating habits and lifestyle. But the bottom line in all the differences is still the ability to hit the ball. I don't give a to quote my father, "a rats' ass who you are or what you are, you still have to stand in the box and hit the ball fair". A truer statement hasn't been spoken before or since in my humble opion. All the drugs in hell aren't going to help you hit the ball if you don't have the ability to did it in the first place. Yes, drugs help you hit it farther, but still you must put the bat on the old horsehide.. That is what grandparents are tell you stories and be there to listen to you no matter what. Love peace and all that stuff Out and beam me up Scotty. the old man

posted by The Old Man at 03:13 PM on May 10, 2007

Wendy, Barry Bonds is comparable in some ways, but look at the stats hrs to abats isn't even close, bonds has more strikeouts, less walks average at bats, overage career sluggage percentage isn't that close. Bonds wasn't a all star pitcher so that isn't a something you can compare. Bonds' stats prior to coming to SF would have most likely gotten him in the hall of fame, but now with the drug problems(?) or whatever should he get in without something being said about the drugs. Don't know and don't really care. Bonds was a great ballplayer even without the steriods, but it can be said he wouldn't have the numbers now if he didn't take them after coming to SF. Remember he isn't the only one involved here over the drug scandal. McGuire and Sosa and others are right in the middle and it doesn't look like McGuire is going to get into the hall of fame anytime soon. McGuire is hiding out in Southern California and Sosa is back playing for whatever reasons. Only time will tell..Stats are Stats but how you got them is always going to be questioned.

posted by The Old Man at 03:29 PM on May 10, 2007

It just doesn't get any better than that. I love old baseball stories because no matter how many times I hear them, it sounds brand new to me. I can still remember my uncle telling me about the times he spent playing baseball with the late, great Roberto Clemente in Puerto Rico back in the late 60's. My uncle used to tell me that 'Berto (that's what he called him) had everyone fooled because he's such a nice guy but between the lines, he was one cold 'son of a bitch'. Much respect to Cal Ripken. One of the great ones will soon be where he belongs. Sosa is back playing for whatever reasons I believe it's to get to 600 homeruns.

posted by BornIcon at 03:36 PM on May 10, 2007

Thank you old man.

posted by Steel_Town at 03:39 PM on May 10, 2007

Thank you old man

posted by True Blue at 04:06 PM on May 10, 2007

I'd also like to thank you, The Old Man, for the great stories, and for not being ashamed to say what people who truly love the game all know: it can reduce you to tears without even trying. The good tears. And thanks for calling McSmokey "Wendy." I'll cherish that always.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 04:13 PM on May 10, 2007

And thanks for calling McSmokey "Wendy." I'll cherish that always. Thought I'd overlook that and give him a pass for the great stories but since you brought that up...yeah, that was pretty funny. Makes me feel like going to Wendy's for a baked potato. Extra sour cream, please

posted by BornIcon at 04:20 PM on May 10, 2007

Old Man, your comments are excellent. I am enjoying them, and enjoying guessing a few things about you. It sounds like you are from the Detroit area (I think you said you saw Ruth at Tiger Stadium, and you have great reverence for Cobb and Kaline). You must have moved around some early on, though, because you've seen a lot of National League players (not to mention Paige and Gibson, who wouldn't have played in Detroit in league play -- perhaps barnstorming). I am curious to know if you ever held a position in baseball or a baseball-related enterprise. The depth of your knowledge and the breadth of your experience seems to indicate something like that to me. Great stuff. In the interest of equal disclosure, I will tell you that I used to work for the Hall of Fame full time and I currently do a fair amount of contract work for them from time to time. I still get chills going through the museum, particularly the plaque gallery. My job gave me many great privileges -- I used to be directly involved in the pre-Induction visits like the one Ripken took, and it is some experience to see these tremendous players in awe of the building and the other tremendous players within it. I can tell you from my experiences there that the reverence and love for baseball is still alive in many, many people. It is great to see that the issues in the game more recently haven't darkened your view of the game (I guess if your passion survived 1920, it could survive just about anything).

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 05:55 PM on May 10, 2007

By far one of the more interesting perspectives we've had in a while. Thank you Old Man.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 06:57 PM on May 10, 2007

I wonder which player (non-pitcher) who has been inducted to the HOF has the lowest career batting avg.? I never got the chance to see Ripken play in his prime, but from what I remember he was more of a "defensive specialist", like Ozzie. I was suprised to see that he has hit over 400 HR though.

posted by yay-yo at 10:59 AM on May 11, 2007

Sorry Weedy, didn't look at the heading address I miss read it..Crafty I am not from Detroit a navy brat for over 40 years and I got to see a lot of the parks in both leagues because of my fathers' and grandfathers' love of the game. I have always considered myself lucky because I got to see as a very young boy all the legends from Ruth to Mays to Mantle to Williams. I was one of the lucky kids in the world to have been able to see and experience the famous Yankees' Murders Row in the 1927 World Series. My father was a very good friend of Red Adair who played with Ruth on the Yankees and he got us tickets to all the games. Weedy you asked about Bonds vs Ruth yesterday and I want you to look at the stats as of 2002 Babe Ruth ranked then #2 in HR, #9 in batting average at .342, #3 in runs, # 2 in walks, #2 in RBI's, #1 in the most important of all slugging percentage at .690 and #5 in total bases. Bonds isn't even near in any except homeruns. Ruth's hr per at bats is the lowest of all players. Aaron may have hit more but it took him over 6000 more at bats. Take nothing away from Bonds one of the most talented players of this era but believe me nobody even comes near Ruth as a players, hitter, personality. He was crazy hard headed,stubborn, sometimes a little off the wall but when it came to playing the game, George Herman Ruth is the player I would want coming to the plate in any situation against any pitcher. You hear people always say he was only a homerun hitter, but I will tell you a story about the Babe the year he hit .399 or there abouts. Going into the last game of the season he was told that he only had to get one hit and that his average would be rounded up to .400 . His first at bat he got a hit and was told by the manager, I think Huggins, to take it easy and he would have someone run for him. His remarks from what my grandfather said are not printable and he when 1 for 4 and finished at .399. So much for not being a hitter. He could have hit .400 anytime he wanted if he cut down on always swinging for the fences. Let me name a few names of the players he played with and against during his heyday...George Sisler, Ty Cobb, Bob meusel, Lou Gehrig, Ken Williams,Sam Rice, Al Simmons,Earle Combs, Charlie Gehringer, Jimmie Fox, Goose Goslin, Eddie Collins, John Mostil,George Burns these all the types of players that he played with and against and he had to hit pitchers like Walter Johnson, Stan Coveleski, George Uhle, General Crowder, Lefty Grove, Waite Hoyt, Wilcy Moore, Red Ruffing , Garland Baxton and Monty Pearson. In this era the pitchers could do anything and everything to the ball. Forget the spitters, they used belt buckets and knives to cut the ball to make it do funny things, marked it up with tar, shoe polish, and whatever else they could find but still he hit for a lifetime average of .342 even when he was extremely overweight slow of foot and getting slower every year. How many players, without the use of drugs, have done this remember his last game 3 homeruns and a single. Yes, there has been better hitters, Cobb, Hornsby, Williams, Sisler , Jackson but none of them could hold a candle to the Babe. Plain and simple it was said that even as a old old man every pitcher in baseball didn't look forward to facing his hands and bat. I think that to compare Bonds to Ruth does Ruth a injustice only because what he did was so much harder then what Bonds has done and it has taken him more atbats, and facing watered down pitching staffs that has become the major leagues of today's era. Ted Williams to me was the greatest hitter I have ever seen in my lifetime and Koufax the greatest pitcher. But that is only my opinion of what I have seen over the years. But when Mickey Mantle makes a statement after the 65 first game of the world series and says that Sandy Koufax was the most unhittable pitcher he has ever seen and Joe DiMaggio later made a statement that watching Williams was an experience he would never trade any hitting for gives you some thoughts about what baseball was and has now become looking at todays games. Didn't mean to get so carried away here but sometimes I love to look back and remember watching even just the local kids play baseball in the fields.

posted by The Old Man at 02:11 PM on May 11, 2007

Wow, thanks Old Man for making the end of my Friday so entertaining.

posted by trox at 03:13 PM on May 11, 2007

Old Man, if you are worried about rambling on, I have only on thing to say to you, ramble on, ramble on. I know more about the Babe now then I did a few minutes ago and can now appreciate how special he really was.

posted by apoch at 03:16 PM on May 11, 2007

trox and apoch, here are some stats on Ted Williams he was 12th in rbi, 2nd in sluggingg percentage 18th in total bases,5th in batting average,12th in hr,15th in runs, 3th in bob, now take into the fact that he missed 5 years of his life to the wars, ww2and the Korean War average those years 45 hrs/135rbi, 97walks, 2000 more at bats, 500+runs and he is ranked # 1 in almost all of the ratings. 225 more homeruns make him number 1 or at least #2, 500 walks puts him almost at the top, 500 more runs at the top, batting average his last year was 40points under his lifetime and remember he hit 406 in 1941 triple crown winner and didn't win the MVP because of an idiot sports writer in Boston that didn't put him on the ballot for whatever reason. He was a awarded Marine pilot during both wars, multi all star and if a comparison was to be made he didn't as well as Ruth as younger men and couldn't pitch as well as Babe did for the same Boston RedSox. My whole family was his last game in Boston and got to watch him in his last abat hit a homerun and the closest to that was Gibson's in the 85 world series for feeling and emotion. My father as well as most of baseball lovers will tell you, Ted Williams had the sweetest swing of any player in history. Yes that includes Babe. Here is a question for all you baseball fans and triva nuts: Who was the last NL player to hit 400? And don't look it up.

posted by The Old Man at 04:13 PM on May 11, 2007

Bill Terry? And thanks ... this has been some excellent reading.

posted by wfrazerjr at 04:49 PM on May 11, 2007

This man was no prima donna - an excellent ball player and even a better person. Cal, I'll see you at the Hall of Fame.

posted by longgreenline at 09:53 PM on May 11, 2007

Anybody out there remember the Pacific Coast League Champions 1956 Los Angeles Angels and can you reminder the starting lineup? Hint: the starting second baseman turned out to be one the best managers in baseball. Another where did DiMaggio and Williams start their baseball careers? Good Night Folks.................

posted by The Old Man at 11:39 PM on May 11, 2007

Old Man: I did a little digging on your behalf, and I found the Sporting News' boxscore from the game you attended in which Ruth hit the home run. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Obviously, it isn't very clear. The game recap reads (as far as I can tell): AT DETROIT -- A strong finish, in which the Yankees scored eight runs in the last two innings, gave the champions a 10-to-7 victory over the Tigers. Babe Ruth hit his seventeenth home run of the season while Gehrig had a double and two singles. All told, the Yankees made 13 hits off the deliveries of Frazier and Fischer. Ruffing went seven innings for the visitors when he was relieved by Wilcy Moore, who was given credit for the victory. Ruth's home run, off Frazier, was the only one he hit in Detroit that season. It was a three-run jack in the eighth which ultimately proved the difference in the game. Unfortunately, there is no mention of his outfield assist. Also unfortunate, it appears you were robbed of seeing Ruth in a second game -- a note at the end of the boxscore indicates that rain prevented the second game of a double header from being played. That was some game, though. By my count it featured eight Hall of Famers. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to experience your memory of that game this way.

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 11:14 AM on May 15, 2007

Thanks for the excellent research crafty. Certainly a nice supplement to the old man's comments.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 12:32 PM on May 15, 2007

Crafty, you are talking about too many year passing here to remember everything, but my brother has the score card my grandfather used that day. After my father died in 1980 he had left me something that I am quite sure nobody else has. My grandfather had given my father a autographed baseball with the Babe's, Lou's and Miller Huggins signature on it. I got Mickey Mantle's, Whitney Ford's and Sandy Koufax's on it and my son got Nolan Ryans' a couple of years ago. This is one of my biggest prizes but the one I really have on the wall is a letter from Grover Cleveland Alexander to my grandfather talking about what he is going to do in the offseason and if he still wanted to go fishing after the season was over if he didn't get into the world series.

posted by The Old Man at 12:37 PM on May 15, 2007

Just so you guys know it takes me a little time to remember things. So sometimes bare with me remembering makes the days go longer and brings smiles to my face and the faces of my kids, grandkids and greatgrandkids.

posted by The Old Man at 12:44 PM on May 15, 2007

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