The Dodgers have been so fortunate over the years to have such incredible players wear the uniform and eventually reach the Hall of Fame. Yet there are just 10 who have left such an indelible mark on the franchise that their number is retired and of course, one of those 10 is Duke Snider.
So when he passed away earlier this year, it was an obvious decision to wear a patch in his memory all season long and yet, there was so much more we wanted to do to honor one of the greatest players to ever wear the uniform – and the franchise’s all-time home run leader.
One thing we had never really done as an organization was to put a logo or symbol in the grass and the idea was posed that we put his #4 in center field, where he once roamed. With lots of hard work from our grounds crew, they made it look just right.
We also wanted to pay tribute to the Brooklyn club, with which he spent so much of his career, so the players wore their Brooklyn hats, a fitting tribute.
Of course, we also wanted the family to be involved in the tribute, so not only did we have nearly 40 of them here at the game, we were able to incorporate many of them in the pregame ceremony. Several of Duke’s great grandchildren took the field with the Dodgers, while one of his granddaughter’s sang the anthem and his four kids threw out the ceremonial first pitch. His nephew uttered Vin Scully’s famous words “It’s Time for Dodger Baseball” and Tommy Lasorda was there to present a gift on behalf of the organization.
But it was just as important to involve the fans, so we distributed Duke Snider bobbleheads as a keepsake and we lobbed a call into the Hall of Fame, which rarely lets the plaques leave Cooperstown but immediately said ‘yes’ and allowed us to give fans the opportunity to photograph themselves with the historic piece.
When it was all said and done, we’re hopeful that you all, and his family, found this to be a fitting tribute to a man who meant so much to this organization and who was so beloved by so many. Were any of you on hand for the ceremonies and did you get a chance to take a photo with the plaque? What did you think of the event overall? Would love your feedback to see if it’s something we might do again with our friends in Cooperstown.
Four Dodgers who have left their marks on the organization were born on this date…
The youngest of those four turns 30 years old today and he’s the current “Dean of the Dodgers.” Remember that term from the 80s, which often referred to the player who was with the team the longest? Well, Hong-Chih Kuo is that guy, having been in the organization since he was drafted as an 18 year old in 1999. His perseverence through physical injuries and this year, mental anguish, have earned him the respect of hundreds of thousands of baseball fans around the globe and he couldn’t be a better representative of this team.
Eight years before Kuo entered the world in Taiwan, Nomar Garciaparra was born and raised here in Los Angeles. He got to play for his hometown team for several years and became an immediate fan favorite. Arguably his most memorable day as a Dodger was the “four-homer game” when the team trailed by four in the bottom of the ninth and hit four consecutive solo shots to tie it, only to lose the lead in the 10th and win it on a Nomar walk-off in the bottom half.
The other two are no longer with us, but far from forgotten.
Don Drysdale would have been 75 today. He won World Championships, set Major League records and reached the Hall of Fame, long before being known to another generation as a Dodger broadcaster. He passed away far too young, in 1993, while on the road with the team. Tonight, more than 50 of his family and friends (plus thousands of his admirers) will be on hand as we celebrate his career and life as a Dodger. His sons, D.J. and Darren, will throw out ceremonial first pitches and his wife (a legend in her own right) Ann Meyers Drysdale will also be on hand.
And coincidentally, another Hall of Famer and Dodger whose number is retired, Pee Wee Reese, was also born on this day in 1918. He played in the third-most games in franchise history (1,918), scored more runs than anyone who ever wore a Dodger uniform (1,338), had more hits than everyone other than Zach Wheat and will always be remembered as one of the original Boys of Summer. He passed away in 1999 and not only did he wear No. 1 on his jersey, but in so many people’s minds, he was No. 1 in their heart, too.
With all that’s gone wrong this season on and off the field, it’s important for us to take a moment and think about four Dodger All-Stars, all born on the same day, all accomplished in their own right, and all who wore (or wear) the uniform with dignity and pride.
The Hall of Fame released a statement this morning regarding one of their own, Harmon Killebrew. I can’t imagine what it must be like to pen something like this, but it certainly shows a level of class and dignity rarely seen in the world. In fact, few people ever get the opportunity to share a thought like this with so many and therefore, it was worth sharing with you all.
“It is with profound sadness that I share with you that my continued battle with esophageal cancer is coming to an end. With the continued love and support of my wife, Nita, I have exhausted all options with respect to controlling this awful disease. My illness has progressed beyond my doctors’ expectation of cure.
I have spent the past decade of my life promoting hospice care and educating people on its benefits. I am very comfortable taking this next step and experiencing the compassionate care that hospice provides.
I am comforted by the fact that I am surrounded by my family and friends. I thank you for the outpouring of concern, prayers and encouragement that you have shown me. I look forward to spending my final days in comfort and peace with Nita by my side.”
Anyone who has grown up as a baseball fan has heard about Harmon Killebrew and anyone I’ve ever spoken to who knows him says he was the ultimate gentleman. The way he has handled the most difficult situation in his life certainly confirms that for anyone who has never met him.
All of us at the Dodgers wish him and his family the strength they’ll need in the coming days and weeks to deal with this very sad news.
Photo credit: AP
For anyone who’s ever been to Spring Training in Arizona, they’ve likely heard about Don & Charlie’s, the legendary eatery in Scottsdale. I’ve heard about it for years but never been and last night, I dined there for the first time with one of my mentors in the game of baseball.
We were there for about two hours and during that time, we saw Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Commissioner Bud Selig and so many other baseball people it was truly astonishing. Following my dinner, I stuck around for a drink with the legendary doctors, Frank Jobe and Lewis Yocum, who have probably done several thousand Tommy John surgeries between them (as well as countless other body parts they’ve put back together).
I was keeping the seat warm for Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who came straight to dinner from the airport and who also has a long history of sports clients that rivals just about anyone in the country (and is our team doctor, too). They were all joined by the medical director of the Kerlan-Jobe Surgery Center.
The place is literally covered in wall to wall sports memorabilia and apparently Ned Colletti used to go there all the time early in his career, as there’s a dish on the menu named after him.
If you make it out to Arizona, you should stop over there and check it out…just make a reservation if you can, as the place was packed all night.
Just received this release from the Hall of Fame, which puts Steve Garvey, Tommy John and others closer to enshrinement than they’ve ever really been before.
Expansion Era Committee to Consider 12 Candidates
for Hall of Fame Election at December’s Winter Meetings
— Ballot Features Eight Long-Retired Players, Three Executives and One Manager for Consideration of Careers Whose Greatest Impact Felt from 1973-present —
(COOPERSTOWN, NY) – Eight former major league players, three executives and one former manager comprise the 12-name Expansion Era ballot for the Committee to Consider Managers, Umpires, Executives and Long-Retired Players for Hall of Fame election, to be reviewed and voted upon at the 2010 Baseball Winter Meetings by a 16-member electorate. The results of the Expansion Era vote will be announced on December 6 at 10 a.m. ET from the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.
Every candidate receiving votes on 75 percent of the 16 ballots cast will earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and will be honored during Hall of Fame Weekend 2011, July 22-25 in Cooperstown, New York.
The 12 individuals who will be considered by the Expansion Era Committee in December for Hall of Fame Induction in 2011: Former players Vida Blue, Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Al Oliver, Ted Simmons and Rusty Staub; former manager Billy Martin; and executives Pat Gillick, Marvin Miller and George Steinbrenner. Martin and Steinbrenner are deceased; all other candidates are living.
The 16-member electorate charged with the review of the Expansion Era ballot features: Hall of Fame members Johnny Bench, Whitey Herzog, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Frank Robinson, Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith; major league executives Bill Giles (Phillies), David Glass (Royals), Andy MacPhail (Orioles) and Jerry Reinsdorf (White Sox); and veteran media members Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun), Tim Kurkjian (ESPN), Ross Newhan (retired, Los Angeles Times) and Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated).
The Expansion Era ballot was devised by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) appointed Historical Overview Committee, comprised of 11 veteran members: Dave Van Dyck (Chicago Tribune); Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun); Rick Hummel (St. Louis Post-Dispatch); Steve Hirdt (Elias Sports Bureau); Moss Klein (formerly Newark Star-Ledger); Bill Madden (New York Daily News); Ken Nigro, (formerly Baltimore Sun); Jack O’Connell (BBWAA secretary/treasurer); Nick Peters (formerly Sacramento Bee); Tracy Ringolsby (FSN Rocky Mountain); and Mark Whicker (Orange County Register).
The Expansion Era covers candidates among managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players whose most significant career impact was realized during the 1973-present time frame. Eligible candidates include: Players who played in at least 10 major league seasons, who are not on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list, and have been retired for 21 or more seasons (those whose last major league season was no later than 1989); Managers and Umpires with 10 or more years in baseball and retired for at least five years, with any candidates who are 65 years or older first-eligible six months from the date of the election following retirement; and Executives who have been retired for at least five years, with any active executives 65 or older eligible for consideration.
The Expansion Era Committee is the first of a three-year cycle of consideration for Managers, Umpires, Executives and Long-Retired Players by Era, as opposed to the previous consideration by classification, with changes approved and announced by the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors at the conclusion of Hall of Fame Weekend 2010.
The changes maintain the high standards for earning election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, with focus on three eras: Expansion (1973-present); Golden (1947-1972) and Pre-Integration (1871-1946), as opposed to the previous four Committees on Baseball Veterans, which considered the four categories of candidates. Three separate electorates will now consider by era a single composite ballot of managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players on an annual basis, with Golden Era Committee candidates to be considered at the 2011 Winter Meetings for Induction in 2012 and the Pre-Integration Era Committee candidates to be considered at the 2012 Winter Meetings for Induction in 2013. The Expansion Era Committee will next meet at the 2013 Winter Meetings for Induction in 2014.
“The procedures to consider the candidacies of managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players have continually evolved since the first Hall of Fame election in 1936,” said Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the board for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “Our continual challenge is to provide a structure to ensure that all candidates who are worthy of consideration have a fair system of evaluation. In identifying candidates by era, as opposed to by category, the Board feels this change will allow for an equal review of all eligible candidates, while maintaining the high standards of earning election.”
The 12 candidates for Expansion Era consideration:
Vida Blue spent 17 seasons pitching in the majors with the Oakland A’s, Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants, compiling a 209-161 record, with a 3.27 ERA in 502 major league games/473 starts. Blue, the 1971 AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner, was named to six All-Star teams, and won at least 18 games five times in his career.
Dave Concepcion spent 19 seasons as the Cincinnati Reds shortstop, compiling a .267 average with 2,326 hits, 321 stolen bases and two Silver Slugger Awards, along five Gold Glove Awards and nine All-Star Game selections.
Steve Garvey compiled a .294 career average over 19 major league seasons with the Dodgers and Padres, amassing 2,599 hits, 272 home runs, 1,308 RBI and 10 All-Star Game selections. He hit .338 with 11 home runs and 31 RBI in 11 postseason series, was named the 1978 and 1984 NLCS MVP and won the 1981 Roberto Clemente Award. Garvey won four Gold Glove Awards and played in an N.L. record 1,207 straight games.
Pat Gillick spent 27 years as the general manager for the Blue Jays, Orioles, Mariners and Phillies, winning at every stop along the way, with his teams earning nine post-season berths and three World Series championships. In his 27 years as GM, his teams finished with a winning record 20 times.
Ron Guidry pitched 14 seasons for the New York Yankees, compiling a 170-91 record, a 3.29 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.81-to-1. In 10 postseason starts, Guidry was 5-2 with a 3.02 ERA. Four times he won 18 games or more in a season, including a Cy Young Award winning 1978 season with a 25-3, 1.74 era record.
Tommy John pitched 26 seasons for the Indians, Dodgers, Yankees, Angels and A’s, finishing his career after the 1989 season with a record of 288-231 and 3.34 ERA. His 700 career starts rank eighth on the all-time list and his 4,710.1 innings rank 20th all-time.
Billy Martin spent 16 seasons 1969, 1971-83, 1985, 1988) managing the Twins, Tigers, Rangers, Yankees (five different stints) and A’s, compiling a 1,253-1015 record (.552). Martin’s teams finished in first place five times, winning two American League pennants and one World Series with 1977 Yankees.
Marvin Miller was elected as the head of the Major League Baseball Players Association in 1966 and quickly turned the union into a powerhouse. Within a decade, Miller had secured free agency for the players. By the time he retired in 1982, the average player salary was approximately 10 times what it was when he took over.
Al Oliver compiled 2,743 hits in 18 seasons with the Pirates, Rangers, Expos, Giants, Phillies, Dodgers and Blue Jays. He finished with a .303 career average, 529 doubles and 1,326 RBI, recording 10 seasons with a .300 or higher average, including nine straight from 1976-1984.
Ted Simmons played for 21 seasons, totaling a .285 batting average, 2,472 hits, 483 doubles, 248 home runs and 1,389 RBI for the Cardinals, Brewers and Braves. An 8-time All-Star, he garnered MVP votes six times in his career.
Rusty Staub totaled 2,716 hits in a 23-year major league career, with a .279 average, 292 home runs, 1,466 RBI and six All-Star Game selections. He appeared in at least 150 games in 12 seasons, and his 2,951 big league games rank No. 12 on the all-time list.
George Steinbrenner guided the New York Yankees franchise as principal owner from purchasing the team in 1973 to his death in 2010, with his teams winning 11 American League pennants and seven World Series titles.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is open seven days a week year round, with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The Museum observes regular hours of 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. from Labor Day until Memorial Day Weekend. From Memorial Day through the day before Labor Day, the Museum is open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. seven days a week. Ticket prices are $16.50 for adults (13 and over), $11 for seniors (65 and over) and for those holding current memberships in the VFW, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion and AMVets organizations, and $6 for juniors (ages 7-12). Members are always admitted free of charge and there is no charge for children 6 years of age or younger. For more information, visit our Web site at baseballhall.org or call 888-HALL-OF-FAME (888-425-5633) or 607-547-7200.
Just watched Rickey Henderson’s induction ceremony and he did a really nice job. I’m sure plenty of people thought it would be different than it was, but from what I hear, he did a lot of preparation and came off very classy. The fact that he finished his career with the Dodgers is something I’ll always remember and feel fortunate that we had the chance to work with him for half a season.
A big congrats go out to all of the inductees, including Nick Peters, who covered baseball in the Bay Area for years, including 2002 when I was a reporter covering the Giants. Nick was always very gracious to a young writer like myself and I’m grateful for his assistance.
As for today’s lineup, it’s as follows:
Joe Torre said that Manny’s hand is sore and rather than have him start and have to take him out, he’d like to have him available to pinch-hit. I guess that worked out ok on Wednesday.
Also, Joe said that Cory Wade will go on rehab tomorrow and Belisario could go later in the week. Let’s hope that they both return healthy and prove valuable down the stretch.