Showing posts with label baseball. Show all posts
Showing posts with label baseball. Show all posts

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Former Baltimore Oriole's Pitcher Found Dead

(CNN) -- Mike Flanagan, a former Cy Young Award winning pitcher with the Baltimore Orioles, was found dead Wednesday evening, the baseball team said.

"It is with deep sadness that I learned of the death of my friend Mike Flanagan earlier this evening. In over a quarter century with the organization, Flanny became an integral part of the Orioles family, for his accomplishments both on and off the field," Orioles owner Peter Angelos said.

Flanagan also worked as a broadcaster and executive with the Orioles after his 15-year career pitching for the team. He also played several years with the Toronto Blue Jays.

The lefty's best season was in 1979 when he won 23 games for the Orioles and garnered the Cy Young Award.

Authorities found Flanagan's body on a trail near his Maryland home, CNN affiliate WMAR reported.

Authorities are investigating the circumstances that led to Flanagan's death, the affiliate said.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Increase In Ticket Prices For Orioles Games

For the first time since after the 2006 season, the Orioles are raising single game ticket price the s at Camden Yards.

All tickets -- except for the cheapest, left-field, upper reserve seats which will remain at $8 and $9 -- will increase in cost for 2011, ranging from $1 to $7 extra depending on the game desired and when the tickets are purchased.

Greg Bader, the club’s director of communications, said non-prime, advance tickets will increase on average $3, which would make the average price for those tickets roughly $28. The average season-ticket price remains at about $23, below the 2010 Major League Baseball average of $27, according to Bader.

“We believe that the average increase of $3 per ticket is not going to negatively impact someone’s decision to buy, although we recognize no one ever wants to pay more for anything. We certainly understand that point,” Bader said.

Season ticket prices did not go up for 2011 and this is the first, full seat hike for advance tickets since after the 2003 season, Bader said. The increase after 2006 affected some but not all of the tickets sold.

However, this increase comes after the Orioles lost 96 games in 2010, their 13th consecutive losing season. Fans who have not seen an increase of production on the field are being asked to pay more for that product.

“I understand that reaction, but the reality is that there are other factors that are part of that decision-making process,” Bader said.

The Orioles will also continue to implement higher prime-game prices – for all contests against the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox as well as Opening Day on April 4 against the Detroit Tigers – and an extra charge for walk-up ticket purchases the day of the game.

Gameday charges were implemented last season and Bader said it had little to no effect on the number of walkups in 2010. The drop in attendance to an all-time low at Camden Yards last season had more to do with a drop in advance sales after the Orioles began the year 2-16 and 9-24, he said.

“The 2010 walkup figures were essentially unchanged from previous seasons. The difference in attendance from 2009 to 2010 was directly attributable to the lack of advanced sales, which was directly attributable to the team performance during the first two weeks of the season,” Bader said. “So from early April until July, we simply were not selling tickets in advance at the rate we did in previous years. But game day sales were practically identical. And we do not believe that the average $2 difference (for walkups) is going to prevent most fans from making a game-day purchase.”

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ripkens Youth Baseball Field At Memorial Stadium Now Open

It was 19 years ago — and about 30 degrees warmer — when Cal and Billy Ripken played in the last game at Memorial Stadium. But on Tuesday, when they replanted home plate in its old spot off East 33rd Street, the past returned as if on a welcome summer breeze.

"It does make you think of all the memories you have of playing here," Cal Ripken Jr., said after a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new youth baseball diamond opening in the old home of Baltimore's Orioles and Colts.

"My favorite one is hitting my first home run and shaking Dad's hand," Ripken said of his father, Cal Sr., then the third base coach and later manager of the Orioles. "No words were exchanged, but it was a good moment for a dad and a son."
Joining the Ripkens to cut the red ribbon stretched across the new home plate were Gov. Martin O'Malley, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and other supporters of the $1.5 million project.

The funds were raised by the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, which was started by the Ripken brothers in honor of their late father and dedicated to bringing baseball to disadvantaged youths. The project received $400,000 from the state's Program Open Space funds.
"What a fitting tribute to have on this hallowed ground," O'Malley said.

The park will return sports, albeit at the amateur level, to a site that was home to so many great Baltimore pro teams. The diamond has a removable center field fence that will enable it to be converted to a football field — in the same orientation as the gridiron on which the Colts played.

Tuesday's ribbon-cutting was the first time former Baltimore Colt Joe Ehrmann had been back since his playing days.

"It gets your adrenalin pumping," the former lineman said of stepping back on the grounds. "You can hear the band playing in the recesses of your mind. It's great to reclaim this field."

With new housing and other buildings surrounding the site, he and the other former Memorial Stadium denizens at the ribbon-cutting said it took a couple of minutes to get reoriented. But once they did, the details were as clear as if they'd happened yesterday.

"The stadium was rocking," Cal Ripken said, remembering the heart-stopping end to the 1982 season when the Orioles were three games behind Milwaukee with four games to go. "We beat them in a doubleheader. We win Saturday. We're all tied up. The fans come with brooms. We have Jim Palmer on the mound."

Despite the 10-2 loss and the end of the season, Ripken said he still thinks of that series when he drives past 33rd Street. Now, he hopes the kids who will play there will make memories of their own.

Called Youth Development Park, it is the first of 18 such facilities that the foundation plans to open in at-risk communities in six states. This one is to be managed by the adjacent Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Family Center Y at Stadium Place.

Morgan Scroggings, 12, a student at the nearby Stadium School, was among a group of kids who attended the ceremony and said he looked forward to playing on the field. Maybe not baseball, though.

"I played it once. It's fun, but not as exciting as other sports," he shrugged. "I play football and basketball, and I wrestled for five years."

Which is probably OK with Cal Ripken, who says the park is more than a place for kids to play sports.

"You just want them to find themselves," Ripken said. "You just want them to grow and develop into being good, productive citizens."

Monday, September 6, 2010

Cal Ripkin, Jr. And Orioles Celebrate Anniversary

Cal Ripken Jr. was never big on self-promotion as a Hall of Fame player for the Orioles and though his name is now attached to a stadium in Aberdeen, a street outside of Camden Yards and a youth baseball league, he is still not one to remind anyone of his greatest career achievement.

The 15th anniversary of that achievement — breaking Lou Gehrig's legendary streak of 2,130 straight games — was marked before Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays with Ripken, who recently turned 50, throwing a perfect strike from the pitcher's mound to Orioles utility player Jake Fox.

It was 15 years ago Monday that Ripken broke Gehrig's streak, Baltimore's Iron Man passing New York's Iron Horse.
"It seems like time has gone by really, really fast," Ripken told reporters in the press box after Sunday's ceremony. "I only realize it when I look at the age of my kids. In many other ways, it seems like the whole night that happened out here is just a couple of years ago. But 15 years? We all get old. Time goes by much faster when you leave the game then when you play it."

But the memories of that night against the California Angels , highlighted by Ripken's impromptu victory lap around the stadium high-fiving with fans, remain.

"I have a special memory, a special feel of it from inside my spikes," Ripken said. "It was a wonderful human moment, a wonderful family moment, a great baseball moment. But I guess the farther you get removed from it, in some ways it feels like maybe it wasn't you who did.
Though it seems doubtful that anyone will ever break Ripken's record, the man who played every game for 16 straight seasons in a 21-year career thinks it can be done.

"I sit inside my own shoes and say, 'If I can do it, certainly somebody else can'," Ripken said. "Somebody else can come along with grit and determination to go out and play every day. It's not much different playing 162 or playing 158 or 155. Looking back on it, the years went by fast and it was pretty remarkable that I was able to stay healthy."

What was also remarkable was how far Gehrig's record Ripken wound up going, playing in an additional 502 straight before stopping late in the 1998 season. Ripken retired in 2001.

"I think it was important for me to keep playing with the same attitude that I did coming into that record-breaking night," Ripken said. "I never set out to break the record. It wasn't my goal. I wasn't hopeful that it would be my identity. I thought it was the right way to approach the game. My Dad was there to enforce that sort of approach; you come to the ballpark; you're an everyday player and if the manager wants you to play, you play."

The late Cal Ripken Sr. remains very much a part of his son's life. As the famous son sat in the dugout with Orioles coach John Shelby before Sunday's game, an image of his father flashed on the big screen in centerfield, looking down as he did from a private box the night Gehrig's record was broken.

"I got a great charge of seeing him today," Ripken said.

Ripken admits that Buck Showalter's hiring as Orioles manager has strengthened his interest in his old team – and the possibility of becoming involved in an official capacity once the younger of his two children goes off to college. Ryan Ripken is a junior at Gilman. "Buck turns on my baseball brain," Ripken said. "I had a chance to sit and talk with him when he came up to Aberdeen to watch [Manny] Machado up there perform. Our conversations wouldn't be that interesting to other people. I always thought Buck was one of the best baseball guys I ever had a chance to talk to. I still have my timetable… and I still value the flexibility and the time that I have now, and you wouldn't have that if you came back to the big-league scene."

As befitting Ripken's style, Sunday's ceremony was brief, though he received a warm ovation from the crowd.

There was no victory lap this time.

"You can't recreate that moment that happened," Ripken said. "I was embarrassed to take the lap that night. I'd be extra embarrassed to take it even now."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Baseball Birthday Today


Cal Ripken Jr. played for the Baltimore Orioles from 1981-2001 and was inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame in 2007. From May 30, 1982, through Sept. 19, 1998, Ripken played in a string of 2,632 consecutive games, a major league record that is known as "The Streak." On Sept. 6, 1995, he played in his 2,131st straight game, breaking Lou Gehrig's record and becoming baseball's Iron Man. Ripken was a 19-time All Star and two-time Most Valuable Player. He finished his career with 3,184 hits and 431 home runs. Ripken was named the American League Rookie of the Year in 1982 after hitting 28 home runs. "The Streak" began on May 30, 1982, when manager Earl Weaver started him at third base. The next season, he earned his first All-Star berth and was named the AL MVP, hitting .318 with 27 homers and 102 RBIs. The Orioles won the World Series that season, beating the Philadelphia Phillies in five games.
Ripken played every inning of every game in 1983. In 1987, Ripken's dad Cal Ripken Sr. became manager of the Orioles, and his brother Bill was called up from Triple-A Rochester. In 1990, Ripken began his major-league record streak of 95 straight games without an error. Ripken won his second AL MVP in 1991.
He also won a Gold Glove, was named MVP of the All-Star Game and won the All-Star home run contest that year. On Sept. 6, 1995, he broke Gehrig's streak and hit a home run against the California Angels. Ripken received a long standing ovation at Oriole Park at Camden Yards while he took a lap around the stadium, high-fiving fans. On July 15, 1996, Ripken started at third base for the first time since 1982. Ripken ended "The Streak" on Sept. 20, 1998, against the New York Yankees. Rookie Ryan Minor took his place at third base.

On June 19, 2001, Ripken announced his retirement.
Ripken was born in Havre de Grace, Md., on Aug. 24, 1960. The Orioles selected him in the second round of the 1978 draft. After retiring, he began Ripken Baseball, a sales and marketing company based in Baltimore that represents his business and philanthropic efforts, along with his brother Bill.

He is married to wife Kelly and has two kids -- a daughter, Rachel, born in 1989, and a son, Ryan, born in 1993.
photos BaltimoreSun

This one's for you, Missy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Michelle Obama To Speak On Obesity At Camden Yards

Will promote baseball's participation in her anti-obesity campaign

First Lady Michelle Obama is due at Camden Yards this morning to enlist Major League Baseball in her campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation.

Obama will join Orioles players and team majority owner Peter Angelos to announce a joint initiative between the White House and professional baseball that will address what has become her signature issue. The "Let's Move!" campaign promotes healthy eating and increased activity for children.

Orioles players, including Matt Wieters and Adam Jones, and Tampa Bay Rays players, including All-Star Carl Crawford, are expected to join Obama in announcing the new initiative. Sue Selig, the wife of Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, and several MLB and players' union officials are also expected to attend.

After the announcement, the players are scheduled to conduct a baseball clinic for 50 kids from the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities leagues and the Boys & Girls Clubs. Whether or not the First Lady would jump into the action herself was unknown, although in the past, she has hula-hooped and jumped rope to promote kids' health.

She is, however, scheduled to throw at least one ball during her time in Baltimore — later in the evening, she is scheduled to throw out the first pitch before the O's-Rays game.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner Has Died

The Associated Press
Tuesday, July 13, 2010; 10:05 AM

NEW YORK -- The Yankees say owner George Steinbrenner has died. He was 80.

Spokesman Howard Rubenstein said he died Tuesday morning. He had a heart attack, was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Fla., and died at about 6:30 a.m, a person close to the owner told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not disclosed those details.

Steinbrenner, who celebrated his birthday July 4, had been in fragile health for several years.

Flags were immediately lowered to half-staff at Steinbrenner Field, the Yankees' spring training complex. The Yankees says many employees there were in tears.

The death comes two days after the team's beloved public-address announcer Bob Sheppard died at 99.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Babe Ruth Baseball Card Owner Is Found

Well, that didn't take long.

Less than 24 hours after The Baltimore Sun published a story about the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum's year-long search for the owner of a rare and valuable baseball card, the owner has surfaced.

A man identifying himself as Glenn Davis of Bethany Beach, Del., contacted the museum -- and the newspaper -- Tuesday to say he was the owner of the 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth rookie card.
It's one of the most valuable cards on the market, with an estimated value of $500,000. No more than 11 of the cards are believed to exist.

Although the museum on Emory Street has displayed the card for 12 years, officials there learned only recently that the value of the card had skyrocketed.

That prompted plans for a prominent new display of the card and a renewed search for Davis, who called the museum and spoke to executive director Mike Gibbons.

"He told me if it were up to him, he'd leave the card with the museum," said Gibbons, who is certain the man he spoke to is the owner of the card. "But he was going to talk to his wife about it, and he said his wife might have other ideas.

"He promised he'd get back to us by the end of the week with his decision."

In an e-mail to The Baltimore Sun, Davis said: "Well, you found me. I didn't think it was possible in today's world to hide! I was not aware that moving to Bethany Beach, Del. would be better than the witness protecting plan!"

Davis thanked the newspaper for publishing the article, "which [led] to my getting the word regarding the museum's attempt to reach me."

He did not return phone calls from the newspaper seeking further comment. According to Gibbons, Davis was on a business trip to Atlanta.

The rare 1914 Babe Ruth rookie card -- along with 14 others featuring Ruth's teammates on the Baltimore Orioles of the International League, was originally donated to the museum by Glenn Davis' father, Richard Davis, in 1998.

After Richard Davis died, Glenn Davis renewed an agreement in 2001 allowing the museum to display the cards on a long-term basis, with no time frame for their return.

But when the Ruth rookie card was appraised last year for $500,000 -- surpassing the Honus Wagner tobacco card as the priciest on the market -- museum officials decided to feature it in a new "blockbuster" display on baseball card collecting.

Before doing that, though, they wanted to contact Davis about their plans and make sure he approved.

"I look forward to getting up to Baltimore to visit and see the card in its new display," said Davis in his e-mail to The Baltimore Sun. "It has been a while."

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Babe Ruth Museum Has A Mystery To Solve

It hangs in an upstairs display case at the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum on Emory Street, an old baseball card at the center of a Baltimore mystery.

Inside the faded red border is a photo of the great Babe Ruth gazing off to his left, somehow looking pensive and mischievous at the same time.

The future Hall of Famer is 19 years old, tall and lean, not yet showing the effects of a prodigious appetite for beer and hot dogs that developed over his lifetime.

This is the 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth rookie card. It's one of the most valuable cards on the market, priced at a cool $500,000 in good condition. No more than 11 of the cards are believed to exist.

Museum officials are ecstatic to have it in their possession. While displaying the card for 12 years, they learned only recently that its value had skyrocketed.

"The Honus Wagner tobacco card used to be the Holy Grail of collectibles," says Mike Gibbons, the museum's executive director. "Now the Ruth card is the Holy Grail."

Gibbons and his staff are so excited about the card that they plan to make it the centerpiece of a "blockbuster" display on the history of baseball card collecting.

But before they do, they want to contact the card's owner, the Baltimore man who generously loaned the card for display. They want to let him know about their grand plans for his wonderful gift.

Except … they can't find him.

In this age of computer databases and search engines and 24/7 social media connectivity, the man has flat-out disappeared.

He vanished in a way that seems almost impossible to do in this day and age.

And all he left behind was one of the most expensive baseball cards in the world.

An offer they couldn't refuse

If you ask Babe Ruth Museum officials, they'll tell you the story begins in June 1998. That's when a local man named Richard Davis approached them with an offer.

He was in possession of the 1914 Ruth rookie baseball card in good condition, along with 14 other cards issued that year, mostly of Ruth's teammates. Davis agreed to allow the museum to display them on a long-term basis, with no time-frame for their return.

The cards were from a series issued by the old Baltimore News when Ruth had only recently left St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, the Baltimore orphanage where he had been consigned at age 7 by his parents for "incorrigible behavior."

A 19-year-old pitcher, he had just signed his first professional baseball contract with the Baltimore Orioles of the International League. The team was managed by the legendary Jack Dunn, who had agreed to be Ruth's guardian. As the story goes, Ruth's teammates took to calling him "Jack's newest babe," and the nickname stuck for the rest of his life.

Museum officials were delighted with Davis' loan. Even back then, they knew the card was valuable. But they didn't think it was worth anything approaching the amount the 1909 Wagner tobacco card was fetching. A card of the Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Fame shortstop had sold for $640,000 in 1996.

"We're in the sports heritage business, not in the business of buying and selling memorabilia," Gibbons says of why the Ruth card wasn't appraised back then.

Still, Gibbons knew the Ruth card was rare. Not a lot of people had come across it back in 1914. And the ones who did apparently weren't excited enough to hold on to it.

"It had a very limited distribution, just in the Baltimore area," says Brian Fleischer of memorabilia evaluator Beckett Media in Dallas. "And couple that with the fact [Ruth] was a rookie."

In addition, World War I had just begun, in July of that year, about the time that baseball card experts believe the Ruth card was issued. And even though the U.S. would not enter the war until 1917, Americans seemed to have little passion for frivolous pastimes such as collecting baseball cards.

"There could have been more important things to worry about than the … card of an unknown future Hall of Famer," notes Fleischer dryly.

Richard Davis died in August 2001. His son, Glenn Davis, then entered into the same loan agreement with the museum concerning his father's card collection.

And for the next eight years, the Ruth rookie card was displayed with little fanfare in an upstairs room adjacent to where Ruth was born.

Then last year, Gibbons and his staff were alerted to a story in Forbes magazine on the world's most expensive baseball cards.

There, at the top of the list, was the 1914 Ruth rookie card. And now the price listed for the card was an eyeball-popping $500,000.

Not only had its price taken off, but the Honus Wagner tobacco card had nose-dived in value. Now a Wagner card in comparable condition was worth only $300,000, according to Beckett Media.

Part of the reason, according to Fleischer, is that experts now believe there are some 50 or 60 Wagner tobacco cards in existence, compared to the far smaller number of Ruth rookie cards. So while a Wagner card in almost mint condition sold for $2.35 million three years ago, it's estimated that a Ruth rookie in similar condition could command between $3 million and $5 million.

At this point, museum officials had their Ruth card photographically appraised by Beckett Media. The judgement was, yes, the card was in good condition. Therefore it was worth a half-million dollars.

Hearing this, museum officials quickly decided the Ruth card needed to be displayed more prominently. The museum, which opened in 1974, has struggled in the down economy. A blockbuster display of a rare Ruth card would only help attract interest.

"We knew we had a valuable piece" before, Gibbons says. "But what Forbes was saying made it a totally unique and rare situation."

In search of the owner

Their first order of business was to try to contact Glenn Davis to let him know of their plans for the card.

But he was no longer at the address he had listed on the original loan form. He had left no forwarding address, either. And an Internet search and dozens of phone calls also failed to turn up the right Glenn Davis.

On the original loan form, Davis had listed his employer as Duron Paints. But the company, which had been taken over by Sherwin-Williams, told Gibbons and his staff that it couldn't release private information about an employee.

When museum officials persisted and sent a certified letter to Duron headquarters in Beltsville, they say, the company promised to try to locate Davis.

But they say Duron never got back to them. Calls by the Baltimore Sun to Duron's Human Resources department Monday were not returned.

The search for Davis had arrived at another dead end.

Not that museum officials are giving up.

Now they're hoping a newspaper article will help them locate the mysterious Glenn Davis.

They're eager to find him, eager to get started on their new display. And they're anxious to tell the world that the Baltimore museum that celebrates the most iconic figure in sports also has one of the rarest, priciest memorabilia items associated with his name.

"For a long time, we've had this jewel, this gem," Gibbons says of the card. "And we never tooted our horn about it. Now we're proclaiming publicly that we have this incredible artifact. And we're hoping the public will come to see it."

It would be nice if Glenn Davis comes to see it, too.

Although right now, museum officials would probably settle for a phone call.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Orioles and Nationals go to bat for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

BALTIMORE—Some Orioles and Nationals players are going to bat for a new team—the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

MASN, the television network that broadcasts the Baltimore and Washington games, was to announce Friday that it is launching a "Go to Bat for the Bay" public service campaign with the foundation.

The spots featuring players such as Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie and Washington's Adam Dunn are designed to educate viewers about the bay and its restoration. Tips include using less lawn fertilizer and chemicals and planting trees.

In Guthrie's pitch, he tells viewers the Chesapeake produces 500 million pounds of crabs, oysters and other seafood.

"A cleaner bay means better seafood and more jobs for those who bring the Chesapeake's bounty to our dinner tables," Guthrie says in the spot, which cuts from scenes of crabs, oysters and boats on the bay, to the pitcher standing in his uniform at Camden Yards.

In another commercial, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman tells viewers the bay has lost half of its forested shoreline, more than half its wetlands and 90 percent of its underwater grasses.

"The health of the Chesapeake is in jeopardy. Go to bat for the bay," Riggleman says.

The bay is the nation's largest estuary and was once a major producer of oysters and crabs. However, pollution and development have spurred oxygen-robbing algae blooms, killed bay grasses that provide habitat for many species, and hurt the seafood population. The bay watershed covers Maryland, the District of Columbia, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, almost all of MASN's seven-state territory. MASN spokesman Todd Webster said the network is available to 7 million households from Harrisburg, Pa., to Charlotte, N.C. On an average night during baseball season, about 175,000 people watch the Orioles and Nationals.

Foundation President Will Baker said the partnership will "enhance awareness and educate millions of sports fans who live in the Chesapeake region."