Mets-Yankees Viewing Party and Fantasy Baseball Draft at Strawberry’s Grill

On Tuesday April 3rd, beginning at 2pm ET, Gotham Baseball is hosting an event at Strawberry’s Grill in Douglastion, NY.

It is going to be a party all day long in the grill! SeatCrew will be on hand giving away Mets tickets. Bloomberg Sports will be joining us to give away FREE Front Office 2012 log-ins during our Fantasy draft.

We’re kicking things off during the Yankees/Mets Exhibition game at 2:10 PM. Come for our lunch special, stay for the $10 pitchers.

At 5 PM we’ll be playing baseball trivia with tons of prizes and giveaways.

Next up, Mark Healey of Gotham Baseball will be hosting our Live Fantasy Baseball Draft (7 pm start). The league will be a head-to-head, 5×5 mixed league with owners picking players in a snake draft. Grab a beer, a bar stool and meet the teams from SeatCrew and Bloomberg Sports to snag Mets tickets and Front Office 2012 log-ins, respectively.

Mark Healey is the Editor-in-Chief of Going 9 Baseball and the host of “Going 9 Fantasy Baseball” on SiriusXM’s Fantasy Sports Radio. He is also the Founder of Gotham Baseball magazine, and has been covering NYC baseball since 1998.

It’s bound to be an exciting day in the grill! For dinner reservations during the draft, reservations are highly recommended. Call 718 517 8787.

Ten Nominated For 47th Annual Hutch Award

Ten MLB players are up for the 47th annual Hutch Award®, which is sponsored by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Of the finalists, who were nominated by a national committee, one will go on to receive the award at Safeco Field in February.

Baseball Hall-of-Famer Cal Ripken Jr. will give the keynote address at the Hutch Award Luncheon on Feb. 1, 2012. Proceeds will benefit early cancer detection research at the Hutchinson Center .

This year’s Hutch Award nominees are:

Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals
Tony Campana, Chicago Cubs
Michael Cuddyer, Minnesota Twins
Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees
Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers
Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Justin Masterson, Cleveland Indians
Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves
Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox
Josh Willingham, Oakland Athletics

The Hutch Award recipient will be selected this fall through a vote of all surviving former awardees. A total of 46 players have been honored since 1965, when Mickey Mantle accepted the inaugural award. Baseball’s Sandy Koufax, Carl Yastrzemski, Willie McCovey and Lou Brock all received the Hutch Award; in recent years Jamie Moyer, Craig Biggio, Jon Lester, Mark Teahen and Tim Hudson have joined their ranks.

The Hutch Award is given annually to a Major League Baseball player who best exemplifies the honor, courage and dedication of legendary baseball player and manager Fred Hutchinson. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center – founded by Fred’s brother, Dr. Bill Hutchinson, after Fred succumbed to cancer at age 45 – is an independent, nonprofit research institution dedicated to the understanding, treatment and prevention of cancer and related diseases.

For more information about the Hutch Award, including a full list of past recipients, or to learn more about the luncheon, visit www.fhcrc.org/hutchaward.

B.A.T. To Celebrate Mets’ 50th Anniversary At Fundraising Dinner Jan. 24

The Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.) will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the New York Mets at the 23rd annual “Going to Bat for B.A.T. Fundraising Dinner on January 24, 2012, at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel. Founded in 1986, B.A.T. is dedicated to assisting members of the Baseball Family through financial grants, healthcare programs and rehabilitative counseling. More than $23 million in grants have been awarded to date, benefiting more than 2,700 members of the Baseball Family who are in need of assistance.

At the “Going to Bat for B.A.T. Fundraising Dinner,” fans are given the opportunity to interact with Baseball Hall of Famers, and former and current Major League Baseball players while raising money to assist members of the Baseball Family who have fallen on hard times. The night’s festivities include a cocktail hour in which attendees have the opportunity to meet and obtain autographs from players. Players are seated with guests at each table during the dinner and all proceeds go to B.A.T.

“The New York Mets brought National League baseball back to New York in 1962, and since then, have won two championships and created some of baseball’s most indelible moments,” said B.A.T. Executive Director Joseph Grippo. “The organization has been an incredible supporter of B.A.T. over the years, and we are thankful for their generosity in helping members of the Baseball Family. The Mets have one of the most passionate followings in the game, and we are happy to give those fans an opportunity to rub elbows with some of their baseball heroes while raising money for B.A.T.”

“We are honored that the Baseball Assistance Team is saluting the Mets 50th anniversary,” said Dave Howard, Mets Executive Vice President, Business Operations. “This will be an Amazin’ experience for our fans to meet some of the greatest players in our history and raise money for B.A.T.’s mission of helping members of the Baseball Family in need.”

Special awards are presented at the Dinner each year: the Big BAT/Frank Slocum Award, which goes to an individual who provides financial support and generosity to the B.A.T. organization; the Bart Giamatti Award, which goes to the individual who displays a dedication to giving back to the community; and the Bobby Murcer Award, which is presented to the team in both the American League and National League whose players contribute the most amount of money to B.A.T. through the B.A.T. Payroll Deduction Program that previous year.

B.A.T. was founded by former Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, a group of former players and Major League Baseball. In addition to assisting former Major League players, B.A.T. also offers support to former Major League managers, coaches, scouts, umpires, athletic trainers, front office personnel, Minor League players, Negro League players, players from the Women’s Professional Baseball League, and spouses and children. All aid provided by B.A.T. is strictly confidential allowing those in the need to receive help discreetly.

Entering its 27th year, B.A.T. is a unique organization within the sports industry dedicated to assisting members of the Baseball Family who are in need. Through charitable contributions from corporations, foundations and individuals, B.A.T. strives to provide a means of support to people with financial, medical or psychological burdens. B.A.T. is a 501-(c) 3 charitable organization.

For more information about B.A.T., to purchase tickets for the Dinner or to make a donation please call 212-931-7821 or visit http://www.baseballassistanceteam.com.

Rivera All-Time Record Collection From Steiner Sports Lets Fans ‘Save’ Piece of History

Yankee fans and baseball collectors alike will be able to literally “save” a piece of history through the Mariano Rivera 602 All-time Saves Record Collection from Steiner Sports Memorabilia.

Now that Sandman has entered the record books by eclipsing Trevor Hoffman’s previous mark of 601 saves, Steiner has created a series of memorabilia to mark the occasion, complete with a Mariano logo, an etching of the hurler in pitching motion. The Yankee icon and sure-fire Hall of Famer amazingly recorded all of the saves with the same team – the New York Yankees. The collection will include: hand-signed photographs from the monumental achievement against the Twins at Yankee Stadium, dated September 19, 2011; a plaque with featuring a capsule of dirt taken from the Stadium mound; replica lineup card plaque featuring an actual game ticket; game used mound, bases and home plate; a 14

Ruth ‘Built’ It, And They Came…

It’s hard to think of a time when the Yankees were not the dominant force in the game — not just as a year-after-year championship-caliber squad on the field, but the economic engine that, along with select other franchises to varying degrees, drives the game.

But in the first two decades of the 20th century, the American League’s New York entry was a perennial also-ran, utterly dominated by the Giants, the Senior Circuit squad with whom they, for a time, shared the Polo Grounds.  The acquisition of Babe Ruth in 1920 is, of course, an important turning point in the competitive and financial dynamic of the two franchises.  But it was the opening of Yankee Stadium in 1923, a move in many ways forced upon the Yankees by John McGraw and the Giants, which turned the tides forever in the Pinstripes’ favor.

Robert Weintraub chronicles the events and actions which led to this sea-change in the excellent The House That Ruth Built: A New Stadium, the First Yankees Championship, and the Redemption of 1923 (Little, Brown and Company, 420 pps.).  Ruth’s power, as Weintraub shows, was actually more suited to the Polo Grounds, as his frequent right-center-field clouts that previously were home runs now turned into outs and, occasionally, doubles and triples in the park dubbed in his honor.

But the boon that playing in their own park, rather than one rented from their NL foes, allowed the Yankees to build the dynasty that had its roots in the 1921 and 1922 teams which won the AL but fell both times to the Giants in World Series played entirely at the Polo Grounds.  Ruth was totally dominated in both Fall Classics, McGraw’s “scientific baseball” still reigning supreme despite the imminent and permanent changes the new “rabbit ball” would cause.

Weintraub looks deeper into the development of Yankee Stadium plans, giving more credit than is usually afforded to the Yankees’ “other” co-owner, Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston, who is much less remembered today than beer magnate Jacob Ruppert, who won a power play of sorts to claim dominant ownership of the club.  Huston’s story is at least as fascinating, and his contributions to building the Yankees, as well as the Stadium, are significant.  His already strained relationship with Ruppert completely shattered, Huston sold his share to his partner just two months after Opening Day.

The House That Ruth Built is filled with interesting stories, like Ruth’s off-season regimen to recover from an injury-filled 1922, McGraw’s refusal to have his team dress in the new Stadium (opting to make the trip across the river in full uniform) and an exhibition game right before the World Series which actually combined the Yankees and Giants forces — unimaginable today!

The star of the book, though, is Ruth, who ushered in this new era, rising to the occasion with a home run — of course — in the Stadium’s inaugural game and leading an early form of Murderer’s Row to the team’s first title.  In wresting control of the sport from McGraw, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and the “old” way of playing the game, Ruth and the Yankees were at the front of this inevitable and permanent change.

Yankees Launch HOPE Week 2011

The New York Yankees today began HOPE Week 2011 (Helping Others Persevere & Excel), a unique week-long community program that will bring to light five remarkable stories intended to inspire individuals into action in their own communities.

Initiated in 2009 and now in its third year, HOPE Week is rooted in the fundamental belief that acts of goodwill provide hope and encouragement to more than just the recipient of the gesture. Each day from today through Friday, the Yankees will reach out to an individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support. Though each day’s honoree will ultimately be celebrated at Yankee Stadium prior to a game, outreach will also take place away from the Stadium in various locations around New York City, allowing the Yankees to personally connect with individuals in settings that highlight their tremendous accomplishments.

One of the most unique aspects of HOPE Week is that every player on the active roster, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman, as well as Manager Joe Girardi and his coaching staff, will participate in the outreach for the five events.

Equally significant during HOPE Week is gaining publicity for the highlighted causes and organizations. The greatest challenge facing many not-for-profits is generating interest, awareness and funding for their missions.

The Yankees first recognized the return of HOPE Week in 2011 with a pregame ceremony on March 27 at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers, Fla., prior to their spring training game against the Minnesota Twins. The Yankees were proud to jointly host this ceremony with the Twins, who embraced the HOPE Week concept by holding their own HOPE Week during the 2011 season from June 12 through June 18.

In July 2010, the HOPE Week initiative was honored with the President’s Volunteer Service Award, given “in recognition and appreciation of commitment to strengthening the Nation and for making a difference through volunteer service.” The award was bestowed by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation in conjunction with the Corporation for National and Community Service. In November 2009, HOPE Week was recognized at the 11th Annual National Sportsmanship Awards in St. Louis, honoring its work with Camp Sundown, which is one of the world’s only support networks for children and young adults with xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) – a condition in which a person’s skin has no defense against UV light.

Steiner Sports, Modell’s Team To Honor Christian Lopez

Praise has been coming from far and wide for Christian Lopez, the fan who caught Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit baseball on Saturday, then selflessly returned it to the New York Yankees star.  The Yankees stepped up with some gifts for Lopez, including Yankee Stadium tickets for the rest of the season and some Jeter collectibles.

Today Steiner Sports and Modell’s, two longtime Yankees partners, are showing their appreciation for Lopez’s kind act.  Brandon Steiner, CEO of Steiner Sports will provide a portion of the proceeds to Lopez, with a minimum of $25,000, from a special Internet auction of Jeter-themed collectibles.  A limited number of baseballs signed by both Jeter and Lopez will be available as part of the auction.

Mitchell Modell of Modell’s has also pledged $25,000 to Lopez, representing 5% of the sale of all Yankees merchandise at all Modell’s stores.  Modell also gave Lopez his 2009 World Series Championship ring.

Swoboda Relives ’69 For New York Fans

When Ron Swoboda sees his two young granddaughters, who live not too far from the World Series hero’s New Orleans home, they always have the same question.

“Granddaddy,” one or the other will ask, “why is everything a story?”

Swoboda, who turns 67 on Thursday, has an endless supply of stories gleaned from more than a half-century in the game, and, fortunately, a seemingly endless supply of fans who love to hear them. On Tuesday at legendary Gallagher’s Steak House in New York, amidst photos of sports stars present and long since past, Swoboda held court for a captive audience of Mets rooters and others who just wanted to relive the magical 1969 season from one of its stars.

The man best known for “The Catch,” a sprawling, diving grab of Brooks Robinson‘s ninth-inning line drive which saved Game 4 and perhaps the entire World Series for the Mets, fondly remembered many of his teammates from the era, in particular Tug McGraw, Tommy Agee, Cleon Jones, Donn Clendenon, Ed Charles, Ed Kranepool and the Miracle Mets’ manager, Gil Hodges.

“Hodges was the fastest cribbage player I’ve ever seen,” said Swoboda. “His mind was working faster than anyone. Plus, he had the ability to look at baseball in its simplest terms, and that was perfect for our team. I think if you take the whole package into account, his playing and his managing, he’s a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame.”

That Hodges turned the Mets, who had lost 89 games and finished ninth in the National League in 1968, into winners the next year was a surprise to many, and though the team hovered around .500 through June, Swoboda and his teammates gained confidence throughout the year.

“Hodges was great at pushing the buttons, and that year we gave him the buttons to push,” said Swoboda.

“The key man was Donn Clendenon,” explained Swoboda. “When we acquired him [in a mid-June trade from Montreal], we got a power-hitting first baseman and a huge clubhouse presence. What a lot of people don’t realize is that he engineered that trade. He was a lawyer and he told them where he wanted to be traded, and the Mets were on the list, so they made the deal. He had that other option of a job outside baseball so he was able to do that.”

Swoboda also told a few stories about McGraw, who was for a time his Mets roommate, including the lefthander’s response to a question about his preference for grass or Astroturf: “I never smoked any Astroturf.”

“He loved people,” he said. “The world is not a better place without Tug McGraw.”

Though Hodges, McGraw and several others from the squad have passed away, Swoboda keeps in touch with many of his former teammates, sometimes at reunion events. He spoke of a special reunion last week among the wives of the ’69 team, when the current Mets visited Texas. Swoboda’s wife helped organize and Ruth Ryan, wife of Nolan Ryan, then a young fireballing reliever and now Rangers’ team president, hosted the ladies in grand style, something Swoboda appreciated greatly.

“The wives formed a special bond of their own,” he said. “It was great for them to be able to get together and share some memories.”

The memories of 1969, recounted in many retrospectives and forever immortalized in the just-at-the-right-moment Daily News photo of Swoboda’s grab, have kept the Baltimore native a Mets fan ever since his career ended in spring training in 1974.

Today, Swoboda follows the game closely, and still does color commentary for several games of the New Orleans Zephyrs, AAA affiliate of the Florida Marlins.

“It’s a little bit of a National League East conflict,” he joked. “But when the Marlins play the Mets, I know who I’m rooting for.”