Results tagged ‘ Duane Kuiper ’

Celebrate! Celebrate! Kuiper’s HR to be observed

 

SAN FRANCISCO — One might be the loneliest number, as the song says. But not for Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper, whose lone Major League home run will be celebrated Friday at AT&T Park with a bobblehead giveaway, courtesy of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

“Look — the numbers don’t lie,” Kuiper said Thursday, one day before the Giants open a six-game homestand against the Cleveland Indians, the team Kuiper spent his first eight Major League seasons with — hence the promotion’s timing. “It’s not like you can go back to your career stats and go, ‘Wait, you guys are full of it. I hit a bunch of home runs.’ ‘No, you didn’t. You hit one.’ So you have to play with it. You have to have some fun with it. If I had hit two, there’s no bobblehead [Friday] night. … You can tell when people are trying to be mean-spirited about it. And for the most part, people are never mean-spirited about it.”

That’s at least partly due to the popularity Kuiper has built since becoming a Giants broadcaster in 1987, two years after his playing career ended with San Francisco. Said Kuiper, “I’ve been a broadcaster in this market for, what, 25 or more years? I’m quite sure that’s got more to do with it than anything else. I’m quite sure that if I had gone into selling cars, I don’t think there would be a bobblehead night for me.”

Kuiper insisted that he never was a home-run hitter — not even in high school, where future Major Leaguers typically dominate their competition. “I’m from Wisconsin,” Kuiper reminded. “We played 10 games (a season).” Kuiper estimated that he hit one home run in high school, four or five while playing for Indian Hills Community College in Centerville, Iowa, and one at Southern Illinois Universiy.

“I wasn’t allergic to hitting them,” said Kuiper, who finished with a respectable .271 career Major League average. “But my swing wasn’t the type of swing where you were going to pull a lot of balls. I hit a lot of balls to the opposite field.”

Frank Robinson, who managed Kuiper in Cleveland (and later in San Francisco), ordered his No. 2 hitter to put the ball in play and abandon any thoughts of home runs. That might have tempered Kuiper’s power, which he unleashed on Aug. 29, 1977, in the first inning at Cleveland Stadium against White Sox right-hander Steve Stone. Kuiper’s first-inning drive off Stone, who began his career with the Giants and also became a broadcaster, would stand alone among his 3,754 big-league plate appearances.

“If it stays in the air, you’re not going to play,” Kuiper said, recalling Robinson’s dictum. “Which, I know now, was total baloney. But at that time, anything he said to me, in my mind, was God’s word.”

– Chris Haft

Giants fans bound to dwell on Candlestick finale

Sunday, Dec. 22

SAN FRANCISCO — For a lot of people, the fact that a National Football League game will be played Monday night at Candlestick Park is merely incidental.

The featured performer, as many fans believe, is Candlestick itself, that object of derision which has prompted tidal waves of nostalgia with the approach the 49ers-Falcons game — most likely the last major sporting event held at the 53-year-old park.

The tender feelings fans have expressed toward Candlestick on websites, in newspaper forums and on radio talk shows shouldn’t be misinterpreted as wishes for a revival. Everyone knows the 49ers need a new stadium, which awaits them in Santa Clara, and everybody has long embraced AT&T Park as the Giants’ home since they left Candlestick following the 1999 season.

Why have Candlestick’s final days stirred such emotion? Simple: For Bay Area sports fans, the stadium has become something of a patriarch: Aged, gray, incapable of performing tasks its younger counterparts can, yet somehow imposing due to its history and undeniable strength (example: its resolute response to the Loma Prieta earthquake before Game 3 of the 1989 World Series). His time has come and gone, but the old man shall forever remain a member of the family.

Giants fans are especially prone to these feelings. Because the Giants endured so many abysmal seasons at
Candlestick, and because it was such a trying place for baseball spectators (that’s putting it mildly), those who visited the park regularly — whether to watch Gaylord Perry or Allen Ripley, J.T. Snow or J.R. Phillips — mostly were genuine fans who truly loved the sport, the Giants or both.

To these zealots, Candlestick became oddly special. No wonder that this second and final goodbye to Candlestick has been especially intense for many Giants fans. Essentially, nothing in their lives has changed or will change when Candlestick is demolished. But the patriarch — visible from a safe, happy distance on drives along Highway 101 — will disappear, making that inevitable transition from reality to memory.

Revel in those memories, Giants fans. Celebrate what you saw, what you experienced, what Russ or Lon or Hank or Ron or Jon or Kruk & Kuip told you.

Maybe you’ll attend Monday’s game and revisit a particular spot at the stadium that remains significant. Maybe, like me, you’ll stare at the top row of the upper reserved seats in Section 5, remember sitting there for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series and continue to wonder how Dad got tickets.

And you’ll devour a Polish sausage for old times’ sake.

And though it’s a football crowd, you’ll long to hear that passionate, unbridled roar of the fans, real fans, rise from the stands over and over.

Again, I sense that football will be only incidental for a small but meaningful percentage of people watching Monday’s game, whether they do so at Candlestick or on television.

These will be the folks who’ll behold Candlestick one last time and recall rushing to the players’ parking lot to gaze at Willie Mays’ pink Cadillac, or who got golf-ball-sized goosebumps just watching Mays saunter into the on-deck circle, his uniform as elegant as a tuxedo.

Monday’s game is for them.

It’s also for anybody who thinks the city’s finest spans are the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge and Willie McCovey stretching at first base for a throw.

It’s for anyone who refused to leave his or her seat whenever Clark — that’s Jack or Will — was due to bat.

It’s for anybody spellbound by the talents of the Bondses, pere et fil.

It’s for anybody who marveled at Juan Marichal kicking his left leg toward those impossibly high light towers in the middle of his marvelous motion.

It’s for anybody who played Little League, high school baseball or anything in between against one of Jim Davenport’s sons.

It’s for anybody who still can summon Jeff Carter’s voice in one’s internal public-address system.

It’s for anybody who paid 90 cents — NINETY CENTS — to sit in the bleachers.

It’s for people who emptied mothballs from their warmest clothes to attend a game in July or August.

It’s for fans who supported John Montefusco with the same ardor they now reserve for Tim Lincecum.

It’s for folks who loved to debate who was the better closer (Rod Beck or Robb Nen) or double-play combination (Chris Speier/Tito Fuentes or Jose Uribe/Robby Thompson).

It’s for people who, however briefly, ignored Candlestick’s flaws and appreciated the game in front of them.

It’s for everybody who’s focused on what’s important — the present — yet will always treasure the gifts of the past.

Chris Haft

AT&T’s dimensions stifle Posey’s power

Thursday, May 17

SAN FRANCISCO — Buster Posey took his best shot at trying to deliver the power the Giants sorely lack. And it still wasn’t enough.

In Thursday’s fifth inning, Posey connected solidly with an Adam Wainwright pitch. As Duane Kuiper might have said (and probably did), Posey hit it high and hit it deep. It looked for all the world like a home run, until one noticed St. Louis center fielder Shane Robinson settling under the ball just in front of the left-center field wall to make the catch. Just another out.

Asked if he thought he was destined to savor a home run, Posey didn’t hesitate to answer. “I did,” he said. “Yeah. I sure did. It wasn’t really even close. Kind of depressing.”

Kind of depressing. I sincerely doubt that Posey ever will launch a sustained tirade against AT&T Park’s hitter-unfriendly dimensions. Yet his candor was exceedingly refreshing.

Manager Bruce Bochy knows that expecting the long ball, at least from his Giants, is a futile exercise. They’ve homered just six times at AT&T, the lowest total among all Major League clubs at home. “Home runs right now are a luxury,” Bochy said after the Giants’ 7-5 victory.

Fortunately for Posey, he’s continuing his development into a solid all-around hitter, as his 5-for-8 effort against the Cardinals reflected. Posey credited an adjustment, which he made with hitting instructor Hensley Meulens’ assistance, for his latest surge.

“Basically it’s just trying to keep my front side down,” Posey said. “I give ‘Bam Bam’ a lot of credit for recognizing the problem. We went down just a couple of days ago and hit some off the tee. It’s just a matter of keeping that front side closed and he has a couple of drills to help that.”

Chris Haft

Fear the Beard — and laugh with him, too

Wednesday, May 16

SAN FRANCISCO — Brian Wilson’s elbow needs plenty of healing, but his sense of humor remains extremely healthy.

Wilson packed numerous gags, both obvious and subtle, into his 20-minute chat with reporters Wednesday. The man should have his own television show. He’d be at home hosting his own HBO special or sitting down for a droll chat with Leno, Letterman or Conan.

Asked about the garden gnomes bearing his likeness that will be distributed to fans attending Sunday’s game, Wilson turned punster by saying, “I don’t gnome what you’re talking about.” He also mentioned that his gnome figure isn’t “really in shape.”

This won’t be the first Wilson gnome. He said that one was spawned when he was a collegian at Louisiana State University. Except he didn’t know about it right away.

“My mom bought it,” he said. “I walked into her house, I was like, ‘What is this?’ She says, ‘It’s you.’ “

He bought one on-line. He still has it. “It’s next to The Machine,” Wilson said matter-of-factly, providing a brief, fond reminder of 2010.

Wilson related that he has occupied himself by doing plenty of puzzles, including one of the jigsaw variety of the Taj Mahal. It was 2,000 pieces. Wilson probably wasn’t trying to be funny when he described tinkering with the puzzle. But he sounded amusing anyway.

“That was a long one, because the sky was all blue and you couldn’t tell where the pieces went,” said Wilson, who’s recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery. “It was trial and error. That took a good day and a half to do the sky. The actual Taj Mahal took probably a week.”

Wilson also has become a part-time carpenter in his effort to “find some hobbies” due to having “a lot of time on my hands.” Specifically, he laid down some carpet. But didn’t that bother his arm?

“Not when you do it left-handed,” Wilson said. “It’s a very slow process, but we’re talking about a room that’s 8-by-8 [feet]. All I did was cut it and put it in the room. Sounds a little cooler than what I just told you.”

Asked if he ever ventures outdoors for a change of pace, Wilson said, “Yeah, I’ve taken a few walks here and there, but the weather’s kind of got a little bit colder. I did go to Muir Woods. Saw the trees.

“I was asked if I was John Muir. Twice. But that’s about as outdoorsy as I’ve been.”

In baseball matters, Wilson praised Santiago Casilla, his replacement as San Francisco’s closer, who has eight saves in nine opportunities.

“Incredible,” Wilson said. “Like I always say, every guy in the bullpen’s capable of doing it. We all have this work ethic about us. That’s the great thing about this bullpen, is we feed off each other’s strengths. There’s camaraderie. We try to pick each other up. I think he’s done a phenomenal job, just like he has since we’ve acquired him. He doesn’t complain, he works hard, and he’s able to forget the negative things and be able to move on to the next hitter, move on to the next day, and remembering what he did in the past and how he can better himself. He’s a great dude.”

Wilson said that he hasn’t needed to counsel Casilla much, “because he’s already a great pitcher.” But, Wilson added, “There’s certain times where you have to try to give a little bit of advice, when pressure situations come, like certain pitches you might want to stay away from late in the games. What I’ve had success throwing certain hitters. And when there’s a guy on second, less than one out, what is your plan? What are you gonna do when the ball’s hit to you? Just simple things. And I like to tell him he’s awesome. I like to tell him every time he does well. ‘You’re doing an amazing job, keep it up. The team needs you; the city needs you.’ He’s doing a phenomenal job, so I just like to tell him that all the time.”

If you want to hear more from Wilson, catch Sunday’s Giants-A’s telecast. He’s supposed to be a guest commentator with Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow.

Chris Haft

Wednesday, May …

Wednesday, May 16

SAN FRANCISCO — Brian Wilson’s elbow needs plenty of healing, but his sense of humor remains extremely healthy.

Wilson packed numerous gags, both obvious and subtle, into his 20-minute chat with reporters Wednesday. The man
should have his own television show. He’d be at home hosting his own HBO special or sitting down for a droll chat
with Leno, Letterman or Conan.

Asked about the garden gnomes bearing his likeness that will be distributed to fans attending Sunday’s game, Wilson turned punster by saying, “I don’t gnome what you’re talking about.” He also mentioned that his gnome figure isn’t “really in shape.”

This won’t be the first Wilson gnome. He said that one was spawned when he was a collegian at Louisiana State
University. Except he didn’t know about it right away.

“My mom bought it,” he said. “I walked into her house, I was like, ‘What is this?’ She says, ‘It’s you.’ “

He bought one on-line. He still has it. “It’s next to The Machine,” Wilson said matter-of-factly, providing a brief,
fond reminder of 2010.

Wilson related that he has occupied himself by doing plenty of puzzles, including one of the jigsaw variety of the
Taj Mahal. It was 2,000 pieces. Wilson probably wasn’t trying to be funny when he described tinkering with the
puzzle. But he sounded amusing anyway.

“That was a long one, because the sky was all blue and you couldn’t tell where the pieces went,” said Wilson, who’s
recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery. “It was trial and error. That took a good day and a half to do the sky.
The actual Taj Mahal took probably a week.”

Wilson also has become a part-time carpenter in his effort to “find some hobbies” due to having “a lot of time on my
hands.” Specifically, he laid down some carpet. But didn’t that bother his arm?

“Not when you do it left-handed,” Wilson said. “It’s a very slow process, but we’re talking about a room that’s 8-
by-8 [feet]. All I did was cut it and put it in the room. Sounds a little cooler than what I just told you.”

Asked if he ever ventures outdoors for a change of pace, Wilson said, “Yeah, I’ve taken a few walks here and there,
but the weather’s kind of got a little bit colder. I did go to Muir Woods. Saw the trees.

“I was asked if I was John Muir. Twice. But that’s about as outdoorsy as I’ve been.”

In baseball matters, Wilson praised Santiago Casilla, his replacement as San Francisco’s closer, who has eight saves in nine opportunities.

“Incredible,” Wilson said. “Like I always say, every guy in the bullpen’s capable of doing it. We all have this work
ethic about us. That’s the great thing about this bullpen, is we feed off each other’s strengths. There’s
camaraderie. We try to pick each other up. I think he’s done a phenomenal job, just like he has since we’ve acquired
him. He doesn’t complain, he works hard, and he’s able to forget the negative things and be able to move on to the
next hitter, move on to the next day, and remembering what he did in the past and how he can better himself. He’s a
great dude.”

Wilson said that he hasn’t needed to counsel Casilla much, “because he’s already a great pitcher.” But, Wilson
added, “There’s certain times where you have to try to give a little bit of advice, when pressure situations come,
like certain pitches you might want to stay away from late in the games. What I’ve had success throwing certain
hitters. And when there’s a guy on second, less than one out, what is your plan? What are you gonna do when the
ball’s hit to you? Just simple things. And I like to tell him he’s awesome. I like to tell him every time he does
well. ‘You’re doing an amazing job, keep it up. The team needs you; the city needs you.’ He’s doing a phenomenal
job, so I just like to tell him that all the time.”

If you want to hear more from Wilson, catch Sunday’s Giants-A’s telecast. He’s supposed to be a guest commentator
with Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow.

Chris Haft

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