Saturday, July 23, 2011

Hemond honored in Cooperstown

By Anthony Fenech / | 07/23/11

PHOENIX -- D-backs special assistant to the president and CEO Roland Hemond received the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Saturday.

"He's like my Ernie Harwell," Gibson said, in reference to the Tigers' legendary broadcaster. "I've just now been able to spend real time with Roland since I've been in this organization, and this is time well spent."

Hemond, who is in the fifth season of his second tour of duty with the D-backs, is a three-time MLB Executive of the Year Award winner, and has 60 years of professional baseball experience.

Hemond's baseball career began in 1951 as a front office member of the Eastern League's Hartford Chiefs, and he spent 23 seasons as a general manager for the White Sox and Orioles.

"The thing about these guys, they've served the game for so long," Gibson said. "For many, many, many years -- and the most amazing thing about it is not only their contributions and things that they have accomplished, but their recall of it."

And Gibson recalled his first at-bat against Bert Blyleven, the former Twins pitcher set to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.

Gibson faced Blyleven in his first game, a Spring Training contest in Bradenton, Fla., in 1978.

"I struck out three times on about nine pitches," Gibson said. "They were all curveballs, and I had never seen a curveball quite like that before. It was like, 'Oh my gosh.'

"It certainly distinguished him from others, because that was the best curveball I saw."

Roberto Alomar, Blyleven and Pat Gillick make up the National Baseball Hall of Fame's Class of 2011. Sunday's annual induction ceremony behind the Clark Sports Center, which is about a mile from the famous red-brick museum, will be broadcast live on and MLB Network beginning at 8:30 a.m. MST.

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