RON LEFLORE didn't play organized baseball until 1971, when he joined a team of fellow inmates and quickly became one of it's best players. Luck would have it that a fellow prisoner had a contact outside who knew Tigers' manager Billy Martin. Incredibly, Martin came to the prison and the team arranged a tryout for LeFlore in the early summer of 1973.
LeFlore's sentence hadn't expired and he was expected back at the jail shortly after the tryout but he made the most of it. Eligible for parole in July of that year, LeFlore signed a contract with the Tigers organization and within a year, was playing in the major leagues.
He became a starting outfielder in 1975 and by '76, he was one of baseball's most exciting players. He stole 58 bases and hit .316, creating a buzz along with Mark "The Bird" Fidrych that helped fill Tiger Stadium on a regular basis.
In '77, LeFlore hit .325 and scored over 100 runs. In '78, he led the league with 68 stolen bases and scored 126 runs.
LeFlore's last season with Detroit was 1979, when at the age of 31, he swiped 78 bases. He was traded to Montreal after the season and stole a career-high 97 bags. He finished his career with the Chicago White Sox in 1982.
Last Edit: Jan 26, 2007 21:45:15 GMT -5 by basenoc
Leon Wagner, the man they called "Daddy Wags" is no longer with us. As a young man growing up in the mid 60's at the old Municipal in Cleveland, I can't tell you what Wagner brought to the table.He was one of the most under rated power hitters of that era.
After stuggling as a "prospect" in the N.L. for a few seasons Wagner caught his break when he joined the expansion Los Angeles Angels in 1961. All Leon did was rip 28 HR's and drive in 79 while hitting at a respectable .280.
In 1962 Leon came into his own with a monster year clubbing 37 homers and driving in 107. He followed that campaign in 1963 with 26 round trippers and 90 RBI's. He also batted .291.
Then in 1964 Leon became the property of Cleveland Indians. He reponded with probably his finest season. Leon cranked out 31 four baggers. He also sent 100 runs across the plate..
In 1965 he entered the season in Cleveland along with the returning and ever popular Rocky Colavito. They became known as the Tribe Thumpers and Leon "thumped" for 28 HR's, 79 RBI's and a lofty .294 average.Rocky led the A.L. in RBI's.
Leon and Rocky both dropped in production in 1966 and Rocky would soon be gone. Leon hung on with the Tribe for one more season. Leon had a mediocre season in 1967 and soon left the Wigwam.
During a seven year span in the A.L.. ( 1961-1967) Leon averaged over 26 HR's and almost 83 RBI's per season. Nice numbers.
In a two year period as a Tribesman in in 1964 and 1965 Leon averaged almost 30 HR's and 90 RBI's. per season. Add in about 13 stolen bases each campaign and you're looking at a very valuable player.
Nicknamed Crab, Johnny Evers was a smart, scrappy and determined second baseman, as the pivot man in the famed Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance infield. His knowledge of the rules enabled him to turn the 1908 National League pennant race around, as a result of the infamous Fred Merkle play. He helped lead the Chicago Cubs to four National League pennants and two World Championships. After joining Boston in 1914, Evers sparked another turnaround when the "Miracle Braves" rose from the cellar in July to a World Championship in October.
Last Edit: Jan 28, 2007 21:43:56 GMT -5 by basenoc
Elston Howard who I believe was the first African-American to play for the Yankees. He was a fine catcher and a solid and steady hitter. I also believe he spent several years coaching after his playing days were over.
A switch-hitter, "Ho-Jo" was a major league starter at four positions. He joined the Al's Detroit Tigers during the 1982 season, batting .316 in 54 games, but was with the team for only 27 games in 1983.
Johnson was used as a utility player and pinch-hitter by the Tigers in 1984, when he saw time at first base, third base, shortstop, and the outfield. He hit only .248 that year and was traded to the NL's New York Mets.
In 1987, Johnson suddenly became a power hitter. Playing third base, shortstop, and the outfield, he batted .287 with 36 home runs and 99 RBI to go with 32 stolen bases. He was the fourth member of the "30-30 Club," players who have hit more than 30 home runs and stolen more than 30 bases in the same season.
After slipping to .230 in 1988, Johnson hit .287 the following season, with 36 home runs, 101 RBI, 41 stolen bases, and a league-leading 104 runs scored. His finest year was 1991, when he stole 30 bases and the league with 38 home runs and 117 RBI.
Johnson's playing time was limited by injuries the next two seasons. He became a free agent in October of 1993 and signed with the Colorado Rockies, hoping the thin air of Denver would revive his home run stroke. However, he was cut by the Rockies after hitting only .211. Johnson retired after batting just .185 with the Cubs in 1995.