Welcome to an Untypical Baseball Fan Site!

Over time, I will be writing about 500 baseball players who might have been limited in Major League Baseball ability, but contributed to the game through hustle and a general love of the game. Please note that even mediocre Major League baseball players are amongst the best baseball players in the world -- very few high school and college players even make it to the minors! Please feel free to comment on the players mentioned, or send in some of your favorite players who fit into this category! It's a different way to recognize the greatness of our National Pastime! The thoughts expressed on this blog are purely opinion and are meant as a loving, good-natured tribute to our favorite game. Thank-you to the players mentioned on this site who gave us some good baseball memories.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Now Batting: Johnny Jeter, of the Pittsburg Pirates!

When we think of the name Jeter, we think of the ultimate baseball player -- a winner and a leader on a dynasty team, and surely destined for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

But did you know that another Jeter played baseball besides Derek? He was Johnny Jeter, an outfielder that played from 1969 to 1974 on the Pittsburg Pirates, San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians. Johnny Jeter put up some really good power-hitting and batting average numbers in the minors, but never quite cut the mustard as a major league baseball player. I always liked Jeter, however. He seemed to try really hard, had a good smile and his baseball cap fit him nearly perfectly. He had a cool name, too, like one of those top 40 radio announcers. Alliteration can be so cool, sometimes.

Jeter ended up with a career .244 average with only 18 home runs. I really thought he was going to be a better player, but, then again, I was only seven-years-old at the time.

By the way, Johnny had a son, Shawn, who also played Major League baseball in 1992 on the Chicago White Sox!

Now Pitching: Bart Johnson, of the Chicago White Sox!

Mediocre Major League Baseball Players -- Bart Johnson  This lanky right-handed pitcher labored for the Chicago White Sox from 1969-1977. He had a "star" presence on the mound that never quite materialized. Johnson always had good stuff and decent command of the plate, but opposing players seemed to figure out how to hit the tar out of the ball.

Bart did have one terrific season in 1974 when he went 10-4 with a 2.73 era. If Johnson was around today, that would have meant a multi-million dollar contract!

Interesting to note that Johnson also played as an outfielder in the minors from 1972 to 1973. At Appleton in 1972, he hit .329 with six homes runs in only 143 at bats. Perhaps he should have considered sticking to batting!

Johnson's first name wasn't Bart, it was Clair. His middle name was Barth.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Now Batting: Jim Gosger, of the Oakland Athletics!

Mediocre Major League Baseball Players -- Jim Gosger
Jim Gosger busted his butt each and every second to make the most of his limited Major League Baseball ability. Sort of like a Pete Rose without the batting skills or aberrant behavior, Gosger ended up with a .226 career average playing for the Boston Red Sox, Kansas City and Oakland Athletics, New York Mets and Montreal Expos from 1963 to 1974. He was an excellent outfielder -- playing all three positions -- and occasional first baseman, making only 17 errors in 590 games. This scrappy player could have been legendary if he could only hit. Could you imagine if you combined Jim Gosger and Manny Ramirez into one player -- you'd have one of the greatest hitters with a work ethic beyond reproach! That this middling baseball player could last 11 years in the majors speaks volumes about the value of someone who works hard for the team.

Now Pitching: Robert Priddy of the Pittsburgh Pirates and a Zillion Other Teams!

Mediocre Major League Baseball Players -- Robert Priddy
A precursor of the modern day baseball player, Robert Priddy's hobby was coin collecting. All sarcasm aside, Priddy was one of those journeyman ball players who looked old even when he was young. This gave him a grizzled veteran presence that, unfortunately didn't translate into much success during the 1960s. He did go 6-3 in 1966 with the San Francisco Giants, but I remember him going 3-11 with the Chicago White Sox in 1968. I think if Priddy was pitching today, however, he would earn a lot of money as a situational pitcher. He had good stuff as a starter and reliever, but just didn't live up to the promise, going 24-38 in his career for the Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, Washington Senators, Chicago White Sox, California Angels and Atlanta Braves.

Now Batting: Andy Etchebarren of the Baltimore Orioles!

Mediocre Major League Baseball Players -- Andy Etchebarren
Perhaps best known for his unibrow, Andy Etchebarren, primarily playing for the 1960s and 1970s Baltimore Orioles, was your classic good-field-no-hit catcher. He only hit 235 for his career -- making him an overall mediocre ball player -- but had a tremendous presence behind the plate. He caught great pitchers like Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar and Pat Dobson, with his stellar defense earning a trip to the 1966 and 1967 all-star games (he played in neither game). Although that unibrow is often a center of conversation, I choose to take the high road and remember Andy Etchebarren as the type of defensive catcher you'd want on your team.

Now Batting: Danny Ainge of the Toronto Blue Jays!

Mediocre Major League Baseball Players -- Danny Ainge
Looking at the baseball card above says it all: Danny Ainge, as a baseball player, looked as confident as Woody Allen and as lost as a Republican living in Massachusetts. I think he was working on a new batting approach in this card, perhaps thinking he could hit better with one hand than two. Maybe he was also pondering whether to be called "Dan" or Danny" (the card had him as Dan).

Before becoming a fine NBA basketball player and general manager -- most notably for the Boston Celtics -- Danny Ainge was a rather poor second baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays from 1979 to 1981. He hit 220 for his career, approaching the legendary Mendoza line with every at bat. On the bright side, Ainge hit his two career home runs off mediocre pitchers like Joe Decker and John Montague! Thank goodness, Ainge quit baseball to play on World Championship Boston Celtic teams -- and be the general manager of one, this past year!

Now Batting: Don Mincher, of the Minnesota Twins!

Mediocre Major League Baseball Players -- Don Mincher
Don Mincher was one of my all-time favorite slow, power-hitting first basemen. He whacked 200 home runs, none of them seemingly cheap. He fielded his position quite well (what he could get to), seemed like a nice guy in radio interviews, and was named to two all-star teams, one playing for the California Angels and the other for the now defunct Seattle Pilots. Mincher primarily played for the Minnesota Twins (from1961 to 1966). I remember his 1970 season with the Oakland Athletics when he smacked 27 home runs!

He was named "Minch' but was perhaps best known as the "Mule." He was born in Hunstville, Ala., and enjoyed hunting and fishing, according to the 1971 Sporting News Baseball Register!

Mincher was no McCovey, but, to me, was just as enjoyable to watch. There's nothing like a power-hitting first baseman hitting the tar out of the ball and striking out all too often. I actually enjoyed Mincher striking out, as it made me think: Gosh, what if he made contact with that ball? Was it possible to hit a ball from Minnesota to Boston?"

The Mule hit 249 in 13 big league seasons, but, boy, did those hits ever make an impact on the viewer and wherever the ball landed!