Monday, February 27, 2012

"Short Term Stops", #8: Bert Campaneris

1984 Topps #139 Bert Campaneris (Yankees)

This is among the most interesting of all the "short term stops" cards I own.

Bert Campaneris had an illustrious career. He was the shortstop of the famous "Swingin' A's" teams of the 1970's. He hit two homers in his first major league game, including one in his first at-bat off of Jim Kaat.

He played all nine positions in a game in 1965, pitching ambidextrously during his inning on the mound. 

He was a six-time All-Star. He led the league in stolen bases on six different occasions. (He held the A's stolen base record until some guy named Rickey Henderson broke it.) 

However, when you talk about Bert Campaneris, his infamous "bat throw" incident is bound to come up.

"Campy" was lighting up the opposing Tigers pitching staff during the 1972 ALCS. (He'd finish with a .429 batting average in the series.)

On what was probably a purpose pitch, Tigers pitcher Lerrin LaGrow hit Campaneris in the ankle during Game 2 of the series.

In one of the wildest scenes ever witnessed on a baseball field, Campaneris got up and flung his bat towards LaGrow. 

Had LaGrow not ducked, the bat would've easily caught him dead on. Both benches emptied.

Tigers manager Billy Martin was so irate that he tried going after Campaneris himself, but was held back by teammates and umpires.

Campaneris was suspended for the rest of the ALCS and the first seven games of the next season. (He was allowed to play in the '72 World Series against the Reds.)

So why is this "short term stops" card so unlikely?

In 1983, the Yankees found themselves in need of some infield depth, so they signed Campaneris. He had spent all of the 1982 season in the Mexican League. 

He'd fill in nicely in a utility role, hitting .322 in 143 at-bats in his final year in the big leagues.

And who was the manager of the '83 Yankees?

None other than Billy Martin, the guy who had to be restrained from going after "Campy" eleven years earlier.

It's funny how baseball works out sometimes, isn't it?


Dodgerbobble said...

That's hilarious! You never know where you'll end up in this crazy game.

Coach Frank said...

Martin also named Campy as a reserve on the 1977 All-Star team. Martin knew a winner when he saw one.