July 6th, 2011

July 6 – Happy Birthday Willie Randolph

I have been a huge Willie Randolph fan since 1976, his rookie season with the New York Yankees. When I first heard about the trade with the Pirates that brought Willie to the Bronx I wasn’t thrilled because the Yankees had sent a pretty good starting pitcher named Doc Medich to Pittsburgh, in the deal. It only took me a few games into the 1976 season, however, to realize Randolph was a winner. Though he was only 21 years old at the time, he played like a polished veteran, especially in the field. I loved the way he fluidly brought ground balls hit to him into his body before making the throw. At the plate, Willie was adept at getting on base, stealing important bases, and moving runners into scoring position. The best way I can describe Willie’s impact on the Yankees was that you really noticed how good he was when he wasn’t in the lineup.

Willie was also a great teammate. On a Yankee team that was notorious for clubhouse cliques and animosity, Willie got along with and was respected by everyone and was eventually named Yankee Captain.

I remember the disappointment I felt when Randolph signed with the Dodgers as a free agent after the 1988 season. The Yankees were in the midst of a fifteen-season-long postseason drought and with Randolph leaving, they were losing one of their last links to their glory teams of the seventies. He ended up playing until 1992 and retired with 2,210 lifetime hits (1,731 as a Yankee) 1,239 runs (1,027 with NY) and a .276 lifetime batting average (.275 with NY) over eighteen seasons.

When Willie was named manager of the Mets, I knew he would be a very calm and controlled field boss who treated his players like professionals, respected the skills and opinions of his coaches, and let his team play. He did just that and deserved a much better fate than he received from the team’s front-office.

Willie was born on this date in 1954, in Holly Hills, SC. His family moved to Brooklyn where Willie was raised and played high school baseball. He shares his July 6th birthday with this World War II era Yankee backup catcher and this long-ago Yankee captain.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1976 NYY 125 499 430 59 115 15 4 1 40 37 58 39 .267 .356 .328 .684
1977 NYY 147 624 551 91 151 28 11 4 40 13 64 53 .274 .347 .387 .734
1978 NYY 134 596 499 87 139 18 6 3 42 36 82 51 .279 .381 .357 .738
1979 NYY 153 682 574 98 155 15 13 5 61 33 95 39 .270 .374 .368 .741
1980 NYY 138 642 513 99 151 23 7 7 46 30 119 45 .294 .427 .407 .834
1981 NYY 93 422 357 59 83 14 3 2 24 14 57 24 .232 .336 .305 .641
1982 NYY 144 643 553 85 155 21 4 3 36 16 75 35 .280 .368 .349 .717
1983 NYY 104 477 420 73 117 21 1 2 38 12 53 32 .279 .361 .348 .708
1984 NYY 142 664 564 86 162 24 2 2 31 10 86 42 .287 .377 .348 .725
1985 NYY 143 597 497 75 137 21 2 5 40 16 85 39 .276 .382 .356 .738
1986 NYY 141 601 492 76 136 15 2 5 50 15 94 49 .276 .393 .346 .738
1987 NYY 120 543 449 96 137 24 2 7 67 11 82 25 .305 .411 .414 .825
1988 NYY 110 474 404 43 93 20 1 2 34 8 55 39 .230 .322 .300 .621
18 Yrs 2202 9461 8018 1239 2210 316 65 54 687 271 1243 675 .276 .373 .351 .724
NYY (13 yrs) 1694 7464 6303 1027 1731 259 58 48 549 251 1005 512 .275 .374 .357 .731
LAD (2 yrs) 171 746 645 77 181 22 0 3 45 8 84 60 .281 .365 .329 .694
NYM (1 yr) 90 336 286 29 72 11 1 2 15 1 40 34 .252 .352 .318 .670
PIT (1 yr) 30 70 61 9 10 1 0 0 3 1 7 6 .164 .246 .180 .427
OAK (1 yr) 93 333 292 37 75 9 3 1 21 6 32 25 .257 .331 .318 .650
MIL (1 yr) 124 512 431 60 141 14 3 0 54 4 75 38 .327 .424 .374 .798
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/6/2013.