August 20th, 2011

August 20 – Happy Birthday Graig Nettles

The Dodgers and the Yankees clashed in the 1978 World Series. If you’re a longtime Yankee fan, older than forty, you simply don’t forget Graig Nettles defensive performance in Game 3.

The Dodgers had jumped ahead of New York two games to none and only “Puff” and his well worn fielders glove prevented them from making it three straight wins. He made four great plays in that game. In the third inning, with New York ahead 2-1 and Bill Russell on first base with two outs, Nettles made a diving stop of Reggie Smith’s smash down the third base line and threw Smith out at first. In the fifth, with the tying run on second, Nettles again victimized Smith by knocking down his screaming line drive, preventing the run from scoring and holding the Dodger outfielder to an infield single. The very next hitter, Dodger first baseman, Steve Garvey then scorched another one at Nettles who backhanded it on his knees and forced the runner at second to end the inning. Yet again in the visitors’ half of the sixth, the Dodgers loaded the bases and with two outs, LA second baseman Davey Lopes sent another hard grounder in Nettles’ direction. After another great stop, he made another great throw, forcing the runner at second and ending another Dodger threat. As he ran toward the dugout, the Yankee Stadium crowd gave him a standing ovation. Nettles won Gold Gloves in 1977 and ’78.

Born in San Diego on this date in 1944, he was the AL Home Run Champion in 1976 and when he retired after the 1988 season he had 390 career home runs. 319 of those blasts were the most home runs ever by an AL third baseman. Great glove, plenty of power, a quick irreverent wit and that Game 3 performance sum up my memories of the Yankee’s All-Time great third baseman.

Nettles shares his August 20th birthday with this long-ago Yankee who ended up in San Quentin and  this one-time top Yankee pitching prospect.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1973 NYY 160 641 552 65 129 18 0 22 81 0 78 76 .234 .334 .386 .720
1974 NYY 155 638 566 74 139 21 1 22 75 1 59 75 .246 .316 .403 .718
1975 NYY 157 647 581 71 155 24 4 21 91 1 51 88 .267 .322 .430 .753
1976 NYY 158 657 583 88 148 29 2 32 93 11 62 94 .254 .327 .475 .802
1977 NYY 158 664 589 99 150 23 4 37 107 2 68 79 .255 .333 .496 .829
1978 NYY 159 662 587 81 162 23 2 27 93 1 59 69 .276 .343 .460 .803
1979 NYY 145 588 521 71 132 15 1 20 73 1 59 53 .253 .325 .401 .726
1980 NYY 89 369 324 52 79 14 0 16 45 0 42 42 .244 .331 .435 .766
1981 NYY 103 402 349 46 85 7 1 15 46 0 47 49 .244 .333 .398 .731
1982 NYY 122 461 405 47 94 11 2 18 55 1 51 49 .232 .317 .402 .719
1983 NYY 129 519 462 56 123 17 3 20 75 0 51 65 .266 .341 .446 .787
22 Yrs 2700 10228 8986 1193 2225 328 28 390 1314 32 1088 1209 .248 .329 .421 .750
NYY (11 yrs) 1535 6248 5519 750 1396 202 20 250 834 18 627 739 .253 .329 .433 .762
MIN (3 yrs) 121 348 304 40 68 12 3 12 34 1 39 67 .224 .314 .401 .715
SDP (3 yrs) 387 1380 1189 158 282 43 2 51 181 0 171 176 .237 .333 .405 .739
CLE (3 yrs) 465 1947 1704 224 426 59 2 71 218 12 220 183 .250 .338 .412 .750
ATL (1 yr) 112 201 177 16 37 8 1 5 33 1 22 25 .209 .294 .350 .644
MON (1 yr) 80 104 93 5 16 4 0 1 14 0 9 19 .172 .240 .247 .488
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/20/2013.