January 16 – Happy Birthday Steve Balboni

I was always a fan of Steve Balboni. Show me a power-hitting paisano in pinstripes with a great nickname and I guarantee I’ll love the guy. Balboni’s nickname was “Bye-Bye,” given to him in recognition of how far and fast squarely hit balls would travel off his bat. The Brockton, MA native was born on this date in 1957. He got my attention during his minor league years in the Yankee farm system by hitting 150 home runs over a five year period. The Yankees needed right hand power back in the early eighties and I thought Balboni would be a star in the Bronx. But by the time he was ready for the big leagues, Don Mattingly had claimed the Yankee first base job and Dave Winfield was providing the right-handed long-ball bat the team needed so Balboni was shipped to the Royals.

As he had done in the minors, Bye-Bye averaged thirty home runs a year during his four year stay in Kansas City but he also struck out about 140 times a season. The Royals released Balboni early in the 1988 season, he got picked up by the Mariners and then released by Seattle at the end of that year. As fate would have it, that spring the Yankees announced Dave Winfield would miss the entire 1989 regular season because of a back injury. New York needed to find a right-handed bat to put behind Mattingly in the batting order. They chose Balboni. Steve’s second tenure in pinstripes lasted two seasons. He hit 17 home runs in each of those years but when he averaged just .192 in 1990, the writing was on the wall. Steve was released on the final day of the Yankee’s 1991 spring training season. Even though his Yankee career did not turn out to be what I had hoped it would, I remember still feeling bad when New York said so long to Bye-Bye.

Balboni shares his January 16th birthday with this former Yankee starting pitcherthis former Yankee relief pitcher and this one too.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1981 NYY 4 8 7 2 2 1 1 0 2 0 1 4 .286 .375 .714 1.089
1982 NYY 33 114 107 8 20 2 1 2 4 0 6 34 .187 .228 .280 .508
1983 NYY 32 95 86 8 20 2 0 5 17 0 8 23 .233 .295 .430 .725
1989 NYY 110 334 300 33 71 12 2 17 59 0 25 67 .237 .296 .460 .756
1990 NYY 116 307 266 24 51 6 0 17 34 0 35 91 .192 .291 .406 .697
11 Yrs 960 3440 3120 351 714 127 11 181 495 1 273 856 .229 .293 .451 .743
KCR (5 yrs) 566 2201 1999 232 459 89 6 119 318 1 175 568 .230 .294 .459 .752
NYY (5 yrs) 295 858 766 75 164 23 4 41 116 0 75 219 .214 .286 .415 .701
TEX (1 yr) 2 5 5 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .600 .600 .600 1.200
SEA (1 yr) 97 376 350 44 88 15 1 21 61 0 23 67 .251 .298 .480 .778
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/16/2014.

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