Miguel Dilone had bad timing in his baseball playing days in terms of making it to October.
He also had bad timing for the era he played in.
Then his bad timing continued long after his baseball career ended.
He was signed by the Pirates as a 17 year old in 1971, he understood something that is painfully obvious now: On base percentage is more important than batting average if you have speed. He did not hit for a high average in the minor leagues, but his on base percentage was solid as was his stolen base abilities.
He piled up the stolen bases and earned a few cameos on the big league squad in Pittsburgh between 1974 and 1977. He never got to play in the post season for Pittsburgh and the outfield was crammed with Richie Zisk, Dave Parker, Al Oliver and later Omar Moreno.
The little playing time he did get in Pittsburgh was not enough to justify a starting job, even though he managed 12 steals in only 29 games.
After the 1977 season, the Pirates wanted fan favorite Manny Sanguillen back from Oakland. Dilone was part of the package in the deal. With a miserable 1978 A’s team, Milone started 71 times, stole 50 bases but was caught 23 times. The team did not draw at all and it isn’t clear if this picture from the card was taken during a game or not.
In 1979, the arrival of another speedster outfielder, Rickey Henderson, made Dilone expendable again. This time he was shipped to the Cubs. There he batted .306 as a part time player.
The Indians purchased his contract for the 1980 season and out of nowhere he had his best season. He batted .341, swatted 30 doubles and 9 triples while stealing 61 bases. He actually got some votes in the MVP race and at age 25 seemed to have found a home in Cleveland.
He had another fine season in 1981, but started wearing out his welcome with a perceived lack of hustle.
By 1983, he was back in the minors and bouncing from organization to organization, spending one week with the White Sox before heading back to Pittsburgh. After cameos with the Expos and Padres, his career was done.
His son, Miguel Jr., played a few years in the Rockies organization. While throwing batting practice with him in 2009, Miguel Sr. was struck in the face with a line drive. The damage to his eye was permanent. He lost that eye.
Timing for Miguel Dilone was awful. He played for the Pirates and A’s in the 1970’s and somehow never made a World Series appearance. He played in an era where on base percentage was ignored and showed up to Oakland just as Rickey Henderson was arriving.
And oh yeah, baseball took his eye.
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