Yesterday I had Steve Ontiveros, a one time top Giants prospect from the 1970’s who went on to make up for his disappointments in San Francisco by playing well in Wrigley.
Well here is another top Giants prospect from those dark ages of San Francisco known as the post Willie Mays’ squad.
Like Ontiveros, Rader was from Bakersfield. Who knows, it might have been a fertile baseball training ground. He was the 18th pick overall by the Giants in 1967. The pick RIGHT AFTER the Giants selected Rader saw the Orioles snatching up Bobby Grich.
For the record, Vida Blue, Jerry Reuss and Don Baylor were all available in the second round.
The signing didn’t look so bad for the Giants. Rader was the Sporting News Rookie Player of the Year in 1972. None of his stats were eye popping, but he was a young talented catcher on a rebuilding team.
In 1974, the 25 year old Rader batted .291 over 113 games and had the same average the next year. He had a 12 game hitting streak in 1975. But the Bobby Bonds, Chris Speier, Gary Matthews and Jim Barr led Giants couldn’t put a winning team on the field.
After the 1976 season, he and Mike Caldwell (a previous Card of the Day) were packaged off for Vic Harris (another former Card of the Day) and others in a swap between the Cardinals and Giants.
Between 4 seasons, 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1980, he played for 4 different teams. After a disappointing season in St. Louis, he was sent packing to the Cubs in a deal involving Steve Swisher.
Rader was the Cubs starting catcher for most of 1978 but didn’t hit much, posting a .576 OPS. He did hit a come from behind pinch hit grand slam on June 26, 1978 that helped the Cubs beat the Mets, 10-9. But those highlights were few and far between.
After his one season in Wrigley, he tossed into a significant trade that sent future playoff hero Manny Trillo from the Cubs to the Phillies. Rader played part time with the 1979 Phillies.
He played his final games with the 1980 Red Sox. Now I was a huge Red Sox fan and I remember the 1980 team well. But I have no memory of Dave Rader playing for them.
I looked up what trade sent him to Boston. I saw he was traded for Stan Papi. Now if you saw the documentary Spaceman: A Baseball Odyssey, you will remember I poked fun at Stan Papi in that film. Actually not so much of Stan Papi, who was a major leaguer and I certainly was not. But he was a utility infielder and all the Red Sox got when they dumped Bill Lee to the Expos. So while Spaceman won 17 games in Quebec, the Red Sox had a backup second baseman.
And a year later, Papi was swapped out for Rader. So in 1980, when the Sox desperately needed another starter to keep up with Baltimore and New York, they had a reserve catcher.
Actually Rader, who filled in for an injured Carlton Fisk at the start of the season, and hit .328 over 50 games. But he didn’t make a major league roster after 1980, wrapping up a decade in the majors with a lot of stops and some interesting and memorable trades.