Great Milestones in Strange Uniforms



I got an idea for a blog post from one of my readers.

It is an interesting concept. Often when we think of great milestones reached by a player, they are wearing a uniform of a team that we associate them with.

Players like Carl Yastrzemski, Derek Jeter, George Brett, Robin Yount and Tony Gwynn played their entire careers with one team. So when they passed 3,000 hits, they did so in a uniform we were expecting. Rickey Henderson had several tours with the A’s, and it was in his second one that he passed Lou Brock for career saves and declared himself the greatest of all time in Oakland.

Other players returned to former teams to pass milestones. Eddie Murray was back with the Orioles when he slammed home run number 500. Greg Maddux returned to the Cubs for win number 300.

But other players reached their great career highlight in a uniform that virtually nobody remembers them wearing.

For example…

Boston Herald

,  Boston Herald

Hall of Famer Paul Waner (aka Big Poison) got 2,868 hits over his 15 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. But when he became the 7th player to collect 3,000 hits on June 19, 1942, he did so as a Boston Brave.

Eddie Mathews played with the Braves in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta. But when he became just the 7th player to hit 500 homers on July 14, 1967, he did so as a member of the Houston Astros.

Photo credit:   John Iacono - SI

Photo credit: John Iacono – SI

Gaylord Perry spent the bulk of his career with the Giants, winning the Cy Young Award with the Indians and Padres. But he won his 300th game on May 6, 1982 with the Seattle Mariners.

1984 Fleer

1984 Fleer

The player Pete Rose was best remembered as a Red and later led the Phillies to their first World Championship. But when he became the first player with 4,000 hits since Ty Cobb on April 13, 1984, Pete was playing for the Montreal Expos.



Tom Seaver was “The Franchise” for the Mets and famously was dealt to the Reds. But his win #300 happened on August 4, 1985 as a member of the Chicago White Sox.

AJN Rules

AJN Rules

Also in 1985, Phil Niekro, who began his career with the Milwaukee Braves and played in Atlanta over three decades, won his 300th on October 6th during his cameo with the Yankees.



Don Sutton was best known as a Dodger, but his 300th win was recorded on June 18, 1986 while he pitched for the California Angels.

SF Chronicle

SF Chronicle

The first 21 years of Steve Carlton’s career was split between the Cardinals and the Phillies. He played for four more teams in his final three seasons. He recorded career strikeout number 4,000 during his “blink and you will miss it” stint with the San Francisco Giants on August 5, 1986.

Photo By Bruce Bisping

Photo By Bruce Bisping

Dave Winfield is best remembered for being a star Padre and Yankee and leading the Blue Jays to the World Championship. But the native Minnesotan returned home and on September 16, 1993, got his 3,000 hit as a Twin.

AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File

AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File

Paul Molitor was one of the great players in Milwaukee Brewer history. Like Winfield, Molitor helped lead the Blue Jays to a World Series title. Also like Winfield, he was a native Minnesotan who returned home to the Twins where he recorded his 3,000 hit. Molitor hit a triple on September 16, 1996, making him the only person to triple for his 3,000th.

Tampa Bay Times

Tampa Bay Times

Wade Boggs was one of the best hitters in Red Sox history (which is saying something.) He would later help the Yankees win the 1996 World Series and ride a horse in the process. But when he collected his 3,000th hit, he wasn’t wearing one of those classic uniforms. He was a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He slugged a home run on August 7, 1999, being the first to ever homer for number 3,000. (Derek Jeter would be the second.)

Photo: Stephen Gunn - Getty Images

Photo: Stephen Gunn – Getty Images

Rickey Henderson broke the single season and career stolen base record as a member of the Oakland A’s, the team most teams associate with him. But hit number 3,000 happened on October 7, 2001 when he was a member of the San Diego Padres.

Eric Miller - Reuters

Eric Miller – Reuters

Frank Thomas was the greatest slugger in Chicago White Sox history. But when Thomas crushed his 500th home run on June 28, 2007, he did so as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.



Tom Glavine pitched 17 seasons with the Atlanta Braves but notched his 300th victory on August 5, 2007 as a member of the New York Mets.

Greg Fiume/Getty

Greg Fiume/Getty

The most recent 300 game winner was Randy Johnson, who reached the milestone on June 4, 2009 pitching for the San Francisco Giants.

Simmons - NY Daily News

Simmons – NY Daily News

Gary Sheffield never stayed on one team for very long. So perhaps it is appropriate that his greatest achievement, home run number 500, took place during his brief stint with the New York Mets on April 17, 2009.

Greg Fiume/Getty

Greg Fiume/Getty

Wherever Jim Thome played, he was a beloved fan favorite. He joined the 600 home run club on August 15, 2011 not as a member of the Indians but with the Minnesota Twins.

I always wondered what those fan bases thought about those moments. They barely got to know these players but managed to witness one of their great career defining moments.

With A-Rod and Ichiro closest to 3,000 hits, I wonder where their celebrations will be. If CC Sabathia wins 95 more decisions, he will be a 300 game winner. Which uniform will he be wearing then?

Let’s appreciate those events, even if the uniform is a bit jarring.

Who didn’t deserve a post season MVP? Who should have won it instead?

Edgar Renteria very well may have ended his long and solid career as a World Series hero. He showed his class by refusing to have a parade in his Colombian home town, wanting those resources to go people who NEED it after a series of floods in the region.

(A ballplayer REFUSING adoration? What a concept!)

He certainly deserved his MVP award with his unexpected heroics at the plate. But sometimes the MVP goes to a real head scratcher.

This is how I define a playoff series MVP. Who is the person that if you replaced with a mediocre substitute would change the result of the series?

Which is why, no matter what the numbers are, I could NEVER give a playoff MVP to someone on the losing team.

This got me thinking… What World Series or LCS MVP selections do I just not agree with?

Since the World Series MVP was established in 1955, there have been a few players who I don’t think deserved October hardware (including one for my beloved Red Sox.) I am not saying anyone who got the award had a BAD series… but they give out the trophy pretty quickly… and sometimes the most valuable player wasn’t the flashiest one.

The NLCS started handing out MVPs in 1977.
The first ALCS MVP was in 1980.

And one year… 1987… I think they got ALL THREE post season MVPs wrong!

So you know what happens when I have an idle thought: I write a list.

Here are…


1960 World Series



Richardson had a tremendous series, batting .367 with a 1.054 OPS. He got 11 hits in the 7 games and drove in 12 runs. But many of those runs game in the Yankee blow out wins in Games 2, 3 and 6. And the Yankees LOST THE SERIES!

Mazeroski had a wonderful series at the plate, batting .320, having an OPS of .960 at the second base position and slamming a pair of homers. The last homer was memorable.

1969 World Series



There is no doubt that Clendenon had a remarkable series at the plate. He homered 3 times in 5 games, betting .357 with an OPS of 1.509. Al Weis, who won The Babe Ruth Award that October, also put on an unexpected show, batting .455 and an OPS of 1.290 and homering along side Clendenon in the final game.

But Koosman threw the critical game 2 victory in Baltimore after the Orioles beat Tom Seaver in the opener. And after the Game 4 thriller, Koosman threw the complete game victory to hold off the Birds and clinch the World Series. He finished with a 2-0 record, an 2.04 ERA over 17 2/3 innings with a WHIP of 0.623.

1978 World Series



Perhaps there was lingering hero worship after Dent’s home run in the one game playoff against Boston. Maybe his RBIs in the Game 6 finale padded his stats.

But the colossus that was Reggie Jackson towered over this series. The year before his homers sunk Los Angeles. And when Bob Welch struck him out after a million pitches to end Game 2, there was the sense that they were going to slay the giant. Reggie won games with power, with singles to prolong rallies and with his hip, that he stuck in the way of a relay to second base and kept a Game 4 rally alive. Jackson finished the series with a .391 average, an OPS of 1.196, homered 2 times with 8 RBI. (And blamed Bucky Dent’s stolen base attempt for his famous Game 2 strike out.)

1982 ALCS



I love Fred Lynn. Fred Lynn is one of my all time favorite players. And Fred Lynn’s numbers in the 1982 ALCS were OBSCENELY good. He batted .611 with a 1.539 OPS. But, say it with me… THE ANGELS LOST!

Paul Molitor batted .316 with a 1.065 OPS and knocked in as many runs as Lynn. Molitor’s homer off of Mike Witt broke open Game 3 and helped Milwaukee hold off elimination. He drove in a run in the series tying Game 4. And he went 2-3 with a run scored in the pennant clinching Game 5.

1982 NLCS



When a player hits .556 in a 3 game series, it is easy to put the M, V and P next to their name. That’s why Porter won it in ’82. But Willie McGee, who hit .308 with an OPS of 1.154 got productive hit after productive hit.

It was Willie McGee’s triple off of Pascual Perez that led to the first run in the Cardinals 7-0 Game 1 win. His run scoring grounder tied Game 2 in the 8th inning, setting up the winning rally in the 9th. And in the Game 3 clicher, he collected 2 hits, driving in 3 and hitting the back breaking home run in the top of the 9th.

1986 NLCS



This is the great test case for my inability to give a playoff MVP to a member of the losing team. I get this one. Mike Scott won the first and fourth games and the specter of him pitching Game 7 hung over all 16 innings of the Game 6 marathon. The Mets knew they HAD to win or face Scott in Houston for a do or die showdown.

But here’s the thing… the Mets DID win. And they did it in 6. Which means SOMEONE must have been valuable for the Mets. And in three of the wins, Dykstra came up strong. He got 2 hits and a run scored as the Mets won Game 2 against Nolan Ryan. And he came off the bench and got 2 hits including a much needed 16th inning insurance run in the Game 6 clincher. But with one swing of the bat, he changed the entire complexion of the series. His 2 run bottom of the 9th come from behind walk off homer in Game 3 kept the Mets from falling behind 2-1 and facing Scott in Game 4. That’s pretty valuable.

1987 ALCS



Gaetti homered twice in the opener and the Twins were in business. They stunned the Tigers in that first game and went on to win the series in 5.

But when the Series moved to Detroit, Gaetti’s bat cooled down and Brunansky’s heated up. Brunansky matched Gaetti’s home run total (2) and out hit him (.412 to .300), topped him in OPS (1.524 to .998) and drove in more runs (9 to 5). And in the clinching game 5, Brunansky started the scoring with an RBI double in the second and added on with a homer in the 9th.

1987 NLCS



I know my many Giant fan friends will give me grief about this, but I don’t care how many homers the Hackman hit. The Giants lost the series and there must be a Cardinal worthy of the award.

Danny Cox is as good a recipient as any. Sure he lost Game 4, but he pitched a complete game giving the Cardinals pen a much needed night off. And with the two teams in a tense back and forth series (including a 1-0 nail biting win for St. Louis in Game 6) Cox took total control of Game 7, throwing a complete game shutout to clinch the pennant. Every Giant was stymied… including Jeffrey Leonard.

1987 World Series



There is no denying Frank Viola was dominating in the Twins Game 7 victory over St. Louis. But there would have been no NEED for a 7th game if Viola didn’t get ROCKED in Game 4 in St. Louis. I understand sometimes a hard luck loser in a game can still be post season MVP material (Josh Beckett in 2003 comes to mind.) But a World Series MVP shouldn’t get hammered in a game where he leaves in the 4th.

Puckett hit .357 in the series with 10 hits. His 5th inning double off of Danny Cox tied Game 7… thus taking Frank Viola off the hook of his SECOND World Series loss.

1990 World Series



I am not a big fan of Co-MVPs, but 1990 was a case where 2 deserved it… and naturally neither won. It is difficult to determine which was more startling about the Reds sweep of the powerhouse A’s: That the bats clobbered the A’s pitching staff or that the arms shut down the Bash Brothers line up.

Rijo went 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA over 15 1/3 innings… clearly awesome stats. But Game 1 was a game where the bats caught Dave Stewart off guard and Game 4 the A’s were already down 3-0 and reeling. No offense, but the series was won with the startling Games 2 and 3 victories for Cincinnati.

Hatcher’s numbers were jaw dropping. He set a World Series record with seven consecutive hits and batted .750, beating Babe Ruth’s 4 Game World Series record of .625. His OPS was 2.050. The first number is a 2. That isn’t a typo.

And Chris Sabo’s 2 homers in Game 3 shattered the idea that the A’s would regroup in Oakland and make it a series. He finished with a .563 average and a 1.611 OPS.

1997 World Series



Arguably the worst World Series MVP decision of all time. It can be argued that not only did Hernandez NOT deserve the MVP, but he didn’t even have a GOOD series. Sure he won 2 games and pitched 8 innings in Game 5. But his Game 1 outing was mediocre and his final ERA of 5.27 showed that he got some SERIOUS run support.

He did. And a lot of it came from Alou, who batted .321 with an OPS of 1.101. He slammed 3 homers and drove in 9 runs during the 7 game series against Cleveland. His 3 run shot won Game 1, drove in a critical run in Game 5 and hit the single that sparked the Marlins 9th inning comeback rally in Game 7.

1998 NLCS



It’s funny. If the Padres had won Game 4 of the NLCS and swept the Braves, Kevin Brown would have won the MVP on the strength of his Game 2 shutout. And Bruce Bochy clearly wanted to end the series in 5 when he brought Brown out of the bullpen in the 7th. But he let up a go ahead homer to Michael Tucker, losing the game and any chance at hardware.

Sterling Hitchcock won the MVP based on his 2-0 record. But he couldn’t get through the 6th in either start and needed a lot of help from the bullpen.

The late Caminiti homered in the 10th to give the Padres a surprising 1 game lead in the series. He drove in a run in the Game 3 victory and went 2-5 with a run scored in the Game 6 clincher. He finished the series with 2 homers and a .953 OPS.

1999 ALCS



I swear I have nothing against the brothers Hernandez and their post season heroics. El Duque obviously had a fine ALCS. He pitched 8 innings in the opener and threw 7 innings, striking out 9 and letting up only 1 run in the Game 5 clincher.

But there were two points in the series where the Red Sox had a legit shot to beat the Yankees. And in both instances they were stymied by Ramiro Mendoza. With the bases loaded and one out in the 8th inning and the Yankees clinging to a 1 run lead in Game 2, Mendoza came out of the pen to face Butch Huskey and Jose Offerman. He struck out Huskey and got Offerman to fly out, ending the threat and preserving the win. In the Game 5 clincher, he once again came in with the bases loaded and the Red Sox threatening. He got Scott Hatteberg to strike out and Trot Nixon to pop up. Torre let Mendoza finish the game and clinch the pennant, making it one of the few times a post 1996 Yankee series was ended by someone other than Mariano Rivera.

2001 NLCS



Look, nobody is saying Craig Counsell didn’t have a good series. He did. Nobody is saying his .381 average and .905 OPS wasn’t terrific. It was.

But COME ON! Johnson, who stumbled through subpar post seasons in 1997, 1998, 1999 and in the 2001 Division Series, broke through in the NLCS. He threw a complete game shutout in Game 1, beating Greg Maddux 2-0. Then in the clincher he went 7 strong, beating Tom Glavine and the Diamondbacks clinched the pennant. When you beat Maddux AND Glavine in tight games in the same series, you deserve hardware.

2004 World Series



If I had told you when Game 1 of the 2004 World Series ended that Manny Ramirez, who had committed two mind numbing errors in left field on back to back plays, would be selected the series Most Valuable Player, you’d think I was insane. Besides, obviously the post season hero was Bellhorn, whose tie breaking homer in the 8th inning set up the victory. And in Game 2, Bellhorn’s 4th inning double broke up what looked like would be a tight game.

Sure Manny’s homer in Game 3 took the air out of St. Louis’ balloon in Game 3 and Manny’s .412 average was sexier. Bellhorn batted .300 for the Series and out slugged Ramirez, finishing with a 1.263 OPS to Manny’s 1.088. And Bellhorn got the two biggest hits of the series.

2005 ALCS



Konerko had many heroics in the Division Series, ALCS and World Series for the White Sox, including first inning homers in Games 3 and 4 that put the White Sox in control. But Crede, who topped Konerko in virtually every category, also was clutch.

It was Crede’s walk off double that won the bizarre Game 2 against the Angels, in the wake of A. J. Pierzynski’s reaching first on the supposed dropped third strike.

He hit a 2 run single in the 8th inning to help put Game 4 out of reach. And in the clinching Game 5, he got a go ahead RBI in the second, a game tying homer in the 7th and drove in the pennant winning run in the 8th. He hit .368 with an OPS of 1.139, homered 2 times and drove in 7. Konerko didn’t top any of those stats nor the heroics in the clincher… but still won the MVP.

2008 ALCS



Matt Garza beat Red Sox ace two times, including the Game 7 clincher to send the Rays to the 2008 World Series. It is a pretty solid argument to give him the Series MVP. I get it. But the main reason the Rays toppled the defending World Champs was NOT their pitching staff. It was their bats that went berserk in Games 2, 3, 4 and 5… putting Boston in a hole that their great heroics and come from behind skills just couldn’t overcome.

Upton hit .321 with an OPS of 1.180, homered 4 times and drove in an amazing 11 runs in the 7 game series. Along with Willy Aybar, Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena, Upton led the offensive charge and gave Tampa Bay its greatest baseball moment.

2009 World Series



Here’s why you sometimes need a moment or two to give these post season awards some thought. Matsui won the MVP, mainly on the back of his 6 RBI performance in the clinching Game 6 and his 2 go ahead homers off of Pedro Martinez. But I have a hard time giving the MVP to someone who didn’t even start in two of the Yankees win.

Initially I felt the award belonged to Mariano Rivera, whose presence hung over the entire post season as closer after closer failed while the great Rivera was flawless.

But in retrospect, three of the biggest turn around moments in the World Series were the result of Damon’s bat, patience and intelligence. In Game 3, a game the Yankees needed to have in order to avoid a 2-1 hole, Damon hit a go ahead double in the 5th to give the Yankees the lead for good. In Game 4, after the Phillies tied the game in the 8th, Damon fouled off 2 strike 2 out pitch after pitch from Brad Lidge and finally singled. Then he stole second and in the series most memorable play, realized that third base wasn’t covered due to the shift on Mark Teixeira. He scored the go ahead (and eventual winning run) on A-Rod’s double. In that critical inning, Matsui popped up to short.

So there you have it… I am sure I offended someone by saying their favorite player shouldn’t have won the award.

Let me know what you think and if you vehemently disagree with me.

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