Friday, July 6, 2012

#395 - Doug Rader

The AL run gets interrupted again but the action cards don’t as Doug Rader waits for a pitch at Candlestick. If I am correct about the location then there is a good shot that the catcher in the photo is Dave Rader who was not related to Doug. ’73 was one of Doug’s better seasons, his 21 homers and 89 RBI’s both making his top three seasonal totals. Plus for the only time in nine seasons he kept his strikeout total below 100. Add in his fourth straight Gold Glove season and it’s small wonder he got a “5” card.

Doug Rader played everything while growing up in Illinois and continued basketball and baseball his two years at Illinois Wesleyan University in ’64 and ’65. He also played semi-pro hockey the same time under a couple assumed names. And did a little boxing. When he was signed by the Astros in ’65 to a $25,000 bonus part of the stipulation was that he give up the hockey. Up until his pro career a shortstop, Doug switched to third base his first year because Sonny Jackson was ahead of him. He hit .209 that first year, almost lost his life over the winter while playing ball in Nicaragua, and moved in ’66 to Double A where he hit .290 with 16 homers and 74 RBI’s. After starting the season in Triple A in ’67 and hitting .293 with escalated power, he made his debut for Houston that July.

Rader hit .333 the rest of the ’67 season up top where he garnered some starting time at first base with four other guys. Bob Aspromonte was the regular guy at third then so Doug settled in sort of slowly. In a tough ’68 he hit .267 and started just over half the games at third. After that season Aspromonte went to Atlanta and Doug got the third base gig solo and really didn’t disappoint. Outside of ’71, when nagging injuries limited his time a bit, he averaged 20 homers and 86 RBI’s while he was the club’s regular guy and won Gold Gloves every season from ’70 to ’74. That last season his numbers were pretty much on par with his '73 ones. Then in ’75 Doug’s offense departed and he would lose some starting time to Enos Cabell, who came over from Baltimore in the Lee May trade. Cabell would take over the position the next year after Doug was traded to San Diego for pitchers Larry Hardy and Joe McIntosh. He got the starting gig there after the Padres gave up on Dave Roberts and improved his average by 30 points but with still diminished power. After a pretty good start to the ’77 season he was sold that June to the new Blue Jays where he upped his homer totals but his other stats came in. He would be released during ’78 spring training and that ended his time as a player. Doug hit .251 with 155 homers and 722 RBI’s. He ranks in the top 50 third baseman in all-time assists and in the top 100 in putouts and fielding average.

After a year off from baseball Rader returned in ’79 as a Padres coach. He then moved to manage their Triple A Hawaii club from ’80 to ’82, going a combined 219-201 at that level. He then moved to Texas where he managed the Rangers from ’83 through two-thirds of the ’85 season when he was replaced by Bobby Valentine. Then it was back home to Chicago where he coached the White Sox from ’86 to ’87 and managed a couple games. In ’88 he moved to the Angels system as a scout and was then promoted to manage the big club the following year which he did through ’91. He then was the Oakland hitting coach in ’92, helping to turn around a slumping Mark McGwire, and moved on to the same position for Florida from ’93 to ’94. He then did another go-round as a coach for the White Sox from ’96 to ’97 before he resigned. He accused team owner Eddie Einhorn of betting on games which probably killed his ability to get hired anywhere as a coach again. But Doug didn’t seem to care as he has been pretty much happily retired in Florida since then. As a major league manager he went 388-417 lifetime.

Doug pretty much pulls off the defensive triple crown in ‘70 and does a neat job in his next full season as well. He has one of the best all-time nicknames.

These two guys were foes in the NL West for a bunch of years but the best way to get them together is through the AL:

1. Rader and Pete Vuckovich ’77 Blue Jays;
2. Vuckovich and Jorge Orta ’76 White Sox.
3. Orta and Ken Henderson ’73 to ’75 White Sox.

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