Thursday, January 3, 2013

#481 - Jerry Terrell

If you take away all the post-season cards this is our second rookie one in the past few and it represents a milestone in the set. Jerry Terrell is the final player who made the Topps 1973 Rookie All-Star Team so that sub-set is now complete. Jerry was a pretty old rookie, 26 when the season started, as he’d gone the college route and then took a few years in the minors. He was a versatile guy and would play pretty much every position by the time his career ended but up to this point in his career he was primarily a second baseman. But with a guy named Rod Carew inhabiting that spot, Jerry’s first year saw him on the left side of the infield, mostly at shortstop. Danny Thomson had that position in ’72 and retained it for a good deal of ’73 but he’d been recently diagnosed with leukemia – which would take his life in a few seasons – and had a season-long slump at the plate. So Jerry was a welcome addition with his hustle and drive and an average that topped Danny’s by 40 points. Here Jerry poses in Oakland and I’m not even going to hazard a guess as to whom that is behind him. He’d work his versatility into a pretty long career, both on the field and elsewhere. But he’d never get as much work as in his rookie year.

Jerry Terrell grew up in suburban Minnesota and after high school went to Minnesota State at Mankato – sometimes just called Mankato University – where he got a degree in accounting and played ball, finishing with a .301 average. He graduated in ’68 and was taken by the Twins in the draft and then hit .296 in A ball while playing second. In ’69 he hit .200 in a few games in the Instructional League but spent nearly the whole year doing time in the military. I have read on a couple sources that he did time in Viet Nam but have been unable to confirm that and that he played at all in ’69 would dispute that since generally call-ups had to do basic for about six weeks and then a full year in country. Regardless of where he spent his military time, Jerry was back to baseball in ’70 and that year in A ball hit .279. The next year he slumped to .231 in Double A – though he did steal 36 bases - but in ’72 he rebounded to a .290 in Triple A and made a believer out of Twins manager Frank Quilici, a recent Twin reserve infielder himself. In spring training of ’73 he got the boost.

In ’74 things got a bit crowded at Terrell’s favorite spots on the left side. Eric Soderholm was solidifying himself as the man at third and shortstop was sort of a committee position with Thomson and Jerry being joined by rookies Luis Gomez and Sergio Ferrer. Jerry put in as many games at DH as anywhere else and his average slumped 20 points. In ’75 he began the season in Triple A but two things returned him to The Show: his .320 average in the minors and experimenting with Carew at first. So Jerry did middle infield work, hit .286, and recorded lifetime highs in doubles (16) and RBI’s (36). The next year Carew was moved to first full-time and second was ripe for Jerry. But Minnesota had a new rookie – Bob Randall – who leapfrogged him and Jerry did his back-up thing, including games at each outfield position. In ’77 Soderholm went to the White Sox as a free agent and Jerry spent most of his time at third. After the year he went to Kansas City himself via free agency.

With the Royals Terrell reprised his back-up role but with much less time on the field and much discounted numbers. In ’78 he spent most of his time at third as he hit .203 in only 133 at bats but did make the post-season roster. His time retracted considerably in ’79 and ’80 as he was more a late-inning defensive replacement and the latter year spent time back in the minors. He also pitched in a game each year, leaving catcher as the only position he didn’t play during his MLB career. He was a great guy to have on the bench and a positive clubhouse influence and he would become the team’s player rep, ironically winning the Danny Thomson Award for good citizenship one year and then being the only player rep to vote against the ’81 strike, which he did for religious reasons. He was recalled too late in ’80 to be a roster player for the Series that year but was given a spot on the bench. It would be his last time there as a player as he was released right before the start of the ’81 season. Jerry finished with a .253 average up top and .277 in the minors. He got shut out of any post-season stats.

After a year off Terrell returned to baseball, primarily as an advance scout for different organizations. He hooked up with the Royals a couple times in that role: ’83 to ’86 and ’93 to ’95. He performed the same gig for the Twins (’88-’92), the Dodgers (’96), and the Expos (2001- at least ’04). He also coached in the minors (’97-’98) for the White Sox and managed there as well: ’87 for Kansas City; and ’99-2000 for Chicago. His record was 168-250. I haven’t been able to get a handle on his work since 2004 and there is no indication he went with Montreal to DC. In late 2011 he did a community kids baseball gig with the Royals so perhaps he is back in their fold.

Jerry gets star bullets for his two league-leading seasons in the minors.

I’ve used this guy before:

1. Terrell and Butch Wynegar ’76 to ’77 Twins;
2. Wynegar and Mike Marshall ’78 to ’80 Twins;
3. Marshall and Willie Crawford ’74 to ’75 Dodgers.

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