Monday, December 12, 2011

#289 - Rick Auerbach

Again, huh? Another non-Traded traded card - maybe I should just call them NTT's - even though this trade is about a year old when this card was out. Here we have a mug shot of Rick Auerbach in an undisclosed location air-brushed into something resembling a Dodgers uniform. Rick went to LA from Milwaukee and in fact he and Gorman Thomas were teammates a couple times. He was picked up to be infield insurance for Bill Russell and would even see some playoff action. But outside of those ten at bats he didn't do anything up top in '73.

Rick Auerbach came out of Woodland Hills California where he played high school ball at Taft, a school attended by near-teammate Robin Yount a few years later. Rick went to Mesa Community College for a year, transferred to Pierce College (another local school) and was drafted by the new Seattle Pilots six rounds behind Mr. Thomas. In '69 he got things rolling at the same Rookie league team as Gorman but he graduated to A ball at mid-season. In '70 after a nice early average at that level he got booted up to Triple A and continued hitting .300 there. Then in '71 he stayed in Milwaukee after spring training and was one of about four guys to get starting time at shortstop. While he did as well as any of the other guys there his low average and anemic power got him returned mid-season to Triple A. Then in '72 he got the starting gig up top solo and although he was no Honus Wagner, offensively he probably wasn't too far off most other AL shortstops. But his fielding wasn't terribly hot either and in '73 early in the season he was sent to the Dodgers for Tim Johnson who would mostly succeed him that year at short.

In '73 Auerbach spent his Dodger season at Albquerque in Triple A. Then in '74 he assumed the primary back-up role to Russell and hit an uncharacteristic .342 in 73 at bats and then hit a double in his only post-season at bat. In '75 Russell got hurt and Rick played a bunch more but returned to Earth offensively with a .224 average in 170 at bats. After sitting a bunch in '76 he was sent to the Mets for Hank Webb. For NY he returned to the minors before he was sent to Texas as the guy to be named later when the Mets acquired Lenny Randle. A month later - after not playing anywhere - he was sold to Cincinnati. For the Reds he finished out the season up top mostly backing up Joe Morgan at second. Then from '78 to '80 he did his back-up thing but also got a bunch of at bats as a pinch hitter and two of those seasons topped .300 again, although in a limited amount of at bats. During the '80 season he was sold back to the Rangers for whom he again never played and in the off-season was involved in a big trade to Seattle that essentially swapped Richie Zisk for Willie Horton. For the Mariners in '81 he hit .155 before he was released at the end of the season, ending his playing career. Rick hit .220 in the regular season and .333 in four post-season games.

Auerbach returned to Woodland Hills - he never really left - and apparently got involved in local real estate. By the '90's he was a tax assessor and in '99 was named the chief Tax Assessor of LA County which he kept through 2009 (I am pretty sure it's the same guy even though the photos do not look terribly similar). He has been an avid bowler the past five years or so and a recent article linked to here profiles him in that regard.

These aren't terribly bad star bullets for a guy whose average was .213 at this point in his career. I come up blank with anything about Rick and taxidermy but it sure would have been an interesting tangent. Both he and Gorman Thomas ironically played for the Mariners years after they were originally drafted by the Pilots.

In music on this date in '74 guitarist Mick Taylor quit the Rolling Stones. Taylor had taken the place of Brian Jones shortly before the latter musician passed away in '70. The Stones were recording the album "Black and Blue" at the time and one of the fill-in guitarists, Ronnie Wood, would replace Taylor in the band.

This one will be pretty easy even though these guys almost never saw each other in the majors:

1. Auerbach and George Scott '72 to '73 Brewers;
2. Scott and Gorman Thomas '73 to '76 Brewers.

1 comment:

  1. The Rick Auerbach tax assessor is not the same guy as the ballplayer, even though both are the same age and are from California.