Friday, May 16, 2014

#656 - Adrian Garrett

Technically, this is the third rookie card for Adrian Garrett, big brother to the Mets’ Wayne. Adrian had a rookie card in the ’71 set and also back in ’66, when he had one under his nickname, Pat. That’s a mighty long gap and I would bet that Adrian had about the longest one between his initial rookie card and his first solo one – eight years – but I have not the time to research that one. This card commemorates his busiest MLB season to date during his second go-round in Chicago. After returning via a sale from Oakland late in ’72, Adrian had a short .377/8/20 line with a .515 OBA in just 53 at bats in Triple A and was recalled for some back-up work. Despite his card’s designation most of his plate time came as either a catcher or pinch hitter; his best offensive work was in the latter role in which he hit .286. Despite the minimal plate appearances to date Adrian was in the midst of a very long baseball career at the time of this card, in which he appears to be squirreled away somewhere in Candlestick. He wouldn’t see another card until ’76 when he would get his final MLB one on a different team and plate appearance-wise he was still a rookie. That, too, has gotta be about the longest run for anyone with that many cards. So in his own way Adrian helps get to the end of the set with some record-type tidbits.

Adrian Garrett was a big deal halfback and baseball player at Sarasota High School when he was signed by the Braves in ’61 and began his career that summer in D ball, hitting .242 for a couple teams. After ramping that up the following year to a .254/19/87 line with a .385 OBA, he would begin a long run at stops with an A at the beginning. He split ’63 between A and Double A, recording a .249/13/60 line in his 277 at bats while missing half the season for his military commitment. ’64 was spent entirely at the higher level where his power was reduced a bunch but his average moved higher in a .280/7/48/.355 season in 477 at bats. In ’65 he moved up to Triple A and earned his first rookie card on the basis of his .224/20/63/.319 season in which he was one of the Braves’ system’s biggest homer producers. But that year, despite his debut in Atlanta, he slumped pretty hard - .196/16/40 in 342 at bats – and he spent most of ’67 in Double A. That year he put up much better numbers with a .257/28/92/.350 line and hit .310 in his few games up in Triple A and also began playing third base in addition to his outfield duties. ’68 was a bit messy as his line slid to .212/12/37 in 363 at bats at both levels. But he enjoyed a big bounce in a ’69 spent primarily in Double A, putting up a .254/24/77/.382 line. After the season he was released by the Braves, picked up and released by the Phillies, and picked up by the Cubs.

With Chicago in ’70 Garrett would get some more MLB at bats and would spend most of his time in Double A where he had a .277/29/86/.365 line while leading his league in homers. He then moved up to Triple A, where he enjoyed his biggest season, posting a .289/43/119/.406 line that drew attention from the vastly improving Oakland A’s. Late that August they picked up Adrian for catcher Frank Fernandez and Adrian spent the balance of the season doing some left field and pinch hitting work for the division champs. He also spent a bit of the summer with the team as well in ’72 but most of the year was spent in Triple A where he posted a .277/12/32.372 line in his 220 at bats. Then came the September sale to Chicago and after his work in ’73 he got a few more at bats up top but spent most of ’74 back in Triple A where he had another big season, in just 318 at bats posting a .280/26/83/.414 line. He pretty much mirrored that success in ’75 when he put up .321/12/48/.380 numbers in half a season before a sale to California, where he finished the year with his best MLB totals by far: a .262 average with six homers and 18 RBI’s in 107 at bats, nearly all at first base or DH. In ’76 he caught a few games for the Angels before a sale to San Diego landed him back in Triple A where he again hit well, with a .310/9/31/.360 line in 126 at bats. That would be it for his time in The States and Adrian finished with MLB totals of a .185 average, eleven homers and 37 RBI’s in his 276 at bats. He also had 87 strikeouts which helps explain why he never stuck. In the minors he hit .259 with 280 homers, 961 RBI’s, and a .360 OBA.

As has been a recent trend, Garrett moved on to Japan after his US playing time ended and had a pretty good run there, pretty much parallel with Gail Hopkins from a few posts back. He spent three seasons with Hiroshima where his first two were by far his best: a .279/35/91/.358 line in ’77; and a .271/40/97/.378 line in ’78. In ’79 his numbers fell to .225/27/59/.326 but that was the year he helped the Carp take the Japanese Series, a fitting way to go out as a player. He then returned to the US, spending a few years in the White Sox system, as a coach (’80-’81); minor league hitting instructor (’85); and manager (’82-’84), going a combined 169-150. After a year off he moved to the Kansas City system where he coached a season in the minors (’87) and then five in Kansas City (’88-’92). Then it was on to the Marlins where he was a minor league hitting coach (’93-’98) and hitting coordinator (’99-2001). After another year off he hooked up with Cincinnati where from 2003 through 2011 he served as the Triple A hitting coach. Since 2012 he has been employed by the Reds as a part time coach. Busy boy.

This being Adrian’s first solo card, he has yet another tidbit of never having his annual minor league stats appear on a Topps card. Expanding on the star bullets, he led four leagues in homers in the US and did so once in Japan. He got into catching in spring training of ’73 when Pete Reiser, a Cubs coach at the time, suggested he give it a shot to help him stick. So he did tons of bullpen and batting practice catching and it would be his primary position in three MLB seasons. Another brother Charlie also played pro ball but he only got as high as Double A as his career was interrupted by two full years of military duty. Adrian has a very expansive “Bullpen” tab on baseball-reference.

Sometimes for these guys with limited at bats these paths can be pretty long:

1. Garrett and Joe Lahoud ’75 to ’76 Angels;
2. Lahoud and Reggie Smith ’68 to ’71 Red Sox;
3. Smith and Mike Tyson ’74 to ’76 Cardinals.

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