Sunday, December 22, 2013

#382 Ivan Calderon

Card thoughts: This is not the follow through you want to see from a hitter. Calderon looks badly fooled.

The player: Calderon was a slugger in the minors, but found it hard to get playing time with the Mariners. A trade in late 1986 to the White Sox would make him a star—for a very brief period.

Finally afforded regular playing time with the Sox in 1987, Calderon reached career highs in runs (93), and home runs (28), while driving in 83. Although set back by an injured shoulder the following year, he rebounded in 1989, driving in a career high 87, although with his weakened shoulder, his power fell off.

Strangely enough, at age 28, Calderon’s game completely changed, and he began to steal bases and hit more doubles than home runs. His 44 doubles in 1990 were third in the league, and his 32 steals placed him in the top 10 in the American League. Calderon also was known to sacrifice and drop suicide squeezes down, even though he batted in the cleanup spot most of the time. He even improved his normally pedestrian play in the outfield.

Although he was a fan favorite in Chicago, with his flamboyant style of play and gold chain necklace (then a rarity among baseball players), he was shipped off the next year to Montreal, with Tim Raines the key player going back to White Sox.

Calderon would have one good season with the Expos. His line in 1991—19 home runs, 75 runs batted in, and 31 steals would be enough to earn his only all star game nod. But Calderon was a large man playing on artificial surface, and he wasn’t the best at taking care of himself. Leg injuries limited him to just 48 games in 1992, and by 1993, with short stops in Boston, and again Chicago, his career was done.

No more was heard from Calderon until he became a target in his native Puerto Rico. He was murdered at a notorious bar in Loiza by unknown gunmen who shot him multiple times in his back. After retirement, Calderon had apparently found work as a bail bondsman and loan shark, among other occupations (he also raised fighting cocks), but the likely motive for his killing was the fact that his son had apparently been involved in killing a member of a local drug gang. When Calderon refused to turn over the boy, they shot him instead. 

Rear guard: John Montague is neither the Irish poet who wrote "A Slow Dance," nor the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Rather, he was one of the few effective pitchers on the first Mariners team. Montague relieved Tom House in the third inning, and pitched perfectly the rest of the way. Furthermore, in the previous game, he had retired everyone from the 6th to the 9th inning. The streak of 33 consecutive batters retired ended on July 28, when he walked pinch hitter Craig Kucick in the 8th inning.

1 comment:

Phantom Dreamer said...

Not a good shot of the Seattle Mariners' greatest road uniforms either.