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Mickey Rivers
Mickey Rivers 2010.jpeg
Rivers in 2010
Center fielder
Born: (1948-10-30) October 30, 1948 (age 73)
Miami, Florida
Batted: Left
Threw: Left
MLB debut
August 4, 1970, for the California Angels
Last MLB appearance
September 30, 1984, for the Texas Rangers
MLB statistics
Batting average.295
Home runs61
Runs batted in499
Teams
Career highlights and awards

John Milton "Mickey" Rivers (born October 30, 1948) is an American former baseball player. He played in Major League Baseball from 1970 to 1984 for the California Angels, New York Yankees and Texas Rangers. As a member of the Yankees, he was part of two World Series championship teams, both wins over the Los Angeles Dodgers, in 1977 and 1978. "Mick The Quick" was generally known as a speedy leadoff hitter who made contact and was an excellent center fielder, with a below-average throwing arm.

Career

Rivers graduated from Miami Northwestern Senior High School in 1967. The legend of "Mick the Quick" began during his amateur days at Miami Dade Community College. A fast and athletic outfielder, Rivers emerged as one of the team stars, but once disappeared just moments before the start of a game. His teammates and coaches later discovered Rivers asleep under a nearby tree.

Originally signed by the Atlanta Braves, Rivers began his big league career in 1970 with the Angels, playing center field. He stayed with them through the 1975 season. Rivers played part-time in his first few years, until becoming the starter in 1974. He led the American League in triples both years and stole a career-high 70 bases in 1975, tops in the league.[1]

Rivers was acquired along with Ed Figueroa by the Yankees from the Angels for Bobby Bonds on December 11, 1975,[2] a trade that immediately paid dividends for the Yankees. Figueroa won 19 games and Rivers enjoyed a career year. Rivers was named to the All-Star team, batted .312, stole 43 bases and posted then-career highs in home runs (8) and runs batted in (67).[3] Rivers placed third in the Most Valuable Player voting behind teammate Thurman Munson and George Brett[4] and was named an outfielder on The Sporting News AL All-Star team.

Rivers posted good numbers in his two other full Yankee seasons, including a .326 batting average in 1977, but was traded in the middle of the 1979 season to Texas. He set the single-season record for hits by a Ranger with 210 in 1980. He concluded his career in 1984 with a .295 lifetime average, 267 stolen bases and 1,660 hits. Rivers posted a .308 average in his 29 postseason games.[5]

While Rivers played for them, the Yankees won the World Series in 1977 and 1978, both times against the Los Angeles Dodgers.[6] They won the 1976 pennant, but lost in the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. In the 1978 one-game playoff against the Boston Red Sox, Rivers reportedly gave a bat "with a home run in it" to Bucky Dent, who proceeded to homer over the Green Monster in Fenway Park to give the Yankees a 3-2.[7]

On September 30, 1984, in Rivers' final major league game, he and the Rangers were the victims of the Angels' Mike Witt's perfect game, Witt winning 1-0.[8]

Bill James ranked Mickey Rivers as the 59th greatest center fielder of all time. His stooped shuffle as he ambled to the plate masked quick speed out of the box on bunts and sustained speed around the bases. He would often twirl his bat after each pitch.

Rivers was honored with many of his teammates from the 1977 World Series champion New York Yankees in the Yankee Old Timers Game in 2007. In The Bronx Is Burning, the ESPN miniseries based on the 1977 Yankees, he was portrayed by Leonard Robinson and portrayed as experiencing financial problems. When Reggie Jackson remarked to a reporter that he had an IQ of 160, Rivers responded, "Out of what, a thousand?". Rivers' tenure in the Bronx produced other classic quotes, such as when he tried to explain the bizarre dynamics of the Yankees, who featured controversial owner George Steinbrenner and contentious manager Billy Martin. "Me and George and Billy," Rivers said, "we’re two of a kind." According to Goose Gossage, when the newly acquired reliever went through a rough stretch of blown saves, Rivers once jumped on top of the bullpen car to prevent Gossage from entering the game.[9] He was played as the representation of Yankee imperialism by Garrett Morris in the "Bad Red Chinese Ballet" sketch in the November 18, 1978 installment of Saturday Night Live.[10]

After baseball, Rivers began training racehorses in his native Florida. His son, Mickey Jr., played minor league baseball in the Rangers organization, and his daughter Rhonda is a teacher in the Houston area.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Mickey Rivers stats". baseball-reference.com. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  2. ^ "Angels most active traders," United Press International (UPI), Friday, December 12, 1975. Retrieved May 2, 2020
  3. ^ "Mickey Rivers Stats, Fantasy & News". mlb.com. MLB Advanced Media, LP. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  4. ^ "1976 Awards Voting". baseball-reference.com. Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  5. ^ "Mickey Rivers Stats, Fantasy & News". mlb.com. MLB Advanced Media, LP. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  6. ^ "Former Yankees Bucky Dent, Mickey Rivers throw out first pitch". newsday.com. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  7. ^ Charlotte Carroll. "Was Bucky Dent's Bat Corked For 1978 Playoff Home Run? Former Red Sox, Yankees Players Weigh In". si.com. Retrieved 16 September 2021.
  8. ^ "Mike Witt Perfect Game Box Score". baseball-almanac.com. Baseball Almanac, Inc. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  9. ^ "Bronx Zoo Was Fun So Many Moons Ago". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  10. ^ "Bad Red Chinese Ballet" (Aired November 18, 1978) – SNL Archives. Retrieved September 30, 2020