Nate Colbert
First baseman
Born: (1946-04-09) April 9, 1946 (age 75)
St. Louis, Missouri
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 14, 1966, for the Houston Astros
Last MLB appearance
October 1, 1976, for the Oakland Athletics
MLB statistics
Batting average.243
Home runs173
Runs batted in520
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Nathan Colbert Jr. (born April 9, 1946), is an American former professional baseball player and coach. He played in Major League Baseball as a first baseman from 1966 to 1976, most prominently as a member of the newly formed San Diego Padres expansion team.

The three-time All-Star player averaged 30 home runs and 85 RBIs as a member of the Padres for five consecutive seasons from 1969 to 1973, becoming the first star player for the young franchise.[1] As of 2021, Colbert still holds the Padres' career record for home runs (163) and ranked among the Padres' top 10 in numerous offensive categories.[2] He also played for the Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers, Montreal Expos, and the Oakland Athletics. A back injury prematurely ended Colbert's career after just 10 seasons.[1]

After his playing career, Colbert spent several years as a hitting instructor for the Padres during spring training and later served as a hitting coach and manager in the minor leagues.[1] He also became an ordained minister working with disadvantaged youths.[1] In 1999, Colbert was among the inaugural class of inductees to the San Diego Padres Hall of Fame.[3]

Professional career

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Colbert was signed by his hometown St. Louis Cardinals as an amateur free agent in 1964. Colbert saw some action with the Houston Astros in 1966 and 1968 before being selected by the San Diego Padres in the 1968 expansion draft. In 1969, the Padres' inaugural season and his first full season in the big leagues, Colbert hit 24 home runs, which led the club, and drove in 66 runs while batting .255. He was a National League All-Star from 1971 to 1973. Colbert's best day in the majors was August 1, 1972, when he hit five home runs—one of two players to have done so, Stan Musial being the other in 1954—and drove in 13 runs in a doubleheader, breaking the record of 11 runs batted in. This helped the Padres sweep the Atlanta Braves, 9-0 and 11-7. Coincidentally, a young Colbert had attended the game in which Musial originally set the single-day home run record.

Colbert's .508 slugging percentage, 87 runs, 286 total bases, 38 home runs, 111 RBIs, 70 walks, 67 extra-base hits, 14 intentional walks, and 14.8 at bats per home run helped him finish eighth in voting for the NL MVP in 1972. He finished second only to the Cincinnati Reds' Johnny Bench (40) in home runs that year. His 111 run batted in (RBI) also set a record that still stands for driving in the highest percentage of his team's runs. Throughout his career with the Padres from 1969 to 1974, he often was the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal San Diego lineup.

After hitting .207, he was traded from the Padres to the Detroit Tigers for Ed Brinkman, Bob Strampe and Dick Sharon in a three-team deal on November 18, 1974 that involved Brinkman also being sent to the St. Louis Cardinals for Sonny Siebert, Alan Foster, and Rich Folkers.[4] Danny Breeden went from the Padres to the Cardinals to subsequently complete the transactions. After batting .147 with 4 home runs and 18 RBI in 45 games, Colbert's contract was sold by the Tigers to the Montreal Expos on June 15, 1975.[5] He spent much of 1976 in the minor leagues before resurfacing very briefly with the Oakland Athletics at the end of the season. He attended spring training with the expansion Toronto Blue Jays in 1977, but back problems forced his retirement at 30.

Colbert played on nine consecutive last-place teams from 1968 to 1976. Only the teams at the very start and end of Colbert's career escaped the cellar: Colbert went 0-for-7 for the 1966 Houston Astros (who finished in eighth place in a ten-team league), and 0-for-5 for the 1976 Oakland A's (who finished second in their division.) In 1975, Colbert played for two last place teams: Detroit and Montreal.

Colbert was the first real star for the Padres and remains the San Diego Padres' all-time home run leader with 163. He was inducted as part of the inaugural class of the San Diego Padres Hall of Fame in 1999.[3]

In 10 seasons covering 1004 games, Colbert compiled a .243 batting average (833-for-3422) with 481 runs, 141 doubles, 25 triples, 173 home runs, 520 RBI, 383 bases on balls, 902 strikeouts, .322 on-base percentage, and .451 slugging percentage. Defensively, he recorded a .991 fielding percentage. Primarily a first baseman, he also played 66 games at all three outfield positions.

References

  1. ^ a b c d Wolf, Gregory. "The Baseball Biography Project: Nate Colbert". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved August 15, 2021.
  2. ^ "San Diego Padres Top 10 Career Batting Leaders". baseball-reference.com. Retrieved 15 August 2021.
  3. ^ a b "San Diego Padres Hall of Fame". mlb.com. Retrieved 15 August 2021.
  4. ^ "Colbert Traded In 3‐Team Deal," United Press International (UPI), Monday, November 18, 1974. Retrieved October 21, 2020
  5. ^ "A's Obtain Bahnsen on Deadline," The New York Times, Tuesday, June 17, 1975. Retrieved October 26, 2020