NEW HAVEN, Conn — On April 4th at Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark, Willie Larry Randolph will become the first black manager in New York baseball history. The South Carolina native has already been a part of a lot of baseball history since his days as a second baseman in the Bronx.
A World Series champion as a player and coach, the talented Mr. Randolph has carved a very successful career in the game. Today, we take a brief look at a ride that began in the Big Apple and one that will likely end there as well.
THE SUMMER OF ’72
Randolph was a seventh round pick (167th overall) by Pittsburgh in the 1972 Amateur Draft. The first overall pick that year was third baseman Dave Roberts (WHO??) by the Padres. Some other notable players that went ahead of Randolph were:
– Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley (50th overall by Cleveland) and Gary Carter (53rd overall by Montreal) in the the third round.
– Brian Doyle, the man who replaced an injured Randolph in the 1978 World Series, went in the fourth round (76th overall) by Texas.
– Current Oakland manager Ken Macha was also chosen by the Pirates in the sixth round (143rd overall) and former Chisox manager Jerry Manuel was Detroit’s first round selection (20th overall).
AN IRONIC DEBUT
In his major league debut on July 29, 1975 (a 5-1 Buc loss to the Phillies at Three Rivers Stadium), Randolph batted leadoff a went 1-for-4 in the game. He also shared the field with two future Hall of Famers. Mike Schmidt was at third for the Phils while Willie “Pops” Stargell played first for the Pirates. Ironically, the third baseman for Pittsburgh that day was a obscure player by the name of Art Howe. The same Art Howe that Randolph is replacing as Mets’ manager.
AN INTERESTING CLASS
1975 was also a good year for rookies and retirees in baseball as well. Boston’s Fred Lynn was the AL’s Rookie of The Year and MVP. John “The Count” Montefusco won the NL rookie honors. Among the other prominent rookies along with Randolph that year were sluggers Jack Clark and Ellis Valentine along with pitchers John Candelaria and the late Donnie Moore. Two future Hall of Fame hurlers (Juan Marichal and Bob Gibson) would also retire at the end of the season.
How ballyhooed was Randolph’s debut in the Big Apple? In 1976, he became the first rookie to ever be included on the All-Star ballot. While Randolph did make the team (he missed the game due to inuury), he wasn’t voted on by the fans. Baltimore’s Bobby Grich started at second for the American League in their 7-1 loss to the National League at Philadelphia. Hey, it was the Bicentennial!!!
Willie wasn’t the only athletically gifted member of the Randolph family. Just a year after Willie finished his first season in New York, his brother Terry was drafted in the 11th round by the Green Bay Packers in the 1977 NFL Draft. A co-captain and defensive standout for American International College, Terry was the 290th player picked. He would also play briefly for the New York Jets.
REMEMBERING A FRIEND
Randolph is one of over 80 players who have played for both the Mets and Yankees. From Juan Acevedo to Todd Zeile, many have worn the pinstripes for both teams. One player of note is current Met bench coach Sandy Alomar Sr. Why mention him in particular? Beacuse he was the Yankees’ everyday second baseman in 1975, the year before New York traded for Randolph.
JUST A FEW MORE OF MY FRIENDS
Not only has Randolph gone through a bunch of teammates, he’s also outlasted a few shortstops in his day. Here are just a some of the guys who played to his right while in the Big Apple.
1976: Fred Stanley and Jim Mason.
1977-81: Bucky Dent.
1982: Dent and Roy Smalley 1983: Smalley, Andre Robertson, and Bobby Meacham.
1984-85: Meacham 1986: Wayne Tolleson, Mike Fischlin, and Meacham 1987: Tolleson 1988: Rafael Santana (by the way, another ex-Met).
A SMALL FRATERNITY
Finally, Randolph joins Joe Torre, Dallas Green, Yogi Berra, and Casey Stengel as the only five men to manage both the Yankees and the Mets. Berra and Randolph also played for both teams as well.