Saturday, October 8, 2011

#8 Steve Balboni

Card: This is Balboni's first card of his own.  He shared a prospects card with Andy McGaffigan and Andre Robertson in the '82 set.

Pic: Balboni poses with a batting practice top and pinstriped pants in Yankee Stadium.  Something doesn't look right with the NY logo on his hat.  Not sure why that is.  Was he wearing a Columbus Clippers or Bob's Towing hat that had to be airbrushed?  Maybe I'm just seeing things.  Balboni's mustache (wow, that would be a good name for a punk band) looks pretty weak here.  It's much more developed on his '84 card. 

Player: Steve Balboni was drafted with the last pick of the 2nd round in the '78 draft, four picks behind a guy named Cal Ripken.  Having played ball at Eckerd College Balboni found the adjusment to pro ball difficult batting just .205 with one homer in 176 at bats at single A Fort Lauderdale.  Balboni would soon become a minor league phenom bashing 26, 34, 33, 32, and 27 home runs over the next five minor league seasons while shuttling between Columbus and New York in '81, '82, and '83.
Balboni was then traded to the Royals where he made a big impact with 28 bombs in '84.  In 1985 Balboni upped his home run total to 36 but led the league with 166 strikeouts.  Balboni and the Royals won the World Series over the Cardinals in seven games with Balboni batting .320. 
Balboni kept hitting home runs but was missing the ball more and more.  After being released by the Royals in May of 1988, Balboni DH'd for the Mariners for a season and the Yankees for two more.  Balboni then spent the '91-'93 seasons in AAA for the Rangers 
mashing 92 home runs.  Balboni returned to the big leagues one last time as a late season call up for Texas in '93.

Flipside: It lists Balboni as drafted in the 4th round, but that's an error. That is quite the season he was having at Comlumbus in '82 with 32 taters and 86 RBI in 83 games.

Oddball: Balboni, who once K'd in nine consecutive plate appearances, developed quite a cult following for his all-or-nothing hitting approach and guy next door appearance.

History: Balboni won a WS ring with the Royals.  He'll be remembered for his slugging prowess and propensity to strikeout.  In fact The Hardball Times awards The Balboni Award weekly to the most K-prone batter for the week.
Balboni has done some coaching and managed in the Expos farm system for a year.  He does some personal baseball training, has his own website and is currently a scout for the SF Giants.
Balboni was recently inducted into the International League Hall of Fame for his successful minor league career.

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