Tuesday, November 15, 2011

#41 Jerry Turner

Card: This is Turner's ninth and final Topps card.  He first appeared on a four player rookie card in the '75 set.

Picture: This is Turner's only card in a Tiger uniform.  Looks like Turner just followed through with a left-handed swing.  It's pretty sunny, is it a spring training game? 

Player: Jerry Turner was a left handed, left fielder drafted by the San Diego Padres in '72 draft.  The 10th round pick started his pro career that same year in low A ball where he hit a sizzling .377 in 199 at bats.  Making the big jump to Double-A, Turner batted only .257 in 1973.  Turner repeated the level in '74 and this time he was ready hitting 18 homers to go with a .326 average.  His success got the attention of the Padres management and the 20 year-old was given 48 at bats in a September call up.  Turner hit .292 in his brief look and started the 1975 season in AAA Hawaii.  Turner hit .326 while on the island and earned another September call up.  Mainly used as a pinch-hitter, Turner rapped six hits in twenty two at bats.

Turner made the Padres out of spring training in '76 and was used as a part time starter and pinch hitter getting 281 at bats. Along the way Turner batted .267 with 5 homes runs and 12 stolen bases.  He was utilized in the same role in '77 and reached double digits in home runs with ten for the first and only time in his career.  Turner struggled to hit consistently though and finished the year at .246.

Turner hit for high batting averages in the minors but he hadn't been able to find the same success in the majors.  But Turner was a left-handed commodity and he stuck around as a pinch hitter as 1978 began.  Turner excelled in his pinch-hitting role banging five home runs among 20 hits in 49 at bats good for a .408 batting average.  Turner got quite a few starts in August in September and wound up hitting .280 for the year.

In 1979 Turner would receive the most playing time of his career playing in 138 games and getting 448 at bats.  Unfortunately Turner didn't take advantage of his opportunity and posted a .248 batting average and a .301 OBP. 

Returning to his more familiar pinch hitting role in 1980 Turner batted .288 in 153 at bats.  Between the labor strike and his diminishing role, Turner didn't play much in 1981 getting only two starts with the Padres.  He was sold to the White Sox in September.  Turner batted .209 in 43 at bats for the season and was not re-signed by Chicago.

The Detroit Tigers looking for someone to platoon with the right-handed Mike Ivie at DH, signed the 28 year-old Turner. for the '82 season. He batted only .248 but hit seven of his eight home runs in Tiger Stadium, taking advantage of the inviting right-field upper deck. Turner was released in October and he hooked back up with the Padres.

Turner was used exclusively as a pinch hitter in '83 but he had only three hits in twenty three at bats through the middle of June.  The Padres sent him down to AAA and he played sparingly there for a month before getting his release.  Turner played six games for the Phillies' AAA Portland squad and called it quits.

Flipside: Turner didn't hit many home runs and as his career went on his doubles were even scarcer.  Over the last three years of his career ('81-'83) Turner hit only three doubles in his last 276 at bats.

Oddball:  This has been shared on other blogs about Turner but it seems worthy of sharing this excerpt from Bob Chandler's book "Tales from the Padres Dugout"-
Jerry was playing left field at San Diego Stadium against St. Louis when the Cardinals loaded the bases. The next batter hit a clean single to left that Turner fielded on one hop and started to throw home. In mid-throw he changed his mind and decided to throw to third base instead. In the process of changing his mechanics, Jerry threw across his body, and the ball flew down the left field line toward the San Diego bullpen. Fans were stunned to watch Turner run down his own throw in the bullpen as Redbirds flew around the bases.
History:  Turner was a one-dimensional player who relied solely on hitting for average.  His .292 mark in his first taste of major league action in September of '74 was as good as it ever got and when he wasn't hitting, he didn't have anything else to offer.  Since retirement Turner has worked as a scout for the Atlanta Braves, a youth baseball coach in the Los Angeles area and as a hitting coach for the Orange County Flyers a team in the independent Golden Baseball League. 

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