Monday, November 21, 2011

#47 Dave McKay

Card:  This is Dave McKay's 6th and final Topps card.  His rookie card was a four player card in the '76 set.  Despite playing in 95 games and getting 274 at bats in '77, Topps omitted McKay from the '78 set.  Perhaps they were scared off by his .195 average.  I think you can see the pain in McKay's eyes.

Pic: McKay has nice form in his batting stance.  The action shot and inset really show the contrast between the A's classic home uniform versus the bright road jerseys.  His hat in the inset appears to be glowing.

Player:  Dave McKay was signed by the Minnesota Twins in 1971 as undrafted free agent.  The Vancouver, British Columbia native was moved around the infield wherever he was needed playing mainly second and third base.  McKay's minor league stats were unremarkable but he was called up to the big leagues when Twins third baseman Eric Soderholm was injured in August of 1975.  McKay was given the chance to start virtually everyday at the hot corner and started off well stringing together a 16 game hitting streak before he cooled off and finished with a .256 average in 125 at bats.  McKay spent the first two months of 1976 as the Twins starting third baseman but struggled to hit (.203) and was sent down to AAA in June for the rest of the season.

In November the Blue Jays selected McKay in the expansion draft and made him their starter at third base for their inaugural game.  McKay had two hits in the opener but scuffled badly at the plate.  He showed his versatility as he was shifted around the infield as the year went on.  His average plummeted as low as .164 in August, but improved to .197 by years end.   McKay was the everyday second baseman in 1978 and while his defense was acceptable, his batting skills left a lot to be desired.  Not only was his average low, but he rarely walked or hit for much power as evidenced by his .238/.268/.351 slash stats.  McKay returned in '79 as the starter at second for the Blue Jays but after hitting around .200 most of the year, he found himself back in AAA by the end of May.  He was recalled in September and ended the year with a .218 average and was released in November.

McKay made the Oakland A's squad in 1980 as a utility player but by years end he was starting everyday at second base.  He finished with a .244 batting average and played in 123 games.  McKay played semi-regularly to start the '81 season, but again by the end of the year was starting at second.  McKay batted a career best .263 and had three hits in the ALDS against the Royals and three more in a losing effort against the Yankees in the ALCS.  McKay played in only 78 games in '82 as his average sank to .198.  McKay spent the '83 playing in Oakland farm system.  After McKay batted .186 at single-A, he realized he skills were no longer going keep him around as player and he moved into coaching.  

McKay has been a first base coach for the Oakland A's ('85-'95) and St. Louis Cardinals from '96 through the 2011 season.  After the Cardinals hired new manager Mike Matheny, it was announced that McKay would stay within the organization, but in a different capacity. 

Flipside:  Once again Topps omits a players best game from the highlights....McKay had three hits and three RBI in a 10-6 win on August 16.  McKay hit a home run in his last career game off Larry Gura.
Since McKay spent all of '83 in the minors before he retired, these are McKay's career totals on the back. 

Oddball:  McKay has come under fire at various times for his involvement in the A's steroid use during the late '80s.  McKay co-authored this book, with Jose Canseco on baseball weight training.  While Tony LaRussa's first base coach, McKay was also the A's first strength and conditioning coach.  McKay has has denied knowing about steroid use during this time, but he had to know what was going on having overseen the development of Canseco, Mark McGwire, and Jason Giambi among others.  McKay's own son, Cody a career minor leaguer save for 77 major league at bats, was implicated in the Mitchell report as a steroid user.  I'm not saying McKay needs to be crucified in the media, but given all the scandalous steroid stories in the media his involvement seems to be under-reported.

History:  McKay batted .229 over eight major league seasons as a part time infielder.  As a player he will be remembered as an original Blue Jay.  McKay is better known as his days as a coach having won World Series rings in '89 with the A's and '06 and '11 with the Cardinals.  McKay was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in '01.

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