Wednesday, December 7, 2016

#337 Tito Landrum St. Louis Cardinals

Terry Lee "Tito" Landrum appears here on his 2nd Topps card in the Cardinals powder blue road uniform.  If I had to venture a guess I'd say they were playing in Shea Stadium at the time based on the dugout in the background

Player:  Landrum was undrafted after high school and it was October before he signed with the Cardinals in 1972.  After eight seasons of minor league ball Landrum finally reached the show in July of 1980.  Playing all three outfield positions, he came to the plate 85 times with a modest .247/.306/.325 line.  Those stats are pretty representative of his career line with a dash more pop as he aged.  

In 1982 Landrum was used as a utility outfielder, a role that is not really present in today's game of 12 man bullpens.  His season was little more productive as he added his first two career homers and a few more walks, leading to a 112 OPS+.

The next year would be quite an experience for Landrum.  He was sent down to the minors in May, called up late in August and traded in a postseason-roster-deadline deal to Baltimore.  He batted .310 in September for the O's but the best was yet to come.  Landrum worked himself into the O's lineup for the ALCS vs the White Sox and hit the go-ahead home run in the 10th inning of the game four clincher.  Landrum didn't bat in the World Series but the Birds soared over the Phillies and Landrum was a World Champ.  

The Orioles traded Landrum back to the Cardinals the following spring training.  The post season hero parlayed his success into a platoon role over the next three seasons with 1985 being his career year batting .280/.356/.429.  Landrum was again a postseason star batting .429 in the NLCS and .360 with a homer in place of the injured Vince Coleman during World Series play.  

Landrum was released by St. Louis in '87 and finished the year in Dodger blue.  He landed in Baltimore in '88 but was released after just three hits in 24 at bats.  That would be the final action in Landrum's MLB career.  

Flipside: Awful small print but Landrum's 1978 line shows 68 steals.  Of course caught stealing isn't on the back and he was caught just 11 times.  68 of 79 is pretty good but it didn't carry over to the majors as he was successful in just 14 of 29 career attempts.

Oddball:  How much more odd can you get than this:
Career stats in 1107 plate appearances: .249/.309/.353, 13 HR and 14 for 29 on steals
Career postseason in 50 plate appearances: .347/.360/.510, 2 HR and 2 for 2 on steals

History:  Landrum is the rare role player with two instances of "15 minutes of fame".  Was his playoff success a case of luck, small sample size variation, or some mysterious ability to rise to the occasion?  After his playing career Landrum attended NYU and earned a degree in physical therapy and now works in that field.  Proving that he was no dumb jock, Landrum was chosen valedictorian of his graduating class.

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