Sunday, February 5, 2017

#344 Roger LaFrancois - Boston Red Sox

Not only is this Roger LaFrancois' rookie card it is his only Topps card.  I don't remember LaFrancois or this card at all

No doubt it takes a lot of talent, ability, and hard work to reach the majors but LaFrancois has the look of guy they pulled out of the stands and threw a uniform on him.  He is bigger (6'2") than he looks in the pic.
Player: LaFrancois' was a local guy from Connecticut.  After an unremarkable minor league tenure he made the BoSox in '82 as a third catcher, behind Gary Allenson and Rich Gedman.  
Remarkably LaFrancois was on the major league roster the entire season but did not get a start until game 162.   When I first saw his stats for 1982, I though all his games were as a September call up but they were spread out with one in May, two in June, one in August and the rest when rosters expanded in September.  

Coming into the final game LaFrancois was batting .400 (2/5).  As the game went into extra innings LaFrancois was one for four taking his season average to .333 (3/9).  With a a chance to bat .400 precariously hanging into the balance, LaFrancois steadied his nerves in hostile Yankee Stadium as he came to bat in the top of the 11th.  Facing long odds with veteran lefty Rudy May on the hill, the 26 year old, lefty swinging backstop beat out an infield hit to second base.  Not only did he reach the magic .400 mark but he scored the go-ahead and eventual winning run.  

Ok...so I may have overplayed that a bit but it makes for good theater.

LaFrancois returned the minors never to return.  After two poor seasons in AAA he started his coaching career which is still going.

Flipside:  It seems absolutely crazy to me to sit on the bench for 154 of 162 games but I can find no record of LaFrancois being injured and he did not play in the minors in '82.

Oddball:  There wasn't a whole lot of roster transactions for the Red Sox in '82 as they only had thirteen position players with more than 24 at bats and only eleven pitchers with more than nine innings.

History:  I may have had a little fun with LaFrancois' career stats but being able to say you batted .400 is pretty cool.  LaFrancois caught 25 of the 33 innings in the longest minor league game ever.  That and some other bits about LaFrancois can be read here.

2 comments:

  1. Glorified bullpen catcher...

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  2. I've met him a number of times as a minor league coach. Nicest guy you'd ever want to meet. He is proud of that batting average too.

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