Thursday, February 5, 2009

#19T Don Slaught


Holy cow...there is a lot of cool stuff going on with this card!!

Firstly, we have red, white, and blue bunting in the background, suggesting that this photo was taken on a special day. Perhaps Opening Day, or Independence Day?

Secondly, we have Slaught's back pocket going inside-out on his swing.

Thirdly, we can see most of the on-deck hitter. Who is that likely to be? Let's see if we can figure this out. Check out the Yankee batting orders for 1988. Slaught was in 87 games for the Yankees, comprised of 39 batting 8th, 27 batting 7th, 16 batting 6th, and 5 batting 5th. The guy hitting after Slaught appears to have somewhat darker skin and is likely either black or a darker-skinned Latino player. Looking through the lineups, possibilities include Gary Ward, Luis Aguayo, Willie Randolph, and Rafael Santana.

I'm going with Randolph. Know why? Because the Yankees are wearing road greys, and on the 4th of July, they played in Texas, with Slaught batting 7th and Randolph batting 8th. So there ya go.

Fourthly, check out the photo on the back. Thanks to help from Kevin, we've determined that's Mike Morgan back there. Pretty rare to see another player on a headshot photo like that.


Since 1901, only 31 catchers have amassed 4500 PAs and managed an OPS+ of at least 104. Of course, Sluggo is one of them, and his career BA puts him in the top half of that bunch.


Slaught had the misfortune of being in the wrong places at the wrong times in a lot of his career. He left KC right before they got good. He was in Texas when they were (still) no good. He passed through the Yankees organization during one of their rare wasteland periods. Then he landed with Pittsburgh, who won their division 3 straight years but couldn't get out of the playoffs.

One of the things I remember about those Pirates taems is that they didn't sell out their home playoff games. I'm frankly surprised that Pittsburgh still has a baseball team, considering that fans didn't care about the team then, and they've been horrible ever since.


  1. Actually, the red-wire backstop looks like County Stadium in Milwaukee. The Yankees had a series in Brewtown that started April 15, which was indeed the Crew's home opener. Bobby Meacham batted behind Slaught that day, so he's your guy.

  2. Hats off to you, Kevin, for better detective work.

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  4. Some observations from this Pirates fan.
    First on Sluggo, he will always be remembered for driving in the winning RBI during what Dodgers fans call the Memorial Day Massacre in 1990 when Jay Howell gave up six runs with a five run lead in the 9th inning at Three Rivers. It was one of the big season highlights of the Pirates first division title in eleven years. Slaught ended up being half of an invaluable platoon with Mike LaValliere behind the plate for the three straight division titles. And with Sluggo being inexpensive he actually stayed behind in Pittsburgh for several seasons after as the team sank back into mediocrity.
    As for the home attendance during the '90-'92 run, I believe they went over a million all three years and maybe '93 as well which was actually quite an accomplishment back then before all the new parks were built, especially in a small market. You are correct during the '90 playoffs versus the Reds attendance at Three Rivers was below capacity which was 56,000 for baseball. I believe they were getting about 40,000 but I feel there were a few reasons for this. One was the early nineties recession hit Pittsburgh hard and many people could not afford the $100+ tickets, myself included. My uncle pre-ordered World Series tickets all three years and got them refunded but it was a huge sum of money in those days. I know a lot of people were saving up their money for the World Series. Another factor was the Penguins were in the middle of back to back Stanley Cup championship runs and were drawing 16,000+ to the nearby Civic Arena on many nights the Pirates were playing and this drew fans and drained their wallets. The final factor is the Red were wire to wire juggernauts in '90 and many felt the young Bucs had no chance, though they did suffer their one post season lost to the Pirates. In '91 and especially '92, the attendance was close to if not a sellout every night.
    And lastly, you're right Andy, the Pirates, while playing in the nicest park in the league, PNC Park, simply use the place to draw about 15,000 a night spend nothing on payroll, and get by with a modest profit every year but are not concerned with spending any money to improve the on-field performance. The plan is to survive until MLB adopts a salary cap and revenue sharing like the NFL. But I can tell you if the Pirates ever get back to the playoffs, they will have no problem selling out PNC's 38,000 seats. Especially considering how nice the park is and that it's been 17 years now.

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  6. Whew, take a breath there, big fella!