It’s that time of the year when we take a look at all of the former Tacoma players involved in the Major League Baseball playoffs.
Please keep in mind that you are not required to root for the team with the most former Tacoma players. This will become quite clear as you read below.
Washington Nationals: Mike “Michael” Morse is the only player on the Nationals with any Tacoma ties. Morse played for the Rainiers in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2009. Morse ranks 13th on the Tacoma career doubles list – he hit 67 two-baggers as a member of the Rainiers. I put the “Michael” in quotes because we always called him Mike, but upon achieving stardom with the Nationals last year he decided to go by Michael publicly.
St. Louis Cardinals: the Cards do not have any players who are former Tacoma Rainiers. However, their coaching staff is loaded up: hitting coaches Mark McGwire (1986) and John Mabry (2000, 2003) both played in Tacoma, as did bench coach Mike Aldrete (1993).
Cincinnati Reds: utility infielder Wilson Valdez played in one game for the Rainiers in 2005. That’s all we’ve got.
San Francisco Giants: none. No coaches, nothing. Not even a front office ticket sales guy. Couldn’t find a roster of hot dog salesmen – perhaps one of their vendors once worked at Cheney Stadium? The Giants do have local product Tim Lincecum.
Baltimore Orioles: outfielder Adam Jones played for Tacoma in 2006 and 2007, I recently spoke to him and wrote about it here. While he never pitched for Tacoma, starter Jason Hammel is a product of the baseball factory at Port Orchard’s South Kitsap High School (class of 2000).
New York Yankees: The Yankees lead the way with four former Tacoma Rainiers on the playoff roster. Outfielder Raul Ibanez (1996-2000, 2004), third baseman Alex Rodriguez (1995-1996), reliever Derek Lowe (1996-1997), and closer Rafael Soriano (2003-2005) all suited up for Tacoma. As is the Yankees way, all of these players are veterans who have achieved varying levels of stardom and eventually signed with the Yankees as free agents. One additional local connection: first base coach Mick Kelleher starred at the University of Puget Sound and is in their athletic hall of fame.
Detroit Tigers: Two former Rainiers are on the roster. Doug Fister (2009-2010) started game two for Detroit yesterday, pitching well in the Tigers 5-4 win over Oakland. Infielder Ramon Santiago (2004-2005) is the utility man, he still possesses a smooth glove. Pitching coach Jeff Jones (1982-84) has worn two Tigers uniforms: Detroit and Tacoma.
Oakland A’s: pitcher Travis Blackley (2004, 2006) is the only former Tacoma player on the roster, but the A’s coaching staff is a veritable Tacoma Tigers reunion. Pitching coach Curt Young (1983-1986, 1996), third base coach Mike Gallego (1982-1984; 1986-1987), bullpen coach Rick Rodriguez (1983-1987), and assistant trainer Walt Horn (1980s-mid-1990s) were all with the Tacoma Tigers.
Final totals: Yankees 4, Tigers 2, Nationals 1, Orioles 1, A’s 1, Reds 1 (sort of), Cardinals 0, Giants 0.
EDIT: the Rainiers have made a slide show of many of these players in their Rainiers uniforms – check it out!
- Larry Stone is still churning out his Sunday baseball package in the Seattle Times. He has a column on the divergent paths of the Mariners and A’s (he used my stat!), a notebook leads with an item on Ryne Sandberg, power rankings, and thumbs up-and-down.
- This is fun, Mariners fans: the Seattle P-I released a large number of their previously unpublished photos of “The Double” in 1995.
Later this week we’ll check in on some recent former Rainiers players and see how they performed this season.