Al Newman

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Al Newman
Second Baseman, Shortstop
Born: (1960-06-30) June 30, 1960 (age 54)
Kansas City, Missouri
Batted: Switch Threw: Right
MLB debut
June 14, 1985 for the Montreal Expos
Last MLB appearance
October 3, 1992 for the Texas Rangers
Career statistics
Batting average .226
Hits 476
RBI 156
Home Run 1
Teams
Career highlights and awards
  • Two-time World Series winner with the Minnesota Twins: 1987, 1991

Albert Dwayne (Al) Newman (born June 30, 1960 in Kansas City, Missouri) is a former infielder in Major League Baseball who played for the Montreal Expos (1985–1986), Minnesota Twins (1987–1991) and Texas Rangers (1992). Newman was a switch-hitter and threw right-handed.[1]

San Diego State (1979–1982)[edit]

Newman attended San Diego State University where he played for the renowned coach Jim Dietz,[2] majored in Accounting and also played football at the position of running back. In 1980, 1981, and 1982, he played in the National Baseball Congress Tournament in Wichita, KS. Newman left college with two All-Conference seasons.

Drafted in the third round of the 1979 Major League Baseball Draft by the California Angels, Newman turned down their offer and returned to college. Again in 1980, Newman was drafted in the third round and declined contract offers, this time by the Texas Rangers. In the June secondary phase of the 1980 draft, he was selected in the 2nd round by the New York Mets. However, the Mets' offers were not enough so Newman chose to remain with his college team. A year later, on June 8, 1981, Newman was drafted in the first round (12th overall) by the Montreal Expos, with whom he would sign his first Major League Baseball contract.[3]

Minor Leagues (1980–1985)[edit]

Newman would spend much of the next four years in the minor leagues. Newman debuted in organized baseball for the Memphis Chicks, Montreal's AA-level team, and was a South Atlantic League All-Star second baseman during the 1982 season. In 1983, Newman started the season again at Memphis before being promoted to Montreal's AAA-level team, the Wichita Aeros. On December 7, 1983, Newman changed organizations for the first time as he was included in a large, 3-team deal that would see the Expos trade Newman to the San Diego Padres and starting pitcher Scott Sanderson to the Chicago Cubs. To round out the trade, the Padres sent Gary Lucas to the Expos while the Cubs sent Carmelo Martinez, Craig Lefferts, and Fritzie Connally to the Padres.

Newman would start the 1984 season back at the AA level, playing for the Beaumont, TX Golden Gators in the Texas League, before being traded back to the Expos on July 20, 1984, this time for starting pitcher Greg Harris.[3] Newman would spend the rest of the 1984 season and much of 1985 season with the Expos new AAA team, the Indianapolis Indians.

Major Leagues (1985–1992)[edit]

Primarily a second baseman, Newman also played shortstop, third base and left field at some point in his career. He made his major league debut on 14 June 1985 when he was brought in as a pinch runner and scored a run.[4] Newman was used sparingly by the Expos, playing in 32 games in 1985 and 95 games in 1986. On 6 July 1986, Newman hit his only Major League home run (off Atlanta's Zane Smith); coincidentally in the same game that the Braves Bob Horner hit four home runs in one game. Newman would end his career with a staggering 4.000 slugging percentage against Smith as this home run was hit in his only at bat versus the pitcher.[5]

Prior to the beginning of the 1987 season, Newman was traded to the Minnesota Twins for career minor league pitcher Mike Shade. Upon first arriving in Minnesota, after the 1987 trade, and seeing Kirby Puckett take batting practice, Newman was quoted as saying of Puckett, "He's the eighth wonder of the world!"[6] Newman would see much more playing time with the Twins, proving to be a valuable utility player and pinch runner, but would have trouble hitting for average as his 1987 0–31 hitless streak would attest to.[7] Newman was a member of two World Championship teams in 1987 and 1991 and had 2 hits, including a triple, and 1 walk and 1 RBI in 8 World Series plate appearances.[8] His most productive season came in 1989 with the Twins, when he posted career-highs in stolen bases (25), hits (113), doubles (18), runs batted in (38), runs (62) and batting average (.253).

During the 1989 season, Newman was interviewed along with teammate Gary Gaetti about playing the "hot corner" (third base) for the Minnesota Twins. Newman recounted an experience playing the position when future Hall of Famer (and future Twin) Dave Winfield came to the plate, "Dave Winfield hit one right at me last year. I had no chance to move. I looked and the ball was in my glove. I made like I knew what I was doing."[9] In 1990, Al Newman was a part of setting a major league record as the Minnesota Twins turned 2 triple plays in one game against the Boston Red Sox, making the final throw in both.[10] Also during the 1990 season, teammate and future Hall of Famer, Kirby Puckett, was moved around the field from his normal centerfield position to play right field, third base, shortstop, and second base in a single game. Newman jokingly remarked to the press following the game, "I'm glad Puck's one of us utility guys now. Maybe he'll raise the salary structure a little."[11]

Only weeks after the 1991 World Series victory, Newman was granted free agency by the Twins and was not re-signed. After weighing his options, Newman signed with the Cincinnati Reds on 2 February 1992 but was released on April 1 during the final roster cutdowns.[3] However, Newman was signed just two days later by the Texas Rangers[3] in what would turn out to be his final major league season. In 246 at-bats in 1992, Newman amassed 54 hits, 25 runs, 9 stolen bases, and 34 walks.[12]

In an eight-season career, Newman was a .226 hitter with one home run and 156 RBI in 854 games.[13] As his career hitting statistics would indicate, Newman did not exactly excel at the plate and displayed little power. Newman would finish with the third-most career at-bats of any player with only one home run since World War II.[14] He would also retire having never collected a hit off several pitchers, including Kevin Appier against whom he was 0–13.

In 1992 to commemorate the Twins World Series victory, the team issued a set of playing cards on which Newman was featured on the "3 of Clubs".[15]

Coach, Manager, and Scout (1992–2006)[edit]

Following his playing career, Newman managed the Twins AA team, the New Britain Rock Cats of the Eastern League for the 1996 and 1997 seasons. In 1996, his team finished last at 61–81, but showed improvement in 1997, posting a 70–72 record and finishing third to last. In the 1997 Arizona Fall League, Newman managed the Sun City Solar Sox finishing second in their division with a 22–23 record. in 1998, he was the bench coach for the Twins' AAA affiliate, the Salt Lake City Buzz. From 1999 to 2001, Newman was the manager of the Twins' rookie league Gulf Coast League Twins. After a 33–32 record in 2000, Newman added former 1991 World Series teammate Jarvis Brown to his coaching staff.

In 2002, following Twins manager Tom Kelly's retirement, Newman accepted the job of third base coach (formerly occupied by Ron Gardenhire, who was named the new manager). Newman would be the Twins thirdbase coach from 2002 to 2005. In April 2003, Kirby Puckett had fallen out of favor with the public after a Sports Illustrated article chronicled a personal life much different from his public persona. Newman sympathized with his long-time friend, saying, "I'm scared to death for him. I'm scared because of his health and about his frame of mind. He's a baseball man and the game that gave him everything -- the game that got him out of the Chicago ghetto -- is gone from him now. The people who loved him don't love him anymore. He's on an island by himself and he's trying to figure out how to get home." [16] During the 2003 season, Newman said of pitcher Jamie Moyer "He's like a fine wine, he gets better with age. No, actually, he just gets slower."[17]

On September 10, 2003, during warm-ups in Chicago during a tight pennant race, Newman took a turn in the batter's box during warm-ups to take some fun hits. Shortly after completion, Newman collapsed on the field and was immediately rushed to the hospital. After several tests, it was determined he had suffered a brain hemorrhage. His wife Deborah and Twins general manager Terry Ryan remained at the hospital with him throughout the stay where he remained unconscious until September 26. During that time, Gardenhire struggled to keep his team focused while all dealt with their feelings for Newman. Minnesota Twins center fielder Torii Hunter said of Newman, "For me, I think it hurt me more than anybody to see him go down like that, because this is the guy who pretty much taught me the game, and how to play the game hard." [18] While Newman was away from the team, his jersey, number 62, was hung in the dugout for each game as a salute.[19] On October 4, 2003, after being released from the hospital, Newman threw out the first pitch prior to Game 3 of the Twins American League Divisional Series versus the New York Yankees.[20] Gardenhire waved Newman's jersey to fans and was visibly emotional to have him back on the field with him after his long hospital stay.

By March 4, 2004, Newman had returned to the Twins including being on the field a Grapefruit League pre-season game versus the Cincinnati Reds. During Newman's first weeks in return to the Twins, he experienced issues with high blood pressure and was prescribed medication and relaxation.

In 2006, Newman left the Twins and became an advance scout with the Arizona Diamondbacks. On March 12, 2006, Newman, along with former Twins players Kent Hrbek, Torii Hunter, Dave Winfield, and Harmon Killebrew, former manager Tom Kelly, former general manager Andy MacPhail, and longtime Oriole Cal Ripken, Jr., spoke at Kirby Puckett's funeral. Newman and Puckett played together throughout Newman's career with the Twins and were good friends and known as pranksters around the clubhouse.[21][22]

After Baseball[edit]

On January 22, 2008, Newman announced the creation of "Newmie Rewards LLC", a business created to aid in fund raising for athletic teams.[23]

On July 27, 2008, Newman began broadcasting "The Al Newman Show" on radio WWTC AM1280 "The Patriot" in Minneapolis, MN. The short-lived program was a weekly family-friendly show about sports.

Al Newman has long been involved in the youth baseball player development. As noted above, throughout his coaching career, and also by holding off-season clinics for youth sports.[24][25]

In 2010, Newman participated in the opening ceremonies for the Target Field, the new home of the Twins, alongside many other former Twins such as Jim Kaat, Bert Blyleven, and Jack Morris.[26]

Today, Newman coaches the Alexandria Blue Anchors in the Northwoods League. There he remains in the game he loves, and gets to instruct young players on a daily basis.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Ron Gardenhire
Minnesota Twins Third Base Coach
2002-2005
Succeeded by
Scott Ullger