October 27, 1945 |
|September 12, 1967 for the Atlanta Braves|
Last MLB appearance
|September 30, 1981 for the Chicago Cubs|
|Runs batted in||431|
Career highlights and awards
Michael Ken-Wai Lum (born October 27, 1945) is a former Major League Baseball player and coach. He became the first American of Japanese ancestry to play in the major leagues when he debuted with the Atlanta Braves in 1967. He currently serves as the hitting coach with the GCL Pirates.
Lum was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to a Japanese woman and American soldier, and was adopted as a baby by a Chinese couple, Mun Luke and Winnifred Lum. He became a star left-handed quarterback at President Theodore Roosevelt High School, winning the Interscholastic League of Honolulu’s Back of the Year award in 1962. He attracted interest from Michigan State University, and attended Brigham Young University on a football scholarship for one semester in the fall of 1963 after having signed with the Milwaukee Braves as an amateur free agent back in June.
A speedy runner, Lum was converted to an outfielder in the Braves' organization after having played first base in high school. He logged just a .925 fielding percentage his first professional season with the Waycross Braves Georgia-Florida League, but his defense steadily improved over his five seasons in the minors.
Making his major league debut as a pinch hitter on September 12, 1967, Lum singled in his first major league at-bat against the New York Mets' Jack Fisher. With the Braves trailing 3-2 in the ninth, Lum came around to score the game tying run of their 4-3 victory. He started the second game of a September 17 double header in centerfield, and remained the team's starting center fielder over the remainder of the season.
With starting left fielder Rico Carty out for the 1968 season with tuberculosis, Lum platooned with Tito Francona in left, while occasionally spelling a day off for Hank Aaron in right and Felipe Alou in center. He remained a reserve with the Braves when Carty returned in 1969, and reached the post-season for the first time in his career, as the Braves won the newly formed National League West by three games over the San Francisco Giants. Lum went two-for-two with a double in the 1969 National League Championship Series against the New York Mets.
Lum hit three home runs and drove in five of the eight runs the Braves scored against the San Diego Padres on July 3, 1970. He finally earning a starting job in right field in 1971 when Aaron was converted to a first baseman.
The Braves platooned Lum and Ralph Garr in right field in 1972. In 1973, Aaron was moved back into the outfield, and Lum began seeing most of his playing time at first base. He batted a career-high .294, while also logging career highs in home runs (16), runs batted in (82), runs scored (74), extra base hits (48) and at-bats (513). After two more seasons as a fourth outfielder and back-up first baseman, Lum was traded to the World Champion Cincinnati Reds for shortstop Darrel Chaney.
Playing time was hard to come by for the "spare parts" of the "Big Red Machine." Lum saw far less playing time in Cincinnati than he was used to, as he averaged just 156 plate appearances per season in his three years with the Reds. In 1976, he reached the post-season for the second time in his career. He logged just one at-bat in the 1976 National League Championship Series with the Philadelphia Phillies, flying out in game three to end the seventh inning. He never came to bat in the World Series against the New York Yankees.
Following the 1978 season, Lum took part in a tour of Japan with the Cincinnati Reds. Aware that Lum was to become a free agent at the end of the season, the Seibu Lions offered him a three-year deal worth one million dollars. He declined, returning to the Braves, instead.
Return to Atlanta
Lum began the 1979 season as the Braves' starting first baseman, however, star catcher Dale Murphy was moved to first base at the start of May, removing Lum from the starting line-up. Delegated to pinch hitting duties, Lum led the National League with seventeen. He remained in that role until his release on May 1, 1981. He signed with the Chicago Cubs shortly afterwards; on August 12, he clubbed a two-run home run off Terry Leach of the New York Mets for the 100th pinch hit of his career.
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Lum batted .246 as a pinch hitter over his career. On May 22, 1969, Lum cracked a two RBI double off the New York Mets' Al Jackson pinch hitting for Hank Aaron. He is one of only three players ever to pinch hit for Aaron.
Lum joined the Yokohama Taiyo Whales in 1982, and batted .269 with twelve home runs and 46 RBIs. Following his one season in Japan, Hank Aaron, now the Braves' minor-league farm director, invited Lum to Spring training 1983 to coach with the extended Spring program. Following Spring training, he became a coach with the Anderson Braves of the South Atlantic League.
He jumped to the Chicago White Sox organization in 1984. Following the passing of White Sox hitting coach Charlie Lau that March, Lum assisted his replacement, Joe Nossek over the rest of the season. The job was given to Lum exclusively in 1985. He was fired at the end of the season despite the fact that the Chisox won eleven more games, drove in 55 more runs, and had a higher batting average (.253, vs .247 in 1984).
He joined the San Francisco Giants in 1986 as a roving instructor. The following season, he held the same job with the Kansas City Royals. He became their major league hitting coach in 1988 and 1989 before returning to the White Sox in 1990 as minor-league hitting coordinator. He remained at that post through 2005. In 2006 he joined the Milwaukee Brewers organization as hitting coach for the class A South Atlantic League's West Virginia Power, and was named the South Atlantic League "Coach of the Year."
When the Hawaii Winter League resumed play in 2006 after eight inactive seasons, Lum joined the North Shore Honu. After just one season, he returned to the Brewers organization as minor-league hitting coordinator. In 2010, he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates organization as hitting coach for the Gulf Coast League Pirates.
Lum has one daughter, Ginger, who resides in Atlanta.
- "Mike Lum". Hawai'i Sports Hall of Fame & Cybermuseum. Class of 2001. Check date values in:
- Costello, Rory. "Mike Lum". Society for American Baseball Research.
- "Hitting Coach Mike Lum". Baseball News Network. July 31, 2013.
- Kaneshiro, Stacy (September 26, 2002). "Passing up football was wise decision for Lum". Honolulu Adviser.
- "Atlanta Braves 4, New York Mets 3". Baseball-Reference.com. September 12, 1967.
- "Rico Carty Wins Battle With TB". The News and Courier. September 2, 1968.
- "Atlanta Braves 8, San Diego Padres 1". Baseball-Reference.com. July 3, 1970.
- "Braves, Red Sox Swap Lefties". Montreal Gazette. December 13, 1975.
- "1976 National League Championship Series, Game Three". Baseball-Reference.com. October 12, 1976.
- "Reds Yearn for Few More Yen". Toledo Blade. November 24, 1978.
- "Lum Now Braves Regular". Daily Sentinel. April 8, 1979.
- "Fan Helps Kingman Gain Triple". The Hour - Norwalk, Connecticut. August 13, 1981.
- "Atlanta Braves 15, New York Mets 3". Baseball-Reference.com. May 22, 1969.
- Al Chase (January 25, 2005). "Mike Lum has Found Success as a Pro Baseball Batting Instructor". Honolulu Star.
- "Pirates Announce Minor League Managers & Coaches". MiLB.com. December 18, 2009.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)