Rodney McCray (baseball)
September 13, 1963 |
|April 30, 1990 for the Chicago White Sox|
Last MLB appearance
|May 11, 1992 for the New York Mets|
Rodney Duncan McCray (born September 13, 1963) is a former American professional baseball player who is best known for crashing through an outfield fence attempting to make a catch. He also had a brief career in Major League Baseball with the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets from 1990 to 1992.
Born in Detroit, Rodney's family moved west while he was child. He enrolled at University High in Los Angeles, then attended West Los Angeles Junior College and Santa Monica Junior College. The speedy outfielder was drafted in the first round by the Chicago White Sox in 1982 and then by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1983, but opted to stay in school. Finally, he signed with the San Diego Padres in 1984.
After four years in the Padres chain, the White Sox claimed him in the 1987 minor league draft. Never much of a hitter (his career minor league batting average was just .226), McCray proved effective by drawing walks (enough to pump his career on-base percentage up to .362), stealing bases (as many as 81 in one season, with Charleston in 1986) and by playing solid outfield defense; in fact, defense was how Rodney won his fame.
After finally making the majors with the White Sox in 1990, McCray was sent back down to the AAA Vancouver Canadians of the Pacific Coast League the following year. On May 27, 1991, at Civic Stadium (now PGE Park) in Portland, Oregon, McCray chased after a fly ball hit by Portland's Chip Hale. McCray initially made the catch, but immediately turned to run right through a plywood fence in right field, just to the right of the 369-foot marker, which caused him to drop the ball.
The incident was somewhat like a real-life version of a serio-comic incident in The Natural, in which outfielder "Bump Bailey" of the "New York Knights" crashes through a wall. McCray was not seriously hurt (in contrast to the fictional Bailey, who died from his injuries), but became an instant celebrity as the play was shown repeatedly on newscasts across the country; a video clip of the play is now part of a blooper reel looped at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
McCray made it back up to the White Sox later that year, but was used almost exclusively as a pinch runner and backup outfielder.
After signing with the New York Mets in 1992, McCray was again relegated to pinch running until May 8 against the Dodgers in Shea Stadium, when he pinch-ran for Eddie Murray, stayed in the game as the right fielder and then batted in the ninth with two men on and the score tied at 3-3. Off reliever Tim Crews, McCray delivered a game-winning single in what was to be his only major league at bat of 1992. After appearing in two more games as a pinch runner, the Mets released McCray on June 8; after batting .242 in 61 games for the independent Thunder Bay Whiskey Jacks of the Northern League in 1993, he retired as a player.
McCray played in 67 major league games but logged just fourteen at-bats (with three hits), while stealing nine bases in ten attempts. Rodney later served as a coach for the minor-league Lansing Lugnuts in 1998, and is currently a minor league base running and outfield instructor in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
On August 12, 2006, McCray was honored in Portland with the "Rodney McCray Bobblehead Night", honoring his memorable crash through the wall. McCray threw out the first pitch, and right-center field of PGE Park was renamed "McCray Alley" in his honor. "I just wish I had run through something like a Coca-Cola sign so I could have gotten endorsements," McCray said. "Instead, I ran through a local sign, `Flav-R-Pac meats.'"
ESPN, in its series Who's Number 1?, ranked the fence incident as the seventh-favourite sports blooper of all time. The Best Damn Sports Show Period ranked the incident number one in their countdown of the Top 50 Devastating Hits in sports history.