Dennis Martínez

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Dennis Martínez
Dennis Martínez 1980.JPG
Martínez in 1980
Pitcher
Born: (1955-05-14) May 14, 1955 (age 63)
Granada, Nicaragua
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 14, 1976, for the Baltimore Orioles
Last MLB appearance
September 27, 1998, for the Atlanta Braves
MLB statistics
Win–loss record245–193
Earned run average3.70
Strikeouts2,149
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Member of the Canadian
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction2016

José Dennis Martínez Ortiz (born May 14, 1955), nicknamed "El Presidente" (The President),[1] is a former Major League Baseball pitcher.[2] He was the first Nicaraguan to play in the majors.

Early life[edit]

Martínez was born in Granada, Nicaragua, the last of seven children to Edmundo and Emilia Martínez. The family was poor, but he helped his parents on the farm that raised food for the family. He was scouted by Ray Poitevint of the Baltimore Orioles on December 10, 1973 for $3,000. He spent three years in the minor leagues with three separate teams. He went 15-6 with the Miami Orioles in 1974 with a 2.06 ERA.[3] The following year, he spent time with Miami, Asheville, and the Rochester Red Wings, going 12-4 with the former and 4-1 with the middle while having no wins and losses with the latter. He went 14-8 with the Red Wings for 1976 with a 2.50 ERA before being called up by the team late in the season.[4]

Playing career[edit]

Baltimore Orioles (1976–1986)[edit]

Martínez made his debut on September 14, 1976 against the Detroit Tigers at Memorial Stadium. He replaced Dave Pagan in the top of the fourth inning with the Orioles trailing 7–5. He pitched 5.2 innings while allowing no runs on four hits, one walk and five strikeouts as the Orioles rallied in the seventh to win 9–7 and give Martínez his first career win.[5] In four games pitched with the team, he went 1–2 with a 2.60 ERA in 27.2 innings. He had 18 strikeouts and eight walks.

The following year, Martínez went 14–7 with a 4.10 ERA in 42 games (of which he started 13) in 166.2 innings, with four saves and five complete games. He had 107 strikeouts and 64 walks.

For 1978, Martínez went 16–11 with a 3.52 ERA while appearing in 40 games, having 15 complete games in 276.1 innings of work. He had 142 strikeouts and 93 walks (a career high). He faced 1,140 batters, the first of three times in his career that he would do so. He finished in the top ten for numerous categories in the AL, such as innings pitched (6th), strikeouts (9th), walks (6th), and hits (9th with 257).

The following year, he was at his peak of usage, appearing in 40 games with 39 starts while having 18 complete games and 292.1 innings of work (the latter three being career highs). He went 15–16 with a 3.66 ERA while having 132 strikeouts and 78 walks. He faced a career and league high 1,206 batters. Martínez made his postseason debut in Game 3 of the ALCS against the California Angels, pitching eight and one third innings while allowing three runs on eight hits while striking out four, although he did not receive a decision in the 4–3 loss.

For the 1980 season, Martínez went 6–4 with a 3.97 ERA in 25 games. He had two complete games and one save in a total of 99.2 innings. He had 42 strikeouts and 44 walks. He was put into the lineup as a designated hitter on September 29, 1980, although he was pinch hit for Terry Crowley prior to batting. Fielding wise, he had five putouts, 16 assits and one double play turned for a 1.000 fielding percentage.[6]

The following year, Martínez improved. He went 14–5 with a 3.32 ERA in 25 games, having nine complete games with two shutouts in 179 innings of work. He had 88 strikeouts and 62 walks. He had 20 putouts, 44 assists, two errors, and four double plays for a .970 fielding percentage. He received votes for the Cy Young Award and the Most Valuable Player award, finishing 5th and 23rd, respectively.

For the 1982 season, Martínez was selected to pitching the Opening Day game against the Kansas City Royals at Memorial Stadium on April 5, 1982. In four innings of work, he allowed four runs on six hits with two strikeouts and three walks while allowing a home run, although the Orioles rallied in the seventh to win 13–5.[7] That year, he went 16–12 with a 4.21 ERA in 40 games. He had ten complete games in 252 innings of work, while having 111 strikeouts and 87 walks. He faced 1,093 batters, the third and last time he faced a thousand batters in a season.

The following year, he was selected for the Opening Day start once again. Facing the Royals on April 4, he allowed four runs on six hits and six innings of work, with six strikeouts and two walks as the Royals trounced the Orioles 7–2.[8] That year, he went 7–16 with a 5.53 ERA. In 32 games and 153 innings of work, he had four complete games while having 71 strikeouts and 45 walks.

Martínez was plagued by alcoholism in the beginning of his career; he had been introduced to drinking when he was 17, with his drinking problem developing further by the time he made the majors. With the clubhouse always having beer, he drank only on road trips and not in front of the presence of his family. It was this problem that led him to not be included in the 1983 postseason roster by Joe Altobelli, although he did receive a championship ring. One night after the Series was over, Martínez and a friend of his went drinking. On the ride home, he was cited for intoxication by a state trooper. The humiliation from the arrest, which his kids had heard about, led him to enter rehab.

Despite quitting drinking, he struggled in the seasons afterwards, going 6–9 in 1984 with a 5.02 ERA in 34 games and 141.2 innings with 77 strikeouts and 37 walks. Martínez stated that it was dedication to sobriety that affected his focus on the field, saying "When I tried to play, it wasn’t the same. I wasn’t the same pitcher, not the same before I stopped drinking. And it’s true, you can’t concentrate on the game and on sobriety at the same time. You have to concentrate on one or the other."[9][10][11] He had slight improvements in 1985, going 13–11 with a 5.15 ERA in 33 games and 180 innings of work. He allowed more hits and runs than the season before while having 68 strikeouts and 63 walks. On June 5, Martínez recorded his 100th win. Pitching against the California Angels at Memorial Stadium, he threw a complete game while allowing no runs on one hit while striking out three and having one walk and one hit batsman.[12] In 1986, Martinez's struggles proved to be the end of his tenure in Baltimore. He had a 6.75 ERA in his four games with the Orioles, pitching a total of 6.2 innings while having two walks and strikeouts. On June 16, he was traded by the Orioles with along with an additional player to be named later (which the Orioles did by sending John Stefero later in the year) to the Montreal Expos for a player to be named later (which the Expos did by sending Rene Gonzales). In his eleven seasons, Martínez went 108–93 while having a 4.16 ERA in 1,775 innings with 858 strikeouts and 583 walks. He still ranks in the top ten of numerous categories for the Orioles, such as wins (10th), innings (9th), strikeouts (10th), walks (8th), losses (8th), and earned runs (6th).[13] Gonzales would bat .221 in four seasons of 267 total games with the Orioles while Martínez won 100 games with the Expos.

Trade and Montreal Expos (1986–1993)[edit]

Martinez pitched in relief for his first three starts before being put as a starter in July. He lost three of his first four starts (with one no decision).[14] Although his sluggish did not improve with the Expos, he went 3–6 with a 4.59 ERA in 19 appearances, with a complete game and a save in 98 innings of work. He had 63 strikeouts and 28 walks.

After the season, Martinez had a contract dispute with the Expos, who offered him half ($250,000) of what he had been earning with the Orioles. He entered free agency, but no one took an offer on him, and so he re–signed with the Expos, although he couldn't sign until May 1, which he would do for the minimum.[15] He pitched in the minor leagues to start his comeback to the team, pitching with the Miami Marlins, a Class A independent team. He later went to the Indianapolis Indians, a AAA affiliate for the Expos, going 3–2 with a 4.46 ERA, but he was called back up to the Expos in June. Martinez went 11–4 with a 3.30 ERA in 22 games, pitching 144.2 innings while having 84 strikeouts and 40 walks.

Martinez made the Opening Day start for the team in 1988, which was the first one in Montreal at Olympic Stadium. Facing the New York Mets on April 4, he faced off against Dwight Gooden. He pitched six innings while allowing seven runs on nine hits (three being home runs), with four walks and seven strikeouts while the Expos lost 10–6.[16] That year, Martinez went 15–13 with a 2.72 ERA in 34 games and 235.1 innings of work while having nine complete games, the last two being the most for him since 1982. He had 120 strikeouts and 55 walks. He made 19 putouts, 39 assists, six errors (a league high) and three double plays for a .906 fielding percentage. He finished in the top ten of numerous categories, such as ERA (9th), innings (9th), complete games (6th), home runs (5th with 21), hits (9th with 215) along with batters faced (10th with 968), and adjusted ERA+ (8th with 133).

The following year, Martinez was the Opening Day starter for the Expos once again. Pitching against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Olympic Stadium, he threw seven innings while allowing three runs on eight hits while having three strikeouts, with the Expos rallying to win in the ninth 6–5.[17] That season, he went 16–7 with a 3.18 ERA in 34 games and 232 innings. He had 142 strikeouts and 49 walks, the former being tied for the most in his career with his 1978 season. He made 11 putouts, 50 assists, two errors with six double plays for a .968 fielding percentage. He finished in the top ten in numerous categories of the National League, such as wins (6th), win–loss % (4th), walks per nine innings (3rd with 1.901), innings pitched (8th), games started (7th), home runs (6th with 21), hits (3rd with 227), and batters faced (8th with 950). During Martinez' time with the Expos, a variation of the Montreal hot dog topped with cheese and bacon called the Denny Dog was sold at Olympic Stadium.[18]

1990 was a mixed bag in certain ways for Martinez. He started the year off as the Opening Day pitcher against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. He went five innings while allowing three runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and four walks while the Expos lost 6–5 in eleven innings.[19] He went 10–11 with a 2.95 ERA in 32 games and 226 innings, having seven complete games. He had a career high 156 strikeouts with 49 walks. Despite this, he was named to the All-Star Game at Wrigley Field. He had a 6–7 record at the time of his selection with a 2.84 ERA. It was his first career All–Star selection. He pitched the fourth inning for the National League. Facing the 4–5–6 order of Cal Ripken, Jr, Ken Griffey, Jr and Mark McGwire, Martinez had one strikeout while allowing no hits.[20]

For 1991, Martinez improved. For the fourth year in a row, he was the Opening Day starter, pitching against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium. He threw seven innings of work while allowing one hit and no runs with five strikeouts and two walks as the Expos won 7–0. It was his first and only Opening Day win with the Expos.[21] He went 14–11 with a 2.39 ERA (a career low) in 31 games and 222 innings of work. He had nine complete games while having five shutouts, the latter being a career high. July proved to be a highlight He had 123 strikeouts with 62 walks while being named to the All-Star Game at SkyDome in Toronto on July 9. Martinez pitched the third and fourth inning for the NL, allowing three runs on four hits, including a home run from Cal Ripken, Jr. He received the loss as the American League held on to win 4–2.[22] Nineteen days later, on July 28, Martínez pitched the thirteenth perfect game in Major League Baseball history, pitching for the Montreal Expos against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was the first Latin American–born pitcher to pitch a perfect game. Martinez threw 96 pitches, 66 for strikes while having five strikeouts and no walks.[23][24] He finished the month of July with a 2–1 record in five games started while named NL Pitcher of the Month.[25] He finished with the lowest ERA in the league, beating out José Rijo, who finished with a 2.51 ERA. He was the first Expo since Steve Rogers in 1982 to win the ERA title.

The following year, Martinez went 16–11 with a 2.47 ERA in 32 games and 226.1 innings of work. He had 147 strikeouts and 60 walks while being selected for a third straight All-Star Game, this time in San Diego. Martinez entered in the top of the seventh inning. He had a strikeout and a walk while allowing no hits in his one inning of work. In August, he was named the Pitcher of the Month for the NL. In his five starts for the month, he went 4–0 while pitching at least seven innings in each of the start, allowing more than one earned run in just one game.[26] He finished in the top for numerous categories in the league once again, such as ERA (5th), wins (3rd), walks & hits per inning (4th), and innings pitched (10th).

1993 was his final season with the Expos. He went 15–9 with a 3.85 ERA in 35 games, having two complete games along one save in 224.2 innings. He struck out 138 batters while walking 64 batters. Fielding wise, he made 17 putouts, 46 assists, one error and one double play for a .984 fielding percentage. On June 18, Martinez received his 200th win. Pitching in Montreal against the Atlanta Braves, he threw eight innings while allowing one run of four hits with three walks and seven strikeouts as the Expos won 2–1.[27] On September 28, Martínez won his 100th game for the Expos, doing so against the Florida Marlins at Joe Robbie Stadium. Martínez threw 7.2 innings while allowing two runs on four hits with six strikeouts and one walk on 105 pitches, but the Expos held on to win with John Wetteland throwing a 1.1 inning save to preserve the 3–2 win for the Expos. In August, the Expos put him on waivers. Three teams put a claim on him, the Atlanta Braves, the San Francisco Giants, and the Philadelphia Phillies, with the Braves doing so in order to try and stop him going to the Giants. The Expos were only willing to let him go to the Braves if they included a player that the team wanted in order to give up Martínez. However, he used his 10–and–5 rights privilege to veto a trade.[28] The team finished 94–68 that year, the best record during Martinez's tenure with the club, although they finished three games back of the Philadelphia Phillies.[29] With the win, he became the seventh pitcher with at least 100 wins in both the American and National leagues, joining Jim Bunning, Ferguson Jenkins, Al Orth, Gaylord Perry, Nolan Ryan and Cy Young; since Martínez, Kevin Brown and Randy Johnson have joined him on the list. Martinez finished his career in the top ten of numerous categories for the franchise, such as wins (2nd behind Steve Rogers), ERA (5th being Tim Burke), innings pitched (2nd behind Rogers), and strikeouts (6th behind Rogers).

Cleveland Indians (1994–1996)[edit]

Martínez entered free agency after the 1993 season ended, and he signed with the Cleveland Indians in the winter. Martinez was named the pitcher for the Opening Day game against the Seattle Mariners on April 4, which happened to be the first regular season game held at Jacobs Field in Cleveland. He pitched seven innings while allowing two runs on three hits with four strikeouts and walks each, with the Indians rallying to win 4–3 in ten innings.[30] The season, he went 11–6 with a 3.52 ERA in 24 games pitched and 176.2 innings. He had three shutouts, the first time he pitched a shutout in a season since 1991. He had 92 strikeouts and 44 walks. He made 11 putouts, 33 assists, two double plays and no errors for a 1.000 fielding percentage, the first time that Martínez compiled the percentage since 1980. He finished in the top ten in numerous categories, such as WAR (6th with 4.6), wins (10th), walks & hits per inning (6th with 1.189), walks per nine innings (7th with 2.242), innings pitched (4th), complete games (2nd), and home runs per nine innings (6th with 0.713). Although the season was cancelled midway through August, the Indians had won 60 games and were on track for a playoff spot.

For 1995, he kept consistent form. He started the Opening Day game for the team once again, this time allowing two runs off four hits while striking out three in six innings of work, although the Indians prevailed over the Texas Rangers 11–6.[31] He went 12–5 with a 3.08 ERA in 28 games and 187 innings pitched. He had 99 strikeouts with 46 walks. He made 15 putouts, three double plays, 46 assists and four errors, the latter being league highs while having a .938 fielding percentage. He finished in the top ten of numerous categories, such as WAR (5th, 5.7), ERA (3rd), walks & hits per inning (3rd, 1.176), and home runs per nine innings (9th, 0.818). On September 28, a wild pitch by Martínez broke the jaw of Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett. This would be Puckett's last official game of his career, retiring in 1996 due to glaucoma in his right eye, a problem unrelated to Martínez's pitch. Martínez pitched in five games for the Indians during their run to the American League pennant, his first postseason action since 1979 with the Orioles. He went 1–2 with two no decisions. He started Game 1 of both the ALDS and the ALCS. He earned his first postseason win in Game 6 of the ALCS, pitching seven innings while allowing four hits and no runs with three strikeouts and one walk on 90 pitches as the Indians clinched the pennant 4–0 over the Seattle Mariners. He started Game 2 and 6 of the World Series, receiving the loss in the former while having a no decision in the latter, although the Braves prevailed to win the Series in six games.

The following year, now at the age of 42 (oldest in the American League), he had a year plagued by inconsistency. Martinez started the Opening Day game for the team for the third straight year, the first Indians pitcher to have three consecutive Opening Day starts since Gaylord Perry in 1974. He pitched seven innings while allowing two runs on five hits, with five strikeouts and two walks, although the Indians lost 7–1.[32] He went 9–6 with a 4.50 ERA in 20 games and 122 innings. He had 48 strikeouts (his lowest since 1980) and 37 walks. He didn't make any appearances for the Indians after August 27, in which he pitched just 2/3 innings while allowing two runs.[33]

End parts of career (1997–1998)[edit]

Martínez signed with the Seattle Mariners as a free agent on February 20, 1997. He appeared in nine games while going 1–5 with a 7.71 ERA in 49 innings. He struck–out 17 batters and walked 29 batters before being released on May 24, three days after allowing 7 runs on 7 hits with two walks in 1.2 innings against the Anaheim Angels in a 18–3 loss.

Martínez spent his final season in 1998 with the Atlanta Braves. He went 4–6 with a 4.45 ERA, appearing in 53 games while making five starts and having two saves within 91 innings. He had 62 strikeouts and 19 walks. He made four appearances in the postseason for the Braves, all in the NLCS against the San Diego Padres. He received the win for Game 4, getting the final out of the 6th inning in relief of Denny Neagle by having Chris Gomez ground–out before the Braves scored in the next inning. His final appearance was in Game 6 on October 14, replacing John Rocker in the top of the 6th inning. He retired all four batters he faced, although the Braves lost the game 5–0 along with the series.[34]

After the season, Martinez retired, stating that there was nothing more to do with his career. He retired having the most wins by a Latin American pitcher, holding that record until Bartolo Colon surpassed him in 2018.[35]

During a 23–year baseball career, Martínez compiled 245 wins, 2,149 strikeouts, and a 3.70 earned run average. He is one of the top Latin American pitchers of all–time. Martínez is one of only 17 pitchers in MLB history to start on Opening Day more than 10 times, having done it 11 times. Martínez has the most career victories of any pitcher who has never won 20 games in a single season. Mark Buehrle, Milt Pappas, Jerry Reuss, Frank Tanana, Charlie Hough, Chuck Finley, Kenny Rogers, and Tim Wakefield are the only other pitchers with at least 200 career victories who have done so. Four of these pitchers (Buehrle, Pappas, Reuss and Rogers) had pitched no–hitters, with Buehrle also pitching a perfect game, and Rogers' also being a perfect game, three years to the day of Martínez's.

Post-playing career[edit]

In 2002, he was inducted into the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame. Martinez has worked as a spring training instructor for the Baltimore Orioles in 2005 and 2006,[36] and pitching coach for the Palm Beach Cardinals in the Florida State League.[37]

On November 5, 2012, the Houston Astros finalized their coaching staff for the 2013 season, naming Martínez as their new bullpen coach. He was fired on October 1, 2013.[38]

Martinez also is manager of the Nicaragua national baseball team, and managed during the 2013 World Baseball Classic Qualifying Tournament. The national baseball park in Managua (Nicaragua's capital city), Dennis Martínez National Stadium, was named in his honor.

Martinez runs his own organization, The Dennis Martínez Foundation, to help poor children around the world.

In 2016, Martinez was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

Highlights[edit]

  • 4-time All-Star (1990–1992, 1995)
  • Twice Top 10 Cy Young Award (1981, 1991)
  • Led league in wins (1981)
  • Led league in ERA (1991)
  • Led league in shutouts (1991)
  • 6-time Top 10 in shutouts (1979, 1981, 1990, 1994–1996)
  • Led league in games started, innings pitched and batters faced (1979)
  • 9-time pitched 220 or more innings in a season (1978–1979, 1982, 1988–1993)
  • 3-time oldest player in the majors (1996–1998)
  • 60th on the strikeouts all-time list
  • Set record for most wins by a Latin American pitcher (244 – August 9, 1998)
  • Pitched the 13th perfect game in baseball history (July 28, 1991) with the Montreal Expos.[39]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Washburn, Gary. "'El Presidente' happy in new job". Major League Baseball. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2007-08-21.
  2. ^ Brian McTaggart [@brianmctaggart] (5 November 2012). "#Astros finalize coaching staff: Dennis Martinez as bullpen coach and Eduardo Perez as bench coach. Dave Clark to 1B" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  3. ^ https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/team.cgi?id=4e6306b5
  4. ^ https://sabr.org/research/el-presidente-life-and-times-dennis-martinez
  5. ^ https://www.baseball–reference.com/boxes/BAL/BAL197609140.shtml
  6. ^ https://www.baseball–reference.com/boxes/BOS/BOS198009292.shtml
  7. ^ https://www.baseball–reference.com/boxes/BAL/BAL198204050.shtml
  8. ^ https://www.baseball–reference.com/boxes/BAL/BAL198304040.shtml
  9. ^ https://sabr.org/research/el–presidente–life–and–times–dennis–martinez
  10. ^ http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/05148239
  11. ^ http://mlb.nbcsports.com/2016/04/04/orioles–walk–off–to–beat–the–twins–there–was–pie/
  12. ^ https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BAL/BAL198506050.shtml
  13. ^ https://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/BAL/leaders_pitch.shtml
  14. ^ https://www.baseball–reference.com/players/gl.fcgi?id=martide01&t=p&year=1986
  15. ^ https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/05148239
  16. ^ https://www.baseball–reference.com/boxes/MON/MON198804040.shtml
  17. ^ https://www.baseball–reference.com/boxes/MON/MON198904040.shtml
  18. ^ http://lastwordonsports.com/2013/03/30/nos–amours–the–greatest–expos–1990–2004–part–3–the–pitchers/
  19. ^ https://www.baseball–reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN199004090.shtml
  20. ^ https://www.baseball–reference.com/allstar/1990–allstar–game.shtml
  21. ^ https://www.baseball–reference.com/boxes/PIT/PIT199104080.shtml
  22. ^ https://www.baseball–reference.com/allstar/1991–allstar–game.shtml
  23. ^ https://www.baseball–reference.com/boxes/LAN/LAN199107280.shtml
  24. ^ "Baseball's Perfect Games: Dennis Martinez, Montreal Expos". The BASEBALL Page.com. Archived from the original on 2006-11-13. Retrieved 2007-08-21.
  25. ^ https://www.baseball–reference.com/players/gl.fcgi?id=martide01&t=p&year=1991
  26. ^ https://www.baseball–reference.com/players/gl.fcgi?id=martide01&t=p&year=1992
  27. ^ https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MON/MON199306180.shtml
  28. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1993/08/29/sports/notebook–baseball–confidential–piercing–waiver–wire–s–code–of–silence.html?pagewanted=all
  29. ^ https://www.baseball–reference.com/boxes/FLO/FLO199309280.shtml
  30. ^ https://www.baseball–reference.com/boxes/CLE/CLE199404040.shtml
  31. ^ https://www.baseball–reference.com/boxes/TEX/TEX199504270.shtml
  32. ^ https://www.baseball–reference.com/boxes/CLE/CLE199604020.shtml
  33. ^ https://www.baseball–reference.com/boxes/DET/DET199608270.shtml
  34. ^ https://www.baseball–reference.com/boxes/ATL/ATL199810140.shtml
  35. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1999/02/08/sports/baseball–roundup–atlanta–dennis–martinez–retires–from–game.html
  36. ^ baltimore.orioles.mlb.com Martinez sharing his knowledge
  37. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-08. Retrieved 2009-11-10.
  38. ^ Astros make changes to Porter's staff
  39. ^ "Most Popular". CNN.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Tom Browning
Perfect game pitcher
July 28, 1991
Succeeded by
Kenny Rogers
Preceded by
Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson, & Gregg Olson
No-hitter pitcher
July 28, 1991 (perfect game)
Succeeded by
Wilson Álvarez
Preceded by
Rick Honeycutt
Oldest Player in the
National League

1998
Succeeded by
Gary Gaetti