Buhner in a 1999 advertisement for the Seattle Public Library.
August 13, 1964 |
|September 11, 1987, for the New York Yankees|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 7, 2001, for the Seattle Mariners|
|Runs batted in||964|
|Career highlights and awards|
Jay Campbell Buhner (born August 13, 1964), nicknamed "Bone", is a former Major League Baseball right fielder. He was among the most recognizable players of his day, noted for his shaved head, thick goatee, and patch of pine tar on the right hip of his uniform.
Buhner attended Clear Creek High School in League City, Texas, where he started his baseball career under the coaching of Jim Mallory. He was then drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second round of the 1984 Major League Baseball Draft and was traded shortly thereafter to the New York Yankees. He made his major league debut on September 11, 1987, appearing in seven games that year. He was traded again the next summer, on July 21, 1988, to the Seattle Mariners along with two career minor leaguers (Rich Balabon and Troy Evers) in exchange for Ken Phelps. This trade is often considered one of the Yankees' worst, and one of the Mariners' best.
The trade was once referenced on the television sitcom Seinfeld, in the 1996 episode "The Caddy," in which the Yankees' owner, George Steinbrenner, appears at the home of George Costanza's parents to inform them – mistakenly – that their son is dead. Frank Costanza's only response is "What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?! He had 30 home runs, over 100 RBIs last year! He's got a rocket for an arm.... You don't know what the hell you're doing!" The clip was played at Safeco Field when Buhner was inducted into the Mariners' Hall of Fame in 2004. Ironically, the Yankees won the World Series the same year the episode first aired.
Buhner hit his stride in 1991, hitting 27 home runs with 77 RBI. On June 23, 1993, in an extra-inning game against Oakland, he hit for the cycle. He hit a triple in the 14th inning to complete it, and eventually scored the winning run. While well known for his tendency to strike out, he also developed a patience at the plate which allowed him to walk 100 times in a season twice (1993 and 1997) and to post a career OBP of .359. By the mid-1990s he had developed into one of the premier offensive players in the game, hitting over 40 home runs in three consecutive seasons (1995, 1996 and 1997), becoming just the tenth player to do so (and the first since Frank Howard in 1970); this feat has since been equaled by several other players. During his career, the Mariners hosted a popular promotion, "Jay Buhner Buzz Cut Night," where visitors would receive free admission in the right field seats if they had a shaved head. Free buzz cuts were provided for people who showed up with hair. Buhner himself seen giving fans buzz cuts. George Thorogood's song "Bad to the Bone" was used as Buhner's at-bat music during home games.
Buhner retired at the end of the 2001 season as one of the most popular players in Mariners history. Although his jersey number, 19, has not been issued since, it has not been officially retired, per the team's policy regarding retired numbers. The Mariners require a player to have spent at least five years with the team and be elected to the Hall of Fame or narrowly miss election after spending his entire career with the team.
Buhner holds the Seattle Mariners career record for strikeouts, with 1375, and has the lowest career stolen base percentage since 1954 (6 stolen bases against 24 times caught stealing for a success rate of 20% (Caught stealing counts are not complete until the 1954 season, when Major League Baseball began maintaining official records).
- Jonah Keri. "Not Every Trade Worked". Retrieved April 7, 2007.
- Moore, Jim (May 29, 2003). "Go 2 Guy: Buhner still creating a whole lot of buzz". The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved December 15, 2007.
- "Guidelines for Selection to the Mariners Hall of Fame". Seattle Mariners. Retrieved September 2, 2015.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- Jay Buhner's Official Site