|Born: July 30, 1947|
|Died: February 10, 2002 (aged 54)|
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
|September 7, 1968, for the California Angels|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 20, 1982, for the Oakland Athletics|
|Runs batted in||599|
|Career highlights and awards|
James Lloyd Spencer (July 30, 1947 – February 10, 2002) was a Major League Baseball first baseman. Born in Hanover, Pennsylvania, the left-handed Spencer was recognized for his excellent fielding ability, but also served in later years as a designated hitter.
Spencer was drafted by the California Angels in the first round (11 overall) of the 1965 Major League Baseball Draft upon graduation from Andover High School in Linthicum, Maryland. After batting .292 with 28 home runs and 96 runs batted in for the El Paso Sun Kings in 1968, Spencer earned a September call-up to the Angels. In nineteen games, he batted .191 with no home runs and five RBIs.
Spencer began the 1969 season assigned to the Hawaii Islanders, but with former All-Star Dick Stuart not panning out at first base, he was back with the Angels by May. In just his second start of the season, he went four-for-five against the Baltimore Orioles. For the season, he batted .254 with ten home runs and 31 RBIs.
While Spencer's offensive numbers improved in 1970, his fielding improved more-so, as he led the American League with 1212 put-outs at first and a .995 fielding percentage to win the Gold Glove award.
Spencer was batting .300 for the Rangers when he was named to the AL All-Star team. He had one at-bat in the game, and flew out to left field. Despite the fact that Spencer committed just one error in 1973 and one in 1974, he began seeing more time at DH with Mike Hargrove assuming most of the first base duties. He regained the first base job in 1975 with Hargrove shifting to left field, but after the season, he was dealt back to the Angels for Bill Singer in order to allow Hargrove to shift back to his natural position. A day after acquiring him, the Angels traded Spencer and Morris Nettles to the Chicago White Sox for Steve Dunning and Bill Melton.
Chicago White Sox
In 1976, Spencer had career highs in hits (131), RBIs (70) and stolen bases (6). He played 143 games, and only had 2 errors throughout the season, turning 116 double plays, good for a .998 fielding percentage.
On May 14, 1977, Spencer enjoyed a two home run, eight RBI game against the Cleveland Indians. He followed that up with a second two home run, eight RBI game on July 2 against the Minnesota Twins. For the season, he batted .247 with eighteen home runs and 69 RBIs, and won his second career Gold Glove.
New York Yankees
While backing up Chris Chambliss at first base, Spencer saw most of his playing time at DH in New York. He reached the post-season for the first time in his career in 1978. He did not appear in the 1978 American League Championship Series against the Kansas City Royals, however, he appeared in four of the six games of the World Series, and had two hits in twelve at-bats.
Spencer's career high in home runs (23) came in 1979 with the Yankees, in a year that he only got 295 at-bats. He only had 85 hits on the season, 41 of which were for extra bases, giving him a .593 slugging percentage. Perhaps his most memorable at-bat of the season occurred on July 13 against Nolan Ryan. Ryan had a no-hitter going when Spencer hit a drive to centerfield in the eighth inning. Centerfielder Rick Miller made a diving attempt at the ball, but could not handle it. The official scorer ruled it an error. Reggie Jackson officially ended Ryan's no-hit bid in the ninth.
During Spring training 1981, Spencer was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Jason Thompson, however the trade was nixed by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. On May 20, he and pitcher Tom Underwood were dealt to the Oakland Athletics for Mike Patterson, Dave Revering and minor leaguer Chuck Dougherty.
Spencer batted only .191 while in Oakland, and was released early in the 1982 season.
In 1973, Spencer had a .999 fielding percentage with only one error in the 125 games he played at first base. The next year, he had only 1 error in 60 games at first base, a .998 fielding percentage.
On February 10, 2002, Spencer died of a heart attack in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at the age of 54. The night before his death, Spencer played first base in a charity baseball game benefiting the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood, Florida. He was buried at the Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church Cemetery in Taneytown, Maryland.
- "California Angels 4, Baltimore Orioles 3". Baseball-Reference.com. May 31, 1969.
- "1973 Major League Baseball All-Star Game". Baseball-Reference.com. July 24, 1973.
- "Chicago White Sox 18, Cleveland Indians 2". Baseball-Reference.com. May 14, 1977.
- "Chicago White Sox 13, Minnesota Twins 8". Baseball-Reference.com. July 2, 1977.
- "1978 American League Championship Series". Baseball-Reference.com. October 3–7, 1978.
- "1978 World Series". Baseball-Reference.com. October 10–17, 1978.
- "Ryan, Renko See No-hit Bids Spoiled in 9th Inning". The Pittsburgh Press. July 14, 1979.
- Catherine Wolf (April 2, 1981). "Yanks Get Jason Thompson, But Trade Might be Invalid". The Daily Reporter.
- Richard Goldstein (February 14, 2002). "Obituaries: Jim Spencer, 54, First Baseman Who Played for 1978 Yankees". New York Times.
- Jim Spencer at Find a Grave