Rivers in 2010.
October 31, 1948 |
|August 4, 1970, for the California Angels|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 30, 1984, for the Texas Rangers|
|Runs batted in||499|
|Career highlights and awards|
John Milton "Mickey" Rivers (born October 31, 1948) is an American former baseball player who played in Major League Baseball from 1970 to 1984 for the California Angels, New York Yankees, and Texas Rangers. As a member of the Yankees, he was part of their two World Series champions, both over the Los Angeles Dodgers. "Mick The Quick" was generally known as a speedy leadoff hitter who made contact and was an excellent center fielder, with a below-average throwing arm.
The legend of "Mick the Quick" began during his amateur days at Miami Dade Community College. An exceedingly fast and athletic outfielder, Rivers emerged as one of the stars of the baseball team, but suddenly went AWOL just moments before the start of a game. His teammates and coaches later discovered Rivers asleep under a nearby tree—in full uniform no less. Originally signed by the Atlanta Braves, Rivers began his big league career in 1970 with the Angels playing center field and third base, and stayed with them through the 1975 season. Rivers played part-time in his first few years, until becoming the starter in 1974. He led the American League in triples both years and swiped a career-high 70 bases in 1975, also tops in the league.
Along with Ed Figueroa, Rivers was dealt to the Yankees in the 1975-76 off-season for Bobby Bonds, a trade which immediately paid dividends for the Yankees. Figueroa won 19 games and Rivers enjoyed a career year. Rivers was named to the All-Star team, batted .312, stole 43 bases and posted then-career highs in home runs (8) and runs batted in (67). Rivers placed third in the Most Valuable Player voting behind teammate Thurman Munson and George Brett and was named an outfielder on The Sporting News AL All-Star team.
Rivers posted good numbers in his two other full seasons as a part of the "Bronx Zoo", including a .326 batting average in 1977, but was traded in the middle of the 1979 season to Texas. There he set the single-season record for hits by a Ranger with 210 in 1980, a mark since eclipsed by Michael Young. He concluded his career in 1984 with a .295 lifetime average, 267 stolen bases, and 1,660 hits.
While Rivers played for them, the Yankees won the World Series in 1977 and 1978, both times against the Los Angeles Dodgers. They also won the 1976 pennant, but lost in the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. Rivers posted a .308 average in his 29 postseason games.
Bill James ranked Mickey Rivers as the 59th greatest center fielder of all time.
Rivers was honored with many of his teammates from the 1977 World Series champion New York Yankees, in the Yankee Old Timers Game in 2007. In The Bronx Is Burning, the ESPN miniseries based on the 1977 Yankees, he was portrayed by Leonard Robinson and portrayed as a person with financial problems. When Reggie Jackson once remarked to a reporter that he had an IQ of 160, Rivers responded, "Out of what, a thousand?". Rivers' tenure in the Bronx produced other classic quotations, as when he tried to explain the bizarre dynamics of the Yankees, who featured a controversial owner in George Steinbrenner and a contentious manager in Billy Martin. "Me and George and Billy," Rivers said, "we’re two of a kind."
Since his playing career ended, Rivers has trained racehorses in his native Florida. His son, Mickey Jr., played minor league baseball in the Rangers organization, and his daughter Rhonda is a teacher in the Houston area.
- List of Major League Baseball career stolen bases leaders
- List of Major League Baseball annual stolen base leaders
- List of Major League Baseball annual triples leaders
- 1975 Baseball Register published by The Sporting News