April 4, 1943 |
The Bronx, New York
|September 16, 1966, for the Baltimore Orioles|
|Last MLB appearance|
|April 28, 1974, for the California Angels|
|Runs batted in||380|
|Career highlights and awards|
Michael Peter Epstein (born April 4, 1943 in the Bronx, New York), nicknamed SuperJew, is a former Major League Baseball player for the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Senators, Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, and California Angels from 1966 to 1974.
The first baseman was noted as a strong power hitter who did not hit for a high batting average, though he walked and was hit by pitches so often that he finished with a respectable career .359 on-base percentage.
College and Olympics
Epstein played baseball at the University of California-Berkeley. Although his .375 batting average in 1963 led to a contract offer by the Los Angeles Dodgers, he decided to finish college. He played on the gold medal-winning U.S. baseball team at the 1964 Summer Olympics.
Epstein played for the Stockton Ports of the California League in 1965, and led the league in batting and home runs. Rival manager Rocky Bridges nicknamed him "Superjew" for his efforts that season.
He was first brought up for 6 games by the Baltimore Orioles in 1966, at the age of 23. After the Orioles tried in vain to convert him to the outfield (they already had Boog Powell at first base), they demoted him to Rochester again. The outspoken Epstein refused to report, going home to California instead. He was traded in May 1967 with Frank Bertaina to the Washington Senators for Pete Richert. Later that season, in first at-bat against the Orioles, Epstein hit a grand slam.
In 1968 he was 4th in the league in HBP (9).
He had arguably his best season in 1969 with the Senators, when in only 403 at bats he hit 30 home runs (9th in the American League), had 85 Runs Batted In, and hit for a .278 batting average (and .347 with runners in scoring position) with an excellent .414 on-base percentage and .551 slugging percentage. He was 4th in the league in hbp (10), and hit a home run every 13.4 at bats. He was 25th in voting for the American League MVP. This was also the only year in which the reconstituted Senators finished above .500.
In 1970 he was 2nd in the league in being hit by a pitch (13), while hitting 20 home runs.
In May 1971 he was traded by the Senators with Darold Knowles to the Oakland Athletics for Frank Fernandez, Don Mincher, Paul Lindblad, and cash. In 1971, while hitting 18 home runs in 329 at bats, he was hit by a pitch 12 times, leading the league.
In 1972 he hit 26 home runs (3rd in the league) for the world champion Athletics. He hit a home run every 17.5 at bats (3rd in the AL), had a .490 slugging percentage (5th), a .376 on-base percentage (6th), 62 walks (10th), and was hit by a pitch 11 times (2nd). He was 16th in voting for the American League MVP.
In November 1972 he was traded by the Athletics to the Texas Rangers for Horacio Piña. The A's wanted to free up the first base position for Gene Tenace, who was the star of the 1972 World Series. In May 1973 he was traded by the Rangers with Rich Hand and Rick Stelmaszek to the California Angels for Jim Spencer and Lloyd Allen. In 1973 he was 7th in the league in hbp (8).
On May 4, 1974, he was released by the Angels.
- Epstein wore a black armband during the 1972 playoffs in memory of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by terrorists at the Munich Olympics. Teammates Ken Holtzman and Reggie Jackson also wore the armbands. A's owner Charles Finley, who usually demanded conformity from his players, gave them the OK to wear the memorial items until the season ended with the A's World Series victory.
- Epstein had great success against Joe Niekro during his career, going 7 for 10 with 4 home runs and 4 walks.
- Epstein opened Big Mike's Texas Barbecue in El Toro, California, in the big read barn on El Toro Road after his baseball career was long over, but the restaurant did not last very long. It's now Big Shots, a pool hall.
- The Big Book of Jewish Baseball: An Illustrated Encyclopedia & Anecdotal History. 2001. Retrieved February 2, 2011.
- High and Inside: My Life in the Front Offices of Baseball. 2007. Retrieved February 2, 2011.
- Ellis Island to Ebbets Field: Sport and the American Jewish Experience. 1993. Retrieved February 2, 2011.
- "Epstein, Mike "Superjew"". Jews In Sports. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
- "Career Batting Leaders through 2010". Career Leaders. Jewish Major Leaguers. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
- Lukas, Paul (April 2, 2007). "A kosher look at Judaism in baseball". ("Uni Watch", on) ESPN Sports. Archived from the original on August 1, 2010. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
- "Mike Epstein vs. Pitchers". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 16, 2011.
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