|First baseman / Designated hitter|
January 16, 1957 |
|April 22, 1981, for the New York Yankees|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 2, 1993, for the Texas Rangers|
|Runs batted in||495|
|Career highlights and awards|
Stephen Charles Balboni (//; born January 16, 1957) is a retired Major League Baseball player with the New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, Kansas City Royals, and Texas Rangers. He was a player with home run power and a tendency to strike out. He was nicknamed "Bye Bye" because of his home run hitting prowess. He was also known by the nickname "Bones", which is a malapropism for Balboni.
Born in Brockton, Massachusetts, he attended Manchester Memorial High School in Manchester, New Hampshire and Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was drafted by the New York Yankees in the second round of the free agent draft in 1978. They noted that his tremendous power helped them make the decision to draft him. He was named designated hitter on The Sporting News college All-America team in 1978.
Minor league career
Balboni played in the minors off and on from 1978 to 1993. In a total of nine seasons in the minors, he hit 239 home runs and drove in 772 runs. He also struck out 930 times. His career minor league batting average was .261. He won the Most Valuable Player award in 1979 with the Fort Lauderdale Yankees of the Florida State League and the Southern League MVP Award in 1980 for the Double-A Nashville Sounds.
Balboni led the league in home runs six different seasons, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1992 and 1993. He led the league in Runs Batted In in 4 seasons, 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1992. He led the league in strikeouts in 2 seasons, 1979 and 1981. He homered every 14.6 at bats and struck out every 3.8 at bats in the Minors.
Major league career
Balboni made it to the New York Yankees in 1981. He went on to play in the big leagues through 1990 with a short comeback in 1993. He played for the Yankees from 1981 to 1983 and then in 1989 and 1990. He was the starting first baseman for the Kansas City Royals from 1984 to mid-1988, when they traded him to the Seattle Mariners. He only played in Seattle until the end of that season.
In parts of 11 Major League seasons, Steve hit 181 home runs and had 495 RBI. He also struck out 856 times. His batting average was .229. In 1985, he led the American League with 166 strikeouts. He also set the single season home run mark for the Royals with 36. That record still stands today. He homered every 17.2 at bats and struck out every 3.6 at bats in the Major Leagues.
The year 1985 turned out to be his best season for many reasons. He had career highs in games played (160), at bats (600), hits (146), runs (74), doubles (28), triples (2), homers (36) and runs batted in (88-tied in 1986). He led American League first basemen with 1686 total chances and 1573 putouts in 1985. He also was the starting first baseman in the 1985 World Series. Steve batted .320 with 3 RBIs in that Series that the Royals won over the St. Louis Cardinals, four games to three. Balboni contributed a key single in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 6, as the Royals rallied from a 1-0 deficit to win 2-1, and extend the series to seven games. He also demonstrated good glove work in the field, something he was not known for during his career. After retiring, he moved on to another team known as the Royals – The Flor-Mad Royals of Madison, New Jersey.
Curse of the Balboni
This alleged curse was first proposed by ESPN.com columnist Rany Jazayerli. Ostensibly, it ensured that no team with a player who hit more regular-season home runs than Balboni had in 1985 could win the World Series. In 1985, when Balboni hit a team-record 36 home runs (which still stands) and the Royals won their first and, at the time, only championship, it had been only five years since the feat was last accomplished: Mike Schmidt hit 48 for the 1980 champion Philadelphia Phillies. The feat was not repeated, however, in the 20th century. In 2001, the Arizona Diamondbacks broke the curse, winning the World Series with an outfielder, Luis Gonzalez, who had hit 57 home runs in the regular season. Since then, six teams with players who hit more than 36 home runs have won the World Series: the 2004 Boston Red Sox had Manny Ramirez (43 home runs) and David Ortiz (41), the 2005 Chicago White Sox had Paul Konerko (40), the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals had Albert Pujols (49), the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies had Ryan Howard (48), and the 2009 New York Yankees had Mark Teixeira (39).
In popular culture
- Kansas City Royals website
- Allen, Maury. YANKEES: Where Have You Gone? By Maury Allen, p. 164, Sports Publishing LLC, 2004. ISBN 1-58261-719-8. Accessed February 27, 2011. "'I grew up in Massachusetts and I was a Red Sox fan of course,' said Balboni from his home in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey."
- "International League Hall of Fame Class of 2011" (PDF). mlb.com. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
- The Curse of the Balboni