March 20th is supposed to be the first day of Spring. I guess the Northeast division of Mother Nature did not get the message. With Opening Day less than two weeks away, the temperature outside does not remind anyone of baseball. So in order to get in the mood for green grass, dirt and a diamond, I decided to look up who in Major League Baseball has a birthday today. There were over 50 names, past and present, living and deceased including one Hall of Famer (“Iron” Joe McGinnity). You can view the entire list by clicking here. I would like to wish all of these guys a Happy Birthday with a special shout out to Rick Langford and Chris Hoiles.
Langford pitched for 11 seasons from 1976 through 1986 and all except his rookie year were spent with the Oakland A’s. His two best years by far came in 1980 and 1981 pitching under Billy Martin. In 1980, the right-hander went 19-12 with an astonishing 28 complete games, the highest total in almost 40 years and a number that will surely never be equaled again. He also led the American League in innings pitched with 290. The following year was more of the same as during the strike-shortned 1981 season, Langford again led baseball in complete games with 18 and finished with a 12-10 record. Unfortunately, his career became derailed by injury after 1982 as he appeared in only 49 games over the final four seasons of his career. Langford finished with an overall record of 73 wins and 106 losses with a 4.01 ERA. I will always remember him for that workhorse 1980 season.
Hoiles was a power-hitting catcher who played his entire 10 year career (1989-1998) with the Baltimore Orioles. His best season was 1993 as he clubbed 29 home runs and knocked in 82 runs to go along with a .310 batting average. Hoiles had a career-high 503 at-bats and finished 16th in the MVP balloting that season. He was a key member of those 1996 and 1997 Baltimore teams that went to back-to-back American League Championship Series. The rigors of catching caught up to him at age 33 his last season in the Majors. He enjoyed a productive year with 15 homers and 56 RBI’s in 318 at-bats and entered the record books on August 14th when he became the first catcher ever to hit two grand slams in one game. Hoiles’s overall numbers are pretty good by catching standards, 151 home runs, 449 RBI’s and a .262 batting average and he also owns a small place in the vast history of baseball.
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