Thursday, December 25, 2014

#28 Vada Pinson, Hitting Coach

courtesy of tradingcarddb

courtesy of tradingcarddb

Vada Pinson was a young kid when he was signed by the Cincinnati Redlegs in 1956. He went through the minors quickly with his final stop being the 1958 season with the AAA Seattle Rainiers. He would spend the next 17 seasons in the big leagues with five teams. After 11 seasons in Cincinnati, Vada spent a season in St. Louis, two years in Cleveland, two with the Angels, and his final two seasons with Kansas City in 1974 and '75. He signed with the Milwaukee Brewers for the 1976 season, but was released at the opening of the season. During his career he put up what could be considered Hall of Fame numbers. Vada had collected 2757 hits with a .286 average and had 256 HR's and 305 SB's.

Because of his consistent hitting during his career, new Mariners manager Darrell Johnson tabbed Vada as his hitting coach for the new team coming to Seattle. He would hold that coaching position until Johnson and his staff were let go during the 1980 season. While Maury Wills was the manager in Seattle, Vada would coach with the White Sox in 1981. When the Mariners named Rene Lachemann the manager in 1982, he would come back and coach first base for Rene until he and his staff were let go during the 1983 season. The Detroit Tigers and Sparky Anderson would have Vada coach for them from 1985 through 1991. When the new expansion Florida Marlins came into existence, their first manager was Rene Lachemann and he would have Vada on his staff again for the 1993 and 1994 seasons. He would coach on two different expansion teams at their inception. On October 21, 1995, Vada Pinson suffered a stroke and passed away. He was just 57 years old.

Friday, December 19, 2014

#27 Diego Segui, Pitcher

If you want any quirky notes of the Mariners record book you will probably find Diego is connected to many of them. He is the only player to ever be part of two Seattle MLB franchises. He was drafted with the 14th pick from the Oakland A's in 1968 by the Seattle Pilots. He would be named the team's MVP for that ill fated 1969 season and because Charlie Finley wanted him back so badly, he would trade for him to come back from the new Milwaukee Brewers before the 1970 season. After stops in Oakland, St. Louis and Boston, the new expansion Mariners decided to purchase Diego from the Padres before the 1976 expansion draft at the age of 40. It was done as a stunt to the baseball fans in Seattle to bring back a Pilot. The Mariners thought is was so good that they made him the Opening Day starter and he would through the first pitch in team history. Diego would only be with the team for the first season in 1977 before being released.

Diego has a way with being with the original rosters of teams in his life. Before coming to the Mariners he played for the Hawaii Islanders in 1976. When the Islanders were started as a team in the PCL in 1961, one of those original players was Diego Segui. He was the only person to be a Pilot in 1969 and a Mariner in 1977. Diego was a man that could not let any chance to play baseball pass him by. After his time in Seattle for the second time, he went south and would spend 8 more seasons pitching in Mexico. He would be with the Cordoba Cafateros in 1978 and 1979, move on to the Reynosa Broncos from 1980 through 1982. In 1983 he would be with the Yucatan Leones, and 1984 would be a year with the Leon Bravos. Diego would spend his last year with the Mondove Acereros in 1985 and finally retire at the age of 47 or 48 depending on which reports you believe.

Diego would also create a baseball legacy by having his second son David also play in the majors. The Mariners being a team that was always able to see a marketing opportunity and needing a first baseman, would sign David after the 1997 season. The timing couldn't be better as the Mariners would move into the new Safeco Field in July 1999. That would mean that the old Kingdome would have to close it's Mariner chapter. On June 27th of that year the final Mariner game would be played under the dome. In a great ceremony of past and present players there was ceremonial final pitch in the Kingdome. The man that would throw that pitch would be none other than the man that threw the first, Diego Segui. The person that would receive it would be his son and current Mariner David. When the new park opened on July 15th David was a part of the team only to be traded 13 days later to the Toronto Blue Jays. Diego and his son David were part of one of the two Father-Son combinations in Seattle with Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr. being the other.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

#26 Juan Bernhardt

One month before your 17th birthday you sign a free agent deal with the New York Yankees in 1970. You would be of top of the world thinking you hot the lottery right? I'm sure that is how Juan felt too. You don't think you will be in the Bronx the next day, but you would have high hopes. Juan would start the journey in 1971 working his way up through the Yankees minor league system. It was a slow climb for Juan to come up through the minors before seeing time with the AAA Syracuse Chiefs in 1976. Thanks to an injury, the Yankees brought Juan up to the big club in July of 1976 and he would spend the month with the team only to finish the year back in Syracuse. Thanks to a bit of luck, Juan was left unprotected by the Yankees and was the 10th pick by the Mariners in the 1976 expansion draft. The Mariners would have Juan on the Opening Day roster for the 1977 season.

 He would get his first chance with the new team on April 10th and put his name in the team record books. Juan hit the first home run in team history off Frank Tanana of the California Angels. Juan would see time in 1977 and in 1978 at Designated Hitter, 3rd Base, and 1st Base. He would stay with the team all season in 1977, but was split between Seattle and the AAA San Jose Missions in 1978. Juan would be a pinch hitter on April 8, 1979 getting a single and being pinch ran for. That would be the last action Juan would ever see in the majors as he would be sent to AAA with the Spokane Indians. Juan would be dealt to the Chicago White Sox in July 6th that year and would spend the rest of the year with the Iowa Oaks. In 1980 Juan decided to play with the Tabasco Planteros in Mexico. For the next two years in 1981 and 1982 he would be a player/manager with the Campache Piratas. Juan would start 1983 with the Piratas but without the mam\nagging duties, and would finish that year with the Aguascalientes Rieleros. Baseball can be a cruel sport with Juan seeing his time done at the age of 30 with much promise that just never materialized.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

#25 John Montague, Pitcher

In the 1965 draft the Chicago White Sox took a shot on John in the 15th round. He decided not to sign and went to school at Old Dominion University. Two years later, the Baltimore Orioles came calling in the 3rd round of the 1967 draft. John would weave his way through their minor league system only to find himself traded to the Montreal Expos at the beginning of the 1973 season. The good news is that would turn into John making the majors as a September call up in that season. While he did mediocre with the Expos, they decided in late 1975 that is was time for him to go and he was put on waivers only to be claimed by the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies weren't impressed to say the least and let John spend 1976 with the Oklahoma City 89er's in AAA. In November of 1976 the new Mariners team purchased his contract and brought him in to be part of the new team in Seattle. He would spend the entire season here, and was sidelined off and on in 1978 with a hip pointer. John would still be in Seattle during the All Star season of 1979 only to be traded down the coast to the California Angels in late August for a  player to be named that would eventually be Jim Anderson. Jim would stay with the Angels until he was released before the 1981 spring training and would spend that year's camp with the Blue Jays but was let go before the season. Deciding that he wasn't done, John went south of the border to play for the Aguascalientes Rieleros in Mexico and was with them in 1981 and 1982, before spending some time with the Mexico City Tigres in 1982. At the age of 35 and two years in Mexico, Mr. Montague gave and b=called it quits from baseball.