Saturday, June 20, 2015

Meet a Prospect: Willie Randolph

Tonight before the game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers the Yankees will honor former second baseman and team captain Willie Randolph with a plaque in Monument Park. Today is Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium as well with Randolph taking up usual position at second base making this a great day all around for the former Yankees player. The Old Timer’s Day invitation and the plaque in Monument Park do not compare to the honor that I, Daniel Burch, am about to bestow upon him though as I introduce you all to and ask that you meet a prospect, Willie Randolph.

Willie Larry Randolph was born on July 6, 1954 and became a Major League Baseball player and manager before his plaque was put up inside Monument Park this afternoon. Randolph played 18 seasons with six different teams including the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Oakland Athletics, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Mets. At the time of his retirement after the 1992 season Randolph ranked fifth in games played for the position with 2,152, ninth in putouts with 4,859, seventh in assists with 6,336, eighth in total chances with 11,429 and third in double plays turned with 1,547.

Randolph grew up in Brooklyn, New York where he graduated from Samuel J. Tilden High School. While attending there he caught the eye of the Pittsburgh Pirates enough for the team to draft him in the 7th round of the 1972 draft. Randolph made his major league debut three seasons later in 1975 at age 21 before being shipped away with Ken Brett and Dock Ellis to the New York Yankees for Doc Medich. Randolph would go on to spend 13 of his 18 professional seasons with the Yankees and even was named co-captain along with Ron Guidry from 1986 to 1988 by the late George Steinbrenner. As a player Randolph was named to six All-Star teams and a World Series Champion twice in 1977 and 1978 as the Yankees starting second baseman.

When Randolph retired he was immediately hired on as a coach for the New York Yankees where he spent his next 11 years of his career as a base coach and a bench coach. Randolph also managed the New York Mets from 2005 to 2008 before being relieved of his duties after becoming just the eighth person to ever manage and play for the Mets in the franchise’s history.  Randolph led the Mets to the National League East Division title in 2006 and came within one game of reaching the World Series for the first time since the 2000 season before the St. Louis Cardinals ended their season in seven games.  Randolph then interviewed with the Milwaukee Brewers for their managerial position but lost out to Ken Macha and ultimately settled on a bench coach position with the team in 2009. Randolph held that position with Milwaukee until November of 2010 before being named to Buck Showalter’s Baltimore Orioles staff for the 2011 season. Randolph spent one season as the bench coach and third base coach in Baltimore before deciding to part ways with the organization. Randolph spent the 2012 season mostly out of baseball although he did act as the third base coach for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Randolph now serves as an analyst on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight and occasionally is used as a postseason baseball analyst for the league.

All that means very little to Randolph though presumably as he prepares to enter the immortality that is Monument Park inside Yankee Stadium. Randolph spent much of his life with the club and will forever be linked to the team, the stadium and the history. Welcome to Monument Park Willie, it’s well deserved and long past due.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)