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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Gene Tenace – Royals Assessment


Based on Google, there are solely 37 individuals in america with the primary title of Fury. Fury Gene Tenace is considered one of that very unique membership. Tenace’s given title was truly Fiore Gino Tenace, however his grandfather, an Italian immigrant, needed to Americanize the household title, so Fury Gene it was. That grandfather additionally tagged Tenace with a nickname, Steamboat. Each nice ballplayer wants a nickname, and Steamboat is a strong selection.

Every time I hear the phrase Fury, I consider the Brad Pitt World Struggle II film of the identical title. Is it attainable that Pitt, regardless of his success, may very well be probably the most underrated actor of this era? He has received two Oscars however take into consideration his efficiency in his films: A river runs by way of it. Wonderful. Legends of the autumn. Wonderful. Benjamin Button. Meet Joe Black. Mr. and Mrs. Smith. As soon as upon a time in Hollywood. Seven. Battle Membership. Inglorious basterds. World Struggle Z, and naturally, Moneyball. That’s simply naming a number of. He’s excellent in all of them even when the movie he’s in blows chunks. In baseball phrases, he’s a sabermetric darling.

Gene Tenace was an All-State soccer and baseball star at Valley Excessive College in Lucasville, Ohio. Within the summers, he performed on the identical American Legion workforce as Al Oliver and Larry Hisle, who each turned excellent hitters within the majors. That should have been some workforce.

After his highschool days ended, the Kansas Metropolis A’s drafted Tenace within the 20th spherical of the inaugural 1965 baseball draft. Say what you’ll about Charlie O. Finley being a foul proprietor. He was. However he and his workers completely nailed the newbie drafts whereas they have been in Kansas Metropolis. That 1965 draft yielded Rick Monday, Sal Bando and Tenace in addition to Joe Keough, Bob Stinson, Pete Koegel, George Laurerique and Bobby Brooks. Monday, Bando and Tenace mixed for over 141 profession WAR. Any method you take a look at it, that’s a wonderful draft haul. They added Reggie Jackson in 1966 and Vida Blue in 1967. These two mixed for 119 profession WAR. They stole Joe Rudi in a commerce and signed Rollie Fingers as a free agent. That’s one other 51 WAR. That’s seven main gamers in a three-year span. Simply unbelievable. It’s straightforward to look again on that and suppose, “what if that workforce had stayed in KC…”

Tenace bounced across the Kansas Metropolis and Oakland minor league programs for 4 seasons earlier than getting his callup on Might 29th, 1969. He collected his first hit, a single off Luis Tiant the subsequent day. He stroked the primary of his 201 profession house runs on June 6th off Earl Wilson. These weren’t cheapies. Tiant and Wilson have been each formidable pitchers of their period.

By 1970, he was in Oakland for good, splitting time behind house plate and at first base. Tenace was all the time a flexible participant, having as soon as performed all 9 positions in a minor league recreation. He performed at the very least one recreation at six completely different positions within the huge leagues.

Tenace additionally had a novel talent that was very underappreciated on the time: he knew how to attract a stroll. The truth is, he knew how to attract plenty of walks. Over 5,527 profession plate appearances, he collected 1,060 hits and drew a powerful 984 walks. His profession on-base proportion of .388 is excellent. Tenace would make some huge cash in right now’s recreation. He drew greater than 100 walks in six seasons, together with two by which he led the league.

Tenace wasn’t actually on my radar as a younger baseball fan till I noticed him within the 1972 World Sequence. That collection matched the upstart A’s in opposition to the powerhouse Cincinnati Reds. The Reds have been loaded with future Corridor of Famers and most baseball individuals anticipated them to comb the A’s.

Tenace got here into the collection having collected just one hit in Oakland’s 5 recreation victory over Detroit within the ALCS however it was an enormous one. His 4th inning single drove house the collection successful run in Sport 5.

In his first World Sequence plate look, Tenace deposited a Gary Nolan fastball into the left subject seats for a 2-0 Oakland lead. Within the 5th, he barreled up a dangling curve from Nolan for dong quantity two. The three runs have been sufficient for a 3-2 Oakland victory. I keep in mind being shocked on the A’s win and asking myself who this Tenace man was. In any case, the A’s have been with out Reggie Jackson, who had been injured early within the Detroit collection. It was the primary two house run recreation of Tenace’s life. He later added house runs in Sport 4 and Sport 5 to assist the A’s vanquish the Massive Pink Machine. Tenace hit .348 within the Sequence and drove in 9 runs. That earned him the Sequence MVP and a brand new sports activities automobile. His 4 huge flies tied Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Duke Snider and Hank Bauer for probably the most in a World Sequence.

Tenace spent many of the subsequent 4 seasons splitting time between first base and catcher because the A’s received three consecutive World Sequence titles. He made his solely All-Star workforce in 1975 because the American League beginning first baseman. He picked up some down poll MVP votes in 1975 and ’76. Previous to the 1976 season, with the Reserve Clause in jeopardy, Charlie Finley despatched all of his gamers contracts with a 20% pay reduce. Tenace, together with lots of his teammates, had grown weary of their skinflint proprietor and was counting down the times till he may get out of Oakland. Sensing that free company was coming, Tenace signed a closing one-year take care of Oakland. He made $40,800 in 1976. Free company did arrive, and Finley greeted it by both buying and selling or promoting what remained of his dynasty. Within the low season, Tenace waded into the free company waters and signed with San Diego: 6 years for $1.85 million. Good cash for that point interval. Sadly, the Padres proprietor, Ray Kroc, was quite a bit like Finley. Tenace’s time in San Diego was what you’d anticipate for a participant together with his talent set. He performed excellent protection, hit a number of house runs, drew a ton of walks and was a wonderful chief. Over 573 video games in San Diego, his on base proportion was an excellent .403, but Kroc felt the necessity to criticize him within the press for not hitting for the next common with extra energy.

In December of 1980, Tenace was a part of an 11-player commerce between the Padres and the Cardinals. In two seasons with St. Louis, Tenace primarily backed up Darrell Porter and Keith Hernandez. He additionally performed a serious function in mentoring youthful gamers and his management helped the Cardinals to the 1982 World Sequence championship. After being launched by the Cardinals, he signed with Pittsburgh. He solely appeared in 53 video games for the Pirates and after hitting solely .177 he determined to name it a profession.

One factor I discover fascinating about Tenace is that from 1974 to 1983, the final ten years of his profession, he collected 790 hits and drew 806 walks.

In retirement, Tenace obtained into teaching and established a status as a wonderful hitting coach. He was a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays after they received back-to-back World Sequence titles in 1992 and 1993. That gave Tenace six rings. Not a foul haul for a 20th spherical draft decide.

Tenaces’ profession typically intersected with Kansas Metropolis. As soon as the A’s moved to Oakland, they turned public enemy Quantity One for Kansas Metropolis Royal followers. These video games between 1969 and 1976 have been intense because the A’s-Royals rivalry was each bit nearly as good because the Yankees-Pink Sox or Cubs-Cardinals. So as to add insult to damage, Tenace hit the ultimate house run in Municipal Stadium historical past, a two-run jack off Monty Montgomery on September 30th, 1972. Oakland received that recreation by the rating of 10 to five.

Tenace ended his 15-year profession with a slash of .241/.388/.429 with 201 house runs, 674 RBI, 653 runs scored and 984 walks good for nearly 47 WAR. Not sufficient to get him into Cooperstown, however completely sufficient to get him into the Corridor of Very Good. Invoice James has him ranked because the 23th greatest catcher in baseball historical past. And who can neglect Champ Type’s line within the movie Ron Burgandy? “Gene Tenace on the plate, and Whammy!”

Total, a really strong profession. One can solely dream of what may need occurred had the A’s stayed in Kansas Metropolis.

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