Monday, June 17, 2013

#22 Jim Eisenreich

About the Front: Here's a delightfully unusual action photo, as Jim Eisenreich's feet-first slide has left him practically sitting on top of second base. It's as if he were looking right at the photographer, saying, "I heard that shutter click. That picture better not show up on a card next year." Well, sorry Jim.

About the Back: You'll notice the absence of any major league stats for 1985 and 1986. Eisenreich had suffered from Tourette's Syndrome since childhood, but it went undiagnosed for years. His symptoms, and anxiety resulting from them, worsened early in his career with the Twins. He went on the voluntary retirement list in 1984, and did not return to baseball until 1987. In the interim, he had finally gotten a valid diagnosis and successfully undergone treatment to better control his physical and verbal tics. Jim now has a charitable foundation that works with children with Tourette's.

Triple Play:

1. Eisenreich played in the postseason for both the 1993 Phillies and the 1997 Marlins. In Game Three of the 1997 World Series, his two-run homer in the sixth inning halved the Indians' lead from 7-3 to 7-5. Florida tied the game in the seventh and scored seven in a wild ninth inning. Cleveland's own four-run rally in the bottom of the ninth wasn't enough, as the Marlins won 14-11 en route to the franchise's first World Championship.

2. A broken foot kept Jim out for the final month of the 1996 season, which was shaping up to be a career year. The 37-year-old hit .361 with a .413 on-base percentage in 113 games that season, rapped 24 doubles, and even stole 11 bases in 12 tries.

3. Eisenreich played through the 1998 season, finishing with a career batting line of .290/.341/.404. That's quite an accomplishment for someone who didn't play a full season in the big leagues until age 30.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I remember hearing about Jim's unusual career path, but I didn't know much about Tourette's Syndrome. I think most children originally hear about it through word-of-mouth and think that it's some oddball thing that makes people scream out profanities uncontrollably. That seems hilarious when you're an immature kid.

Bill James Said: "He had the odd record - 153 games, only 362 at-bats - because he was a platoon player who would be used as a defensive substitute if the Phillies were ahead and a pinch hitter if they were behind." Jim pinch-hit 22 times in 1993 without much success - 3-for-21 with a walk - but overall he batted .318 and struck out only 36 times.

On This Date in 1993: June 17. Baseball owners voted 26-2 in favor of expanding the playoffs from four teams to eight teams starting in 1994 (or 1995, as it happened). Each league will realign from two divisions to three, with the best second-place team in each league qualifying for the postseason as a wild card.

1 comment: