Wednesday, August 21, 2013

#62 Rafael Belliard

About the Front: It's Wrigley Field again! There are few, if any, stadiums that are more easily identifiable in photo backdrops for cards. And how odd is it that the Braves put red piping with a navy blue outline on their belt loops?

About the Back: As you can see, Belliard had hit one home run in parts of 11 seasons (777 games, 1,871 plate appearances) to start his career. It was a three-run homer off of San Diego's Eric Show on May 5, 1987. (Maybe the ball really was juiced that year.) He added his second, and final, career round-tripper in the seventh inning on September 26, 1997 - a game-tying, two-run shot off of Brian Bohanon of the Mets. In all, he went 2,043 plate appearances between home runs to set a big league record.

Triple Play:

1. Rafael's cousin is Ronnie Belliard, the somewhat more offensively-inclined second baseman who played for the Brewers and five other clubs from 1998 through 2010.

2. Belliard appeared in 11 postseason series in his time with the Braves, putting up typical numbers for him: .227/.263/.240 in 88 plate appearances, with a lone double as his extra-base output. The Braves won their only World Series of the Bobby Cox Era in 1995 with Rafael going 0-for-16 with a pair of sac bunts as the starting shortstop.

3. He has been the Tigers' infield coach since 2006, working for skipper Jim Leyland, who managed the ex-shortstop in Pittsburgh.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I loved his "Pac-Man" nickname. I can't find a definitive source for the moniker, but I assume that it was a reference to his diminutive stature and his tendency to "gobble up" balls that were hit in his direction. But as a kid, I thought that he physically resembled the popular video-game character. Made sense to me at the time.

Bill James Said: "Has the lowest ratio of RBI per game of any player in history in 800 or more games (except pitchers)."

On This Date in 1993: August 21. NASA loses radio contact with the Mars Observer orbiter three days before the space probe was schedule to begin orbiting the red planet. Rats.

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