I told you that the Oakland Athletics had a crazy team in 1987. I must admit that as a youngster I was swept up in the A’s of the late ‘80s. The brash bash brothers, snarling Dave Stewart, wily Ricky Henderson and Tony Philips (sans nickname) really captured my young baseball attention.
For whatever reason, I also liked Carney Lansford. Maybe it was because I was, more or less, a utility infielder willing to do whatever it took to help the team.
Had I known at the time that Lansford was a direct descendent of bad-ass extraordinaire Sir Francis Drake, I would have followed his career a bit more closely. Let’s get this clear, Drake was a pirate. He was knighted and his sins righted because he helped the British Empire absolutely destroy the Spanish Armada. He was such a scourge to the Spanish that King Phillip II likely offered a 20,000 ducat reward for his capture – that would be about $6.5 million in today’s currency.
Mustache and all, Lansford’s playing style didn’t exactly live up to his ancestor – it was more wild than continually successful. While he would finish with a .290 average, he twice batted .336. In 1981, he lead the league in hitting, a year after he batted .261 and lead the league in sacrifice flies (it’s amazing the knowledge the interweb provides). However, his best year, for which he got no love, was the 1987 season. He hit .289/.366/.455, tied a career high with 19 HRs and stole 27 bases. In his career, he stole 224 bags and sported one heckuva mustache and lineage.
For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.