h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Rance Mulliniks

mullinkis backmullinkis frI feel like I am incredibly qualified to comment on the back of this card. See, my full name is Albert Leroy Lang III.

The name Albert stands out…and not in a good way like the name Dylan (stupid 90210) does. Furthermore, with a middle name like Leroy (even if it means ‘the King’ – and I do nominate we call LeBron LeBroy) there isn’t much to fall back on. So, for most of my life, I kinda sorta didn’t like my name.

But that began to change as I began to age and standing out of a crowd was much better than fitting cozily inside a fence. My name, while unoriginal, is original. But, more importantly, it represents the history of my family on my father’s side. Plus my initials spell a word – take that haters/younger me!

The original ALL was a hilarious and generous man who never graduated high school. He was a decorated member of the Baltimore City fire department and started his own plumbing business. He was a fierce Baltimore Colts fan and could pick a crab cleaner than Ozzie Smith could a ground ball.

The sequel would be my father, who went to local Loyola College, became a mathematician and NSA employee, got some MBAs, grew to understand the wave of the future (computers) and met my mom! Not bad…he was also a devoted Baltimore Colts fan…who has grown into a reasonable Washington Redskins fan.

I am a Philadelphia Eagles fan. The one thing all three iterations have in common – outside of our name – is a love of the Baltimore Orioles. I & II are the reasons I can recite the great Balmore teams of the Robinsons, Paul Blair, Boog Powell, Len Sakata, Apparicio, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray and the immortal Earl Weaver.

So, when I first checked out the back of Mulliniks card, my initial reaction was why would your ever name you kid Rance? But just like with Bert Blyleven, initial reactions betray us; the card quickly lead me to thoughts of my own lineage. Thoughts I’m incredibly proud of.

Hopefully Rance II is as proud of his father’s accomplishments – he should be. Mulliniks would see his first major league action in 1977 as a 21 year old with the California Angels. However, he’d be used sparingly (appearing in just 150 games over three years with the major league club).

In 1979, he’d be traded with Willie Aikens to the Kansas City Royals for Al Cowens, Todd Cruz and Craig Eaton. Unfortunately, it’d be the same ole same ole for Mulliniks, as he’d see action in just 60 games over the next two seasons.

Then, at age 26, he’d be traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Phil Huffman. Primarily a shortstop/utility man for the Angels and Royals, the Blue Jays would make Mulliniks a third basemen and he’d take off (sound familiar, Jose Bautista – well sort of).

In his first season, he received 353 plate appearances, and would post a decent slash line (.244/.326/.363) – this was 1982 after all. Then, in what should be called his second full season, Mulliniks would go .275/.373/.467. He clearly understood the point of the game was to avoid making outs. From 1983-1988 (his 26 through 32 birthdays), Mulliniks averaged a .374 OBP and only once had an OBP lower than .371.

He’d be out of the majors three years later, but not much could beat that prime of his – of course except for the opportunity to pass along one’s namesake.

When it was all said and done, Mulliniks posted the 16th highest batting average as a pinch hitter (min. 150 ABs) in MLB history.

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