Thursday, August 8, 2013

Player's Ink: Darrell Evans

Baseball historian, statistician, and writer Bill James once described Evans as "probably the most underrated player in baseball history"- pointing to the former All-Star's ability to hit for power (414 HR), draw walks (1605, with only 1410 strikeouts), and for his fine defense. As a member of the Braves, Darrell was on first base when Hank Aaron hit home run #715, and as a member of the Tigers he won a World Series title in his first year in Motown. And while the slugger had plenty of memories from his twenty-one year major league career, one in particular stands out.

2013 Topps Archives #FFA-DE

Down two games to one against the Twins in the 1987 ALCS, Detroit trailed Minnesota 4-3 in the top of the 7th when Evans was shifted from first base to third base by manager Sparky Anderson. Darrell proceeded to commit two throwing errors (one in the top of the eighth and one in the top of the ninth). He was also picked off of third earlier in the game by catcher Tim Laudner. For a man who called it one of the most disappointing moments of his career, he probably didn't expect what would happen the next day. 

As he was introduced to the home crowd the next afternoon, Evans received not boos-as perhaps one might expect- but cheers. In fact, he received a standing ovation. Darrell would call the love shown him one of the most cherished moments of his life. 

Signature Similarity: Evans got the chance to play for his childhood hero, Eddie Mathews- who managed the Braves for three seasons. "Growing up, I was a Milwaukee Braves fan because my idol was Eddie Mathews...and I ended up playing for him."  On their website, Baseballreference.com lists Mathews as number 10 on its Similarity scores for batters who are most similar to Evans. 

On Signatures: "I enjoy signing autographs. I loved autographs growing up. It isn't just signing autographs, it's getting to know the people I get to meet. I'd do it every day if I could." (quotes from mlive.com article on Evans)

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