Tim Foli with the Angels
- 3B, SS, 2B, CF, OF, LF, 1B
- December 8, 1950
- 179 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 9-11-1970 with NYN
Timothy John Foli (born December 8, 1950), nicknamed Crazy Horse, is a former shortstop in Major League Baseball who played for the New York Mets, Montreal Expos, San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates, California Angels and New York Yankees from 1970 to 1985. At age 17, Foli was the first pick in the Major League Baseball Draft in 1968 and went on to be a member of the 1979 World Series champion Pirates.
Tim Foli was born in Culver City, California and attended Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, California. He was a high school star in both baseball and football and was offered a football scholarship by the University of Southern California. When the New York Mets made Foli the first overall draft pick in 1968, he decided to forgo football for the major leagues.
From the beginning of his days in the show, Foli had more of a reputation for his anger than any thing else. With the Mets, he got into a nasty fight with Ed Kranepool, in San Francisco, the writers called him “Rubber Room”, Manger Gene Mauch once said that if an umpire made a call that Foli perceived as bad in the first couple innings he would be swinging at the first or second pitches later on in the game so the umpires wouldn’t have a chance to make a call.
All the episodes together prompted the nickname that was bestowed upon the shortstop, “crazy horse”. Even as a bench coach with the Reds, which he is currently, he reportedly got into a fight with third base coach Ron Oester after a ball game over how a bunt was defended.
Major league career
At age seventeen, Foli started out poorly with the Marion Mets of the Appalachian League. The following year, while the Mets were on their way to winning the 1969 World Series, Foli hit over .300 for their high single A minor league team, the Visalia Mets of the California League. In 1970, Foli posted decent numbers for the AAA Tidewater Tides and the Mets called the 19-year-old up to the majors on September 11. At the time, he was the fourth youngest player in the majors, behind César Cedeño, Balor Moore and Don Gullett. In his second game, Foli started at third base, picked up two hits and drove in a late insurance run as the Mets defeated the St. Louis Cardinals. The defending champions faded the rest of the way and missed the playoffs.
Foli spent all of 1971 with the Mets, fighting for playing time at second base and third base. On May 9, he had an RBI triple and a three-run double in the first two innings for his first four-RBI game. It would prove to be his last four-RBI game until 1979. In 97 games, his batting average was .226, with both his on base percentage and slugging average below .300.
Before the 1972 season, on April 5, the Mets packaged Foli with fellow young prospects Ken Singleton and Mike Jorgensen and sent them to the Montreal Expos for star outfielder Rusty Staub. Foli became a mainstay at shortstop in Montreal for the next five seasons. Although Foli, Singleton and Jorgensen played well in Montreal, the Expos never posted a winning record until after Foli was gone and even lost 107 games in 1976.
Foli's offensive numbers in five seasons with Montreal were representative of his whole career. He batted between .238 and .264 each season, only once slugging over .300, and only once reaching .300 in on base percentage. 1976 was the only offensive season that stood out for Foli, as he posted career highs with 36 doubles (fifth-highest in the N.L.), six home runs and a .366 slugging average. On April 21, 1976, Foli hit a single, double and triple against the Chicago Cubs before the game was suspended. When the game was resumed the next day, Foli hit a home run to complete the first cycle in Montreal Expos history. In addition, Foli's cycle was the first "natural cycle" (where the single, double, triple and home run are hit in that sequence) in almost a decade.
Foli was popular in Montreal, as evidenced on July 8, 1973, when Houston Astros left fielder Bob Watson slid hard into Foli at second base trying to break up a double play, breaking Foli's jaw. When Watson returned to left field in the next half-inning, the Montreal fans at Jarry Park hurled debris at him. Foli missed the next month of the season.
1977 was the beginning of Foli's time as a major league journeyman. In his final nine seasons, Foli spent seven different stints with six different franchises. His travels began on April 22, 1977 when he was traded to the San Francisco Giants for shortstop Chris Speier. Foli, who was batting .175 at the time of the trade, hit only .228 for the Giants, who finished well out of playoff contention. Foli's Giants highlight was on July 22, when he had the only two-homer game of his career.
After the 1977 season, Foli's original team, the Mets, purchased his contract from San Francisco. 1978 was a typical season for Foli, who played 113 games and batted .257 while the Mets finished with the worst record in the National League.
After playing just three games for the Mets in 1979, Foli and a minor league player were traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for shortstop Frank Taveras. The trade sent Foli from the worst team in the league to one of the best. It stabilized the infield and helped lead the Bucs to a world championship.
When the trade occurred, Pittsburgh knew it was giving up a very talented player who was very erratic defensively, but it didn’t know exactly what it was they were getting in the California native. At the time of the trade he was only a .243 career hitter and was solid defensively, he accumulated 73 fielding runs throughout his career, but the unknown factor was if the team could control his angry outburst.
Foli certainly was a fierce competitor and often would play angry. He was a perfectionist, which certainly added to the problem. The big question was would Foli upset the wonderful chemistry that the 1979 team had acquired? Luckily the answer was not.
Foli responded well to the positive approach that manager Chuck Tanner used and had his best season in the majors, hitting .291 with a career high 65 RBI’s. In the post season Crazy Horse hit .333 in the NLCS and Fall Classic combined.
The next year Foli hit .265, leading the circuit in fielding, before being dealt to the Angels for catcher Brian Harper prior to the 1982 campaign. Tim maintained a.252 average in three consecutive seasons with the Angels and Yankees between 1982-1984 and then was dealt back to the Bucs in 1985 in one of the worst deals Pittsburgh ever made. He came over with Steve Kemp and $400,000 for Dale Berra and future superstar Jay Buhner. After hitting .189 in 37 at bats, Foli retired as a player.
After retirement as a player, Tim Foli turned to coaching. He was the third base coach and infield coach for the Texas Rangers in 1986 and 1987. During the off-season in early 1987, Foli was the manager of the Caguas, Puerto Rico team in the Caribbean World Series when his fiery personality made news. After losing the first two games to the Dominican Republic, Caguas general manager Felix Millan fired Foli, claiming he had been disrespectful. Caguas recovered to win the championship.
On November 19, 1991, Foli was named the first base coach and infield coach for the Milwaukee Brewers, re-joining fellow coach Duffy Dyer, who had been a teammate of his while with the Mets. On September 29, 1995, Foli and Dyer were both let go by the Brewers. Foli spent 1996 as a coach with the Kansas City Royals under manager Bob Boone, who was Foli's teammate with the California Angels. He then managed the Rookie-level Kingsport Mets of the Appalachian League in 1998 and spent 1998 to 2000 with the New York Mets organization as an infield and base running coordinator.
On September 16, 2000, Foli began three tumultuous seasons as a coach with the Cincinnati Reds, reunited with former Angels catcher Bob Boone, who was the Reds' manager. Just a few months into his coaching job, Foli became embroiled in a physical confrontation with fellow coach, Ron Oester, after a game. Foli required stitches. The turmoil in Cincinnati did not soon end, as Oester was let go after the season, the team's superstar, Ken Griffey, Jr. was injured in four consecutive seasons, coach Ken Griffey, Sr. resigned on bad terms, and the Reds posted three consecutive losing seasons. As a result, Foli, Boone, the general manager and another coach were all fired on July 28, 2003.
After taking 2004 off, Foli was hired by the Washington Nationals to be the manager of their AAA team, the New Orleans Zephyrs for 2005. Brought back for 2006, Foli left a game and took time off after suffering from apparent hyperthermia on June 9, 2006.
Foli's son, Daniel Foli, is a pitcher, who was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 31st round of the 2001 draft. He spent three seasons in the Cubs' organization before being released. Dan Foli spent 2004 and 2005 in the New York Mets organization, until his release in April 2006. Since then, he has been in the Washington Nationals organization with his father, including one game on his father's team in New Orleans. Dan Foli was moved to the AA Harrisburg Senators on June 1, 2006.
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