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Mike Hargrove

Mike Hargrove

Position(s):
1B, DH, LF, OF
Nicknames:
The Human Rain Delay
Born:
October 26, 1949
Bats:
Left
Throws:
Left
Height:
6'
Weight:
195 lbs
Major League Debut:
4-07-1974 with TEX
Allstar Selections:
1974 ROOK

Nicknamed The Human Rain Delay for his deliberate preparation in the batter's box as he analyzed each situation, the lefthanded Hargrove ranks 16th in career on-base percentage and twice led the AL in walks. He was named 1974 AL Rookie of the Year, hitting a career-high .323 with the Rangers. He led AL first basemen in assists twice and errors three times. Traded to the Padres in 1979, he slumped to .192 in 52 games and was waived back to the AL, hitting .325 in 100 games for the Indians. He followed with two more .300 seasons, but slowly lost his job to Pat Tabler.

Playing career

During his 12-year playing career, Hargrove batted .290 with 80 home runs and 686 runs batted in. He won both the AL Rookie of the Year and The Sporting News Rookie of the Year awards in 1974, after hitting a career-high .323 with the Rangers (he was the first Ranger ever to be so honored). Afterwards, he made the AL All-Star squad in 1975 and led the league first basemen in assists twice. He was most effective in getting on base, moving runners, and not giving up an easy out—unusual for a first baseman which is usually considered a power position.

Though he would later be honored as one of the Cleveland Indians' top 100 players in team history, one of Hargrove's early visits to Cleveland was less than memorable. As a rookie with the Rangers, Hargrove was one of the early targets of Cleveland fans during the infamous Ten Cent Beer Night incident on June 4, 1974.

He also attained the nickname "The Human Rain Delay" for his deliberate routine at the plate before each at-bat and before each pitch. He drove pitchers crazy by stepping out of the batter's box after each pitch and starting his routine, which consisted of (1) adjusting his helmet, (2) adjusting his batting glove, making sure it was tight on his hand and especially the thumb, (3) pulling each sleeve on his uniform up about an inch, and (4) wiping each hand on his uniform pants - and then sometimes repeating the whole process again - before finally settling back into the box. Towards the end of his career this trait was very well known and often commented upon by broadcasters.

Through June 16, 2009, Hargrove was tied for second of all Rangers players ever in career leadoff home runs, one behind the 9 by Ian Kinsler.

Managing career

Hargrove holds a career major league managerial record of 1,187–1,173, including 721–591 with the Indians (1991–99). He led his team to five consecutive AL Central Division titles in 1995–99, and World Series appearances in 1995 and 1997. His dismissal as Indians manager by GM John Hart was controversial with many fans. Later, he managed Baltimore from 2000–03.

During an exhibition series between players from the US and Japan, Hargrove infamously stated that future MLB All Star and Gold Glove fielder Ichiro Suzuki, who he would later manage, would be "no better than a fourth outfielder in MLB".

On October 20, 2004, Hargrove was hired to manage the Seattle Mariners and turn around the team after its worst season since 1983. He agreed to a three-year deal through the 2007 season.

Hargrove's record as Seattle manager is 192–209, including a 93 loss season record in 2005.

On July 1, 2007, Hargrove resigned his position as manager of the Mariners, saying in a prepared statement that his "passion has begun to fade" and it would not be "fair to myself or the team" to continue. The departure was unusual, since the Mariners had been playing quite well at the time. Hargrove became the first big league manager since at least 1900 to depart while on a winning streak of more than seven games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Bench coach John McLaren was named as Hargrove's replacement, effective July 1. Hargrove managed his final Major League game on that same day, a 2-1 ninth inning comeback victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. From 2007 to 2009, Hargrove managed the Liberal BeeJays, a semi-pro summer team in southwest Kansas, with whom he'd previously played for in 1972, while on the roster of Northwestern Oklahoma State University.

After taking the 2010 season off, Hargrove returned to Major League Baseball with the Indians in 2011. As a special advisor, he will assist the coaching staff during Spring training, and work in the front office during the regular season. He will also serve as a color analyst during select Indians TV games.

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Tagged:
Baltimore Orioles, Baseball Digest Cover 1974 Rookie Scouting Reports, Cleveland Indians, Mike Hargrove, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, The Human Rain Delay

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