- 3B, 1B
- August 6, 1957
- 6' 1"
- 195 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 6-16-1978 with ATL
- Allstar Selections:
- 1978 ROOK
For stretches of time, Bob Horner was one of the most feared hitters in baseball. As a 20-year old in 1978, he hit a homer in his first big league at-bat and won the National League Rookie of the Year Award when he slugged 23 homers and drove in 63 runs in just 89 games after being called up in June by the Atlanta Braves. He clubbed 33 homers the next season and 35 the next, despite nagging injuries. But those injuries piled up and got more serious, until eventually he was reduced to a slow, power-hitter without a defensive position. In 1986 he hit four homers in a game against the Montreal Expos, but the Braves still lost the game. After playing one season in Japan, he signed as a free agent with the Cardinals but hit just three home runs before being released in June.
Horner was born in Junction City, Kansas but grew up in Glendale, Arizona, attending Apollo High School in Glendale where he set school records. His college career at Arizona State University included the first ever Golden Spikes Award. With his 9 home runs in 1976 he is tied with Ike Davis (2006) for third all-time by a Sun Devil freshman, two behind Barry Bonds (in 1983).
A second baseman for TSN's College All-America team in 1977 and 1978, Horner set an NCAA record with 58 career home runs for Arizona State, set a 25-homer season record, and was selected the MVP of 1977 College World Series.
Horner was drafted by Atlanta as the first overall pick of the 1978 amateur draft and made his debut in the same year. He is one of a handful of players to go directly to the starting lineup in the major leagues without spending a day in the minor leagues. In his first game, he belted a home run off Bert Blyleven of the Pirates. In 89 games, Horner batted .266 with 23 home runs, 63 runs batted in in 323 at bats, with an on-base percentage of .313 and a slugging percentage of .539. His 23 home runs led all National League third basemen in 1978. He won the National League Rookie of the Year honors over Ozzie Smith.
In 1979, Horner batted .314 with 33 homers and 98 RBI; In 1980, Horner batted .268, 35 HR, 89 RBI despite being sidelined for 79 games in both seasons after recurring shoulder and legs injuries. In the strike-shortened 1981 season he hit .277, 15 HR, 42 RBI in 79 games. Horner enjoyed his best statistical season in 1982, finishing with 32 home runs, 97 RBI, and an OBP of .350, while slugging .501.
In August 1983, Horner was hitting .303 with 20 homers and a career-high OBP of .383, but he fractured his right wrist while sliding, missing the last 43 games of that season. In May 1984, Horner broke the same wrist while diving after a ball and was sidelined for the rest of the 1984 season.
In 1985, Horner played 130 games and finished with a .267 BA, 27 HR and 89 RBI. In 1986, Horner set personal highlights. On July 6, 1986 in a game against the Expos, he became the eleventh player in Major League Baseball history to hit four home runs in a single game, and only the second one to do so in a game that his team lost (the first one being Ed Delahanty). Later in the season, after hitting a record 210 career home runs without a grand slam, Horner finally belted a homer with the bases loaded to give the Braves a 4–2 victory over the Pirates. Horner's record stood until 1998 when Sammy Sosa hit a grand slam, the 248th home run of his career, to surpass Horner's mark.
Horner became a free agent in 1987, but Major League clubs were colluding to drive down salaries. Unable to find a Major League club interested in his services, Horner signed a one-year contract with the Yakult Swallows of the Japanese League. He hit 31 homers and had 73 RBIs for the team. He was given number 50 by the organization because that was the number of home runs they expected him to hit.
Horner returned to the majors in 1988 to play with the Cardinals, but after 60 games, he injured his left shoulder. After being invited to the Baltimore Orioles for spring training in 1989, Horner announced his retirement.
In his ten-year Major League career, Horner batted .277 with 218 home runs, 685 RBIs, 560 runs, 1047 hits,169 doubles, 8 triples, 14 stolen bases, a .340 on base percentage, and .499 of slugging average in 1020 games.
On July 4, 2006, Horner was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame as a member of its inaugural class.
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- Bob Horner