- 1B, LF, OF, CF, RF, 3B, DH
- September 7, 1946
- 6' 2"
- 200 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-11-1967 with KC1
- Allstar Selections:
- 1974 GG, 1975 GG, 1976 GG
Rudi was an underrated superstar for the mighty A's of the early 1970s, overshadowed on his own team with better stats and more dynamic personalities. Oakland won three consecutive World Series (1972-74) with a lineup that featured Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, and pitchers Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue, and Rollie Fingers. But nobody was more important to the A's overall success than Rudi.
He was an excellent defensive player winning three gold gloves. A smart hitter, and a good baserunner. His arm was strong and accurate, and he was outstanding in the clutch.
In Game Two of the 1972 WS against Cincinnati, Rudi homered, then saved the 2-1 win with a spectacular ninth-inning catch. And in Game Seven against the Dodgers in 1974, his seventh-inning homer broke a 2-2 tie, and Oakland held on to win 3-2.
Rudi broke into the ML with the Kansas City Athletics in 1967, but never hit better than .189 while playing infrequently in his first three seasons. He came into his own in 1970, hitting .309 in 350 at-bats, and for the next six seasons he would be a mainstay in the Oakland lineup, often playing first base or DH. He led the AL in hits and triples in 1972, and in doubles in 1974.
When owner Charlie Finley began to break up the A's in the mid-1970s, he tried to sell Rudi and Fingers to the Red Sox, but Commissioner Bowie Kuhn voided the deal. Rudi then signed with the Angels as a free agent after the 1976 season, but was hampered by injuries for most of his four seasons with California.
In the 1980 off-season, after bungling their contracts, the Red Sox were in real danger of losing both Fred Lynn and Carlton Fisk, two of their best players. Quickly, the Sox sent Lynn and pitcher Steve Renko to the California Angels for Rudi, Frank Tanana and a prospect named Jim Dorsey. In retrospect this was a grand gesture by the Angels, who may have been able to sign Lynn if they had waited for the result of a case pending over the matter. Rudi had failed to hit better than .264 in any of his injury-riddled seasons in Anaheim, so the Halos weren't giving up much. Lynn spent four years in California, three of them productive. He nearly won the 1982 ALCS by himself, hitting .611 with 11 hits in the five game loss to the Brewers. Rudi hit .180 for the Red Sox in 1981 and finished his abysmal 30-somethings by hitting .212 with the A's in '82.
- Joe Rudi