Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On this day... Mendoza's last stand

May 22, 1982. Kansas City. Facing Royals closer Dan Quisenberry in the top of the 12th inning, Texas Rangers pinch hitter Mario Mendoza lays down a bunt, reaching first base on a fielders choice. He later scores the winning run. It will be the last big league appearance before the Rangers release him June 7th. Mendoza finished his big league career had a lifetime average of .215. He managed to play nine seasons thanks to his superb defensive abilities. Bill James describes him as a "truly remarkable fielder."

Later enshrined in the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame, Mendoza has been immortalized in US baseball culture. It all started with former Mariner teammate, Tom Paciorek, who first referred to the now infamous Mendoza Line. This "line" sits at a batting average of .200. In his only season with 300 or more at-bats (with 1979 Seattle Mariners) Mendoza hit .198 as Seattle's everyday shortstop.

From a July 2007 issue of Sports Illustrated
As Mendoza remembers it, Paciorek coined the Mendoza Line in the late '70s. Paciorek has always shifted credit to first baseman Bruce Bochte but doesn't dispute spreading word of the Mendoza Line to Royals third baseman George Brett. "At the beginning of the 1980 season Brett was struggling and made a comment about being around the Mendoza Line," Mario says. "Once Brett made that remark, [ SportsCenter impresario] Chris Berman picked it up." And once he did, it hurtled with escape velocity into the culture at large.


Post a Comment