Saturday, July 23, 2011

Player Profile: Matt Alexander

I have three cards of Matt Alexander. This one is from 1978 Topps.

Playing career: Matt Alexander was perhaps the best of the “designated runners” of the 1970s, used primarily as a pinch runner. He played nine seasons in the major leagues, had just 36 hits, but stole 103 bases. Yesterday I mentioned negative OPS+; in 1976 Alexander’s OPS+ was -80, going 1-30 at the plate with no walks. Yet, he stole 20 bases. Three years later, as a part of the World Champion 1979 Pirates, he put together a 228 OPS+, getting seven hits in thirteen at-bats. He was also 13 for 14 on the basepaths. However, in his only World Series appearance he was thrown out trying to steal.

Where he is now: Alexander worked at Libbey Glass in Shreveport, LA for fifteen years. He retired in 2008 and now drives a van for the handicapped. He also coaches American Legion ball.

My memories: His playing career was before my time.

Interesting stories: While in the minors he was drafted and spent two years with the Special Forces. With money from the GI Bill he went to barber school. On the 1979 Pirates he regularly cut the hair and trimmed the beards of teammates like Dave Parker, Bill Madlock and Mike Easler. You can read a detailed interview of Alexander on the SABR website.

Google Autocomplete results: He is the first result when you type Matt Ale, before Matt Alexander Wappingers Falls, referring to the mayor of that New York village. Another prominent Matt Alexander is a former senior US interrogator in Iraq who helped find the former leader of Al Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Max Aleys.

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