Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Player Profile: Rafael Belliard

I have 49 cards of Rafael Belliard. This one is from 1990 Donruss.

Playing career: Shortstop Rafael Belliard played seventeen years in the major leagues, and was a true good-field-no-hit infielder. He was a terrific fielder, most notably making a game-saving play in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1995 World Series. However, the 5-foot-6-inch Belliard was one of the worst hitters of his era, with a slash line of .221/.270/.259 in 2,301 at bats. He hit only two home runs, and those were hit ten years apart.

My memories: I remember him hitting that home run against the Mets in 1997. There was a pretty big deal made about it. It was noted at the time that both 1987 and the late-1990s were known for their juiced ball, with his home runs listed as prime evidence.

Where he is now: He was the first base coach for the Tigers in 2013, but was replaced by Omar Vizquel for 2014 by new manager Brad Ausmus. I don’t know if he is still in the Tigers organization.

Interesting facts: The Tigers give physicals to players and coaches at the end of each season. At his 2012-end physical, doctors found that Belliard had prostate cancer, even though Belliard felt fine and had no systems. The cancer was found early enough that he had successful surgery in January 2013.

His cousin is former major leaguer Ron Belliard.

Google Autocomplete results: He is third when you type Rafael B, between Rafael Benitez, a Spanish soccer manager, and Rafael Bienvenido Cruz, father of US senator Ted Cruz. Another prominent Rafael Belliard is a doctor in Florida.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Ron Belliard.

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