Sunday, May 19, 2024

Cake or Gum? 1976 Ron LeFlore

Last time cake rolled to an 8-2 victory. Who will win this time?

The two photos next to each other show a nice beginning and ending for LeFlore's swing. Despite their similarities the photos were not taken at the same time, as can be seen by his sleeves. The Topps photo is definitely Shea Stadium, a Yankees home game. The Hostess card may be Shea, but I am leaning towards Oakland. The lurker at the batting cage looks like he has a uniform number ending in 4, which could mean it is Bob Molinaro, Leon Roberts or Mickey Stanley.

Ron LeFlore's first experience playing organized baseball came when he was in prison for armed robbery. An inmate with connections to Tigers manager Billy Martin (who but Billy would have prison connections for baseball talent?) convinced Martin to give LeFlore a tryout. LeFlore was released from prison in July of 1973, and a year later he was in the major leagues. He immediately became a star, as one of the fastest players in the league and an excellent hitter as well. From 1976 to 1979 he was one of the best hitters in the American League. He hit .300 in three of those four seasons, and in 1978, hitting .297, he led the AL with 126 runs and 68 stolen bases. However, his continuing association with drug dealers and mob figures led new Tigers manager Sparky Anderson to trade LeFlore to Montreal. In his one season with the Expos LeFlore led the NL with 97 stolen bases, though he hit just .257. After the season LeFlore signed a big free agent contract with the White Sox. In Chicago LeFlore's baseball skill rapidly declined, while he continued to make bad decision off the field. At the end of the 1982 season, he was arrested for drug and gun possession. He failed to make the White Sox roster in spring training of 1983 and retired. After his career he worked in a variety of jobs, even attending umpire school. He was also arrested twice for failure to pay child support. At last report he was retired and living in Florida.