T.R.'s Memoirs: Some obscure names, interesting stories from past 33 Texas Rangers spring camps
Jack Daugherty, Doug Strange, Mike Lamb and Robbie Ross are among a large group of players who burst onto the scene in past springs.
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T.R. Sullivan covered the Texas Rangers over 32 years for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and MLB.com and is sharing his “memoirs” with this newsletter.
In this installment, Sullivan reviews the past 33 years and picks out one player for each season who was unknown, underappreciated or overlooked, in spring training or otherwise, but ended up having a big impact on the Rangers.
There are some cool back stories mixed in here.
1989, Jack Daugherty
Pay attention to this one. Daugherty hit .343 as a junior and senior at the University of Arizona, but did not get drafted. Oakland signed him — he was a first base/outfielder — but released him after one year.
He caught on with the Helena Gold Sox, an independent team in the Pioneer League, and led them to a 44-24 record. Daugherty hit .402/.502/.691 with 15 home runs and a league-leading 77 runs scored and 82 RBIs in just 66 games. He was a star.
So, Montreal picked him up, and the guy just kept hitting. From 1985-88, he hit .307 at four minor-league levels although not with a lot of power. He had 130 doubles but just 27 home runs in 1,884 at-bats. The Expos called him up in 1987 and he was 1-for-11 with a double.
The double was off Greg Maddux.
The Rangers acquired him Sept. 13, 1988, for a player to be named, and in 1989-90, Daugherty hit a respectable .301/.352/.428 as a part-time first baseman/outfielder. Then the Rangers made a controversial decision in the spring of 1991.
They decided to make Daugherty their starting left fielder and release popular outfielder Pete Incaviglia, who had power but a ton of strikeouts. The only problem on the day the Rangers made that decision, Daugherty strained ligaments in his left hand crashing into a fence a Grapefruit League game. Before the year was over, he sustained a bruised left hip and underwent an appendectomy. He hit .194 in just 58 games.
1990 Jeff Huson
Shortstop Jeff Kunkel was the Rangers’ No. 1 pick in 1983 and had tremendous physical talent. He run, throw and hit for power. After several false starts, he went into spring training in 1990 as the starting shortstop.
But as the spring progressed, the Rangers started getting nervous and acquired Huson from the Expos for reliever Drew Hall. Huson was a left-handed hitter. He wasn’t as talented as Kunkel, but he was smart and gritty and ended up as the starting shortstop.