Several players from the Alexandria-Pineville area have played major league baseball. Juan Pierre is the best known of the those players, having been on the Florida Marlins, when they won the 2003 World Series.
Pierre attended Alexandria Senior High School then went to college at South Alabama, before signing with the Colorado Rockies. He posted 202 hits in his first full major league season. He was a prototypical leadoff hitter, who hit for average, stole bases and didn’t strike out much, having struck out only 29 times in 2001, in 683 plate appearances.
He posted 200 hits or more four times during his career and missed by four hits, of accomplishing the feat a fifth time. He won three stolen base titles. He hit over .300 five times, but only once in his last seven seasons. Pierre has no power with only 16 home runs in 12 seasons. He had 68 stolen bases and was caught stealing 18 times, to lead the AL in stolen bases in 2010 for the White Sox, but mysteriously had only 27 stolen bases while being caught 17 times in 2011. He had 41 less stolen bases, but was caught stealing only one less time than when he had stolen 68.
Pierre was a free agent until late in the offseason and was signed to a minor league contract by the Phillies. He will be 35 in August and if the Phillies don’t bring him north for opening day, his major league career could be over. I thought at one time he would be a lock for 3,000 hits but he only has 2,020 now, so he will probably never be a Hall of Famer, but he still is by far the best player to come out of the Cenla area.
Russell Springer – The record of Springer is not that impressive looking at his 36-45, 4.52 ERA totals, but he still pitched in the major leagues for 18 seasons, which is impressive by itself. He pitched for 10 major league teams. He was a product of Grant High and LSU and was born in Alexandria. His three-year stint with the Cardinals yielded a 11-3 record and 3.03 ERA. He never won more than 10 games for any other team. Springer may not have had the best record, but not many players can say like he can that he played for 10 teams and pitched in 740 major league games. An interesting note on Springer is that he has played in the majors longer than any LSU baseball player in their history.
Kevin McGehee -Arm injuries prevented McGehee from pitching but one season in the majors in 1993. He was drafted by the Giants in the 8th round, but only pitched in the majors for the Orioles in 1993. His first two appearances did not go well, when he allowed 11 runs, 14 hits in 8 innings against the Rangers. However in his last three appearances he allowed only 4 hits in his next 8.2 innings and held opposing hitters to a .148 batting average in September.
McGehee may have only pitched in five games, but not many of us can say we have pitched to even one batter. No one can ever take away from him the thrill of being in the major leagues, if only for a short time due to arm injuries.
He was my grandson’s youth baseball coach and he knew how to get the best out of his teams. He taught my grandson Matthew a lot about how to play baseball the right way. He would guide Matthew and the other All Stars to the state Dixie Youth Baseball championship game, which they lost, but what really matters is he put them in position to be in that game.
Thank you Coach Kevin for helping Matthew become a better baseball player, as he continues in his quest to be a major league baseball player someday.
Terry Mathews – The Texas Rangers drafted Mathews in the 5th round of the 1987 draft. He attended Menard High in Alexandria and attended University of Louisiana – Monroe. He was a very good hitter in addition to being a very good pitcher in college. He probably could have been successful as a hitter but the Rangers decided to use him as a pitcher.
He compiled a 22-21 record in eight major league seasons with a 4.25 ERA. He pitched for four major league teams. He made an immediate impact for the Rangers when he reached the majors in 1991, when he posted a 4-0 record with a 3.61 ERA. I still am wondering if the Rangers made the right decision for him to become a pitcher, since he batted .375 while in the majors but only batted 24 times in his eight seasons. Surprisingly, he only hit .190 in 42 minor league at bats.
Matthews would play 12 seasons in the minors, having spent only the complete 1996 and 1997 seasons in the majors, with him shuttling back and forth between majors and minors his other six major league seasons. He posted a 53-50 record in the minors with a 3.89 ERA.
There are other players from Cenla who have played major league baseball. Those players will be featured in future posts.