Top 100 Indians: #70 Mike Hargrove

David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

From 1979 until 1999, Mike Hargrove was part of the Indians organization in some capacity, whether as a player, minor-league coach, minor-league manager, major-league coach, and finally major-league manager. It was a fantastic 20-year run, with some very nice seasons as a player and ranks one of the best managers in franchise history.

Dudley Michael Hargrove (The Human Rain Delay)

First baseman, 1979-1985

Manager, 1991-1999

Height: 6'0" Weight: 195 lbs

Throws: Left Bats: Left

How Acquired: Trade, June 14, 1979: Traded by the Padres for Paul Dade

Left Via: Granted Free Agency November 12, 1985

Born Dudley Michael Hargrove, the future Indians first baseman and manager grew up in Perryton, Texas, a small town at the extreme northern edge of the Texas Panhandle; Furman Bisher, writing in 1975, compared the town to the town depicted in "The Last Picture Show". He attended college at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, Oklahoma on a basketball scholarship, and tried out for baseball on his father's suggestion. NWOSU wasn't exactly a baseball powerhouse (Hargrove was the first only alumnus to make the majors), so even though Hargrove had a great career, he lasted until the 25th round in the 1972 Draft, when the "hometown" Rangers picked him.

Hargrove's bonus was a car that just got him to Geneva, New York; in 70 games in 1972 , he hit .267/.396/.350, with 52 walks to 44 strikeouts. As a 23-year-old, he jumped to the Texas League (which was Class A then), hitting .351/xxx/.542 for the Gastonia Rangers. Invited to major-league Spring Training the following season, he didn't figure on sticking around too long, and expected to go to Pittsfield (AA) or possibly Spokane (AAA). But he ended up making the club, and he hit the ground running; he would end his season hitting .323/.395/.424 (140 OPS+) for Billy Martin's Rangers, winning the 1974 AL Rookie of the Year award by a comfortable margin over Bucky Dent (CHW) and George Brett (KC).

In his second season, he made his first (and only) All-Star team, hitting .303/.395/.416 (131 OPS+) for the Rangers. In his five seasons with the Rangers, he averaged a batting line of .293/.399/.409, consistently near the top of the league standing in On-Base Percentage. During his Rangers tenure, Hargrove was on the field during the infamous 10 cent Beer Night:

Mike Hargrove came on to play first base for the Rangers. The baseline fans greeted him with a half-full jug of Thunderbird wine that missed his head by inches.

That was just the beginning of the fun:

[Joe] Tait: Well, that shows you the complete lack of brainpower on the parts of some people. There's no way I'm going to run out onto the field if I see some baseball player waving a bat out there looking for somebody. This is tragic … The whole thing has degenerated now into just -- now we've got another fight going with fans and ballplayers. Hargrove has got some kid on the ground and he is really administering a beating.

[Herb] Score: Well, that fellow came up and hit him from behind is what happened.

Tait: Boy, Hargrove really wants a piece of him -- and I don't blame him.

The game was forfeited soon afterwards.

Hargrove had an off season by his standards in 1978, hitting .251/.388/.346 (109 OPS+), but led the league in walks and finished third in on-base percentage. But as a first baseman, the lack of power hurt him, and the Rangers, who wanted to go with Pat Putnam, dealt Hargrove to San Diego in a deal that brought them, among others, LGFT Oscar Gamble.

Hargrove really struggled with San Diego in 1979; he was hitting .192/.325/.232 when he was dealt to Cleveland for Paul Dade. Hargrove at the time blamed his struggles in San Diego for coaching he received the previous season in Texas:

"They wanted me to pull the ball," said Hargrove, "and I was stepping off the plate to pull it. It was a constant struggle because one time they'd want me to pull it and the next time it was off."

Sporting News, 6-23-1979

But when he got to Cleveland, he started to turn things around at the plate. The Indians were looking for some left-handed help at DH, and Hargrove was glad to get out of San Diego. It turned out that Hargrove would actually split time between left field and first base, and more importantly, hit; in 100 games that season with the Indians, he hit .325/.433/.500. In 1980 Hargrove was a full-time first baseman, as Andre Thornton missed the entire season with a severe knee injury. When Thornton returned in 1981, he became the DH, and Hargrove would stay at first for the remainder of his career.

As you can probably tell by now, Hargrove's forte was working walks and hitting the ball to the opposite field. He wasn't much of a fielder, and even less of a runner, but his patience at the plate made him a very valuable player. His well-earned nickname was The Human Rain Delay because of his fidgeting while getting set in the batter's box; he would step out often, to the chagrin of umpires, opposing pitchers, and broadcasters:


By 1985 Hargrove was losing time at first base to Pat Tabler, and he retired at the end of the season to coach at the minor-league level. By 1990 Mike was a coach in Cleveland, and when John McNamara was fired, the 41-year-old was named the Indians manager. That 1991 club would end up losing 105 games, the most in team history, but the organization was finally moving in the right direction. By the time Jacobs Field opened in 1994, the team was ready to content, and Hargrove was one of the big reasons why. From 1995-1999, his last season, the Indians won five straight division titles, and two American League pennants. But after losing the 1999 ALDS to Boston (after going ahead 2 games to none), GM John Hart fired Hargrove, who finished his managerial tenure with the Indians needing just 8 more wins to become the winningest manager in franchise history.

After stints with Baltimore (2000-2003) and Seattle (2005-2007), Hargrove returned to the Indians organization in an advisory role. He still lives in the Cleveland area.

Indians Stats

Player

Year Age Tm G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
1979 29 CLE 100 413 60 110 21 4 10 56 63 40 .325 .433 .500 .933 152
1980 30 CLE 160 720 86 179 22 2 11 85 111 36 .304 .415 .404 .819 126
1981 31 CLE 94 398 43 102 21 0 2 49 60 16 .317 .424 .401 .824 141
1982 32 CLE 160 705 67 160 26 1 4 65 101 58 .271 .377 .338 .715 99
1983 33 CLE 134 566 57 134 21 4 3 57 78 40 .286 .388 .367 .755 107
1984 34 CLE 133 410 44 94 14 2 2 44 53 38 .267 .361 .335 .696 93
1985 35 CLE 107 326 31 81 14 1 1 27 39 29 .285 .370 .352 .722 101
CLE (7 yrs) 888 3538 388 860 139 14 33 383 505 257 .292 .396 .382 .778 116
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/6/2013.

Manager

Rk Year Age Tm Lg G W L W-L% Finish
1 1991 41 Cleveland Indians AL 2nd of 2 85 32 53 .376 7
2 1992 42 Cleveland Indians AL 162 76 86 .469 5
3 1993 43 Cleveland Indians AL 162 76 86 .469 6
4 1994 44 Cleveland Indians AL 113 66 47 .584 2
5 1995 45 Cleveland Indians AL 144 100 44 .694 1 AL Pennant
6 1996 46 Cleveland Indians AL 161 99 62 .615 1
7 1997 47 Cleveland Indians AL 161 86 75 .534 1 AL Pennant
8 1998 48 Cleveland Indians AL 162 89 73 .549 1
9 1999 49 Cleveland Indians AL 162 97 65 .599 1
Cleveland Indians 9 years 1312 721 591 .550 2.8 2 Pennants
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/6/2013.

Selected Awards/Leaders

AL MVP: 1979-26th; 1981-21st

AL Average: 6th, 1981-.317

AL On Base Percentage: 1st, 1981-.424; 4th, 1980-.415; 7th, 1983-.388

AL Hits: 9th, 1980-179

AL Bases on Balls: 3rd, 1980-111; 4th, 1982-101; 7th, 1981-60; 4th, 1983-78

AL Singles: 5th, 1980-144; 7th, 1982-129

AL Hit By Pitch: 4th, 1980-4; 7th, 1981-5

AL Sacrifice Flies: 2nd, 1980-10; 5th, 1981-7

AL Intentional Bases on Balls: 9th, 1980-10

AL Double Plays Grounded Into: 5th, 1982-22; 7th, 1980-22; 7th, 1981-14

AL Assists 1B: 1st, 1982-123; 2nd, 1981-76; 3rd, 1980-88; 3rd, 1983-115

AL Range Factor/Game 1B: 5th, 1983-9.26

Cleveland Indians Career Leader

  • 49th WAR Position Players (12.6)
  • 46th oWAR (13.4)
  • t-35th Average (.292)
  • 9th On Base Percentage (.396)
  • 43rd Games Played (888)
  • 47th At Bats (2945)
  • 43rd Plate Appearances (3538)
  • 45th Hits (860)
  • 45th Runs Batted In (383)
  • 17th Bases On Balls (505)
  • 34th Singles (674)
  • t-38th OPS+ (116)
  • t-38th Runs Created (469)
  • t-45th Hit By Pitch (26)
  • t-10th Sacrifice Flies (38)
  • t-15th Intentional Bases On Balls (30)
  • 14th Double Plays Grounded Into (99)
  • 12th Win Probability Added (12.5)

Cleveland Indians Season Leader

  • 23rd On Base Percentage (.433, 1979)
  • t-30th On Base Percentage (.424, 1981)
  • t-43rd On Base Percentage (.415, 1980)
  • 10th Plate Appearances (720, 1980)
  • t-25th Plate Appearances (705, 1982)
  • t-6th Bases On Balls (111, 1980)
  • t-13th Bases On Balls (101, 1982)
  • t-26th Singles (144, 1980)
  • t-10th Sacrifice Flies (10, 1980)
  • t-27th Intentional Bases On Balls (10, 1980)
  • t-17th Double Plays Grounded Into (22, 1980, 1982)
  • t-14th Win Probability Added (4.8, 1979)

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