Saturday, February 20, 2010
#154) JIM BEAUCHAMP
Jim Beauchamp was traded by the St. Louis Cardinals along with Harry Parker, Chuck Taylor, and Tom Coulter to the New York Mets in exchange for Art Shamsky, Jim Bibby, Rich Folkers, and Charlie Hudson on October 18, 1971. The veteran joined the club at the end of his career. His role in New York was primarily as a pinch-hitter. Jim hit two home runs for the Mets on August 21, 1972 at Shea Stadium. It was on the slugger's 33rd birthday and powered the team to a 4-2 victory over the Houston Astros that day. Originally assigned uniform number "24" he switched to number "5" to allow future Hall of Famer, Willie Mays to keep his legendary number when he joined the team. His generosity to the Say Hey Kid only continued during their time together in New York. Jim's son, Kash revealed, "Willie hit his last major league home run with my Dad's bat." During the 1973 National League Championship season Beauchamp batted .279 and made 43 pinch hitting appearances for the Mets. It would prove to be his last year in the major leagues as New York released him on March 27, 1974.
After his ten year playing career concluded, Jim became a coach in the minor leagues. Beauchamp was the bench coach for the Atlanta Braves between 1991 and 1998, during the team's transformation from a last-place team to a perennial contender. He was part of the club's World Series Championship in 1995 and later became the supervisor of minor league field operations for the Braves.
The "Jim Beauchamp Celebrity Golf Classic" was founded in 1993 and continues to financially benefit Southwest Christian Care, a hospice in Union City, Georgia. Jim became involved after touring the facility and being especially taken with the children being served by the Hope House Children's Respite Center, a service area of Southwest Christian Care. His long dedication to their efforts was recognized when he was presented with the 2007 Servant Leadership Award. "Jim is always thinking of others and how he can help out." Braves manager and longtime friend, Bobby Cox said at the time, "He is one of our most loved employees, and that spirit and drive we see in him is what makes him so special."
In 2002, "Jim Beauchamp Field" in his hometown of Grove, Oklahoma was dedicated in his name. The baseball field is located just across the street from Beauchamp's boyhood home.
After a long battle with luekemia, Jim Beauchamp passed away on December 25, 2007. He spent his last days in the very hospice to which he had raised over a million dollars for during his lifetime. His son, Kash Beauchamp said, "As tough as he was as a competitor and a baseball man, he had a very soft side when it came to being a father." The Atlanta Braves honored his memory by wearing a patch reading "Beach" during the 2008 season.
I purchased this signed index card from the legendary autograph guy, Jack Smalling and converted it into Jim Beauchamp's card in the set in January 2009.