Friday, December 24, 2010
#341) DAVE MAGADAN
Dave Magadan was selected by the New York Mets in the second round of the free agent draft on June 6, 1983. The Tampa Bay, Florida native is the cousin and godson of Lou Pinella. He made his major-league debut as a late season callup on September 7, 1986. Delivering a pinch-hit single during the Mets 6-5 victory over the San Diego Padres at Shea Stadium. New York clinched the National League Eastern Division championship on September 17th with a complete game victory from Dwight Gooden. Magadan received his first start at first base that day and produced three singles in the 4-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs. In the ten games to close the 1986 season he batted for a .444 average. Dave was ineligible for the post season due to his late addition to the team's roster. A fact that made him part of a group of shorter term players whom the club decided not to present a World Series Championship ring. "It wasn't until like 10 years later," Dave said. "Randy Myers just made so much noise about it that they finally released the jeweler to make rings for like four or five of us that didn't receive them then, and (Myers) paid for them."
The fine hitting prospect found himself playing behind first baseman, Keith Hernandez and third baseman, Howard Johnson. So although he made the major-league roster it was spelling those two stars as needed, and in the role of a pinch-hitter. Dave did become the everyday first baseman after injuries limited Hernandez to only 75 games in 1989. The Mets decided to add Mike Marshall to the team the next season in an effort to provide more power at the position. After a hot start that included a 10-game hitting streak, Magadan found himself with the majority of the playing time in 1990. The result was his finest season with the Mets as he led the club with a .328 batting average that included six home runs, six triples, and 72 RBIs. The disgruntled Marshall had been traded away in July.
Now established as the New York first baseman he saw his production fall in 1991. A naging shoulder injury that came from diving for a baseball early in the season certainly did not help. The Mets as a whole found themselves in decline. "There's nothing that you can point to that is positive for this team right now," Dave said in July. "We're struggling in all phases of the game: offense, defense, pitching. Everybody's had a hand in it." The Mets would finish fifth in the division and Magadan saw his batting average drop to .258.
Future Hall of Famer, Eddie Murray was added for 1992, and the team shifted Howard Johnson to centerfield. These adjustments moved Dave to third base. The Mets then offered him a salary that was below the amount Magadan had earned the previous year. "I don't appreciate the request for a cut." Dave said at the time. "I didn't have a great year, but it wasn't bad enough that I deserved a cut." The two sides arrived at a compromise that had him signing a one-year contract avoiding the arbitration process. Magadan showed that he could effectively field the third base position, and raised his batting average to .283. The struggling Mets decided not to offer a contract at the conclusion of the year. Dave signed as a free agent with the expansion Florida Marlins on December 8, 1992.
After his playing career he has enjoyed success as a major-league hitting instructor. He was first named as the San Diego Padres roving instructor in 2002. Then elevated to the team's hitting coach from 2003-2006. He moved to the Boston Red Sox organization as their hitting coach in 2007, and was part of the World Series Championship that year.
The former Alabama All-American was elected to the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.
Dave claims that his recognition as a player comes from his days as a New York Met. "I loved being a part of those winning teams here," he said. "Playing with guys like that? There's not much that's more fun for a player."
Dave Magadan signed his card in the set for my friend, Jessie through the MAB Celebrity Services Show in Secaucus, New Jersey on November 13, 2010. Adding a deserved "'86 World Series Champs" to his autograph.