Friday, September 23, 2011
#319) BILLY BEANE
Billy Beane was selected by the New York Mets organization in the first round of the free agent draft on June 3, 1980. He was the 23rd overall pick of a draft that saw the Mets with no less than three selections in the first round. New York later claimed John Gibbons and previously with the first overall selection—Darryl Strawberry.
Beane was a highly regarded athlete who passed up a football scholarship to sign with the Mets. He had been recruited by Stanford University as an eventual replacement for sophomore, John Elway at quarterback. "I wasn't getting the vibes I would like," said Mets executive Roger Jongewaard. "And so I took Billy to see the big club." That summer when New York came to the Beane's hometown of San Diego to play the Padres, Jongewaard brought Billy into the visitors clubhouse to meet the Mets. The team had a jersey with his name on it, and Beane met Lee Mazzilli, Mookie Wilson, Wally Backman, and manager, Joe Torre. "It was such a sacred place," Billy would tell author Michael Lewis. "and it was closed off to so many people. And I was inside. It became real." Billy signed for a bonus of $125,000 against the desires of his mother, who favored his attending college. When Beane attempted to join classes at Stanford in the off-season he was told that the university withdrew his admission since the 18-year-old was not in their sports program.
Beane began his professional baseball career at Class-A Little Falls in 1980. He struggled at the plate hitting for a mere .210 batting average in 43 games. Billy had completed his third straight season with the Double-A Jackson Mets in September of 1984. It was the first solid year in the system delivered by the fiery tempered prospect with 20 home runs, 72 RBIs, and a .281 batting average. The performance earned Beane a promotion to New York.
Billy made his major-league debut in a New York Mets uniform on September 13, 1984. He was hitless in two at-bats during the Mets 14-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at Shea Stadium. The rookie came on as a pinch-hitter and remained in the game as the left fielder. Beane would have to wait until September 26th for his first big league hit. It came facing Philadelphia Phillies starter, and former Mets great, Jerry Koosman. In total, Billy would make five appearances to close the season, but fail to impress the club.
The right-handed hitter was assigned to Triple-A Tidewater in 1985. He responded with another good season, and was again summoned to New York when rosters expanded in September. In eight games, being used primarily as a pinch-hitter, Billy posted a .250 batting average in eight at-bats. That winter the Mets traded Beane along with Bill Latham, and Joe Klink to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Tim Teufel and Pat Crosby on January 16, 1986.
Beane never found success in the major-leagues as a player, but changed his fortunes in 1990. That year found Billy struggling to make the Oakland A's roster. During spring training he inquired with Oakland general manager, Sandy Alderson about changing direction and becoming an advance scout. Alderson agreed and later elevated Beane to Assistant GM in 1994. Beane found great success working with sabermetric principles. His story was first chronicled in the 2003 best-selling book by Michael Lewis, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, and then developed into the film starring Brad Pitt in 2011.
Billy Beane signed his card in the set for me during the Baseball Winter Meetings in Indianapolis, Indiana on December 8, 2009.