Flushing Frivolity – Tuffy Rhodes
Posted by JD on April 4, 2010
I figured I’d get one more of these “Flushing Frivolity” posts in before the season officially starts. On this date in 1994, Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes entered baseball history by hitting three home runs in his first three at bats of the season (Dwight Gooden gave up all three). Though they ultimately went for naught, (the Mets wound up winning 12-8) Tuffy would hit a few more in his career (though probably not where he expected).
Rhodes appeared in 94 more games for the Cubs that year and managed to hit five more home runs. He appeared in 23 games for the Cubs and Red Sox the following year, the last he would play in the majors. He ended his major league career with 13 homers in 675 plate appearances.
But that was not the end of the story for Rhodes. He signed with the Kintetsu Buffaloes of the Japanese Pacific League and promptly hit 27 home runs, second only to fellow gaijin Troy Neel (remember him?). He also scored 80 runs, second to some guy named Ichiro. As the kids say, it was SO on.
Rhodes became arguably the best foreign-born player in Japanese history, thought I can’t tell you exactly how awesome he was: his BR Bullpen and Wikipedia page seem to disagree on his career totals and I’ve been unsuccessful locating an English-language site with accurate statistics. This much is certain: he hit at least 453 career home runs, the most for a non-native player and good for 10th overall. He also played at least 13 seasons there (a record for gaijin) and played at least 1,668 games. It’s safe to say that while his major league career never lived up to the promise of April 4, 1994, he achieved a level of success that most baseball players would envy.
Tomorrow is another Opening Day. Let’s hope it’s that someone on the Mets enters the record books.