Researching the Myth of Randy Elliott
The other night during Timmy’s game, a Giants left handed hitter BLASTED a ball about 450 feet down the right field line and it went just foul. They panned back to the hitter, I couldn’t tell who it was from his face so I knew he was some random rook, and he kind lowered his head and and shook it back and fourth a couple of times. You could see how bummed he was coming so close to making an impression with a monster bomb. But now, he was in danger of making another impression, this one bad, if he started sulking about the bomb that was not to be. He composed himself, got back in the box and ended up blasting a home run to right center field in that same at bat. As he was rounding the bases I thought, “Goddamn, that dude’s gotta feel like he’s floating around the bases.” And I was happy for him because it was a gamer-move to hit a bomb in the same at bat that could have gotten ruined by self pity. His name was Johnny Monell, a non-prospect left handed catcher in the org, and I read in the Merc yesterday that he’s 9-15 this spring (.600). Of course that brought up the inevitable “Randy Elliott” reference in the article. But this particular article by Carl Steward also linked to a “Where are the Now” story written about Randy Elliott about 10 years ago.
I couldn’t click on that link fast enough…
I talk about Randy Elliott like I know who he is but the only recollection I have of him is his name from the yearly stories I hear about him when someone gets hot in spring training. Some of you old timers will remember a lot more about him beyond his *Spring Fling*. But in ’77 I was just in my infancy of starting to care about baseball. 1976/1977 was when I started to collect baseball cards. My first three were given to me by a neighbor kid: Jim Barr, Bobby Murcer and Gary Thomasson. Didn’t have a Randy Elliott card. Didn’t want a Randy Elliott card. Didn’t know who the feck Randy Elliott was.
But over the years, I heard about him all the time. It was only last night, after I read the piece by Steve Kroner, that I found out more about him. Here is his baseball card:
Now, I don’t know about you guys, but the first thing I thought when i saw this card was that Randy Elliott looks an awful lot like this dude:
>>>>>>>>>>>>>And I don’t like this dude<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
Even with this bias I read the article and discovered many interesting things. On March 16th, Elliott’s batting average stood at .692. His average *plummeted* to .547 by the end of Spring Training and he told Kroner, “If I hit .400 in spring I knew I wouldn’t make the team.” That’s a fantastic line. He hit .215 for his mlb career and when asked how he was able to cobble together such a mythic spring he said, “My left shoulder stayed in the whole time. When my shoulder was healthy, I could play.”
(He was drafted by the Padres in ’69 and hurt the shoulder playing winter ball in ’72. It would be an injury he would struggle with his entire career)
But coming out of his epic spring, he earned a spot on the team in a left field platoon with Darrell Evans. Sadly, in the 2nd game of the season he was hit in the shoulder by Doug Rau and in his next at bat he felt his shoulder pop loose. He did nothing the rest of the year and was released after the season. His high point was a pinch hit grand slam off the Reds’ Fred Norman. Dang, how great would it be to see video of Elliott rounding those bases?
Here are his career stats:
I enjoyed reading about him and can at least now understand a little bit of the reference when someone brings him up next year. And the year after that. And the year after that. And the…..