|A POWER/SPEED DYNAMO.|
|ON HIS WAY TO ONE HECK OF A CAREER.|
THE FRONT PAGE
- Vada Pinson figured his calling in life would be as a musician. He was a talented trumpet player at McClymonds High School in Oakland and began playing baseball only at the urging of its coach, George Powles. This is the same coach that molded Frank Robinson and Curt Flood, so he knew talent when he saw it. And Pinson could hit the right notes on the diamond. He finished his 18-year career with 2,757 hits, 256 homers and 305 steals and twice led baseball in hits. He also hit 20-plus homers and stole 20-plus bases five times.
THE BACK PAGE
- Certainly had a highlight-filled second year in 1959, didn't he?
- During Pinson's rookie year in '58, Reds coach Jimmy Dykes thought he looked Hispanic and didn't speak English, which explained his quiet nature. So Dykes communicated with gestures until one day Pinson said: "Mr. Dykes, if there's something you want me to do with my stance, please tell me.''
- Pinson was a high school teammate of Flood and would be reunited with him after being traded to the Cardinals after the '68 season.
- The '59 season was Pinson's coming out party. He made the NL All-Star team for the first time, leading the majors in runs (131) and doubles (47), hitting 20 homers, driving in 84, stealing 21 bases and slashing .316/.371/.509.
- Went 20/32 in '60 and again led baseball in doubles (37), earning another All-Star berth.
- Finished third in the NL MVP voting in '61 for the NL champs, leading the majors in hits with 208 and hitting 16 homers with 87 RBI. He also hit .343, a career-high.
- Struggled in the five-game World Series loss to the Yankees, going 2-for-22.
- Although mild-mannered on the field, Pinson grew to dislike sportswriter Earl Lawson for what he considered negative reporting on his performance and slugged him in September '63. Lawson sued Pinson, and the case was settled out of court. Pinson said afterward it was the one thing from his career that he most regretted.
- Had his best season in '63, leading the majors in hits (204), triples (14) while hitting 22 homers, driving in a career-high 106, stealing 27 bases and compiling an .861 OPS.
- Led baseball in triples with 13 in '67, the last time he would lead the league in any category.
- Leg injuries began slowing him down in the mid-'60s, so the Reds traded him to the Cards for Wayne Granger and Bobby Tolan after the '68 season.
- Lasted only a season in St. Louis before being shipped to the Indians for Jose Cardenal.
- Played for the Angels and Royals before retiring after the '75 season.
- Faced Vida Blue seven times, with Vida holding Vada to two hits and striking him out twice. Vada did drive in a run off Vida, though, in '72.
- Died from a stroke in '95 at age 57.