Mankowski played for six years in the majors, appearing in games for the Detroit Tigers and New York Mets between 1975 and 1982. He came up with the Tigers and spent the majority of his career in Detroit. He was the team’s primary third baseman in 1977 and 1978. His statistics from those two seasons are very similar, with a batting average of .276 and then .275 and seven total home runs. The Tigers traded him to the Mets at the end of the 1979 season. He briefly played for the Mets in 1980, but spent most of his time at AAA. He spent all of 1981 in the minors, then resurfaced for 13 games with the Mets in 1982 to end his big-league run. In 269 games, Mankowski hit .264 with eight home runs.
The heroics Mankowski mentioned actually occurred on April 7, 1978 at Tiger Stadium against the Toronto Blue Jays. He slammed a three-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning off Blue Jays starter Dave Lemanczyk to break a 2-2 tie and send Detroit on to a 6-2 win.
Mankowski portrayed Roy Hobbs’ teammate, and Gotham Knight third baseman, Hank Benz in the 1984 Robert Redford movie The Natural.
Putting 13 letters in the mail today, going to: Luis De Los Santos, Kelvin Torve, Dale Sveum, Steve Searcy, Eric Nolte, Donell Nixon, Terry McGriff, Mike Loynd, Ken Gerhart, Ron Gant, John Fishel, Jim Eppard and Mickey Brantley.
Henry pitched for 11 years in the majors, coming up with the Texas Rangers in 1984 and finishing with the Detroit Tigers in 1995. In 256 games he went 14-15 with 14 saves and a 4.65 ERA. He also played for the Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners. Henry had his best seasons while pitching for the Astros and Reds in 1991 and 1992. He won six total games during those two seasons and his ERA was in the low 3’s.
Henry’s time in the majors was broken up by a year playing in Japan in 1994. When his time in MLB ended, Henry continued playing in the Atlantic League and later in Mexico. By the time he retired, Henry had played professional baseball for over 20 years, from 1980-2001.
Speed played in 113 games for the San Francisco Giants and Cleveland Indians between 1975 and 1979. He hit .207 with four stolen bases. He appeared in 70 games for Cleveland in 1978 and hit .226. This would account for the bulk of his time in the majors. He played in the minors from 1969-1980 and was very productive for many of those years. In 1973, he hit .305 with 25 home runs and 15 stolen bases for the Giants’ Double-A club in Amarillo.
Ryal played in 127 games in the major leagues and hit .211 with seven home runs. He came up with the Kansas City Royals in 1982, then went on to play for the Chicago White Sox, California Angels, Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates. He got 104 at bats for California in 1987 and hit five home runs. His career ended in 1990 after nine games with the Pirates.
Ryal holds the distinction of being the last left-handed throwing player to play shortstop in the majors. He is currently the head softball coach at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.
Jaime Cocanower pitched in 79 games for the Milwaukee Brewers from 1983-1986. In 365.2 innings he posted a 16-25 record with a 3.99 ERA. He made 27 starts for Milwaukee in 1984 and went 8-16 with a 4.02 ERA.
John Stefero played in 79 games for the Baltimore Orioles and Montreal Expos between 1983 and 1987. In 187 at bats he hit .235 with three home runs.
Paul Runge spent parts of seven seasons with the Atlanta Braves, playing from 1981-1988. His stays in the big leagues, however, were typically short and he played in just 183 games in eight years. Runge hit .232 with four home runs in his career. His best season was 1984 when he hit .267 with three home runs.
Duke Sims asked for $15 and did not fill out our questionnaire.
Baker hit .185 while playing in 93 games for the San Diego Padres and Minnesota Twins between 1978 and 1981. Baker did not hit a home run or steal a base, although he did hit three triples for Minnesota in 1981. Baker played professionally from 1976-1981.
Baker played his first game on April 7, 1978, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco against the Giants. He entered the game in the bottom of the sixth inning, taking over for Ozzie Smith at shortstop. (Smith had been removed for pinch hitter Jerry Turner in the top of the inning.) Baker, however, did not get an at bat as Don Reynolds pinch hit for him in the eighth inning. Baker did get an at bat the next day when he pinch hit for Padres starter Bob Shirley in the top of the third inning. He grounded out to Jim Barr.
Hudler played for 13 years in the majors, breaking in with the New York Yankees in 1984 and finishing with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1998. In between he played for the Baltimore Orioles, Montreal Expos, St. Louis Cardinals and California Angels. In 774 games, Hudler hit .261 with 56 home runs and 107 stolen bases. His best season came in 1996 while playing for the Angels. He hit .311 that year with 16 home runs and 14 steals while setting career highs in runs (60) and RBIs (40).
Cal Ripken, Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played in Baltimore on Sept. 6, 1995. Hudler started the game at second base for the Angels, but was replaced by Spike Owen in the seventh inning. The Orioles won the game 4-2.
Hudler went on to become a broadcaster after his playing career. He worked for the Angels and is currently a color man for the Kansas City Royals.
Dave Owen played in 92 games for the Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals between 1983 and 1988. In 139 at bats, he hit .194 with one home run. He is the older brother of former major league shortstop Spike Owen.
Dave Meier appeared in 145 games for the Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs between 1984 and 1988. In 277 at bats, he hit .253 with one home run.
Tom Gorman pitched for seven years in the majors, breaking in with the Montreal Expos in 1981 and finishing with the San Diego Padres in 1987. In 126 games he went 12-10 with a 4.34 ERA. He had his best year while pitching for the New York Mets in 1984. He won six games that season and had a 2.97 ERA while appearing in a career-high 36 games. Gorman also pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies.