So last night, I conducted a little experiment on Twitter.
I tweeted, “I need you to name the first baseball player that comes to your mind. Doesn’t have to be a current player.” And what happened next was kind of amazing.
The first player mentioned was Craig Biggio. My friend Terri who is a lifelong Houston Astros fan named him about 30 seconds after I sent out my tweet. I laughed, appreciating her swift response but he wasn’t quite what I was looking for.
The next four players were Yankees – Derek Jeter, Graig Nettles, Tino Martinez and Bernie Williams – which isn’t shocking because I’m a New York Yankee fan and I follow a lot of Yankee fans. They probably figured they’d be helping me by naming some guys who played in the Bronx but again, it was not what I was looking for.
Then the amazing thing happened. Someone mentioned Biff Pocoroba. I was pretty amused because Pocoroba definitely wasn’t a name I had expected see at all. And then, something even more amazing happened. Just six replies later, another person replied with Pocoroba!
Of all people to be mentioned twice during this sort of exercise, Biff Pocoroba?
That settled it, Biff had to be the subject of this post. So in case you never heard of Mr. Pocoroba, here are some facts:
- Biff Benedict Pocoroba was born on July 25, 1953 in Burbank California. Yes, Biff is his real name.
- Pocoroba, a catcher, was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1971 in the 17th round of the amateur draft and made his major league debut on April 25, 1975.
- He played for the Braves from 1975-1984. During those 10 seasons, he never played more than 113 games in a season, his season high in at bats was 321 and he averaged around 60 games a season. This was to due to an injury he suffered in 1979.
- 1977 was his best year. He hit .290 with eight home runs, 24 doubles, 44 RBI and had a .394 OBP in 113 games. He also had an OPS+ of 115 and a WAR of 1.8.
- He tied Tony Perez for 4th in Most Intentional Walks in 1977 – they each had 15 that season. Ted Simmons of St. Louis led the NL with 25.
- His career line was .257/.339/.351/.690 with 21 home runs and 172 RBI.
- According to Baseball Reference, Pocoroba was worth 3.0 in oWAR and -0.1 in dWAR and he was -56 in RAA and -6.1 WAA for his career.
- Pocoroba started as a catcher but thanks to his 1979 rotator cuff injury, he was briefly moved to third base. When that didn’t work out Pocoroba was primarily a pinch hitter/defensive replacement. Another casualty of the rotator cuff injury was Pocoroba’s ability to switch hit. After the injury he batted right handed only.
- Pocoroba made the All-Star team once, and it was not during his career year of 1977, he was picked by Tommy Lasorda in 1978 because the NL team needed someone to catch his Atlanta teammate Phil Niekro’s knuckleball.
- He had one postseason at bat, pinch hitting for Niekro in the seventh inning of Game Two of the 1982 NLCS. Unfortunately, he grounded out to second. The Braves were swept in that NLCS by the St. Louis Cardinals who went on to win the World Series that year.
- Pocoroba played in his final game on April 20, 1984, an 8-7 victory over the Houston Astros. He pinch hit for starting pitcher Ken Dayley in the bottom of the third – Dayley was knocked out of the game after giving up three runs on eight hits in three innings of work. Pocoroba walked and eventually scored on a Dale Murphy home run.
Fun fact: When I Googled Biff Pocoroba, the first three searches that came up were “Biff Pocoroba baseball”, “Biff Pocoroba stats” and “Biff Pocoroba Sausage.” Get your minds out of the gutter, he apparently went on to own a specialty food place called “Sausage World” in Atlanta after he retired.
I must confess, I didn’t recall Biff Pocoroba the player but knew of his name, so this was a fun exercise for me.
And if I had been the one asked to name the first player that came to my mind, I would have answered, “Hensley Meulens.”
What’s yours? You can leave your answers in the comments.
(The answers from last night were: Biggio, Jeter, Williams, Nettles, Martinez, Pocoroba, Mariano Rivera, Ryne Sandberg, Sergio Mitre, Hector Lopez, Danny Tartabull, Yogi Berra, Chase Headley, Billy Hamilton, Ryan Braun, Hal Newhouser, Bob Forsch, John Farrell, Joe DiMaggio, Rod Carew, Razor Shines, Don Mattingly, Allen Craig, Chris Carpenter, Lou Gehrig, Roberto Clemente, Steve Lombardozzi Sr., and Johnny Damon – As you can see, some were serious answers and some, including the Pocoroba answers, were not.)
Stats from Baseball Reference.