Tuesday, November 14, 2006

November 14th, 1981

Duane Kuiper Traded

Now known best, I assume, as one of the Giants' television and radio annoucers, Duane Kuiper was previously best known for two things: a home run and a pair of triples. This is funny (in the funny-strange-kind-of-way) because over the course of his career, Kuiper was not exactly a threat to triple and definitely not a threat to hit a home run. It is the nature of those hits, however, which makes them so memorable..

First, the triples. On July 27th, 1978 the Yankees took on Kuiper's Indians in a doubleheader. The Yankees battered one-time superprospect David Clyde for six runs in an inning and two-thirds in the first game, winning an 11-0 laugher. In the second however, the Indians did some laughing of their own as they won 17-5. Six of those seventeen runs were driven in by Kuiper, and here is where the triples come into play. In his first at-bat, Kuiper came up with the bases loaded and drove a bases clearing triple. That's not unprecedented, although it is somewhat unusual. In the fifth inning, Kuiper came up again with the bases loaded and again hit a triple. That's also not unprecedented, but it's damn close. Only two players in history had even hit two bases loaded triples, Elmer Valo and Bill Bruton and now Kuiper was the third.

Now, the home run. For his career, Kuiper hit just one, single, solitary home run. On August 29th, 1977 the Indians were playing the White Sox in a nationally televised "Monday Night Baseball" game. Facing future Cy Young winner Steve Stone with the bases empty in the first inning, Kuiper drove a pitch into the right field stands for his first (and only) career home run. Kuiper's version of events is that after that home run, he began to make sure he didn't hit another one, claiming that "one is better than none, but any more than that and people begin expecting them."

But what does any of that have to do with his being traded? Well, it's partially an excuse to tell those two stories, but it is also relevant in story number three. Many people know there is a single seat in Fenway Park painted to indicate the (supposedly) longest home run ever hit there. That was not a title Kuiper was likely to ever take possession of, but upon being traded, the Indians gave their former player the seat from the right field stands where his single home run was said to have landed. I've no idea what Kuiper did with the seat--maybe he sits in it while broadcasting Giants' games--but as going away presents from team-to-player go, that's an unusual one.

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