Ron LeFlore makes a surprising appearance

As I do these leaderboards, I’m learning two things. Hideo Nomo and Shawn Green had some monster games as Dodgers.

No Dodger has ever had a double digit total base game against the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium, but if we include the Montreal Expo franchise we can find three Dodgers who did the trick.

Shawn Green rocked three home runs against Montreal back in 2001, driving in seven runs.  Raul Mondesi hit two home runs and two singles for ten total bases way back in 1995.  Old friend Joe Ferguson hit two home runs, and a double to net his ten total bases.

Player                  Date Opp   Rslt PA R H 2B HR TB RBI BB
Shawn Green       2001-08-15 MON W 13-1  5 3 3  0  3 12   7  0
Raul Mondesi      1995-09-02 MON  L 8-9  5 3 4  0  2 10   4  0
Joe Ferguson   1980-08-31(2) MON  W 7-2  4 2 3  1  2 10   3  0

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/6/2017.

How about against us?

This was unexpected. I expected to possibly see the names of HOF Andre Dawson, HOF Tim Raines, HOTFG Larry Walker, slugger Adam Dunn, future HOF Bryce Harper, or maybe HOF Gary Carter, but I did not expect to see Ron LeFlore who was famous for being an ex-convict and his speed, not his power.

LeFlore only hit 59 major league home runs, but he stole an amazing 459 bases.  Included in that 459 stolen bases was his major league leading 97 in 1980. Doing more digging into LeFlore I had every right to be surprised. This was the only game in a long career that he had at least ten total bases in one game. Only one other time would he even hit two home runs in a game.

If you have never heard the story of Ron LeFlore you should give this a read. LeFlore was one of the unique players that dot major league history. A story of perseverance against massive odds.

If there was any consolation to his prison sentence, it was that it afforded him the opportunity to play some organized baseball, albeit within the structure of a state prison. LeFlore’s ballplaying skills became so evident that one of his fellow inmates, a man who knew Tigers manager Billy Martin, convinced the Detroit skipper to come to the prison and take a look at the young outfielder. Martin came away duly impressed and worked out an arrangement for LeFlore to be paroled for one day, so that could participate in a tryout camp in front of Tigers coaches and executives.

When I wonder why I do these leaderboards I find a Ron LeFlore and remember why. It isn’t to read about Clayton Kershaw dominating once again, it is finding these pearls among the big clams. At the time the Ron LeFlore story was a big deal. Over the years his unique story has probably faded to the point that only fans from that era remember him unless you are from Detroit.  I was glad to see he’s still alive though I always have a hard time picturing the men who used their legs as their weapons going through senior life without them.

Ron LeFlore

Player              Date  Tm Opp  Rslt PA R H 2B HR TB RBI
Ron LeFlore   1980-06-18 MON LAD L 7-8  5 3 3  1  2 10   3

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/6/2017.

The best a Washington National could do was Ian Desmond putting up nine total bases back in 2015.

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4 Comments

  1. 68elcamino427

    Ron LeFlore

    I had a customer who loved to play the APBA baseball game.
    When using LeFlore’s card, he referred to LeFlore as “Chain Gang LeFlore”.

    Pretty amazing story.
    More common in boxing.

    Like

  2. Considering the strange skills you need to succeed at major league baseball it is a unique story. So many speed guys never have enough of a hit tool and when you consider how old he was and how little he had played the game compared to his peers, it is remarkable. Imagine the different level of baseball he faced by going from prison baseball to minor league ball and quickly to the major leagues. Facing 90 MPH heat for the first time ever. knee-buckling curves, nasty changeups, and wicked sliders. and never blinking.

    Like

    • 68elcamino427

      Right on!

      I did not truly appreciate the level of skills and the amount of practice it requires to master them until they become habit until I took my boys to work with Mike Edwards and Dick Davis.

      I have read in the past that there is a correlation between age and truly assimililating learned skills involving the use of the hands. The study was focused on musicians, piano, violin, and flute.
      Those who took up study prior to age 14 experienced much greater success than those who took up learning to play after age 14. Something about trainiing the brain to respond like instinct rather than by thinking.
      I’ve always thought that this also might apply to skills sports, like baseball and tennis.
      This is one of the reasons I am always skeptical of a player who first takes up a sport in HS,
      like the Dee Gordon story for example.

      Yeah, Ron LeFlore beat the odds … pretty cool.

      Like

  3. Mike Sacha

    Such a great story. I remember reading a book about him n high school. Guy was impressive.

    Like

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