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Category: Card Corner

Card Corner–Tim Foli

Earlier this week, the minor league Syracuse Chiefs announced that Tim Foli would serve as the team’s manager in 2009. Foli has been the Nationals’ Triple-A manager for three of the last four seasons, but this will be his first go-round here in central New York, with Syracuse now acting as the home of Washington’s top affiliate.

If you remember Tim Foli as a Yankee, give yourself a pat on the back; you are a true Yankee diehard. Considering that Foli spent all of one undistinguished summer in pinstripes, and that his one season here coincided with a down time in franchise history, your memory of Foli shows your sharpness when it comes to all things Yankees.

During the 1983 winter meetings, the Yankees announced that they had acquired Foli from the California Angels at the expense of a minor league reliever named Curt Kaufman and some cash. Foli was coming off an unspectacular season in which he had hit .252 with two home runs. The move made little sense, considering the crowd that the Yankees had already assembled at shortstop: veteran Roy Smalley, top prospect Bobby Meacham, and former top prospect Andre Robertson. I’m not sure why the Yankees thought Foli was better than any of the present alternatives. He couldn’t hit nearly as well as Smalley, didn’t have the range or speed of Meacham, and lacked Robertson’s defensive reputation.


Card Corner–The Other A-Rod

Although his name can be found right below that of the already-legendary Alex Rodriguez in reference books like Total Baseball, he has been mostly forgotten since his playing days ended in 1983. That’s more than a bit sad, partly because the original “A-Rod” left such a distinct impression on me—first as an opposing player and then during a late-career turn with the Yankees.

Aurelio Rodriguez couldn’t hit like today’s more well-known “A-Rod,” but he was one of the most graceful defensive third basemen of the 1970s. Rodriguez had the range of a shortstop and the throwing arm of a right fielder; along with his smooth hands, those skills combined to form a delightful package at the hot corner. In fact, I’ve never seen an infielder with a stronger arm than Aurelio. (A list of such arms would have to include recent infielders like Shawon Dunston and Travis Fryman or current-day players like Rafael Furcal and Troy Tulowitzki. All terrific arms, but all a notch below that of Rodriguez. ) That cannon-like right arm, which Ernie Harwell often described as a “howitzer,” made him a treat to watch during his many stops with the White Sox, Orioles, Yankees, Padres, Tigers, Washington Senators, and Angels.

A product of Cananea, Mexico, Rodriguez struggled with English during his early major league career with the Angels. As Rodriguez once said without bitterness, he knew only three words of English during his first ten days with California. “Ham and eggs” became a frequent refrain, resulting in a less-than-balanced diet for the young Rodriguez.


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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver