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Happy Birthday Rick Leach

San Diego Padres v San Francisco Giants Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Rick Leach turns 62 today.

Rick was a first-round draft pick for the Tigers, 13th overall, in 1979. He made it to the majors during the strike-shortened 1981 season, hitting a big .193/.320/.289 in 83 at-bats, mostly pinch-hitting and playing a bit of first and right field. Rick played three seasons in Detroit. He never hit much, and the Tigers released him.

The Blue Jays signed him before the 1984 season. He played five seasons for the Jays, playing DH, first, right, left and occasionally center field. He even pitched an inning in 1984. It didn’t go well; he walked 2 and gave up 2 hits, including a home run. He hit reasonably well. In 1986 he had a .308/.335/.435 line, then in 1987, he hit .282/.371/.405, not bad, but not he didn’t have the power you’d want from a corner outfield spot nor the speed. But for a 4th outfielder, he was pretty good.

During the 1986 season, Leach tested positive for some ‘nonperformance enhancing drug’ (so come recreational drug) and was suspended for 60 days and ordered to take drug treatment.

In 5 years with the Jays, Rick hit .283/.340/.391 with 8 home runs and 95 RBI in 763 at-bats. After the Jays, Leach played a season with the Giants and the Rangers before leaving baseball at 33. He seemed like a likable guy, a fan favourite in the way that fourth outfielders are often fan favourites, but since the Jays had Bell, Barfield and Moesby in the outfield, there was no way he was going to get a full-time role. But he was a useful lefty batter on the bench.

He was a favourite of mine because, back in the day, I played Statis Pro Baseball and Strat-O-Matic Baseball, and Rick had good numbers in 1986 and 1987, giving him a valuable card in those games.

Leach had also been a good football player, playing quarterback in College. The Denver Broncos drafted him in the 5th round of the 1979 draft.

Happy birthday Rick. I hope it is a good one.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a picture of him in a Jays’ jersey.