Sunday, May 16, 2010

Retro Mariner Sunday 5/16/10

Sunday again, time to get in the way back machine and stroll down memory lane. Today's name is a very familiar one to most. Today we look at the big kid out of Chattanooga, Rick Honeycutt. After originally being drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 14th round in 1972 out of Lakeview HS in Georgia, he opted for the University of Tennessee instead. During his time at UT he was an All-American First Baseman/Pitcher. He also won a batting in the SEC with a .404 avg. The end of his college career in 1976, saw him get drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 17th round. The summer of 1976 saw Rick pitch for the Niagara Falls Pirates in NYPenn League. In 1977, he was moved up to the AA Shreveport Captains in the Pirates system. On August 22 that year he was dealt to the Mariners as the player to be named later in a deal that sent Dave Pagan to the Pirates. He made his major league debut two days later on the 24th, pitching the final 2 innings of a double header against the Toronto Blue Jays. He only gave up two hits and struck out three in that game. He would get his first start in Yankee Stadium on August 31, 1977 and pitched well but got a no decision. He would get his first win on April 7, 1978 defeating the Minnesota Twins in the Kingdome.

Rick was also remembered for an incident on September 30, 1980 when he was caught scuffing a ball with a thumbtack he taped to his finger in a game in Kansas City. After hitting a double Willie Wilson noticed the tack on his finger and pointed it out to the umpires. He had also cut a gash in his forehead because he forgot about the tack. When the umpires found it, he was ejected ans subsequently suspended for 10 days and fined $250. Those are the unfortunate thing a 17 loss season will make you do. On December 12 of 1980, Rick was traded to the Texas Rangers as part of a ten player deal. Considering he was part of some bad Mariner teams in the beginning, he finished his Mariner career with a 26-41 record in 99 games,a 4.22 ERA, he had 21 complete games(rare thing these days), and in 560 2/3 innings he gave up 299 runs, 187 walks and 229 strikeouts.

For the 1981 and 1982 seasons, Rick was a starter for the Rangers. In late August of 1983, he was traded to the Dodgers for Dave Stewart and $200,000. Rick would stay with in the Dodger Blue until late August in 1987. He was traded from the Dodgers to the Oakland Athletics for Tim Belcher. Although he would be granted free agency twice by Oakland in 1988 and 1992, he would sign both times with the Athletics to remain in Oakland. His highlight would be winning a World Series ring with the A's in 1989. After the 1993 season, he would again be a free agent this time signing back with the Rangers. After playing a year with the Rangers, free agency came knocking again. Due to the late start to the the 1995 season due to the strike, Rick signed again with Oakland in April of 1995. Late in September of 1995, he was purchased by the Yankees. He was not able to play against the Mariners in the famous 1995 ALDS because he was not on the roster before the cutoff. After the 1995 season, he was purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals. He would spend 1996 and 1997 with the Cardinals as the oldest player in the league.

After retiring in 1997, Rick spent a year back home to coach his son Ricky's travel team and attend his daughter Holli's volleyball games at Belmont University. He also eventually opened Rick Honeycutt Sports, a sporting goods store in Chattanooga. He and his wife Debbie also bought a 100-acre, 42 stall ranch, that was transformed into a retreat for special needs children. In 2001, he was hired by the Dodgers to be a consultant for the minor league pitchers. He was promoted to Coordinator of the Minor League pitchers in 2002. In 2006, he was named pitching coach of the big league team by manager Grady Little.  When Joe Torre took over as manager in 2008, only Rick and Mariano Duncan were retained on the staff. 2010 sees Rick spending his fifth year molding some of the Dodger's good young pitchers.

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