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Brian Downing
Designated hitter / Left fielder / Catcher
Born: October 9, 1950 (1950-10-09) (age 59)
Los Angeles, California
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
May 31, 1973 for the Chicago White Sox
Last MLB appearance
October 4, 1992 for the Texas Rangers
Career statistics
Batting average     .267
Home runs     275
Runs batted in     1,073
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Brian Jay Downing (born October 9, 1950 in Los Angeles, California) is a former professional baseball player who had a 20-year MLB career with the Chicago White Sox, California Angels and Texas Rangers. Known for his hard work and hustle, he transformed his body and career through weight training and became a testament to baseball fans around the country to the power of hard work in overcoming odds.

Contents

Chicago Years

Although Downing did not play well at Magnolia High School in Anaheim, California, and failed to make the team at Cypress College[1], Chicago White Sox scout Bill Lentini signed him as an amateur free agent on August 19, 1969. His early career with the White Sox (1973-1977) was not so promising. On the first pitch of his first inning in his first Major League game, he severely damaged his knee making a diving catch near third base. He hit only .225 as a rookie catcher (1974), and .240 in his second year, with only seven home runs in 138 games. Nor was his defense exceptional. There was no reason to think Brian Downing had a long career in front of him.

California Years

On December 5, 1977, the White Sox traded Downing, along with Dave Frost and Chris Knapp, to the California Angels for slugger Bobby Bonds and prospects Thad Bosley and Richard Dotson. This trade allowed Downing to come home to Southern California and avoid the pressures of Chicago fans' expectations.[2] It gave Downing’s career new life. Although his 1978 numbers were uninspiring (.255 batting average, 7 HR, 46 RBI), in the offseason he committed to serious weight training and in 1979 dramatically changed his batting stance, and hit an impressive .326 (third in the American League). He also made the AL All-Star team for the first and only time. A broken ankle in 1980 forced him to move from catcher to the outfield beginning in 1981 because his offense was so valuable. Although his range was not great for an outfielder, Downing's hard work and steady hands allowed him to play the entire 1982 season without making an error. His continued weight training helped him hit 20+ home runs in six of the seven seasons from 1982 to 1988 and made him an inspiration for fans throughout Southern California.

In 1985 Downing played himself when Louise Jefferson snuck into the Angels' locker-room looking for Reggie Jackson in an episode of "The Jeffersons."

When he finally played his last game for the Angels after 13 seasons, he was their career leader in Games, At Bats, Runs, Hits, Total Bases, Doubles, Home Runs, Runs Batted In, and Bases on Balls.

On April 9, 2009, Downing was to be inducted into the Angels Hall of Fame along with former teammate Chuck Finley before the start of the game that day. However, due to the death of Angels rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart, the ceremony and game were postponed until August 27, 2009.

Texas Years

Downing played his final two seasons with the Texas Rangers as a designated hitter. He remained a productive hitter until retiring at age 41, getting his last hit on the last day of the 1992 season – a single off Angels’ pitcher Bert Blyleven.

He finished his career with a .267 average, 275 HR, 1073 RBI and 1188 runs scored. He was an American League All-Star in 1979 when he hit .326 with 12 HR, 75 RBI and 81 runs scored. His best all-around season came in 1982 when he hit 28 HR, had 84 RBI, scored 109 runs and hit .281. Downing set single-season career highs with 95 RBI in 1986 and 29 HR, 110 runs scored and an AL leading 106 walks in 1987.

See also

References

  1. ^ Halo Magazine, Vol.1 Bk.1, 1986
  2. ^ Halo Magazine; Volume 1, Book 1 1986

External links

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