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Champ Summers
Outfielder, Designated hitter
Born: June 15, 1946 (1946-06-15) (age 63)
Bats: Left Throws: Right 
MLB debut
May 4, 1974 for the Oakland Athletics
Career statistics
Batting average     .255
Home runs     54
RBIs     218
Putouts     508
Teams

John Junior "Champ" Summers (born June 15, 1946 in Bremerton, Washington), is a former Major League Baseball player who played primarily as an outfielder and designated hitter for six teams during his eleven year career that spanned from 1974 to 1984. Summers played his eleven seasons in Major League Baseball with the Oakland Athletics (1974); Chicago Cubs (1975-1976); Cincinnati Reds (1977-1979); Detroit Tigers (1979-1981); San Francisco Giants (1982-1983); and San Diego Padres (1984).

Playing career

Summers served in the United States Army in Vietnam and did not play his first Major League Baseball game until he was 28 years old. He was signed by the Oakland Athletics as an amateur free agent in 1971, after being discovered in a men's softball league following his service in Vietnam.

Summers was a free spirit who was known for his baseball fights and was one of the first players to get a tattoo. Summers came from a family of athletes, with a father who was a prizefighter in the United States Navy and a mother who was a pro bowler. Summers received his nickname "Champ" from his father: "Dad took one look at me when I was born and said, He looks like he's just gone 10 rounds with Joe Louis.'" [1]

The 6' 2", 205 pound Vietnam veteran bounced between the minors and majors, mostly as a pinch hitter, until Sparky Anderson brought him to Detroit as a designated hitter.

Champ's best seasons were 1979 and 1980, whien he hit 38 of his 54 career home runs and 121 of his 218 career RBIs. In 1979, he hit a career high 21 home runs, batted .291 with a .401 on base percentage and a .556 slugging percentage for a .956 OPS (on base plus slugging) score. Summers had five RBIs in a single game in May 1979. In 1980, he had another big year, batting .297 with a .393 on base percentage, .504 slugging percentage and .897 OPS score. Summers performance dropped off substantially in 1981, batting .255 with only 3 home runs.

On March 4, 1982, the Tigers traded Champ to the San Francisco Giants for Enos Cabell and cash. After two seasons with the Giants, he was traded to the San Diego Padres where he played his final season in 1984.

While with the Padres, Summers was one of the central figures in a series of bench-clearing brawls in a game at Atlanta on August 12. At one point, Summers charged toward the Braves dugout looking to take on pitcher Pascual Perez, who had hit the Padres' Alan Wiggins in the first inning, although Perez had been brushed back by San Diego pitchers Ed Whitson and Craig Lefferts while at bat. Summers was intercepted by injured Atlanta slugger Bob Horner and tackled by Horner and two fans.

Summers ended his career playing for the Padres in the 1984 World Series against his former skipper, Sparky Anderson, and his former Detroit Tigers teammates. Summers struck out in his only at bat in the 1984 World Series, which also wound up being his last Major League at bat.

Over his eleven year career, Summers hit for a .255 batting average with 54 home runs and 218 RBIs. He now owns and operates "Champ Summers' Summer Camp for Champs" motivational sports retreat for youths.

External links

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