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Gary Lee Woods (born July 20, 1954 in Santa Barbara, California), is a retired professional baseball player who played outfielder in the Major Leagues from 1976-1985. He would play for the Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros, and Oakland Athletics.

Contents

Early life and education

Woods graduated from San Marcos High School in 1971 and then attended Santa Barbara City College before starting his professional baseball career.[1]

Baseball career

On May 12, 1973, the Oakland A's signed Woods as a nondrafted free agent. He spent 1973 playing outfield for the A's Lewiston minor league ballclub and 1974 in the outfield for the A's Burlington minor league ballclub. In 1975, he was promoted to Birmingham in the Southern League, and in 1976, Woods advanced to the A's AAA ballclub in Tucson.

On September 14, 1976, Woods made his major-league debut in a 4-3 loss to the Twins.[2] However, Woods got a base hit in the game, going 1 for 1 and playing center field as a substitute.[3] In six games for the A's in 1976, he went 1 for 8.

On November 5, 1976, Woods was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the major league baseball expansion draft. He was in the Blue Jays' opening day lineup for the debut game on April 7, 1977, batting fifth. "I remember the snow on the field and I remember Doug Ault and I remember the excitement in the city," Woods told the Toronto Star in an article that was published on October 8, 1985. "I was a young ballplayer very excited to be part of a building experience. It was a really neat feeling. But of course we played like an expansion team and I played like a guy who wasn't quite ready for the major leagues."

Woods played outfield for Toronto during parts of the 1977 and 1978 seasons, splitting his time between Toronto and its minor league clubs.

On December 5, 1978, Woods was traded to the Houston Astros for a minor league outfielder named Don Pisker. Woods spent 1979 in the minors and also spent most of the 1980 season in the minors, playing again for the AAA Tucson minor league club, which by this point had shifted affiliations from Oakland to Houston. In late 1980, Woods was called up to the majors, hitting .377 in 19 games. Woods also went 2-for-8 in four games in the Astros' League Championship Series in 1980.

In the strike-shortened 1981 season, Woods platooned with Terry Puhl in the outfield, helping the Astros reach the West Division playoffs against the Los Angeles Dodgers. "I really felt I was a big part of them getting there," he told the Chicago Tribune in an article that was published on September 11, 1986, referring to the playoffs. "Of course, I may have also played a big part in them not getting to the World Series when I left third base too soon in one of the games."

On December 9, 1981, Woods was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Jim Tracy and was pressed into service as a starting center fielder when prospect Ty Waller failed early. "I was batting about .350 after 150 at-bats," Woods told the Chicago Tribune in the September 11, 1986 article. "But they decided to put Keith (Moreland) in the outfield and they wanted to play Steve Henderson to see if they could trade him. I sat down and never got a chance to get back in." Woods finished the 1982 hitting .269 in 117 games and never committing an error.

Woods played for the Cubs in limited amounts in the 1983, 1984 and 1985 seasons. One highlight was getting to play in the 1984 League Championship Series against the San Diego Padres. In one game, Woods went 0-for-1 and played outfield.

Woods tried to continue his career in 1986 after being cut by the Cubs in spring training despite hitting .286 that spring. At that point, Padres then-minor league manager Larry Bowa asked the Padres to sign Woods to a minor league contract, and Woods played a full season at the Padres AAA Las Vegas minor league club before retiring.

"I've got no regrets," Woods told the Chicago Tribune in the September 11, 1986 article. "There are a whole lot of guys with more talent than I ever had who never got the opportunity. I went to the big leagues, went down, made it back and stayed for six years. I know I can look in the mirror and say I did all I could to be the best possible player I could be."

Life after baseball

Even before his baseball career ended, Woods got into a real estate business in California with former Cub Mick Kelleher.

Woods currently is the hitting coach for the semi-pro Santa Barbara Foresters baseball team. He also has coached the junior varsity squad at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.

Woods has two sons and lives in Solvang, California.

References

External links

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