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Mike Epstein
First Baseman
Born: April 4, 1943 (1943-04-04) (age 66)
The Bronx, New York
Batted: Left Threw: Left 
MLB debut
September 16, 1966 for the Baltimore Orioles
Last MLB appearance
April 28, 1974 for the California Angels
Career statistics
Batting average     .244
Home runs     130
RBI     380
Teams
Career highlights and awards
  • Hit 30 home runs in 1969
Medal record
Baseball
Olympic Games
Gold 1964 Tokyo Baseball

Michael Peter Epstein (born April 4, 1943, in the Bronx, New York), nicknamed SuperJew, is a former Major League Baseball player for the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Senators, Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, and California Angels from 1966-1974.

The first baseman was noted as a strong power hitter who did not hit for a high batting average, though he walked (and was hit by pitches) so often that he finished with a respectable career .359 on base percentage.

Contents

High school

Epstein was a member of the baseball and football teams at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles.

College and Olympics

Epstein played baseball at the University of California-Berkeley. As a junior in 1963 he hit .375 and was offered a contract by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but his father insisted he finish college.

A collegiate All-American in 1964, he was a member of the first U.S. Olympic team that year, and helped them win the gold medal.

Minor leagues

In 1965, Epstein began his professional baseball career in the Baltimore Orioles organization and was dubbed "Superjew" by rival manager Rocky Bridges in the California League after Epstein led the league in batting and home runs that year. He was MVP of the California League that year for the Stockton Ports.

In 1966, playing for the Rochester Red Wings, he was then named Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year, after being also named the International League MVP (.309, 29 HR, 102 RBI).

Major leagues

He was first brought up for 6 games by the Baltimore Orioles in 1966, at the age of 23, having hit over .300 with at least 29 home runs and 100 RBI in his first two minor league seasons.

After the Orioles tried in vain to convert him to the outfield (they already had Boog Powell at first base), they demoted him to Rochester again. The outspoken Epstein refused to report, going home to California instead, and did not play again until the end of May 1967, when he was traded by the Orioles with Frank Bertaina to the Washington Senators for Pete Richert. Later that season, in first at-bat against the Orioles, Epstein hit a grand slam.

In 1968 he was 4th in the league in hbp (9).

He had arguably his best season in 1969 with the Senators, when in only 403 at bats he hit 30 home runs (9th in the American League), had 85 Runs Batted In, and hit for a respectable .278 batting average (and .347 with runners in scoring position) with an excellent .414 on base percentage and .551 slugging percentage. He was 4th in the league in hbp (10), and hit a home run every 13.4 at bats. He was 25th in voting for the American League MVP. This was also the only year in which the reconstituted Senators finished above .500.

In 1970 he was 2nd in the league in hbp (13), while hitting 20 home runs.

In May 1971 he was traded by the Senators with Darold Knowles to the Oakland Athletics for Frank Fernandez, Don Mincher, Paul Lindblad, and cash. In 1971, while hitting 18 home runs in 329 at bats, he was hit by the pitch 12 times, leading the league.

In 1972 he hit 26 home runs (3rd in the league) for the world champion Athletics. He hit a home run every 17.5 at bats (3rd in the AL), had a .490 slugging percentage (5th), a .376 on base percentage (6th), 62 walks (10th), and was hit by a pitch 11 times (2nd). He was 16th in voting for the American League MVP.

In November 1972 he was traded by the Athletics to the Texas Rangers for Horacio Pina. The A's wanted to free up the first base position for Gene Tenace, who was the star of the 1972 World Series. In May 1973 he was traded by the Rangers with Rich Hand and Rick Stelmaszek to the California Angels for Jim Spencer and Lloyd Allen. In 1973 he was 7th in the league in hbp (8).

On May 4, 1974, he was released by the Angels.

After baseball

In 2007, Epstein was running a hitting school.[1]

Miscellaneous

  • Owing to his ethnic and religious background, along with his power, Epstein's nickname was "Superjew."
  • Epstein wore a black armband during the 1972 playoffs in memory of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by terrorists at the Munich Olympics. Teammates Ken Holtzman and Reggie Jackson also wore the armbands. Somewhat surprisingly, A's owner Charles Finley, who usually demanded conformity from his players, did not make Epstein or the others stop wearing the armbands.
  • During his minor league days with the Rochester Red Wings, he drew the Star of David onto his glove. [2]
  • Epstein had great success against Joe Niekro during his career, going 7-10 with 4 home runs and 4 walks.[3]

See also

External links

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