View Full Version : Chris Chambliss

09-02-2006, 07:57 PM
I was perusing the baseball-reference.com site and looking at Reds transactions during the 60's to see how the BRM started coming together. I was shocked to see that the Reds drafted Chris Chambliss, not once, but twice. First in the 1967 draft and he did not sign and then again in the Secondary Phase of the 1968 draft, again without signing. He then was drafted by the Indians in the 1st round in 1970 with whom he signed. I didn't know that.

09-02-2006, 08:16 PM
Interesting - maybe he could have taken Danny Driessen's spot. I'd probably take Chambliss over Driessen.

Then the Royals would have played the Reds in the '76 series.

Bob Winters
09-02-2006, 11:25 PM
I used to work summers at a nice drugstore in the plaza level of the Prudential Center in Boston. One of the perks of working there was that it was right next to a nice hotel, what was then the Sheraton Boston, and the visiting baseball teams often stayed there, since it was also very close to Fenway Park.

As a result, I ended up coming face-to-face with a number of major league baseball players. Reggie Jackson was easily the most famous, and there were plenty of unfamous ones--rookies, journeymen, and various one-hit wonders.

This would have been the summers of 1977, 1978, and 1979--so the height of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry of that era, with Jackson, Thurmon Munson, and Ron Guidiry on the New York side, and Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, Carlton Fisk, and Bill Lee on the Boston side.

I was working one day the Yankees were in town, and Chris Chambliss came in to the store. Chambliss was a big, slugging first basemen for the Yankees. On any other team, he would be the heart of the order, but on that Yankees team he was one of many stars. His relative obscurity on the team saved him, I think, from the wrath of Red Sox fans.

There was something, too, about Chambliss' demeanor though. He was a tall, quiet African-American man, and this was a period in history when Boston was not necessarily a friendly place for a person of color to visit. The protests over busing were only a few years in the past, and the Red Sox, who had been the last team in major league baseball to integrate, were still a team of white, lumbering stars. The 1978 team had both Jim Rice and George Scott, as I recall--both African-American men--but Boston always seemed to have the fewest nonwhites on the field.

I say all this as backdrop to Chambliss and his demeanor. Next to Reggie Jackson, who was all swagger and flash, Chambliss was the strong, silent type--a star in his own right who carried himself with a quiet dignity. The cynic could easily say that this is how white Americans prefer their African-American athletes--productive and quiet--and this could be seen as especially true of Boston at that point in time. But I like to think there was something else at work with Chambliss too. Even as rival fans--even as rival and primarily white fans--we liked him both for his obvious talent and his workmanlike approach to the game. In that way, he was like Boston's superstar of the time, Carl Yastrzemski. No one else approached the game with the stoicism and New England work ethic of Yaz; he appealed to that flinty New England sense of life as effort, life as grim duty. Perhaps we saw in Chambliss some of the same gritty everyman we saw in Yaz.

So I am standing at the cash register and in walks Chris Chambliss. After briefly wandering the aisles, he comes to the register and chooses a couple of newspapers--a Boston Globe and a New York Times. (Baseball players are not the most cerebral types, so one of them buying the Times--and passing up The Daily News and other NY papers--is noteworthy, in my book.)

So here is Chambliss, now, pulling out a pocket of change and handing me 50 cents, to which I reflexively reply, "that's 75 cents."

And then here is Chambliss, who up until this time hasn't even looked at me, instead scanning the papers in front of him, looking up and saying, "Why 75 cents?"

And here I am, about to say what I always to to people, that the total is 75 cents since we charge extra for the New York Times because it is an out of town paper. But instead, for some reason, I say, "Because you play for the Yankees."

I only let this hang out there for a few seconds, but I wish I had the skill and vocabulary to describe the look on Chris Chambliss' face in the few seconds before I said, "Just kidding!" It quickly went from confused to bemused to, well, horrified, and I imagined in that very brief moment that he was considering that I was really and truly crazy. This was Boston, after all; in games that season the Yankees and Sox had slugged it out with bats and fists, and, of course, the Red Sox were on the losing end on both counts. Why couldn't I be a crazed fan seeking vengeance? He was probably thinking it was just his damn luck to buy a newspaper from some me.

But the moment passed. I nervously explained I was joking, that the Times cost extra because it was an out-of-town newspaper. He smiled very briefly, but I wasn't sure if he was smiling at my little joke or smiling because he was certain now that I was nuts and was just trying to be polite. He folded his newspapers under his arm and walked back toward the hotel.

Always Red
09-02-2006, 11:34 PM
Hideki Matsui, of the modern day Bronx Bombers, reminds me an awful lot of Chris Chambliss.

When Matsui apologized, with tears in his eyes, for breaking his wrist and not being able to play, I immediately became a big Matsui fan. He would look great in a Reds uni.

09-02-2006, 11:36 PM
I didn't know Carl Lindner owned the Reds in the late 60s.


09-03-2006, 08:39 AM
I did a little further digging.

In 1967, the Reds drafted him in the 31st round. The subsequent draft pick, he was taken in the 2nd round of the Secondary Phase of the draft (someone else may know exactly what that means - the draft seems to be a one time deal these days without a secondary phase).

He instead chose to play a season at UCLA and was then picked in the 1st round by Cleveland.

Here's an excerpt from baseball-almanac:

Chambliss was twice drafted by the Reds, in 1967 and in 1969, but continued school and attended UCLA for a year. Signing with the Indians when he was drafted a third time in 1970, he led the American Association in hitting with a .342 mark at Wichita in 1970. He was the first player to lead the AA in batting in his first pro season, and is believed to be the first "rookie" to have won a Triple-A batting title. In only his second pro season, Chambliss was the 1971 AL Rookie of the Year, Cleveland's second ever (Herb Score was the first). It was the first time a player won consecutive Rookie of the Year honors on the minor and major league levels. Called up that May, he batted .275 and played solid defense at first base. He led Indian regulars in batting the next two seasons.

I think our scouts knew Chambliss would be a solid player, in retrospect, looking at the BRM, where would he have played. Perhaps it would have allowed the Reds to move Lee May sooner, but where would that have left Tony Perez? One can conjecture all we want, but I'm still not sure how this would have played out. It will have to remain one of the universe's mysteries.

[BTW, baseball-reference.com says the second pick was in 1968, this except says 1969. I'm inclined to think baseball-reference is correct.]

09-03-2006, 08:58 AM
Interesting - maybe he could have taken Danny Driessen's spot. I'd probably take Chambliss over Driessen.

Then the Royals would have played the Reds in the '76 series.

Over Driessen? Any day of the week.:beerme: Over Perez? Never.