Monday, May 29, 2006

Manny Mota

Manuel Rafael [Geronimo] Mota was a poolshark with a baseball bat.

He had such great bat control that it seemed like he could place a pitched ball thrown from a variety of angles and at different speeds wherever he pleased.

Overhand fastball? He would hit a linedrive whizzing past the pitcher's head and into centerfield.

Sidearm curveball? He'd loft it just over the outstretched mitt of a leaping second baseman and into rightfield.

Nasty changeup? He'd smash a grounder past the glove of a diving third baseman down the leftfield line.

Okay, you get the picture.

And as baseball's premier pinch-hitter during the 1970s and perhaps all-time, Mota always seemed to come through with the game on the line.

A lifetime .304 hitter, he batted .314 with runners in scoring position, .316 with men on base, and a cool .375 when the bases were loaded.

"There aren't many hitters that can do what Manny can do," noted former Los Angeles Dodgers' manager Walt Alston. "As long as I've known him, he has hit better as a pinch-hitter than as a regular. He thrives on pressure."


"I have just one thing to say about him," the usually loquacious Tommy Lasorda once said. "Mota spelled backwards is 'atom.'"

And, appropriately enough, Mota was the Dodgers' secret weapon; a man who played only when it mattered most and was capable of blowing a game open with one swing of the bat.

A native of Santo Domingo of the Dominican Republic, Mota played in the big leagues for 20 seasons with four different teams, including the Dodgers from 1969 to 1980 and 1982.

He batted .300 or better 11 times in his career, including six straight seasons. But, he never came close to collecting the sufficient at bats to qualify for a batting crown.

He finished his career with 150 pinch-hits, and was only recently surpassed by Lenny Harris as baseball's all-time pinch-hitter.

However, Mota will forever be remembered for his pinch-hit double off the Philadelphia Phillies' Gene Garber with two outs in the ninth inning and the Dodgers trailing by two runs on October 8, 1977 during Game X of the National League Championship Series.

[1] Tosches, Rick. "Mota tough in pinch for slumping Dodgers." The Daily Herald, (Chicago, Illinois), August 11, 1979, Section 2, page 4.
[2] Murray, Jim. "Nobody Knows Manny -- Except the Pitchers." Los Angeles Times, September 22, 1971, E1.


At 1:48 PM, Blogger Mac said...

Not to be rude, but I'll always remember him for killing a kid with a foul ball. You have to think of that when you think of Manny Mota.


At 10:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember seeing him bat against St Louis, at Busch Stadium, in 1975. The Cards had a pitcher who was eating LA's lunch, when Manny came in and hit well over twenty pitches before they got him out. The pitcher was finished.

At 7:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at that game in St. Louis! I remember thinking at the time it had to be a record for foul balls hit during one at bat.


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