Thursday, May 25, 2006

Tripp Cromer

All of those who witnessed Los Angeles Dodgers' Roy Bunyan (Tripp) Cromer III belt a three-run, opposite-field home run deep into the right field bleachers in a game at Dodger Stadium against the San Francisco Giants on June 10, 1997 must have raised an eyebrow or two in complete and utter amazement.

And if eight days later, some of those same people saw Cromer smack two more home runs in a game against the Florida Marlins at spacious Pro Player Stadium they must have wondered whether Cromer's new found power was chemically enhanced by illegal drugs.

After all, Cromer was not, by any stretch of the imagination, blessed with eye-popping, jaw-dropping, herculean strength.

He was the prototypical "good field, no hit" middle-infielder.

He had not hit a home run in the big leagues in two years.

And, now, all of a sudden he's swatting home runs like Babe Ruth?

Come on!

Dodger manager Bill Russell was so impressed by Cromer's power hitting display that he started calling him Roy Hobbs after the lead character in "The Natural."

Surely, Cromer must have bulked up by using some illegal steroids, performance-enhancing drugs or growth hormones.

Perhaps, Jose Canseco, the steroids dispensing, juiced-up vagabond slugger with the cartoonish superhero physique, injected Cromer in the buttocks with 'roids.

Or, maybe Cromer scored illegal substances from one of Barry Bonds' BALCO buddies.

Cromer just had to be juiced.

How else can Cromer's surprising home run hitting feats be reasonably and rationally explained?

But, all you needed to do was take one look at the 6-foot-2, 165 pound South Carolina native, to realize that the homers were indeed legitmate.

The only thing Cromer was guilty of was being too skinny.

He was so skinny that he could hide behind the foul pole and not be seen.

He was so thin that the Dodgers were hesitant to play him at San Francisco's Candlestick Park for fear that the strong winds would blow him far, far away.

Clearly, Cromer did not a cheat.

Cromer was originally selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the third round of the 1989 amateur draft. He made his major league debut with the Redbirds in 1993 and was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers on October 10, 1996.

After beginning the 1997 season in the minors, Cromer joined the Dodgers in the middle of June. By July, he had replaced Rookie of the Year hopeful Wilton Guerrero as the club's starting second baseman. Unfortunately, a few weeks later, Cromer suffered a season ending injury.

He played briefly with the Dodgers again in 1998 and 1999, and with the Houston Astros in 2000 and 2003.

[1] Springer, Steve. "Cromer and Homers." LAT, July 23, 1997, C1.
[2] Springer, Steve. "Los Angeles Dodgers: Youngsters Making Big Contributions." TSN, July 21, 1997, 20.
[3] Springer, Steve. "It's back to basic for rookie Guerrero." TSN, August 18, 1997, 33.
[4] Springer, Steve. "Worrell's problems cloud bullpen picture." TSN, September 15, 1997, 48.


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