Lenny Randle: Baseball’s Forrest Gump
Who is Lenny Randle? Some baseball fans may not know him, but he was once voted The Most Interesting Man In Baseball. Lenny Randle had a .257 batting average, never played in an all star game, and never played one game in the postseason. So why was this journeyman infielder pegged baseball’s most interesting man?
Randle played for the Washington Senators, Texas Rangers, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, and Seattle Mariners over 12 years and was a first round pick. It wasn’t his play that got him notarized in the cities he played for. It was the odd occurrences that this charismatic figure was involved in.
Randle played in the Senators last game in the nation’s capital before relocating to Texas to become the Rangers. In the ninth inning of that game, with the Sens leading 7-5 with two outs, hundreds of fans, mostly youth, rushed the field. The game ended up being forfeited to the Yankees and three people were arrested for disorderly conduct. All bases were stolen, including the pitcher’s rubber, and chunks of grass were ripped out of the ground.
Fast forward from that incident in 1971 to Spring Training 1977. On March 28th, Randle walked up to Rangers manager Frank Lucchesi and asked to speak to him an hour before first pitch. Words were exchanged and Randle punched Lucchesi in the face. Lucchesi required plastic surgery and Randle was suspended 30 days and fined $10,000. He was the subsequently traded to the Mets for a player to be named later. Lucchesi sued Randle for assault, to which Randle pleaded no contest.
Let’s be blunt here, okay? The Mets in the early years were just awful. Lenny Randle was the best player for the Mets in ’78. He hit .304 and that’s probably the only impressive stat that season. However, Randle was involved in another odd occurrence. He was at bat when the lights went out in Shea Stadium during the New York City Blackout. “I swung just as the lights went out,” Randle said Friday night on a MLB Network special. “I thought I hit it, so I ran to second and they’re (the umpires) like ‘No no, it’s not going to count.’ I said ‘I hit it, I’m staying here.'”
Randle, in a lesser known incident, took Thurmon Munson’s roster spot on the day the Yankee catcher died in a tragic plane crash.
While playing for Seattle, Randle’s most famous incident happened in 1981. Amos Otis of the Kansas City Royals hit a ball down the third base line that looked to stay fair. However, Randle got on his hands and knees and blew the ball foul. Seriously. Here’s the video:
The Royals protested the game. Afterwards, Randle said that there was a “no-blow rule” implemented. He jokingly said, “They won the game, we won the protest.”
Thank you for bearing with me, we’re almost done. Randle went over to Italy to play for Nettuno. No one before him had left the MLB to play Italian ball. But, it worked for him. He won a batting title with a .477 average, hit the longest homerun in Italian Serie-A1 league history, and holds the record for most homeruns and singles hit in a three game series. He’s currently trying to grow the game of baseball in Italy and bring an Italian influence to the American brand of the game.
Randle released an album, he took up stand up comedy during his Cubs days, and is fluent in five languages. He has played through fan riots, blackouts, and 10 cent beer nights. He went from American unknown to Italian legend. It is hard not to dislike the charismatic personality Randle displays. He is Lenny Randle, and he is the Forrest Gump of Baseball.
What a great post! I loved that clip of Randle blowing the ball foul. Who would think it even possible?
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