Wednesday, March 4, 2009

#56 -- Rich Chiles

Rich Chiles

There isn't much to write about Rich's career. This is his rookie card. He got some time with the Astros in 1971 and was their top pinch hitter, although he only hit .227. In his rookie year he set the team record for pinch hits (since broken) with 11. He didn't really get any other playing time to speak of until he joined the Twins in 1977. He hit in the .260s with the Twins in 1977-78 before being released at the beginning of Spring Training 1979.

Hard to tell much about where this picture is. About the only place Topps was taking NL pictures with turf was Candlestick, but this doesn't have a Candlestick feel to me. The guys in the background are wearing Houston road uniforms (these were the boring uniforms before the great stripes that started around 1975). Also, I don't know why, but when I saw his photo it just screamed, "I didn't know John Schneider hit left-handed." (Disclaimer: You can now see why I'm a lawyer and not in graphic arts. I verily stinketh at photoshop/paint. That's supposed to be an Astro hat I drew on John Schneider/Rich Chiles.)

There are two other things I've found about Rich that are more interesting than his playing career. His cousin was Hall of Famer George Kelly, a first baseman with the New York Baseball Giants. I'd have to admit that would have been cool growing up to know you were going to have Christmas and Thanksgiving with a former big league ballplayer (Kelly didn't make the HOF until 1973). It also would have made a cool cartoon on the back of his card, with Rich looking at Kelly (with a pillbox style hat) and having a word balloon saying, "Hi, Cuz!" (I'll not try to draw the cartoon in Paint.)

I'd read in a geneology article (ain't Google great!) that Rich was managing the family farm after his baseball career. Then a September 2008 Boston Globe article credited Rich with being one of Dustin Pedroia's first hitting coaches, when Pedroia was about 7. Again, wouldn't it be kind of cool that an MVP's family would remember you as the child's instructor.


  1. I'm pretty sure that is Candlestick. A lot of the pictures from the '72 set were taken when Candlestick was undergoing expansion for the 49ers. You can see the contruction going on in many of them. Thats what I'm guessing we see above Chiles' head.

  2. That's definitely the left field corner at The Stick.

  3. I'll see if I can find out as Rich is my cousin. I haven't spoken to him for years, but he is currently living in Davis California.

  4. The Chiles family is well known in Davis and Yolo County and they have Chiles Road that runs along I-80 in south Davis named after them.