Wednesday, January 14, 2015

#136 -- Darrel Chaney


Welcome back.  It's been a few days short of 5 years since I've updated this blog.  Kids, work, priorities get in the way of baseball cards.  A lot's happened in the world in the last 5 years, but you already know that.  

I always associate Darrel Chaney with Dave Concepcion.  Darrel came up to the Reds in 1969, a year before Concepcion.  He was always a part-timer with the Reds.  When Concepcion came up in 1970 they split time for a few years until Concepcion's figured out hitting in 1973.  Chaney was a league average shortstop by the traditional stats Sparky would have had available, but was almost always in negative territory for defensive runs saved (which Sparky didn't have).Concepcion was a Mendoza line hitter in 1971-1972, but made the All-Star team in 1973 and that was the end of splitting time with Chaney.

Darrel was an All-American football player coming out of high school. He could have gone to some Big 10 schools to play football, but not baseball.  I always think of Darrel as a slappy with the bat, but he hit his way into the big leagues, hitting 23 homers in AA Asheville in 1968.  He only hit 14 homers in his 11 year career and had 190 RBI, 1 less than Hack Wilson had in 1930.  

Darrel made it to 3 World Series with the Reds, winning a ring in 1975.  After that season, probably because of the emergence of Doug Flynn as the primary utility infielder, Darrel was traded to the Braves for Mike Lum.  Darrel had the opportunity as the everyday shortstop for the 1976 Braves.  He had his best year, with more than double the plate appearances he had in any other year.  However, in 1977, he missed April and was splitting time with Pat Rockett, who had a historically bad year.  Problem was, Darrel hit even worse than Rockett. He didn't get regular playing time after that and 1979 was his last year in the big leagues.  Dave Concepcion still had another 9 years in the big leagues ahead of him.

Darrel is now well thought of in the Atlanta area as a Christian motivational speaker and the Chairman of Major League Alumni Marketing. Guys like Darrel Chaney don't get all the glamour.  I'm sure it's not fun to play 11 years at the minimum salary and not know if you're going to make the team every year.  However, you've got to have the bench players like Darrel ready to step in when needed.

The card is pretty ordinary.  Darrel gives the basic posed hitting stance, which is different than the basic, posed fielding stance he had on several of his other cards.  The quote from Sparky on the back that "Darrel has a chance to develop into a real good hitter" was, well, let's say optimistic, but with Concepcion hitting .200, Sparky was needing one of them to step up.