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Donald Alvin Buford (born February 2, 1937 in Linden, Texasmarker) is a former Major League Baseball player.

An infielder/outfielder, the switch-hitting Buford played for the Chicago White Sox (1963–1967) and Baltimore Orioles (1968–1972).

College career

Buford played baseball at the University of Southern Californiamarker under legendary coach Rod Dedeaux. In 1958 he played on the Trojans' College World Series champions. He was also a running back on the USC football team. His son Damon Buford also played for the USC Trojans. Buford is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

In 2001, Buford was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame.

Professional career

In his major league career, Buford batted .264 with 93 home runs, 418 RBIs, 718 runs scored and 200 stolen bases in 1286 games played. One benefit of being a lead-off hitter is facing a lesser amount of double play situations. Along with this, Don showed his baseball talents by only grounding into 34 double plays during his big-league career (4553 at bats). By doing this, he holds the Major League Record for the fewest GIDP hit into, averaging one in every 138 at bats. His career total is two fewer than Jim Rice's single-season record, set in 1984, of 36, and 316 fewer than Cal Ripken's career record mark of 350 GIDP's.

Chicago White Sox

He broke into the majors as an infielder who played both second base and third base, becoming the White Sox’ regular at the former position in 1965 (after sharing the position with Al Weis in 1964) and the latter in 1966. In the latter year, he stole a career-high 51 bases (one behind the American League leader, Bert Campaneris) and led the AL in sacrifice hits with 17, while establishing himself as one of the league’s top lead-off hitters.

Baltimore Orioles

After the 1967 season the White Sox traded Buford to Baltimore in the same dealt that sent Luis Aparicio back to the White Sox, for whom Aparicio, one of the ChiSox's most popular players, had starred from 1956 to 1962. In 1968 Buford batted .282 with 15 home runs in a lineup that also featured the likes of Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Boog Powell, Davey Johnson and Paul Blair. In 1969 Buford hit a career-high .291 as the Orioles won the American League pennant. In the first game of the World Series against the New York Mets, Buford hit a leadoff home run against fellow ex-USC Trojan Tom Seaver—the first-ever home run to lead off a World Series. (Dustin Pedroia is the only other player to lead off a World Series with a home run, which he did with the Boston Red Sox in the 2007 World Series.) Buford also drove in another run with a double as the Orioles won 4-1. However, he went 0-for-16 over the next four games, all won by the Mets for a seemingly impossible Series victory.

In 1970 Buford batted .272 with 17 home runs and a career high 109 walks. The Orioles gained redemption in the World Series, which they won over the Cincinnati Reds in five games. Buford, playing in four of those games, went 4-for-15, including a home run in Game Three, which Baltimore won 9-3. In 1971 Buford batted .290 with a career-high 19 home runs. He was also selected to the All-Star team for the only time in his career. Again the Orioles went to the World Series; this time, however, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated them in seven games. Buford collected six hits in this Series; two of them were home runs.

In each of the Orioles’ three pennant-winning seasons Buford scored 99 runs, leading the American League in that category in 1971. Buford was the first Baltimore Oriole to homer from both sides of the plate in the same game. He accomplished this feat on April 9, 1970 in a 13-1 win over the Cleveland Indians. Buford also had the dubious distinction of being the first Oriole ever to strike out five times in one game, on August 26, 1971.[276219] Fortunately for him, his Orioles defeated his former team, the Chicago White Sox, 8–7.

Japan

After the 1971 season the Orioles played an exhibition series in Japanmarker. After slumping to .206 in 1972 Buford returned to Japan, where he had been known as “The Greatest Leadoff Man in the World” during the Orioles’ tour, to play professionally. In four seasons, from 1973 to 1976, he hit .270 with 65 home runs.In 1973 and 1974 voted to top 9 Best Players in Japan. Played in All-Star Games receiving Honors.

Post retirement

In 2006, Buford was the manager of the Daytona Cubs of the Florida State League. He had also served on Frank Robinson's coaching staff with the Orioles, San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals. Previously, he had front office and other minor league positions with the Orioles.

Buford’s son Damon Buford also played in the major leagues, playing with the Orioles, Mets, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs from 1993 to 2001.

Buford remains one of the most respected individuals to ever teach the game of baseball. His number 9 was retired by the Daytona Cubs after the 2006 season.

See also



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