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George Arthur Foster (born December 1 1948 in Tuscaloosa, Alabamamarker) is a former left fielder and right-handed batter in Major League Baseball who played for the San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets and Chicago White Sox from 1969-1986.

In his career he hit for a .274 batting average, with 348 HRs, 1,239 RBIs, 1,925 hits and 986 runs scored in 1,977 games played.

Professional career

Foster began his career in the San Francisco Giants organization, but the Giants already had a promising young outfielder named Bobby Bonds. Figuring Foster was expendable, the Giants dealt him early in the 1971 season to the Reds for Frank Duffy and Vern Geishert. Foster made the Reds lineup as the starting center fielder (replacing an injured and out-for-the-season Bobby Tolan) almost immediately and showed flashes of his power by hitting 10 home runs and driving in 50 runs in his first season as a Red.

But, in the 1972 season, Tolan was healthy and won the Comeback Player of the Year award playing center and Foster was relegated to platooning in right field with Cesar Geronimo, another young Reds outfielder, for the next two seasons.

In 1974, the Reds dealt Tolan, moved Geronimo to center, and placed a young Ken Griffey in right. Foster was still a backup, as the Reds had Pete Rose in left.

Finally, early in the 1975 season, Reds manager Sparky Anderson made the move that would enable Foster to emerge as a star. He moved Rose to third base to save his aging legs and to get Foster's powerful bat in the lineup every day. Foster responded by hitting 23 homers that year and being a vital cog in the "Big Red Machine" for the next six years.

A 5-time All-Star (1976-79, 1981), Foster was a member of the 1970s Big Red Machine, leading the league in home runs in 1977-78, runs batted in from 1976-78, and OPS in 1977.

In , Foster hit 52 home runs, making him the only major league player to belt 50 or more homers in a single season during a 25-year period (between Willie Mays with 52 in and Cecil Fielder with 51 in ). The next batters to hit 50 HRs in the National League were Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Greg Vaughn in . He also batted in an NL leading 149 runs. In recognition of his accomplishment, Foster received the NL's MVP award by a unanimous vote.

Although he was not able to hit 50 or more homers again in 1978, he paced the NL with 40 and in RBIs with 120.

In 1981, at a point in his career when it looked like he would one day rank among the game's all-time greats, Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig included him in their book The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time.

After being traded by the Reds to the New York Mets on February 10, 1982, Foster was given a five-year, $10 million contract ($ in current dollar terms). However, he failed to deliver big numbers for the Mets and was a huge disappointment during his 4½-year tenure in New York. All of Foster's power numbers declined—his Mets' high in homers was 28 in 1983, and his batting average as a Met was never higher than the .269 he achieved in 1984. He received his outright release in August 1986 after he accused the Mets of racism for benching him. His replacement on the roster was Lee Mazzilli, an Italian-American, though Mookie Wilson, an African-American, ultimately replaced him as the everyday left fielder. However, the Mets biggest and most marketable stars that year were Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, both African-Americans.

Foster was then picked up by the Chicago White Sox, and saw action in 15 games for them—his last being on September 6, 1986 before being released the following day.

See also



Trivia

  • Foster is a born-again Christian and spends time instructing youth in baseball techniques.
  • Foster was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famemarker in 2003.
  • Foster played baseball, football and ran track at El Camino Collegemarker before being drafted.
  • Foster is a motivational speaker in the United States.
  • Foster's nickname in Cincinnati was "The Destroyer".
  • Against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fifth and deciding game of the 1972 National League Championship Series, Foster scored the winning run on Bob Moose's wild pitch, which put the Reds into the World Series for the second time in three years.
  • Foster always used black-colored bats when hitting. His nickname for those bats was "Black Beauty." Teammate Ray Knight, while still in the minors, once borrowed one of Foster's bats and used it to hit nine homers in a month.
  • Foster was one of the most hated batters by opposing pitchers because he would step out of the batter's box after every single pitch.
  • Attended Leuzinger High School, Lawndale, California and El Camino Collegemarker
  • Regularly arrived at his MLB games in a stretch limo.
  • Despite his well-publicized issues with New York Mets' ownership, he was offered, and accepted, an invitation to be present at the final game and closing of Shea Stadiummarker in 2008.


References

  1. SI.com - Writers - All-meltdown team (cont.) - Tuesday August 29, 2006 5:42PM


External links




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