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Michael Shane Spencer (born February 20, 1972 in Key West, Floridamarker) is a former Major League Baseball outfielder. In Major League Baseball, he played a total of 538 games for the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, and New York Mets, compiling 438 hits, 59 home runs, and 242 RBI. He was a replacement player during spring training in , crossing the picket line during the 1994 Major League Baseball strike.

Professional baseball career

New York Yankees (1998-2002)

The stocky, baby-faced outfielder was first called up to the major leagues in September , at the age of 26, in the midst of a famously dominant season by the Yankees. He quickly endeared himself to fans by hitting 10 home runs, including 3 grand slams in only 67 at-bats -- a rate that would have been phenomenal even for an established star—and won a surprise spot on the postseason roster. (The significance of this rookie feat, 10 home runs in 67 official at-bats, can be illustrated by comparing it with the best years by Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds. Spencer's production of a home run for each 6.7 at-bats would have yielded 76 home runs during McGwire's 70-home run year (1998) with 509 official at-bats; during Bonds' record year, 2001, with 73 home runs in 476 at-bats, Spencer's total would have been 71.)

Spencer was nicknamed Roy Hobbs, in reference to the protagonist in The Natural, because he hit so many home runs and was older than most rookies when brought up to the majors. He hit a long home run in Yankee Stadiummarker during the Divisional Series against the Texas Rangers, and the Yankees went on to win the World Series.

Later career (2003-2006)

Spencer was not able to maintain that level of success, but became a solid role player and stayed with the Yankees through the season, having played in four World Series, winning three. He split the season with Texas and Cleveland and was signed as a free agent in by the Mets. His career did not live up to expectations, though, missing much playing time due to injury and striking out too often. In he signed with the Central League's Hanshin Tigers in Japanmarker, appearing in 108 games and hitting 9 homers. In , he continued to play for the Tigers, but was cut.

Major league teams were reluctant to sign him, despite his major league experience, because of off-field trouble after leaving the Yankees. He cut his foot in a bar in Manhattanmarker, and then, while he was supposed to be on rehab assignment, he was arrested for drunk driving and speeding over 97 mph. He also had problems with Floridamarker police during spring training 2004. He and teammate Karim Garcia were accused of hitting and kicking a pizza-delivery man in 2004, though all charges were dropped.

Most recently, in a 2009 interview, Selena Roberts of Sports Illustrated, when speaking about her latest book 'The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez' named Spencer in connection with A-Rod in "pitch tipping" allegations when the two played together in Texas.

Coaching

After his career ended, Spencer's career turned to coaching, and he has served as the hitting coach for the Lake Elsinore Storm, the Single-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres since .

References

  1. MLBtv.com. Selena Roberts and Bob Costas Interview. http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090503&content_id=4549206&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb Retrieved on 2009-05-03.


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