Rick Leach turns 64 today.
Rick was a first-round draft pick for the Tigers, 13th overall, in 1979. He made it to the majors during the strike-shortened 1981 season, hitting a big .193/.320/.289 in 83 at-bats, mostly pinch-hitting and playing a bit of first and right field. Rick played three seasons in Detroit. He never hit much, and the Tigers released him.
The Blue Jays signed him before the 1984 season. He played five seasons for the Jays, playing DH, first, right, left, and occasionally center field. He even pitched an inning in 1984, but it didn’t go well. Rick walked 2, and gave up two hits, including a home run. In 1986 he had a .308/.335/.435 line. In 1987 he hit .282/.371/.405, not bad, but not he didn’t have the power you’d want from a corner outfield spot nor the speed. But for a 4th outfielder, he was pretty good.
During the 1986 season, Leach tested positive for some ‘nonperformance enhancing drug’ (so come recreational drug) and was suspended for 60 days and ordered to take drug treatment.
In 5 years with the Jays, Rick hit .283/.340/.391 with 8 home runs, 95 RBI in 763 at-bats. After leaving the Jays, Leach played a season each with the Giants and the Rangers before leaving baseball at 33. He seemed like a very likable guy, a fan favorite in the way that 4th outfielders are often fan favorites, but since the Jays had Bell, Barfield, and Moesby in the outfield, there was no way he was going to get a full-time role. But a useful lefty batter on the bench.
He was a favorite of mine because, back in the day, I played Statis Pro Baseball and Strat-O-Matic Baseball, and Rick had good numbers in 1986 and 1987, giving him a valuable card in those games.
Leach had been a pretty good football player too, playing quarterback in College. The Denver Broncos drafted him in the 5th round of the 1979 draft. He finished third in Heismen Thorphy voting in 1978 and
…shattered all Michigan’s career passing, total offense and touchdown records. He set an NCAA record for most touchdowns accounted for (82) and broke Big Ten records for total offense (6,460 yards), total plays (1,034), and touchdown passes (48).
Happy birthday Rick. I hope it is a good one.