Over the years the Dodgers have had some fantastic batters who excelled at the role of the pinch-hitter. There have been Dave Hanson, Ron Fairly, Jose Morales and Olmedo Saenz - just to name a few. Nobody was better, though, than Manny Mota.
He was so good he effectively stopped playing a regular outfield position to concentrate on that role after the 1973 season, and continued to remain on the Dodgers regular roster for another six years. Heck, the Dodgers even reactivate a recently retired Mota for both the 1980 and 1982 pennant drives in hopes his magical bat could still knock them in. In 1980 he went 3 for 7 and recorded 2 RBI's. In 1982, however, he grounded out in his lone at-bat. BTW, pitching against him in that last at-bat was fellow grey-hair Jim Kaat.
I write all of this because today is the 36th anniversary of Manny Mota's setting the all-time pinch-hitting record of 145 hits. Check out the 1980 Topps Baseball card above and below that commemorates the achievement.
He finished his career with 150 hits and currently ranks third on the all-time list behind two other former pinch-hitters who played for the Dodgers: Lenny Harris and Mark Sweeney.
If you are interested in reading a fantastic biography on him online check out this piece by Rory Costello at the SABR Biography Project (Link). It's well worth your time. Below is a short excerpt:
Manny Mota never seemed to age. “He’s scary,” said Steve Garvey, his teammate with the Los Angeles Dodgers. “I wish just one spring he would show up with one gray hair.” That was in June 1979, a couple of months before the Dominican set the career record for pinch hits.
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