From The Field To the Links
Scanning golf cyberspace, I came across a 2015 PGA.com column by Andrew Prezioso listing several baseball Hall of Fame hitters who also excelled at golf. Four of those names share the unique distinction of playing for only one team throughout their respective long careers.
Mike Schmidt, Robin Yount, George Brett, and Jim Rice share a passion for the game of golf – as driven on the links as they were on the field. With baseball season heating up, it is a fitting time to look at this quartet of diamond duffers.
PGA.com notes that, in 2009, Mike Schmidt was ranked among the top 5 athlete golfers by Golf Digest. This year, the legendary Phillies’ third baseman offered fans a round of golf with him as part of the 5th Annual Phillies Charities, Inc. Phantastic Auction.
Schmidt also served as 2017 Celebrity Host and Melanoma Education Advocate for the Richard David Kann (RDK) Melanoma Golf Classic at The Breakers Ocean Course in Palm Beach, FL.
On the baseball field, the third sacker had 548 home runs while driving in 1595 runs. In 1980, Schmidt powered the Phillies to their first-ever World Championship, winning World Series MVP honors.
He also won 9 straight Gold Gloves. Mike Schmidt was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995 and is arguably the greatest third baseman in the history of baseball.
Illinois native Robin Yount joined the Milwaukee Brewers in 1974 as an 18 year-old, but his Brew Crew career almost ended in 1978, and golf played a huge role in the saga.
Upset with his contract situation, the then-22 year-old Yount promised to leave baseball and join the PGA Tour. It is part of baseball and golf lore that Yount once shot 2-over at Pebble Beach, earning the eternal respect of celebrity golfers everywhere.
Alas, his links threat never materialized. Yount had a league-high 210 hits in 1982. He smashed 29 homers, 114 RBI and was named A.L. MVP while winning his first Gold Glove at shortstop. In 1989 as a converted centerfielder, Yount would snag another MVP award.
He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999 and has worked with Topps, offering fans a chance to golf with him at the We-Ko-Pa Golf Course in Scottsdale, AZ for charity.
George Brett is a truly accomplished golfer, especially at his home course of Mission Hills in Missouri. In 2015, the Kansas City Star reported that Brett had scored a hole-in-one on the 11th at Mission Hills, and it was not a unique occurrence.
Brett had shot aces on that very same hole two times before that. Regarding baseball and golf, Brett once told GOLF.com, “When you’re playing great you don’t have to think about fundamentals. There are no negatives. You just hit the ball.”
In his 21-season Royals’ career (1973-1993), George Brett batted .305 with 317 home runs and 1596 RBI. Brett was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999 and remains active on the links as a Royals’ front office executive.
Jim Rice’s golf acumen is legendary. Former Red Sox slugger and broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson shares this anecdote. “I swear Jim Rice could hit a golf ball 500 yards.
Yes, even the iconic Palmer marveled at Rice’s powerful drives. Baseball folks did the same. In 1978, Rice hit .315 with 46 home runs and 139 RBI, winning A.L. MVP honors.
“I once bet Arnold Palmer $10,000 that Rice could hit it at least 100 yards further than I could. Shortly after that, Arnie was paired with Rice in a Pro-Am. He called me and said, ‘You know that bet we had about Rice, no friggin’ bet!’”
He smacked 382 home runs with 1451 RBI, and a .298 batting average in his 16-year Boston career. Now a NESN analyst, Rice continues to play numerous charity golf tournaments and speak at golf-related functions. He entered the Hall of Fame in 1989 and his number 14 sits in its rightful place high above Fenway Park.
John Molori’s latest sports book, “Legendary Lumber,” will be released in August. Like him on Facebook at John Molori, Twitter @MoloriMedia. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.