Light Hitting Infielder Hall of Fame Darrel Chaney
It is the off season which means the hallowed halls of the Light hitting Infielder are calling:
Darrel Chaney was selected in the second round of the 1966 draft out of Morton HS in Indiana. The Reds took Gary Nolan a round earlier and both would become future members of the Big Red Machine.
His first 3 years as a pro he was reaching for the hype that is the next great light hitting infielder when at clubs in Sioux Falls, Knoxville, and Asheville he hit .206, .189, and .231. The Redlegs desperately needed to add this light hitting infielder to the big league roster so they did just that in 1969 despite the fact he carried a career mark of .219.
*He did swat 23 HR for Asheville in the Southern League (striking out 159 times in 468 AB)
The Reds used Chaney to backup Woody Woodward and Tommy Helms at SS and 2B and he rewarded them with a .191 .Avg in 209 at bats. But, that power he showed at Asheville was non existent as he hit 0 home runs. In fact, he hit just 14 HR in 2113 at bats as a big leaguer.
In 1970 the Reds fans saw Dave Concepcion take the starting job from Woody Woodward during the season and Chaney continued to assume the role of backup middle infielder as he hit .232 in 95 AB. He did hit his first big league HR on September 7th in San Francisco ( first game of a DH) off of future hall of famed Juan Marichal (solo shot in 9th after entering game late)
In 1971 Chaney returned to the minors for most of the season ( he went 3-24 in 10 big league games) hitting .277 in 459 at bats for AAA Indianapolis.
At the age of 24 in 1972 Chaney took back the role of light hitting utility infielder and he held down that job through 1975 with the team that became known as the Big Red Machine. During these years he played in 83, 105, 117, and 71 games backing up at 2B, SS, and 3B.
His best season was 1971 when he hit .250 in 196 at bats. He did become the Reds primary SS in 1971 when Davey Concepcion struggled and again in 1972 when Concepcion was hurt. He received a personal best with the Reds of 227 at bats in 1973 batting .181.
A crazy thing happened after the 1975 season, you see because the Atlanta Braves wanted them some Chaney. In December the Braves sent 1B/LF Mike Lum to Cincy so they could accomplish their goal.
Even crazier was the Braves wanted Chaney to be their everyday SS. Apparently they were not satisfied with the efforts of Larvell Blanks their everyday SS in 1975.
If you were a Braves season ticket holder in 1976 you were in for a real treat as Chaney played in a team high 153 games batting .252 with a HR and 50 RBI.
In 1977 Chaney started the year injured and really never got on track (although getting on track to much can change your fate and get you out of the Light Hitting Hall of Fame) eventually losing his job to one Mr. Pat Rockett. Chaney batted .201 and his days as a regular were Pretty much over. ( he did get the most starts at SS in a rotation of players in 78)
In 1978 and 1979 Chaney backed up greats like Jerry Royster, Rocket, Pepe Frias, and Glenn Hubbard. He closes out his last 2 seasons batting .224 and .162.
His career line gave him 2113 at bats with 14 HR and a slash line of .217/.296/.288/584
After his career ended he got involved in broadcasting working for the Braves as an announcer on their TV and radio broadcasts along with Ernie Johnson Sr., Skip Caray and Pete van Wieren. He was on the Atlanta Braves Baseball Radio Network as well as WTBS-TV. (Wikipedia)
Today he is the Chairman of the Board of the Major League Alumni Marketing (MLAM) and a Sr. Vice President of Sales and Marketing at a retail services organization. He is also a motivational speaker that has spoken in front of many businesses and organizations. His site is here
Highlights of Chaney’s career his cousin Randall could appreciate:
First game- 4/11/69 in Atlanta- entered game as a PR for PH Fred Whitfield where he was forced out at 2B to end game in a 6-4 Reds loss
first at bat- 4/15/69 sacrifice bunt off of Gaylord Perry in the 11th inning of eventual 11-10 Reds win in 12.
First start- 4/19/69 vs Atlanta in Cincinnati going 0-3 with 3 PO and 5 Assists in a 4-0 Braves win ( batted 8th)
First Hit- 4/20/69 at Crosley Field single to RF off of Ken Johnson of the Braves in the bottom of the 6th
First HR- 9/7/70 solo HR off of Juan Marichal in the 9th inning in San Francisco
Last HR- 7/17/78 in Atlanta solo HR off of Skip Lockwood of the Mets
Final Game- 9/30/79 versus the Reds in front of announced crowd of 50,932 playing SS and batting 7th. He goes 1-3 with 2 RS, RBI, SB, BB, 2 PO, 1 Assist, in 7-2 Braves win ( Phil Niekro with the win closing his year out with a 21-20 record)
Last hit- single to CF leading off the top of the 4th off of Mario Soto
final at bat- fly ball to RF off of Dave Tomlin
Loved to face- Gaylord Perry 10-20 3 RBI
Did not like to face- Randy Jones 1-23 6 K
best game- 9/21/74 in San Francisco at the Stick: 3-4, HR, 2 RS, 2 RBI ( 2nd inning off of Jim Barr)
-”When a batter swings and I see his knees move, I can tell just what his weaknesses are then I just put the ball where I know he can’t hit it.” Satchel Paige
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