In addition to being obsessive about baseball, I also collect records. It is not all that often that these two disparate wolds collide, but when they do, it sets off all kinds of bells and whistles in the pleasure center of my brain. This is something I'd like to dig into on this blog as an ongoing series of sorts, exploring both music recorded by baseball players and music about baseball. This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive study, as there are a fair amount of baseball players that have recorded some terrible music (Bronson Arroyo, I'm looking at you), but rather to bring to light some lesser known artists or songs that have at least some sort of redeeming value. The first installment in this series will explore the works of the group Ballplayers.
Recently reissued as a 4 track EP on the Washington DC label People's Potential Unlimited, Ballplayers was a funk group consisting of major league baseball players Lenny Randle and Thad Bosley. In the early 198o's the duo recorded three 45's, released on their own label Randle Enterprises. The music itself is somewhat cheesy synth-funk, that borders on the it's so bad that it is actually really good category. Personally, I'm a pretty big fan.
Lenny Randle, the 1st round draft pick of the Washington Senators in 1970, played in the majors from 1971-1982 with the Rangers, Mets, Cubs and Mariners. Randle was primarily an infielder with a less than inspiring career line of .257/.321/.335. He did have two pretty good years, his breakout in 1974 with the Rangers (.302/.338/.356 - 26 SB) had him finishing 21st in the MVP race, and his best season in 1977 as a member of an atrocious Mets team (.304/.383/.404 - 33 SB). Randle was traded to the Mets in the spring of 1977 after an altercation with Rangers manager Frank Lucchesi, in which Lucchesi called Randle a "punk" and Randle punched his manager in the face, breaking his cheekbone in three places. Randle is perhaps best known by baseball fans as the guy who got down on his hands and knees and unsuccessfully tried to blow the ball foul at the Kingdome in 1981.
Until June of this year, Thad Bosley was still roaming MLB dugouts as the hitting coach of the Texas Rangers. His tenure though was rather brief, and he was fired for "not being a good fit." This was Bosley's second coaching stint in the majors, the other being the first base coach for the Oakland A's during the Moneyball era. As a player, Bosley was a career 4th outfielder for the Angels, White Sox, Brewers, Mariners, Cubs, Royals and Rangers, with a career line of .272/.330/.357. in 14 seasons. His best season came as a Cub in 1985 in which he played a career high 108 games, slashing .328/.391/.511. Ballplayers was not the end of Bosley's recording career, however, as he released a 7" single in 1984 on B&E Records titled "Mulldigger" with a similar sound to Ballplayers, and three gospel LPs in the late '80s.