One of my favorite baseball players growing up was former Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Gregory Lamont Vaughn.
I remember going to Milwaukee County Stadium back when I was in grade school to see what Vaughn was going to do that night. I remember "Vaughn's Valley" and the sign that said so in the left field bleachers.
Vaughn may not have been the best player on the team in his years in Milwaukee (1989-96), but I still loved to watch him play, no matter how many times he struck out.
He also had a chance to hit the ball a country mile, if he guessed the pitch right.
His batting stance was in a class by itself; Vaughn, standing extreme pigeon-toed at the plate, waving his bat back and forth, awaiting the pitch.
Vaughn was actually drafted four times, twice by the Brewers.
Milwaukee took him in the fourth round of the 1984 draft, but Vaughn did not sign. In January of '85, the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted him in the first round (19th overall), but again he did not sign.
In June of '85, the California Angels took Vaughn in the third round, but he once again did not sign on the dotted line. I don't know why he never signed those three times. I'm pretty sure he knew how to sign his name.
Finally, in 1986, the Brewers drafted Vaughn again, this time with the fourth overall pick, and he signed nine days later, earning just $68,000 in his first year.
He played seven and a half years in Brew Town and one of his better years was in 1993, when Vaughny batted .267 with 30 HR and 97 RBI. Although, he was on his way to his best year when he was traded to San Diego at the deadline in 1996.
Unfortunately, I was at the game when the announcement was broken to the fans. I was sitting in the Mezzanine-Diamond Box (Crew fans know what that is). I still have the ticket stub from that game too.
One of the reasons I was at that particular game was because another one of my favorite players, Ken Griffey Jr., came to town with the Seattle Mariners.
It was Turn Back the Clock Night at County Stadium, where hot dogs and soda were $1 a pop.
I was wondering why Vaughny wasn't in left field, or for that matter, in the lineup as possible DH. I passed it off as manager Phil Garner giving him a day off.
Then a mid-inning break, and I did my usual glance at the scoreboard in right-center and saw the news.
Greg Vaughn had been traded to the Padres for Marc Newfield, Ron Villone and Bryce Florie. Milwaukee would later include Gerald Parent in the deal.
My mouth dropped to the floor, and my stomach followed. Arguably my favorite player on the team was on his way out West, and yet another player had escaped the black hole that was Milwaukee in the MLB of the 90s.
All three (Newfield, Villone, Florie) were less than stellar in their Milwaukee careers, especially Newfield. He never played more than 93 games in a season, and only hit 11 home runs and had 74 RBI.
Once in San Diego, Vaughn took off at the plate. In 1996, he completed his fine season with 41 HR and 117 RBI.
Vaughn made one World Series appearances, in 1998, where he hit .272, with 50 HR 119 RBI, and met the Yankees in the Series. Vaughn had two hits in that World Series, both home runs, but would only hit .133 against New York.
After the loss to New York, Vaughn spent time in Cincinnati (1999), Tampa Bay (2000-02, the black hole of the new millennium), and Colorado (2003).
Well, it's been 12 years since Vaughn was sent packing from my hometown team, and as I looked over the candidates for the class of 2009 for the MLB Hall of Fame, I had to chuckle.
What name did I see on that list? That's right, Greg Vaughn.
Now, I love the guy, but in no way is he Hall-of-Fame worthy. Here are his stats for his 15-year career:
In 1731 career games: 6103 AB, 1017 R, 1475 hits, 284 doubles, 23 triples, 355 HR, 1072 RBI, 121 SB, 865 BB, 1513 K, .242 average, .337 OBP, .470 SLG.
Vaughn is a four-time All-Star and was the NL Comeback Player of the Year in 1998 as well.
However, the one thing he'll never get is his head in bronze...the same goes for his cousin, Mo.