I missed the Bobby Meacham era in the Bronx. It was right at the cusp of my worldly – and baseball – consciousness.
In fact, Meacham made his Bronx debut when I was three months and one day old. He played his final game a few months after my fifth birthday, and at that point, little Ben didn’t care that much about the backup infielder with 134 plate appearances.
Offensively, Meacham had a pretty bad career for the Yanks. In 457 games, spanning parts of five seasons, he hit .236 with a .313 on-base percentage and a .308 slugging. Behind the scenes, things were even worse, as Bill Madden writes in today’s Daily News:
A Yankee for parts of five seasons, from 1983-88, he was subjected to some of the imperious and impulsive owner’s most notorious indignities. On the fourth game of that ’84 season, Meacham committed a two-out error that allowed the go-ahead run to score in a 7-6 Texas Rangers victory over the Yankees. After the game, an infuriated Steinbrenner ordered Meacham demoted to the minors, which wound up being Double-A Nashville because Andre Robertson, the Yankees’ first-string shortstop in ’83, was re-habbing at Columbus from injuries suffered in an automobile accident.
Three years later, Meacham again came into Steinbrenner’s crosshairs when, in a spring training game against the Braves, he committed two errors on a pock-filled infield in West Palm Beach. It didn’t matter that the Yankees had committed six errors as a team that day, Steinbrenner called GM Woody Woodward and ordered him to “get rid of Meacham.”
Meacham eventually wound up in Texas, traded for Bob Brower, and, despite the Steinbrenner-inflicted abuse, would pine for New York. When Joe Girardi offered him the third base job, he jumped.
In a way, Meacham has some big shoes to fill. Larry Bowa is, as Madden writes, one of the most respected baseball minds in the game and a stellar third base coach. But for Meacham, that doesn’t matter; he’s just happy to be back.