Sunday, August 27, 2017

Ray Lankford, Some Kind - 23

Originally published Sept. 27, 2012
In one September 1991 game, Ray Lankford single-handedly won the contest, knocking in the Cardinals' only runs and cutting down the potential game-tying run for the final out, The Associated Press wrote.

The next night he just went out and hit for the cycle.

"He's had some kind of 24-hour period," Cardinals manager Joe Torre told The AP after the second game.

Lankford was completing his first full season in the majors that year, a season where he came in third in the Rookie of the Year voting. He went on to have some kind of career, becoming a regular in the Cardinal outfield for a decade and seeing time in 14 total big league seasons.

Lankford's career began in 1987, taken by the Cardinals in the third round of the draft, out of Modesto Junior College.

Lankford started at rookie Johnson City, making AA Arkansas in 1989, then AAA Louisville in 1990. In August 1990, Lankford debuted in St. Louis.

In 39 games for the Cardinals that year, Lankford hit .286. He returned for all of 1991, getting into 151 games, hitting .251 and stealing 44.

In 1992, Lankford hit .293, with 20 home runs and 42 stolen bases. In August 1992, Lankford knocked in the game-winning run off the Phillies' Mitch Williams in the 10th inning.

"Lankford doesn't scare," Torre told reporters afterward of the showdown. "You may get him out, but he doesn't give."

Lankford stayed with the Cardinals into 2001. Along the way, he hit .306 in 1999 and 31 home runs each in 1997 and 1998. In 1997, Lankford also made the All-Star team. That April, he also won a five-year contract extension worth $34 million.

By 2001, though, Lankford's relationship with the Cardinals had deteriorated with his batting average. He hit .253 in 2000 and, by August 2001, he was hitting just .235. He was then traded to the Padres.

By 2004, though, Lankford was back in St. Louis, to close out his career where it began. He got into 92 final games that year, hitting .255. In his final official at bat, Lankford hit a home run, the 238th of his career.

"It might be my last regular-season game, period," Lankford told The AP afterward. "I thought about all of that. It was great just to go up there and hear the fans cheering for me."

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