Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Julius McDougal, Dazzlingly Paisley - 5

Originally published May 21, 2010
Sports Illustrated described the shirt as dazzling and paisley. The shirt was found in the spring training locker of Twins minor leaguer Julius McDougal by new manager Tom Kelly.

Kelly took a liking to it, so much so that the young manager borrowed it and wore it out to practice.

"I like to keep the game fun," Kelly told the magazine.

While the game was fun for his manager that spring, the game had to be fun for McDougal. He played it for parts of nine seasons, never making the majors.

By spring 1987, McDougal had spent three years in the minors, reaching AA Orlando in 1986 and Baseball Digest had him challenging for a utility position for 1987. By the time his career was over McDougal got as high as AAA, but no further.

A native of Jackson, Miss., McDougal was originally taken by the Cubs in the third round of the 1984 draft. McDougal had been a stand-out at Jackson State.

He spent three seasons with the Cubs system, overcoming a slow offensive start with outstanding defense at single-A Lodi in 1984, to become a respectable hitter for single-A Winston-Salem by 1986.

It was mid-1986 that the Cubs shipped him to Minnesota in a five-player deal and the Twins slotted him at AA Orlando. In 61 at bats for the O-Twins, McDougal hit a scorching .377.

But, in a year that began with promise, McDougal's 1987 would end with a combined .203 average between AAA Portland and AA Orlando.

For the last five seasons of his career, McDougal moved to five successive teams, starting with the Tigers in 1988 and ending with the Phillies in 1992.

With the Tigers' AA team in Glens Falls, McDougal hit a three-run home run that powered the GF Tigers to victory. But it was one of only seven homers on a year where he hit .241.

The next year, at Canton-Akron, McDougal broke a cardinal rule of baseball in one game, trying to steal third with two outs May 28 at Albany-Colonie. Jim Leyritz gunned him down, ending the inning and the chance to tie.

McDougal closed out his career with 59 games with AAA Syracuse in the Blue Jays system in 1991 and 13 games with the Phillies at AA Reading in 1992 and his playing days were done.

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