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Friday, April 15, 2022

Mike Easler helped Mo Vaughn become top hitter; Turned from long playing career to coaching

The Red Sox' Mo Vaughn started his major league career slowly, hitting .234 slowly. But the Red Sox got a new coach, former player Mike Easler, and Vaughn turned things around, The New York Post wrote in 2002.

Vaughn improved to .297 under Easler in 1993 and Vaughn eventually called Easler his "ace in the hole," The Post wrote.

"I told him, 'You don’t have to worry about anything. Your career is going to turn from now on,' " Easler recalled to The Post after Vaughn's arrival in New York.

Easler helped Vaughn from experience. He'd seen parts of 14 seasons in the majors himself as a player. He then went on to be a major league hitting coach in four different organizations.

Easler's career in baseball began in 1969, taken by the Astros in the 14th round out of Benedictine High School in Cleveland.

Easler started with the Astros at rookie Covington. He made AA Columbus in 1972, then Houston for six games in 1973. 

He saw major league time each year from 1973 to 1977, getting into a high of 21 games with the Angels in 1976. He then started getting regular time in 1979, with the Pirates. 

From 1980 to 1987, he got into at least 95 games each year and made the All-Star team in 1981. By 1983, he'd even earned the nickname "Hit Man" from his teammates.

In June 1983, UPI noted he swung a hot bat then, and did so by waiting on the ball. 

"I have to let the ball come to me," Easler told UPI then. "I'm a better hitter when I stay back and wait for the ball. Before, I was trying too hard."

Easler last saw the majors in 1987, playing with the Phillies and Yankees, and ended his career in Japan with Nippon Ham in 1988 and 1989.

He then turned to coaching and managing. He started in 1990 at independent Miami. By 1992, he was back in the majors with the Brewers as hitting coach. He spent 1993 and 1994 with the Red Sox, before disputes with the pitching coach and refusal to coach during the strike ended his tenure there.

He worked to get back managing independent ball again, with Nashua in 1998. He's then credited as coaching with the Cardinals in St. Louis in 2000 and with the Dodgers in Los Angeles in 2008. 

He's most recently credited as serving as hitting coach at AAA Buffalo in 2011.

In 2008, he worked with the Dodgers' Matt Kemp, helping get him back from an early slump, The Los Angeles Times wrote.

"He's got better strike-zone management now," Easler told The Times that May. "That's half the battle, not getting excited, staying within yourself."

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,891
Made the Majors:1,299-33.4%-X
Never Made Majors:2,592-66.6%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:528
10+ Seasons in the Minors:325

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