Bob Bailey, a onetime "bonus baby" who delivered the Montreal Expos' first hit and won a World Series ring with the powerhouse 1976 Reds, died Tuesday in Las Vegas. He was 75.A right-handed-hitting third baseman and outfielder, Bailey also played for the Pirates, Dodgers and Red Sox during a 17-year
Bob Bailey, a onetime "bonus baby" who delivered the Montreal Expos' first hit and won a World Series ring with the powerhouse 1976 Reds, died Tuesday in Las Vegas. He was 75.
A right-handed-hitting third baseman and outfielder, Bailey also played for the Pirates, Dodgers and Red Sox during a 17-year Major League career from 1962-78. He hit .257/.343/.403 with 189 home runs and 773 RBIs in 1,931 big league games.
A high school star from California called "the Babe Ruth of Long Beach," the Pirates signed Bailey in 1961 for $175,000, a staggering sum in the years before the Draft was instituted in '65. He debuted for Pittsburgh in 1962, at the age of 19. He spent four full seasons with Pittsburgh before going to the Dodgers in a trade for Maury Wills.
It was with Montreal, however, in which Bailey made his mark. The expansion Expos acquired him from the Dodgers prior to their inaugural season of 1969. Playing first base and batting fifth on Opening Day at Shea Stadium against the Mets' Tom Seaver, Bailey drove the first pitch he saw to deep right-center field for a double. Gary Sutherland and Mack Jones scored, and the Expos held on for an 11-10 win.
Bailey hit .264 with 104 homers and 383 RBIs for the Expos from 1970-74, placing second on the team in RBIs each year from 1970-73. His .396 on-base percentage in 1974 ranked third in the National League.
Seeking some right-handed assistance off the bench, the Reds acquired Bailey in December 1975 for right-hander Clay Kirby. Pinch-hitting and playing some left field on days when lefty outfielders Ken Griffey or Cesar Geronimo sat against a southpaw starter, Bailey hit .298/.376/508 with six homers and 23 RBIs in 141 at-bats over 69 games. He did not appear in the postseason as the Big Red Machine swept both the Phillies and Yankees for a second successive championship.
Bailey was traded a year later to the Red Sox, with whom he finished his playing career in 1978. He was a Minor League manager and hitting coach, mostly in the Expos organization, and was the last manager of the Hawaii Islanders, a Pacific Coast League team from 1961-87.
Bob Dittmeier is an editor for MLB.com.