Mike Felder legged out two POTW Awards

March 4th, 2022

In this ongoing series -- inspired by Stereogum’s “The No. 1s” -- we’ll look back on some of the more interesting, notable, and unexpected players of the week in MLB history, an award that has been given out since 1974. While many players of the week have been written about extensively and are entrenched in baseball lore, that is not always the case.


The Week: May 31, 1992

NL: Mike Felder, OF, SFG
AL: Albert Belle, OF, CLE

You remember that photo from a couple of years ago, the one that featured Aaron Judge standing next to Jose Altuve?

Now, there’s some forced perspective there: It looks like Altuve is standing next to Judge when he’s actually standing behind him. But photos like that one always serve to tell one essential story of baseball: Anyone can play it. If you’re huge like Judge, you can play. If you’re short like Altuve, you can play. Heck, the huge and the short can actually have a huge rivalry!

Which brings us to Mike Felder. A switch-hitting outfielder for a decade with the Brewers, Giants, Mariners and Astros, Felder was known primarily throughout his career for one thing: He was small. Generously listed at 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds, Felder had the nickname “Tiny” throughout his career. Remember, too, he played from 1985-94, before players got … well, “bigger.” To be called “Tiny” when Felder was called “Tiny” is a legitimate accomplishment. You have to really be tiny.

Felder was drafted by the Brewers in 1981, primarily as a defensive specialist and basestealer. People were stealing a lot of bases in 1981, but they were really stealing a lot in '85, which is when the Brewers called Felder up. It’s not difficult to see what he was there for. He played 15 games, reached base 16 times and tried to steal five times. He played five more years after that with the Brewers but never more than 121 games, and he was known for a low batting average (.247 in the six years with Milwaukee), no power (nine homers in 1,266 plate appearances) and all those stolen bases (108 in Milwaukee). He then hit free agency and signed with the team that, as a native of Vallejo, Calif., he grew up cheering for: the San Francisco Giants.

Thus came the Tiny Felder heyday. He was a regular for the Giants those two seasons, becoming such a beloved player locally that he actually shaved “Beat LA” into his head. He had four homers in two seasons for San Francisco, but he batted .275 and stole 35 bases. But mostly, he was just enormously popular for two Giants teams that had losing seasons. He was in fact on the last two Giants teams that wouldn’t have Barry Bonds on them until 2008.

Felder, if you can believe this, actually won two Players of the Week Awards with the Giants during his two years there. (That’s as many as Bonds would win in his first five years in San Francisco.) The first was in June 1991, when he went 13-for-29 (with no walks, no homers and two triples) to earn one during a stretch that the Giants went 4-3. But the 1992 win came for a much shorter, less impressive stretch of four games when he went 11-for-23 with two triples, five RBIs and one stolen base. It must have been a light week in the National League, especially considering what Albert Belle was doing to win the Player of the Week Award in the American League. Belle hit five homers and drove in eight runs (and even notched just as many stolen bases) during the same stretch to win for Cleveland.

Felder ultimately left San Francisco after two seasons and signed with Seattle, where he hit .211 in one season, stealing 15 bases but being caught nine times at the age of 31. He hung on a little longer for Houston in 1994, playing 58 games and stealing three bases. He ended his career with 161 steals, which is 501st all-time, tied with … Dale Murphy. (Whit Merrifield is two behind Felder.)

Felder recently had a pretty awesome job: He was an assistant coach for San Francisco’s Academy of Art University baseball team, which proudly proclaims itself “the only art school in the NCAA.” They’re currently 5-10, but hey: Art is struggle.

Around the world

The week before Felder and Belle won their awards, Johnny Carson made his last appearance as host of “The Tonight Show.”

The No. 1 song

“Jump,” Kris Kross

Chris Kelly and Daddy Mac were 12 and 13 years old, respectively, when this song hit No. 1.

At The Movies

For the third consecutive week, "Lethal Weapon 3" ruled the box office, but the more lasting movie finished second, in its first week of release: "Sister Act."

Other movies in the top 10 included "The Player," "Howards End," "Beauty and the Beast," "Wayne’s World" and "Encino Man."