Nov 19, 2014

Former Italian / American Player: Dante Bichette (1988-2001)

Alphonse Dante Bichette was Born on November 18, 1963 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The six foot three, right handed hitting outfielder was signed at age 19 after attending Jupiter, High School in Jupiter Florida. He was drafted by the California Angels in the 17th round in 1984.

Dante had a modest minor league career peeking in the majors for two seasons early on his career (1988 & 1989). He spent three years overall with the Angels hitting 15 HRs in 1990 in his first full season (109 games). He was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Dave Parker in March 1991. He hit his Brewer best 15 HRs the next season.

In 1993 he was traded to the expansion Colorado Rockies for Kevin Reimer, becoming an original Rockie. There he became one of the teams first stars, as his offensive numbers exploded in the Mile high air of the Rocky Mountains. 

Bichette was part of the "Blake Street Bombers" which also included sluggers Larry Walker, Andres Galarraga, and Vinny Castilla.

In the Rockies first season he batted .310 with 21 HRs for the fifth place team playing in the Denver Broncos Mile High Stadium. The thin Colorado air had him hit 20 or more HRs for eight straight seasons, including a monster 1995 season when the team first moved into Coors Field. On Opening Day 1995 he hit the very first HR at Coors Field, a 14th inning walk off blast against Mike Remlinger & the New York Mets.

That year he led the league in HRs (40) RBIs (128) hits (197) slugging % (.620) & total bases (359) posting a .340 batting average (3rd in the league). He came very close to winning a triple crown that season was the most baseball player in Denver.

He was second in the MVP voting and made the second of three straight All Star appearances. That year the Rockies won the wild card & made the post season in just their third season of play.

In his only post season appearance he batted .588 (10-17) with three doubles, a HR & three RBIs off the Atlanta Braves fine pitching staff. In addition to his HRs he also hit for average, Bichette hit over .300 six straight years, while batting over .290 eight straight times.

He had five straight seasons with over 100 RBIs, hitting 30 or more doubles eight times, including a career high 48 in 1998. That season he also had a career high 219 hits leading the league in that category for the second time. He batted .331 (3rd in the league) while posting a .357 on base %. Bichette was also a quick base runner, stealing 14 or more bases six times.

In 1996 he joined the exclusive 30/30 club along with team mate Ellis Burks. They became only the second set of team mates to accomplish this feat. By the late nineties he was suffering from back problem and was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Stan Belinda and Jeffrey Hammonds.

His bad back affected his hitting as his numbers fell off completely. In August of 2000 he was traded to the Boston Red Sox retiring by 2001 at age 37. In a 14 season career he hit .299 with 1906 hits , 274 HRs 401 doubles a .336 on base % & 1078 RBIs.

Retirement: After a two year layoff, Bichette played in the Atlantic Independent League in 2004, winning a Player of the month Award there.

The next season his son played in the Little League World Series with his Maitland Florida team. Dante Bichette Jr. was a 2011 first round pick.

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