Jun 14, 2015

Sort Time Mets Outfielder Turned Big League Coach: Bret Butler (1995)

Brett Morgan Butler was born on June 15, 1957 in Los Angeles, California. Butler grew up in three different large metro areas, first L.A. then to San Francisco, then to the Chicago area by his teen years.

He attended Oklahoma State, getting drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1979, in the 29th round. After many years of losing in the early eighties the Braves had built a strong team with the likes of Dale Murphy, Bob Horner, & Glen Hubbard.

Bret Butler was brought up in 1981 to be their leadoff man & slowly worked his way into the lineup. In 1983 he led the league in triples (13) batting .281 with 21 doubles & 39 stolen bases (7th in the NL).

After the 1983 season, he was sent to the Cleveland Indians for Len Barker, batting a career high .311 with a .377 on base %, 47 stolen bases, 14 triples & 106 runs scored. There he developed into one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball for the next decade.

In his career he would lead the league in triples & singles four times each, runs scored & times on base two times each, walks, sacrifice hits & overall hits one time each. Butler would bat over .300 five times, while hitting .295 or better seven times.

He was a great base runner with good speed, stealing 30 or more bases for eleven straight years, twelve times overall & was among the league’s top ten in on base percentage seven separate times. He would score over 100 runs on six different occasions for three teams.

In 1988 he signed on with the San Francisco Giants and got more attention in the national spotlight. He batted .283 with a .393 on base % (2ND in the NL),leading the league in runs scored (106) with 47 stolen bases (6th in the NL) 27 doubles & 9 triples (3rd in the NL). 

The next year the Giants went on to win the pennant, Butler hit .287, stole 31 bases (10th in the league) with 22 doubles & four triples while scoring 100 runs.

In the NLCS he only hit .211 (4-19) but scored six runs. In the 1989 World Series that was halted due to the tragic San Francisco Bay Area earthquake, he did better at the plate. Butler hit .286 (4-14) stealing two bases, scoring & driving in a run against the mighty Oakland A’s.

Quotes: After the earth quake he was quoted as saying "Somebody's trying to shake us up. All right, Lord, I heard ya!"

In 1991 he signed as a free agent with the Giants rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers. In his first year in Los Angeles he made his only All Star team, & lead the league in walks (108) runs scored (112) games played (161) & plate appearances (730).

He hit .296 with 38 stolen bases & .401 on base % (2nd in the NL) receiving 31% of the votes for the MVP award. He spent four seasons in L.A. batting over .295 every year, in 1992 he batted .309 (8th in the league) and again was among the top in the league in his usual category.

In April of 1995 just as the season began, he signed as a free agent with the New York Mets. He joined Dallas Green’s Mets on the second day of the season, having a great day in Colorado Coors Field.

He hit two doubles, drew three walks & scored three runs, although the Mets still lost to the Rockies 9-7. He began the year with a six game hit streak & was batting .476 at the end of April. He remained consistent through mid May when he was still hitting .380 & had a .432 on base %.

He was the Mets leadoff man & centerfielder through August, batting .311, enjoying four different four hit games. Despite playing in only 90 games for Mets on the year, he led the team in stolen bases (21) triples (7) & walks (43).

On August 6th he was traded back to Los Angeles, for two minor leaguers that never made it, Dwight Maness and Scott Hunter. On the season he hit an even .300 with 114 hits, & 54 runs scored posting a .381 on base percentage.

In 1996 he was diagnosed with Squamous cell carcinoma a rare cancer on his tonsils. The news was shocking to Butler, his family as well as the entire baseball world. He had surgery & underwent extensive treatments and despite being told he would never play baseball again, returned to the Dodger line up that September. It was a heroic story and a true inspirational, motivated achievement for a good person.

Butler played just one more season batting .283 in 105 games posting a .363 on base%. In his seventeen year career he batted .290 lifetime, with 2375 hits (119th) 558 stolen bases (24th all time) 1129 walks (70th all time) 131 triples (78th all time) 1359 runs scored (97th all time) , 147 sac hits (180th all time) 54 HRs, 277 doubles & 578 RBIs.

Retirement: After his playing days he became a coach & minor league manager. In 2004 Butler was manager for the Mets minor league A ball team, the Gulf Coast Mets.

Since then he managed at various levels in the Diamondbacks organization. In 2007 he suffered a mild stroke but once again bounced back to resume managing.

In 2008 he took over to manage the AAA Reno Aces, in 2012 he led them to a Pacific Coast League Championship as well as the AA National Championship.

Since 2104 he has been the third base coach for the Miami Marlins big league team.

Butler is a born again Christian & is involved in many pro life causes.

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