Several players have come to Anaheim for a cup of coffee over the years. Let’s take a look back at the five most notable players you might have forgotten played for the Angels.
I was searching through an old box of baseball cards with my daughter the other day, and what a place to find random and forgotten names. She had an Eddie Murray card in an Angels uniform. I don’t know what looked stranger, Murray with the word Angels across the bottom of the card, or the Disney-inspired uniform he was wearing. It got me thinking about the most notable players who have worn an Angels uniform that we might have forgotten about. Here are the top names that came to mind.
The Hall-of-Fame, leadoff hitter is most remembered for his time with the Athletics, but he did spend part of the 1997 season with the Halos. Having lost their leadoff hitter, Tony Phillips, to charges of felony possession of cocaine, the Angels, in the thick of a pennant race with the Seattle Mariners, made a late season trade to acquire the veteran outfielder in exchange for three prospects. Henderson failed to produce the spark the Angels needed, batting an anemic .183 over 32 games to finish the season. He became a free agent the following winter and signed back with the Athletics.
2) Eddie Murray
Eddie Murray was another random Hall-of-Famer who found his way onto the 1997 roster. Signed as a free agent the previous December, Murray spent the majority of his final regular season in Anaheim, although it was more ceremonial than productive. Over 46 games, he batted .219 with three home runs and 15 RBIs. No longer a threat at the plate, and obviously not useful off the bench in another role, such as pinch-running, he was released in August shortly after Rickey Henderson was acquired. Murray played his final nine games with the Dodgers.
The five-time All-Star, who made his name playing for the Montreal Expos, signed a minor league contract with the Angels in 2004 where he would play his final Major League game. Having overcome two battles with cancer, the 43-year-old joined the Halos two home runs shy of 400 career dingers. He would eventually hit #399 in a blowout win late that season. Unfortunately, he was forced to retire the following spring one homer short of reaching the 400 plateau.
4) Bo Jackson
Bo knows Southern California. When I was a kid, there were few athletes as popular as Bo Jackson, the two-sport wonder who played four seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders, made his baseball name playing for the Kansas City Royals, but finished his career with the Angels. After the strike cut short the 1994 season, Jackson would eventually retire from baseball, famously telling reporters, “I got to know my family. That looks better to me than any $10 million contract.” In 75 games for the Halos, the Auburn product batted .279/.344/.507 with 13 home runs and 43 RBIs.
Most notable for his time pitching for the other team in Southern California, Fernandomania came to Anaheim in 1991. The left-hander who rose to instant stardom with the Dodgers after winning both the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards in 1981, only made two starts for the Halos, losing both games, and earning a look-the-other-way 12.15 ERA. He eventually took one year off from the Majors in 1992 before returning to finish his career with the Orioles, Phillies, Padres, and Cardinals.