Over the past 30 years or so, Von Hayes has become something of a tongue-in-cheek cult baseball hero, sort of like a Chuck Norris of the diamond.
The usual trope involves attributing great skills and accomplishments to Hayes, with some guys even going so far as to form a band somehow inspired by the former Phillies (and Indians) outfielder.
Why the fun-poking?
I’m not really sure, other than to say that Hayes was saddled with the dreaded “potential” label and never seemed to quite live up to the standards that tag implies.
Why, this dude was going to be the next Ted Williams.
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Never mind the fact that, well, no one will be the next Ted Williams. Not really.
But the thing about Von Hayes is, he was actually a good Major League ballplayer. There were even stretches there where he might have been a great MLB player.
Like that time he led the National League with 46 doubles and 107 runs (1986).
Or that year he rang up five WAR (Baseball Reference version) and nabbed his only(!) All-Star berth (1989).
And there was the 12-year career that left him, overall, within shouting distance of Dan Driessen from a Similarity Scores standpoint.
And anyone who can share a sentence with Driessen is something big in my book.
Of course, Hayes was also actually big, towering over most mere baseball mortals with his 6’5″ frame.
And dude had a sweet, sweet left-handed swing that made him look like (sorry!) Ted Williams in the box.
And … there was that trade.
The one that sent him from the Indians to the Phillies in December of 1982.
The one that netted the Tribe a haul of (deep breath) Jay Baller, Julio Franco, Manny Trillo, George Vukovich, and Jerry Willard.
For just young Von Hayes.
Really, given all those expectations heaped on Hayes, there was almost no way he was going to satisfy folks.
But he was a star (as we’ve already established).
And, every once in awhile, he was recognized as such, like in 1987.
That summer, Kraft tickled kids and sickened parents across the land by plastering the backs of their Macaroni & Cheese boxes with two baseball cards each.
This set was loaded with the biggest stars in the game, from Pete Rose to Don Mattingly to Rickey Henderson to Jose Canseco.
To, yes, Von Hayes.
And, with only 48 cards in total, Hayes’ spot there on card #24 was validation that he was part of baseball’s upper echelon, even if his cap had no logo (none of them did).
So, as America’s sewers filled with whatever packaged pasta and powdered cheese becomes in the afterlife, kids everywhere cut out little cardboard pictures of Von Hayes and stacked them next to the little cardboard cutouts of Wade Boggs and Eric Davis and Tony Gwynn.
Because Von Hayes was a star.
Seven days a week, all summer long.
Now pass the Pepto.
1987 Topps Baseball Cards Complete Your Set U-Pick (#'s 401-600) Nm-Mint
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End Date: Wednesday 04/05/2023 19:36:19 EDT
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