The Top Five Lafayette Drillers To Play In The Major Leagues
The Lafayette Drillers, an Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, called Lafayette their home for two years, from 1975-1976.
The Drillers, who played their home games at Clark Field, were co-champions of the Texas League in 1975 with the Midland Cubs, finishing 72-57, before going 58-76 in 1976, in the last year of affiliated professional baseball in Lafayette.
A number of outstanding players, who eventually made it to Major League Baseball played at Clark Field in 1975 & 1976, including five former Lafayette players.
Here are the top five Lafayette Drillers to play in the Major Leagues:
1)—JACK CLARK—Clark played third base with the Drillers in 1975, but he was known more for his bat than his glove, as his 56 errors errors will show.
Clark hit a .303, with 23 home runs, and 77 RBI’s for Lafayette in 1975, as a 19-year old teenager, before being called up, and getting a handful of at-bats for the San Francisco Giants in September of the year.
Wisely, the Giants organization moved him the outfield his next year in AAA, and following the All-Star break in 1976, Clark was in Major League Baseball to stay.
Clark went on to have an 18-year MLB career, including ten years with the Giants (1975-1984), three years with the St. Louis Cardinals (1985-1987), two years each with the Boston Red Sox (1991-1992) and San Diego Padres (1989-1990), and one year with the New York Yankees (1988).
The Covina, California native hit a .267 in his MLB career, with 340 home runs, 1,180 RBI’s, and 77 stolen bases, while being named to All-Star team in 1978, 1979, 1985, and 1987.
His best season was in 1987, with the Cardinals, when he finished third in the Most Valuable Player voting, after hitting a .286, with 35 home runs, and 106 RBI’s.
Following his playing career, Clark spent time as a minor league manager, and was also the hitting coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
2)—GARY ALEXANDER—Alexander, along with Clark, was part of a middle-of-the-order for the Drillers that gave Texas League pitchers nightmares.
Splitting time between catcher, outfield, and designated hitter, Alexander hit a .329 for Lafayette in 1975, while crushing 23 homers, and driving in 81 runs, as a 22-year old.
The very next year, in 1976, Alexander was with the San Francisco Giants, where he spent three years (1975-1977), before moving on to the Oakland A’s (1978), and the Cleveland Indians (1978-1980), before ending his MLB career with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1981.
The Los Angeles, California native spent most of his seven-year career as a catcher, compiling a .230 batting average, while belting 55 home runs, and driving in 202 runs.
His best season was 1978, when he split time between Oakland and Cleveland, when he hit 27 home runs, and drove in 84 runs.
Alexander also caught a 1976 no-hitter while with the Giants, thrown by John Montefusco.
3)—ROB DRESSLER—Dressler didn’t call Lafayette home for long, but he sure did make an impact.
The Portland, Oregon native was to opening night starter for the Drillers in 1975, and threw a two-hit shutout against the Alexandria Aces as a 21-year old, before going 5-1, with a 1.96 ERA. in six starts for the Drillers.
Dressler was called up to AAA Phoenix, and then later to the San Francisco Giants, where he pitched two years (1975-1976), before moving on to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1978, and then the Seattle Mariners (1979-1980), where he finished his playing days.
Over his five-year MLB career, Dressler went 11-23, with a 4.17 ERA., while appearing in 82 games, starting 48.
The right-hander’s best season was with the Mariners, in his final major league season in 1980, when he had a 3.98 ERA in 149.1 innings pitched.
4)—FRANK RICCELLI—Riccelli, along with Julio Division, was the co-ace of the Drillers pitching staff in 1975, going 14-6, with a 3.26 ERA. as a 22-year old.
The Syracuse, New York native went on to pitch part of three seasons in Major League Baseball, spending 1976 with the San Francisco Giants, and 1978-1979 with the Houston Astros.
Riccelli appeared in 17 MLB games, starting five. He compiled a 3-3 record, with a 4.39 ERA.
The left-hander’s best season was with the Astros in 1979, going 2-2, with a 4.09 ERA., over 22 innings of work, and two starts.
Riccelli also pitched in the Senior Professional Baseball Association, which ran from 1989-1990.
5)—REGGIE WALTON—Walton was a talented, five-tool outfielder, who his .310, with eight homers, 78 RBI’s, and 12 stolen bases for the Drillers in 1975.
Five years later, after spending more time in the minor leagues, and two years in Mexico, Walton joined the Seattle Mariners, where he played two years (1980-1981), before ending his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1981).
The Compton, California native hit a .250, with two home runs, nine RBI’s, and two stolen bases in his short career.
Walton had his most extended playing time in his rookie season of 1980, with the Mariners, when he hit a .277 over 88 at-bats.
Fan favorite Wendell Kim, a pint-sized second baseman, never made to Major League Baseball, but he did spend 14 years as a third base coach/bench coach,w ith the likes of the San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox, Montreal Expos, and Chicago Cubs.