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Kurt Bevacqua: Padres Legend

If not for one night in one October, Kurt Bevacqua would be remembered by only a select few, filed away in the back of one's mind like fellow journeyman infielders Fred Hatfield before him and Jorge Velandia after him. Bevacqua played sparingly for six teams, including two stints in both Pittsburgh and San Diego. He was versatile enough to start games at every position except pitcher, catcher, and center fielder in his fifteen year career but was used most often as a pinch hitter. All that takes a back seat to what propelled him into the history books like fellow journeyman infielders Bucky Dent before him and Geoff Blum after him.

Bevacqua was drafted out of Miami-Dade college by Cincinnati in the twelfth round of the 1967 amateur draft and traded to Cleveland in May, 1971. He made his major league debut about a month and a half later and found his way into 76 games all over the diamond the next two seasons, batting .186, before being traded to Kansas City. After a .211 season in limited duty with the Royals, it was on to Milwaukee for two lackluster seasons. Bevacqua went to spring training with the Mariners in 1977 and was pictured as a member of the team on his Topps baseball card that year but was released before the season began, leading to what Nick of the incredible card blog Dime Boxes refers to as a "zero-year card". Signed by Texas after his release, Bevacqua hit .333 over 96 AB and set a career high with five home runs. He bested that total by one the next year, albeit in two and a half times as many AB while watching his BA dip to a more familiar .222. He was traded to San Diego after the 1978 season and was adequate in a bench role before being traded back to Pittsburgh during the 1980 season.

Following his second stint with the Pirates, Bevacqua returned to the Padres as a free agent before the 1982 season. He would spend the final four years of his career in San Diego, pinch hitting and filling in where needed. His finest moment came in 1984. Despite hitting exactly .200 with one home run in 80 regular season AB, Bevacqua was added to the postseason roster. He was hitless in two pinch hit tries in the NLCS win over Chicago but manager Dick Williams stuck with him, using him as the DH in the World Series. This paid off when Bevacqua hit a three run go-ahead home run in Game 2 that evened up the series. It is still the only World Series game the team has won. He went on to add another homer in the Game 5 loss and batted .412 for the series.

Not that many fans of the Indians, Royals, Pirates, Brewers, or Rangers remember Kurt Bevacqua, even if they saw him play. But ask any Padres fan. They'll tell you who he is.


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