SABR

Del Unser

This article was written by Rory Costello.

“Dad always told me: ‘When you put on a uniform, you hustle.’” So said Del Unser in 2011, looking back at his career and the lessons he learned from his father.1 Al Unser served the game for more than 40 years as a professional player (including four in the majors during World War II), manager, and scout. Del followed in his footsteps.

Unser also talked about the importance of hustling in 1980, when he helped the Philadelphia Phillies win the World Series as a reserve. “He [Al Unser] told me once you put that uniform on, just forget everything else and go out and do it.”2 Del was a solid professional. At his best, he hit in the .280s/.290s, though some lean seasons brought him down to .258 lifetime. The lefty was a line-drive hitter with occasional power (.358 career slugging percentage). He didn’t draw a lot of walks or steal many bases either. But he was a good center fielder who became a useful utilityman and pinch-hitter late in his career. Though Unser was stuck on losing teams for the most part, he did enough things well to stay in the majors for 15 seasons. His Wins Above Replacement (WAR) mark was a respectable 16.6.

After his playing career ended, Unser went on to become a batting coach, farm director, and scout for the Phillies. As of 2014, he had been involved with pro baseball for close to half a century.

Delbert Bernard Unser was born on December 9, 1944, in Decatur, Illinois. This small Midwestern city is in the central part of the “Land of Lincoln,” about 45 miles east of Springfield, the state capital. It has produced several other major-leaguers over the years; the best-known are Bill Madlock (who moved there when he was two), Charlie Dressen, Boom-Boom Beck, Hobie Landrith, and Jeff Innis.

Del was the third of eight children (four boys and four girls) born to Albert and Ruth (Marten) Unser. His brothers were Albert Joseph (A.J.), Jerry, and Larry; his sisters were Janet, Colleen, Elaine, and Annette. Larry Unser played two seasons, 1972 and 1973, in Class A after the Cleveland Indians drafted him. Though A.J. also had baseball talent, he chose not to go into pro ball. He coached the freshman team at Mississippi State University, where Del went to college.

In central Illinois, the fan base is divided sharply between rooting for the Chicago Cubs or the St. Louis Cardinals. Young Del Unser was in the latter camp. In 2011, he said he had one regret about his major-league career. “I wanted to be traded to the Cardinals. It didn’t happen.”3

As one would expect, Unser’s father was a prime early influence. “My Dad. . . put up a batting cage in our backyard for me and my brother, A.J., to take swings from a pitching machine. I hit the neighbor’s home a few times. I would hit to left, hit to right. Yes, the batting cage helped me reach the big leagues.”4 It also helped his friend Roe Skidmore, who got into one game with the Chicago Cubs in 1970.

Del played very little organized youth ball. In the summer of 1958, however, he served a valuable apprenticeship when Al Unser was managing the Winnipeg Goldeyes. “Winnipeg is where I really learned my baseball,” Del recalled in 2003. “I was 14 at the time . . . I was the bat boy, the clubhouse boy. . .I learned everything there was to learn about the game. I used to sleep in my dad’s office so I could be up in the morning ready to help. It was a great experience for me.”5

Unser attended St. Teresa High School in Decatur, which renamed its baseball field in his honor in 2002. On the diamond, he was then a pitcher and first baseman, but he was also an all-city basketball player. In addition, he played halfback and safety in football. Throughout his life, Unser has been an avid golfer. During summer vacations from high school, “I would play 36 holes at Nelson Park in the morning, then go to work at Walker’s Market.”6 Those shifts ran from 2 in the afternoon until 10 at night.

After graduating from St. Teresa, Unser went to Mississippi State University on a baseball scholarship. He chose MSU because the coach, Paul Gregory, was an old friend of Al Unser’s.7 They had been batterymates with the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League in 1947. Del Unser’s career at MSU was so good that the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame inducted him in 1997.

In the summer of 1963, Del played for the Lincoln team in the Central Illinois Collegiate League (CICL). This high-quality circuit (which expanded its territory and was renamed the Prospect League after the 2008 season) helped develop numerous big leaguers over the years. The 1963 season was the first for the CICL, however, and it attracted attention because several other players were the sons of former big-leaguers. For example, the Lincoln squad also included infielder Tom Heintzelman, who made it to the majors for 90 games from 1973 through 1978. Their manager was Chuck Lindstrom, son of Hall of Famer Freddie Lindstrom.8

At that time, Unser was still a pitcher; he also played first base for Lincoln and was a second-team CICL all-star.9 Ahead of the summer of 1964, he was drafted by the Springfield team in the CICL.10 He went instead, though, to another very strong summer loop – South Dakota’s Basin League. This league, which existed from 1953 to 1973, featured a mix of college men, some pros, and locals. Unser played for the Pierre Cowboys in both 1964 and 1965. His most notable teammate in 1965 was Ted Sizemore, who was then still a catcher. Also on the squad was Matt Galante, who went on to manage in the minors and coach in the majors for many years.

Unser was drafted three times before he turned pro. The Minnesota Twins selected him in the second round in 1965, but he did not sign. He reportedly turned down a $32,500 offer from the Twins, but said he had no regrets. “I had a lot of things to think about,” said Del in 1966. “I was worried about school, the military service, and that senior year, which meant an awful lot to me.”11 Indeed, he was named a President’s List scholar that year.

Because he had turned down the Twins, he became eligible for the secondary phase of the draft. The Pittsburgh Pirates chose him in the fourth round in January 1966, but it was the same story – he wanted to finish college. As a senior, Unser hit .343 and was named to The Sporting News All-America collegiate team. The other first-team outfielders were Reggie Jackson and Jim Lyttle.12

Six months later, after he graduated with a degree in mathematics, Unser became the first-round pick of the Washington Senators in the secondary draft (he was the 18th selection overall). This time he signed, for a bonus of $10,000. Al Unser helped negotiate the contract. Al, who was then scouting for the Atlanta Braves organization, had “tried to persuade the Braves to draft his son, but Atlanta bypassed the boy.” Said the senior Unser, “It’s something when you can’t even sign your own son.”13

Del had also gotten married on December 18, 1965 to Dale Donnelly. They were already expecting their first child when he signed with Washington.14 The Unsers had two daughters named Corinne and Angela.

Unser played just two seasons in the minors, both with York of the Eastern League (Class AA). He didn’t hit much (.230 with 9 homers and 43 RBIs in 167 games), but the EL had a name as a pitchers’ league then, with only one .300 hitter in 1967.15

Unser earned a trial with the big club in 1968 on the strength of his performance in the Florida Instructional League in the fall of 1967 – he led all batters with a .347 average.16 Also, center field was an unsettled position for Washington then. During the 1967 season, three players – Fred Valentine, Ed Stroud, and Hank Allen – split the playing time almost evenly. General manager George Selkirk mulled a trade during the off-season but took no action.

The rookie made the most of his chance. As it said on the back of Unser’s 1969 Topps baseball card, “Del was scheduled for a year in Triple-A ball in 1968, but spring training got in the way. That is, the outfielder developed into the hottest hitter in the Senators’ camp and he was in the starting line-up for Washington on opening day.” George Case, the former Senators outfielder who managed Unser at York and in Florida, said, “I knew Del was headed for the majors, but I didn’t think it would be this soon.”17

Unser played in 156 games that year, with 690 plate appearances. He got off to a quick start, hitting to all fields and bunting for base hits too (a skill he sharpened with the help of coach Nellie Fox).18 However, he finished with a basic batting line that wasn’t especially impressive (.230-1-30). He endured a 4-for-46 slump in September, but it was also the Year of the Pitcher. Unser covered ground well in the outfield and led AL outfielders with 22 assists – baserunners around the league were testing his arm. That September, Senators manager Jim Lemon remarked, “Del has remained sharp on defense and I’m going to play him every day until the end.”19

Overall, Unser made a strong enough impression to finish second in the voting for AL Rookie of the Year behind Stan Bahnsen of the New York Yankees. “This boy is learning,” Lemon said, “and the more he plays, the more he will learn. He’ll be a better ballplayer next year.” That winter, Unser continued to pursue his master’s degree at Eastern Illinois University.20

Lemon’s prediction for 1969 came true – but he wasn’t around to see it. Ted Williams became Washington’s manager. Unser hit .286-7-57 in 153 games, leading the AL with 8 triples (the lowest yearly total ever for a leader in that category). In addition to his own work and increased knowledge of pitchers, Unser credited The Splendid Splinter’s insight. “Ted was a natural at picking apart a pitcher,” he later recalled. “He never said a word about hitting mechanics, he was into the mind game between the hitter and pitcher.”21

Ed Stroud became the Senators’ primary center fielder in 1970. After Unser got hurt in April, “The Creeper” impressed Ted Williams, who said, “He [Stroud] is gonna have to prove he can’t do it. Del wants to play, and I may put them both in the lineup, but I’m not taking Stroud out, not yet.”22 As it developed, Williams used Unser in right field a good deal, as well as center, and in left field on occasion. In 119 games, Unser hit .258-5-30.

Unser regained the starting job in center in 1971, the last season for major-league baseball in Washington until 2005. He hit .255-9-41 in 153 games, but that December, he went to the Cleveland Indians in an eight-player trade. Ted Williams liked the power of outfielder Roy Foster, but Foster was dealt back to Cleveland before he ever played a game for the Texas Rangers. Williams was willing to give center field to younger players, Joe Lovitto and Elliott Maddox.23

Unser’s only season in Cleveland was unproductive (.238-1-17 in 132 games). In a 1974 interview, he described it “as a dehumanizing experience. He felt like a forgotten man.” That November, the Indians traded him and minor-leaguer Terry Wedgewood to the Philadelphia Phillies for Roger Freed and Oscar Gamble. “I never gave up on myself,” said Unser. “I simply realized that I was 28 years old and hadn’t lived up to my potential. I had been traded two years in a row, which didn’t contribute to peace of mind.”24

Ahead of spring training 1973, Unser’s skill at golf earned him $5,000 – he and Leroy Kelly, star running back of the Cleveland Browns, shared the $10,000 top prize for winning the American Airlines Golf Classic in Puerto Rico.25 When camp began, Unser impressed Phillies manager Danny Ozark. He started 113 games in center for Philadelphia that year, platooning with Mike Anderson and Bill Robinson. In 136 games overall, he hit .289-11-52. He was the among the NL’s hottest batters at the end of June, with a .345 mark. He credited the use of a lighter bat and also thought that the NL’s Astroturf parks were helping him.26 However, he slumped in the second half. “I started lunging at the ball,” he recalled. “I couldn’t seem to get out of the habit.”27

Unser had another respectable year with the Phillies in 1974 (.264-11-61 in 142 games), but that December he was traded to the New York Mets in the six-player deal that brought Tug McGraw to Philadelphia. Unser was an upgrade over Don Hahn, the center fielder who went to Philadelphia along with McGraw and Dave Schneck. Although reliever Mac Scarce was damaged goods when he came to the Mets, John Stearns was a promising catcher who had several good years in New York. Without question, though, McGraw alone meant that Philadelphia got the better of the trade.

With the Mets in 1975, Unser got off to another hot start – he was in contention for a starting spot in the All-Star Game that July before Jimmy Wynn, Reggie Smith, and Greg Luzinski passed him in the last week of fan balloting. A rib cage injury bothered him in the second half, but he still finished at .294-10-53 in 147 games.

Unser started well again in 1976. On April 19 and 20, he had two especially memorable games in St. Louis against his old favorites, the Cardinals. The Monday night game on the 19th was nationally televised on ABC – and it ran 17 innings, not ending until 1:46 A.M. Unser misjudged a ball in the first inning that helped the Cardinals score two of their runs. He said, “Any time I make a mistake defensively, I take a lot of remorse in it. I couldn’t find a place to hide after that happened.”28 He also went hitless in his first seven at-bats.

Yet as the late Mets announcer Bob Murphy always loved to say, “Baseball is a game of redeeming features.” With two out and nobody on in the 17th, Unser hit a homer, and Bob Apodaca then retired the Cards in order. “When I came up to hit,” Unser recalled in 2014, “the organist [Ernie Hays] played ‘Three O’Clock in the Morning’.”29

The following evening, Unser hit another homer in his first at-bat. The next time he came to the plate, pitcher Lynn McGlothen drilled him in the elbow. A war of retaliation then ensued. Sure enough, McGlothen led off the bottom of the 3rd inning, and Mets starter Jon Matlack gave him some chin music. Strange to relate, then Matlack led off the top of the 4th, and McGlothen threw two pitches inside before hitting Matlack with the third. Both benches cleared.

As for Unser, he finished the game but missed the next two because his elbow was badly swollen.30 Not long afterward, his bat then went cold. That May, the Mets called up career minor-leaguer Leon Brown. As New York sportswriter Jack Lang put it, “The Mets were bringing up help for Del Unser, their weary center fielder. Playing every day because the Mets had no one to platoon with him in center, Unser recently endured a slump that reached 0-for-29 proportions. . .The Mets were desperate for any outfielder, particularly a center fielder, who could hit from the right side.”31

On July 21, the Mets dealt Unser and third baseman Wayne Garrett to the Montreal Expos for Jim Dwyer and Pepe Mangual. The trade was not a good one for the Mets. Mangual was young (24) and fast, but he did not hit for the Mets and was out of the majors after 1977. He is best remembered for Jack Lang’s barb, “Pepe Mangual can drop anything he can get his hands on.” Dwyer eventually went on to a long and productive career as a role player, but he played just 11 games for the Mets.

In his first game against the Mets after the trade (his third with Montreal), Unser hit a game-ending homer in the 11th inning at Jarry Park to give the Expos a 3-2 win. He hit seven altogether for Montreal in 1976, which gave him a single-season career-high of 12 (although he hit just .228 overall in 146 games).

“I think a change of scenery like this can help a ballplayer,” Unser said after that blow against the Mets. “I think it can also break a man, too. It depends on the individual. I learned a lot from Tom Seaver while I was with the Mets. He’s a firm believer in positive thinking and he helped me learn that you don’t go backwards. When something goes wrong, you leave it there and go forward.”32

In 1977, the Expos unveiled a very talented young starting outfield. Warren Cromartie (age 23) was in left. Rookie of the Year and future Hall of Famer André Dawson (age 22) was in center. Ellis Valentine (also 22) moved from center to right. Even so, Unser got into 113 games, backing up the young trio as well as veteran first baseman Tony Pérez. He tied his career high with 12 homers and hit .273.

The 1978 season started well for Unser, if not as strongly as some of his previous years. From mid-May on, though, his bat went ice-cold – he finished at .196-2-15. Even though he got into 130 games, the way he was used – the whole Expos bench, for that matter –was still an issue, according to Montreal sportswriter Ian MacDonald. “Veteran Del Unser is potentially one of the most valuable substitutes in the business. Yet, last season he had the most unproductive campaign of his career. While he accepted that the younger outfielders would get practically all of the play, Unser couldn’t stay sharp when he was used so infrequently.”33

As MacDonald wrote his column, Unser was an unsigned free agent. He went through the re-entry draft. “Five clubs signified their desire to talk to him,” wrote UPI sports editor Milton Richman. ‘Nobody offered me anything, though,’ [said Unser], without the slightest trace of resentment. Nobody wanted me.’”34 He thought he might have to go into his brother-in-law’s business, but then he called Phillies general manager Paul Owens, who offered an invitation to work out in spring training. When Philadelphia traded Richie Hebner to the Mets in late March, a roster spot opened up.35

Unser made a very nice comeback with the Phillies in 1979, hitting .298-6-29 in 95 games. One of his career highlights came from June 30 through July 10, when he hit home runs in three straight at-bats as a pinch-hitter, breaking a record formerly held by 22 players.36 The last of them, a three-run blow off Rollie Fingers of the San Diego Padres, capped a five-run, ninth-inning rally that lifted the Phillies to a 6-5 win. Unser hit the first pitch over the center field wall.37 He later said, “Dad always told me to leave the bench swinging, be ready to hit early in the count.”38

Unser remained a key reserve for the Phillies in 1980. He hit .264-0-10 in 96 games, and though his main job besides pinch-hitting was to give first baseman Pete Rose a little rest, he even started six straight games in center field at the tail end of the season when Garry Maddox was injured. He modestly admitted, however, that no one could truly replace the “Secretary of Defense.” “He’s there when you need him,” said Bobby Wine, then a coach with the Phillies. “He’s not one of those guys who gets teed off if he isn’t playing and he always keeps himself in shape. No matter what the situation is or when you call on him, he’s always ready to go.”39

That year also marked Unser’s only postseason play, and he made it count. He was 2-for-5 in five games in the National League Championship Series against Houston. In Game Five, his two-out pinch-single in the eighth inning brought home the tying run. He stayed in to play right field and scored the winning run of the Series after doubling in the 10th inning.

During the World Series against the Kansas City Royals, Unser was 3-for-6 in three games. In Game Five, against ace reliever Dan Quisenberry, Unser doubled in the tying run in the ninth inning and proceeded to score the go-ahead run, which stood up as the margin of victory.

After the season, Unser re-signed with the Phillies as a free agent. During the strike season of 1981, he got into 62 games but started just four of them, two in left field and two in center. He also spelled Rose at first base during 18 games. He started well with the bat, despite his sporadic appearances – but went just 2-for-40 from May 26 onward. As a result, he finished at .153-0-6.

“You can expect to be playing somewhere else next season,” Phillies president Bill Giles told Unser, who appreciated the honesty. Paul Owens added, “We’ve got to make room for the younger kids.”40 Yet when the 1982 season started, Unser was still on the roster. He played a few innings here and there at first base and in right field. He was hitless in 14 at-bats with three walks in 19 games, and the Phillies released him on June 8. His big-league career had ended.

Unser wasn’t out of the game long, though – he became the Phillies’ minor-league hitting instructor in 1984. “I started off traveling with Granny Hamner – that’s a book in itself. Besides being a great golfer and a terrific pool shooter, Granny was one of baseball’s all-time characters.”41

That October, Unser replaced Deron Johnson as first-base and batting coach at the major-league level. When he was hired, he said, “If you see something flagrant you have to say something or you’re not being fair to yourself or the player.” His goal was to find out what each individual responded to.42 Unser served in the dual role through 1987, then focused solely on batting in 1988. However, manager Lee Elia dismissed him that July.

Unser was offered a spot in minor-league player development.43 He again served as a hitting instructor in the Phillies system for a little over a year. In July 1989, Phillies general manager Lee Thomas reassigned Lance Nichols, the director of player development. That September, he filled the position with Unser, who had been considered in 1988 before Nichols was hired but was deemed in need of more experience. Unser’s big plus, though, was his knowledge of the organization. He said, “When I first came over here in 1973, there was a Phillies way of doing things and I still believe there is. It just has to be implemented.”44

The high point of Unser’s time as farm director was 1993, when Philadelphia won the NL pennant. That squad did not feature a great deal of homegrown talent – Lee Thomas made numerous shrewd trades and signings – but at least one frontline contributor was drafted and developed on Unser’s watch, shortstop Kevin Stocker. Probably the best players the Phillies drafted during his tenure were Scott Rolen and Pat Burrell.

When Unser was fired in August 1998, the Philadelphia Inquirer noted, “The Phillies’ farm system has long been maligned in baseball circles. . .the Phils haven’t excelled in developing players in the minor leagues.” Unser himself said, “If I had to do it over again, I probably would have pushed harder to get better players at the higher levels [through minor-league free agency]. But I always wanted to try to use our own talent. We had a staff that tried its hardest. I know I certainly did. I don’t think I ever worked harder at a job.”45

His firing came amid a major overhaul of the Phillies chain. General manager Ed Wade avoided criticism of Unser, who was “surprisingly upbeat,” according to the report in the Reading Eagle. “I’m disappointed a little bit,” he said, “But I’m not really surprised. . .Change brings about a lot of good stuff.”46

Wade offered Unser a position as scout. Del thrived on the travel and report-writing, as well as many special assignments, and worked closely with Wade’s successor, Pat Gillick.47 The pace didn’t slow down under Rubén Amaro Jr., who succeeded Gillick, though Del continued to enjoy golfing in the off-season. He and Dale moved to Scottsdale, Arizona in 2001.

In the 2008 book Game of My Life (devoted to “memorable stories of Phillies baseball”), Unser told author Bob Gordon about his three favorite career games. Number three was his initial at-bat in the big-leagues; though Bert Campaneris gloved his sharp one-hopper, “it was still a thrill to hit it hard up in the big leagues and gain a little confidence. Of course, I wasn’t a Phillie that game, so that disqualifies that choice.” The runner-up was Game Five of the 1980 NLCS – “I think anyone, any baseball fan, has to admit it was one of the most exciting series ever played. I was thrilled to be part of it all.”

Topping his list, however, was the game of July 10, 1979, when he set his pinch-hit home run record. “I knew when I hit the ball . . . that was terrific in itself. But to hit a walk-off home run off Rollie Fingers – well, that made the whole thing incredible.”48

 

Grateful acknowledgment to Del Unser for his input (handwritten responses on a draft of this biography, received April 9, 2014).

 

Photo Credits

Del Unser collection

The Topps Company

 

Sources

Internet resources

http://www.baseball-reference.com

http://www.retrosheet.org

http://www.comc.com

Del Unser page at Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum (http://msfame.com/hall-of-fame/inductees/delbert-del-bernard-unser/)

Books

Bob Gordon, Game of My Life, New York: Sports Publishing, 2008.

 

Notes

1 Bob Fallstrom, “Del Unser isn’t content to sit on the sidelines,” Decatur Herald-Review, April 18, 2011.

2 Milton Richman, “Now everybody wants Del Unser,” United Press International. October 16, 1980.

3 Fallstrom, “Del Unser isn’t content to sit on the sidelines”

4 Fallstrom, “Del Unser isn’t content to sit on the sidelines”

5 Scott Taylor and Dr. Kris Row, Home Run: The History of the Goldeyes and CanWest Global Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba: Studio Publications, Inc., 2005, 33.

6 Fallstrom, “Del Unser isn’t content to sit on the sidelines”

7 Bob Addie, “Nats Sweeten Pot to Grab Unser, Picket Who Spurned Twins’ Bid,” The Sporting News, July 16, 1966, 38.

8 Ed Alsene, “Sons Bring Big-Time Look to College Loop,” The Sporting News, June 29, 1963, 33.

9 Ed Alsene, “Unanimous Four Top CIC Loop’s All-Stars,” The Sporting News, August 31, 1963, 37.

10 Ed Alsene, “Summer League Coaches Select 79 Collegians,” The Sporting News, May 23, 1964, 42.

11 Addie, “Nats Sweeten Pot to Grab Unser, Picket Who Spurned Twins’ Bid”

12 Abe Chanin, “Arizona Schools Boast 3 All-America Picks,” The Sporting News, July 23, 1966, 23.

13 Addie, “Nats Sweeten Pot to Grab Unser, Picket Who Spurned Twins’ Bid”

14 Addie, “Nats Sweeten Pot to Grab Unser, Picket Who Spurned Twins’ Bid”

15 Bob Addie, “Selkirk Vetoes Bids; Senators Unlikely to Deal,” The Sporting News, December 23, 1967, 35.

16 Addie, “Selkirk Vetoes Bids; Senators Unlikely to Deal”

17 Merrell Whittlesey, “Freshman Senator from Illinois Sets Tongues Wagging,” The Sporting News, May 4, 1968, 8.

18 Whittlesey, “Freshman Senator from Illinois Sets Tongues Wagging”

19 Merrell Whittlesey, “Everything Adds Up to Busy Winter for Math Major Unser,” The Sporting News, October 5, 1968, 42.

20 Whittlesey, “Everything Adds Up to Busy Winter for Math Major Unser”

21 Fallstrom, “Del Unser isn’t content to sit on the sidelines”

22 “Stroud Shows He’s Aiming to Keep Center Field Job,” Associated Press, May 19, 1970

23 Merle Heryford, “Rangers Size Up Foster as Home-Run Threat,” The Sporting News, December 18, 1971, 47.

24 “Will Del Unser at 29 Prove He Is Among Great Ballplayers?” Associated Press, March 25, 1974.

25 “Del Unser, Leroy Kelly Win Event,” Associated Press, February 5, 1973. There were several other great athletes from the National Football League at this celebrity tournament, but from baseball alone, this list also included Joe DiMaggio, Jim Palmer, Juan Marichal, Reggie Jackson, Willie Mays, Johnny Bench, Billy Williams, Joe Morgan, Thurman Munson, Ray Fosse, Ron Santo, Sal Bando, Jimmy Wynn, Sal Bando, Willie Davis, Ted Sizemore, Bud Harrelson, Jim Lonborg, and Dave McNally.

26 “Del Unser Kills the Ho Hums; From Ohio to Philly with Love,” Associated Press, July 18, 1973.

27 “Will Del Unser at 29 Prove He Is Among Great Ballplayers?”

28 Will Grimsley, “Mets 4, Cards 3,” Associated Press, April 21, 1976.

29 Letter from Del Unser to Rory Costello, received April 9, 2014.

30 “Mets’ Unser Out of Lineup,” United Press International, April 22, 1976.

31 Jack Lang, “Surprise! Mets Have New Hot Sacker, Torre,” The Sporting News, June 5, 1976, 15.

32 “All of a Sudden, Del Unser Loves Playing Baseball with the Expos,” wire service reports, July 24, 1976.

33 Ian MacDonald, “Expos Bolster Weak Spot: the Bench,” The Sporting News, December 30, 1978, 38.

34 Richman, “Now everybody wants Del Unser”

35 Ron Rapoport, “For Del Unser, it was the revenge of the pinch-hitter,” Chicago Sun-Times, October 16, 1980.

36 Lee Lacy hit pinch homers in three consecutive at-bats in May 1978 – but they were not consecutive plate appearances. He also drew a walk as a pinch-hitter during that period.

37 “Phillies 6, Padres 5,” Associated Press, July 11, 1979.

38 Fallstrom, “Del Unser isn’t content to sit on the sidelines”

39 Richman, “Now everybody wants Del Unser”

40 Vin Mannix, “Unser’s hour drawing near,” Boca Raton News, March 28, 1982, 1D.

41 Bob Gordon, Game of My Life, New York: Sports Publishing, 2008.

42 Peter Pascarelli, “Bat Coach Unser Plans to Speak Up,” The Sporting News, October 29, 1984, 40.

43 “Elia dismisses Unser, Bristol,” Associated Press, July 15, 1988.

44 Paul Hagen, “Unser Named To Head Phils’ Minor Leagues,” Philadelphia daily News, September 6, 1989.

45 Jim Salisbury, “Phillies Shuffle Farm Lineup, Naming Green,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 18, 1998.

46 Tony Zonca, “‘Minor’ shakeup for Phils,” Reading Eagle, August 18, 1998, D1-D2.

47 Fallstrom, “Del Unser isn’t content to sit on the sidelines”. Gordon, Game of My Life.

48 Gordon, Game of My Life

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