Simply Baseball Notebook's Forgotten In Time

Flashes in the Pan

Hilton Smith
Larry Doby
Seattle Pilots
1994 Expos
Ray Chapman
Flashes in the Pan
Steve Blass
St. Louis Browns
Wally Pipp
Rocky Colavito
Dom DiMaggio
Ellis Valentine
Bill Buckner
Jim Bottomley
The Federal League
Stuart 'Slim' Jones
Billy Hamilton
Ed Delahanty
Eddie Waitkus
George Davis
Riggs Stephenson
1920 White Sox
Luke Easter
Herb Washington
Eddie Robinson
Bobby Mathews
Jimmy Ryan
A.G. Spalding
"Dummy" Hoy
Albert Belle
Jack Quinn
Ken Williams
Al Oliver
Jack Taylor
Fred Lindstrom
Jim Thorpe

All of these guys made a big splash upon entering the big leagues. They seemed destined for stardom, but quickly fizzled. Some of their careers ended prematurely because of injury. Others had relatively long careers, but could never duplicate their initial production. Still others seemed to simply forget how to play.

Here are some of the "flashes in the pan" of the recent years. Please excuse us if we forgot any, after all, they weren't around long.


JOE CHARBONEAU: Cleveland Indians 1980-82

Joe Charboneau a became folk hero in Cleveland during the 1980 season. The colorful rookie belted out 23 home runs for the 6th place Indians, picked up the nickname "Super Joe", and won the American League Rookie of the Year. Success, however, was fleeting for the young OF. Back injuries limited him to just 70 games during the the next two seasons and he hit just six more home runs during his career. The 1982 season was the last he would appear in the big leagues. Following his career he landed a bit part in the movie "The Natural." Today he works as the hitting instuctor for the Canton Crocodiles of the independent Frontier League. In his career, Joe Charboneau hit 29 home runs in 201 games.


MARK "THE BIRD" FIDRYCH: Detroit Tigers 1976-80

Mark Fidrych's brief career left us wondering 'what might have been.' The 21 year old went 19-9, pitched an amazing 24 complete games, and won AL Rookie of the Year honors in 1976. He immediatley became a fan favorite because of his quirky style. The colorful hurler would fill in holes in the mound with his bare hands and run out and shake infielder's hands after a great play.

"The Bird", a nickname he picked up in the minors, kept pitching in the following years despite arm pain. After years of misdiagnosis, it was finally discovered that he had a torn rotator cuff in 1985. Today that injury can be fully repaired with surgery, but during the late 1970s it ended careers.  Fidyrich's  career ended in 1980 with a 29-19 record and 3.10 ERA


SAM HORN: Boston Red Sox 1987-89; Baltimore Orioles 1990-92; Cleveland Indians 1993; Texas Rangers 1995

Sam Horn, a late season callup in 1987, hit 14 home runs in his first 158 big league at bats. He was touted as one of the next great power hitters and figured to be a mainstay in Boston's lineup for years to come. Then came 1988, when Horn hit just .148 with 2 HR and struck out 20 times in 61 at bats. After another disappointing season he was dealt to Baltimore.

Horn had some success in Baltimore, hitting 23 home runs in a career high 121 games in 1991. His production dropped in 1992 however, and he was dealt to Cleveland, where he played in just 23 major league games over the next two seasons. After spending the 1995 campaign with Texas , he was out of the big leagues for good. All told, Sam Horn hit 62 home runs in 389 career games


KEVIN MAAS: New York Yankees 1990-93; Minnesota Twins 1995 

When Kevin Maas broke into the major leagues in 1990, he was the toast of New York City. The rookie OF hit his 10th career home run in only his 77th at bat, making him the fastest ever to reach that mark. Maas kept up his torrid pace and finished with 24 dingers in only 79 games. With his matinee idol looks, Maas was slated to take over Don Mattingly's role as the next Yankee superstar.

It didn't happen. Although he played in 148 games in 1991 and hit 23 home runs, he struck out 128 times and hit just .220. In 1992 he played in 92 games and hit 11 home runs. In 1993 the downward spiral continued as he played in just 59 games and hit 9 home runs. Maas spent the 1994 season out of the majors. He rebounded to make the Twins opening day roster in 1995, but was released after only 22 games. He never appeared in the big leagues again. For his career Kevin Maas hit 65 home runs in 406 games.


JEROME WALTON: Chicago Cubs 1989-92; California Angels 1993; Cincinnati Reds 1994-95; Atlanta Braves 1996; Baltimore Orioles 1997; Tampa Bay Devil Rays 1998

Fans in Wrigley Field fell in love with Jerome Walton in 1989. The speedy outfielder hit .293 and stole 24 bases for the NL East Champion Cubs. He won NL Rookie of the Year for his efforts, beating out teammate Dwight Smith. Walton look to be a star in Chicago for years to come, but, of course, it wasn't meant to be.

His production dropped to .263 and 14 steals in 1990 and kept plummeting. In 1993 Walton was dealt to California, which began a six year stretch in which he would bounce around the league. His final stop was Tampa Bay in 1998. For his career, Walton hit .269 in 598 games.


-David Zingler, March 2002


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