Mustache Watch and Strat-o-Matic Godliness: Steve Balboni

Reader, take a trip with me.  Back to the mid-1980s.  Ronald Reagan is running for reelection in between naps.  Prince is complicating heterosexuality by being at once sexually virile and a little pixy of a man.  Pastel is the new black.  And John Hughes rules the world with an iron fist.

Into this landscape saunters Steve Balboni, who blesses you with his divine image below:

Click, if thou wouldst dare embiggen Him.

Steve Balboni is more than a man. He is a legend. A muscle-bound, mustachioed misanthrope who raged against American League pitching in the mid-’80s, but who was ultimately doomed by his refusal to do anything but swing really really hard and hope he made contact, but not before hitting 181 home runs and inspiring the greatest opening line of any AP article ever: “If Steve Balboni knows Steve Balboni, American League pitchers had better take cover for a while.”

Balboni’s final full season at the Major League level, in 1990 is captured in all of its glory on this beautiful Strat-o-Matic card:

Check out all his majesty.

This is what happens when, in 307 plate appearances, you hit .192/.291/.406 with 17 homers, 6 doubles, and 91 glorious strikeouts.  His batting average on balls in play was .213.  He hit .162/.205/.267 vs. right handed pitchers and .211/.340/.497 vs. lefties.  And in his 290 plate appearances that did not result in Jimmy-jacks, Balboni drove in 14 runs.

Amazingly, Balboni wasn’t done. He came back in 1993 at age 36, getting five plate appearances for the Texas Rangers, in which he got three hits.  All of them were singles, giving him just 25 fewer singles in just 5 at bats in 1993 than in all of 1990.  Zeus, what a man!

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Mike Bates used to have a stupid pseudonym. Now he doesn't because people want to pay him to write about baseball on the Internet and he's really a sell out that way. He is also a Designated Columnist at SBNation, co-founder of The Platoon Advantage, and is an American Carpetbagger on Getting Blanked, the finest in Canadian baseball-type sites. His favorite word is paradigm. Follow him on Twitter here:

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Paul aka @heyblue
4 years 6 months ago

Loved this and love this card. The 1990 Strat-o-Matic set also features the majestic Kevin Maas and his 1.014 OPS vs RHP and .586 OPS vs LHP.

Willie Mac
Willie Mac
4 years 4 months ago

This post is thoroughly inspiring. We should think of more players in strat-o-matic terms, like Nick Punto and Aaron Rowand. I wrote this in response: