Ralph Garr

Ralph GarrIn the 1970s, a decade when America was poising itself to celebrate the individual, Ralph Garr was his own man. No other player was like him. Garr swung at pitches in his eyes and pitches in the dirt. He took hacks at pitches a foot outside and he swung at pitches headed for his head. He could chop at the baseball, send a high-hopper to an infielder, and beat the throw to first base. He never a pitch he didn’t like.

“I don’t think there’s any way you should pitch to him,” said pitcher Carl Morton, “He’s just not pitchable, the way he swings. About all you can do is hope he gets himself out.”

Garr was called “Road Runner” for two reasons: he was one of the fastest runners in the game and his mouth flapped fast too. He was always talking and moving when he was on the field. His teammates loved him because he kept the clubhouse loose and he loved to laugh and smile. His approach to the game was to have fun and not take anything too seriously.

“I’m a guess hitter. I try to think some up there, but I don’t think it’s good to think too much,” Garr said.

One of his managers in Atlanta, Eddie Mathews, who saw quite a few baseball games over his career, said of Garr: “He’s the most unique player I have ever seen.”