Chris Speier

Chris SpeierWhen the San Francisco Giants wanted to move shortstop Chris Speier to second base in 1976 because he was struggling with the bat and the organization felt he wasbetter suited for that infield spot, Speier refused.

“It’s a bad year, that’s all, a bad year. Can’t a guy have a had year?” Speier asked in ’76, when he slumped to a .226 average with only 25 extra-base hits, after putting up 45 the previous season.

“I’m not going to move over,” Speier insisted. “The situation with the Giants would really have to change for me to become a second baseman. If they were able to buy some of the free agents and made an effort to become a contender, then I would have to reconsider. But I still feel my future is at shortstop.”

The veteran infielder was one of the most vocal and obstinate members of that team in the 1970s when the clubhouse was frequently one team meeting away from mutiny.

“If I could buy the guys on this team for what they’re really worth and sell them for what they think they’re worth,” coach Buck Rodgers said, “I’d be a rich man.”

Manager Billy Rigney decided not to have it out with Speier over the position change: instead the front office called up young shortstop Johnnie LeMaster and gave him the job, sending the disgruntled Speier to the bench. Soon however, LeMaster’s anemic hitting led to Speier’s reinstatement. After one more year by The Bay though, Speier was traded to the Montreal Expos for Tim Foli, a shortstop who was only two years younger.

In spite of his stubbornness, or maybe because of it, Speier spent 19 seasons in the major leagues, playing an even 1,900 games at shortstop, one of the top totals in baseball history for that position. He even came full circle and returned to the Giants in 1987 at the end of his career. At that point Speier wasn’t too proud, and he played — you guess it — second base. He appeared in the postseason for the Giants twice and 16 years apart: in 1971 and 1987.