Obscure Athletes

Where the 15 Minutes of Fame Never End

Obscure Spotlight: John Vander Wal

Few non-power hitting, low-average hitting players lasted long during the steroid era. Even fewer than do now. One hilariously obscure exception to this bit of seemingly common knowledge, however, is the fourteen year career of a Mr. John Vander Wal. He played for eight teams in that span, including an impressive seven out of the sixteen teams in the National League.

Vander Wal gettin those hands inside the baseball!

Vander Wal made his debut with the team that drafted him—the Expos, on September 6, 1991, and would spend two more full seasons in Montreal before moving onto the team with which he would spend the most time—five seasons, the Rockies. In 641 total plate appearances in Colorado, many of which came from his uncanny ability to pinch-hit, he batted .262 with an OPS of .794. The single season pinch hit appearance record belongs to Vander Wal, with 28.

John Vander Wal hit 97 home runs in his career, highlighted by a 24 homer, 94 RBI campaign in 2000 with the Pirates.  He played his last game for the Reds in 2004, and is currently a scout for the Padres—no doubt working every day, trying to find the next career National Leaguer who’s good enough to pinch hit but not good enough to DH in the AL. Trying to find the next, John Vander Wal.


Bonus points if you comment answering the following question:

Which AL team did Vander Wal make an appearance for in his 14-year tenure?


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