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1914 Boston Braves

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    Steve Finley


    The holder of multiple Gold Gloves, Finley's excellent instincts gave him a better jump on the ball then many speedier fielders, allowing him to make diving plays where others would have let the ball fall in front of them. His high-intensity play led to many small, nagging injuries, but Finley was a gamer who would play hurt. On September 28, 1999 he stroked two homers against the Padres while suffering from a bulging disc in his back.

    Usually a line drive hitter, Finley began to hit for power in 1999 when he posted the first of two consecutive 30-plus homer seasons. Some baseball professionals believed that by constantly trying to hit long balls he ruined his swing, but his on-base percentage in each of those years was well above his norm. While he remained a competent hitter in 2001, he was less impressive, hitting fewer home runs and getting on base less often.

    Finley fell in love with San Diego during his four years there, but after the 1998 World Series, the cash-strapped Padres allowed stars Kevin Brown, Greg Vaughn and Finley to leave as free agents. After the fans loudly jeered Brown during his return to Qualcomm Park, Finley was leery about his own homecoming. Yet on his first day back he received ovations at each at-bat, despite collecting three RBIs against his old team. But fans are fickle creatures, and when he stepped onto the field for the second game of the series he was stunned by the name-calling and booing that confronted him. (EPW)

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