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Card-by-Yankees Card: 1977 Topps - Tim Foli (Article 16)

by Paul Semendinger


Tim Foli was another of these guys who played for the Yankees briefly at the tail end of his career. For a time in the 1980s, it seemed like every reserve shortstop, or former starting shortstop, wore pinstripes for a moment or two. Tim Foli. Ivan DeJesus. Bert Campaneris. Paul Zuvella. Wayne Tolleson. Spike Owen. Rafael Santana. The list goes on.

Tim Foli enjoyed a long career. He played in 1,696 games in the Major Leagues.

Foli's career began in 1970 with the New York Mets. After a few seasons, he went to the Montreal Expos, then the San Francisco Giants, back to the Mets (briefly), on to the Pittsburgh Pirates (for their World Series in 1979), to the California Angels, to the Yankees, and, finally, back to the Pirates to close out his career in 1985.

Tim Foli played the 1984 season in the Bronx. He hit .252 in 61 games. He never homered as a Yankee. In fact, Foli’s last home run came in 1983 when he was still with the Angels. (Foli only hit 25 homers in his whole career.)

As a Yankee Tim Foli did two things that he had never done for any other team or any time in his career – he played first base (in two games) and he served as the designated hitter (once).

Foli played first base on July 21, 1984. On that day he spelled Don Mattingly in the final two innings in a 5-2 loss against the Twins. Foli next (and last) appeared at first base on the last day of the season -September 30. He replaced Donnie Baseball for the 9th inning of that game (a game the Yanks won 9-2 over the Tigers).

On September 3 of that year, Foli pinch hit for DH Oscar Gamble who was pinch hitting for Steve Kemp when Jimmy Key (a left-handed pitcher) came in relief of Luis Leal who had just allowed a homer to Dave Winfield. I assume it went down like this:

Winfield homered.

Steve Kemp, the designated hitter, was due up. Kemp was 0-for-3 that day with a strikeout. Oscar Gamble was sent in to pinch hit for Kemp against Luis Leal. This prompted the Blue Jays to counter with lefty Jimmy Key.

Rather than having Gamble bat against the lefty-handed pitcher, something he seldom did, the Yankees sent Tim Foli in to pinch-hit.

Foli popped out. He never batted again in the game, but his name remained on the scorecard as the DH. He'll forever go down in history as being a DH.

In 1984, Tim Foli was used as a pinch-hitter six times. He went 0-for 6.

Tim Foli played only 3.5% of his Major League career with the Yankees, but he did get to play first base and serve as a DH. I guess that’s something.



Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
May 16

When Tim Foli had his tumultuous years as a coach with the Cincinnati Reds, one of the players on his team was Aaron Boone, along with brother Bret Boone, and dad Bob Boone was the manager. The Reds ended up firing Bob Boone, Tim Foli, Ron Oester and the entire Reds coaching staff, and because they fired their dad, they traded away both Bret Boone (to the Atlanta Braves) and Aaron Boone (to the New York Yankees). On the last day of the 1998 season, the Reds made baseball history by starting the only infield ever composed of two sets of brothers - first baseman Stephen Larkin, second baseman Bret Boone, shortstop Barry Larkin, and third baseman Aaron Boone.


Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
May 16

The thing about Foli that sticks in my mind is that he was the first player born in 1950 who registered in my consciousness. He was a September call-up by the Mets in 1970, which was the first year I started following baseball. From the baseball cards and the scorecard rosters, everyone I had seen had been born in the 40s and 30s, so Foli was a novelty for me. It also struck me that he was 20 years old -- 13 years older than I -- and so in another 13 years, I would be the age he was in 1970 (my mind had a bend toward numbers). It's amazing the trivia one remembers from childhood.


Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
May 16

After Tim Foli retired, he had a long career as a minor league manager, and was a big league coach for several teams, including three tumultuous seasons as a coach with the Cincinnati Reds. Just a few months into his coaching job, Foli became embroiled in a physical confrontation with fellow coach Ron Oester after a game and he required stitches.

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