by Paul Semendinger
(Continuing a series…)
He was Yankee for all of 60 games. And those were the last 60 games of his amazing career.
Some players finish with a whimper…not Campy Campaneris. He went out with a flourish. As a 41-year-old part-time player, Bert Campaneris batted .322 for the Yankees in his final season in the big leagues.
That season, 1983, Bert Campaneris’ batting average was never under .300, not even for a day. He began his season with a 4-for-5 game against the Twins on May 6. His batting average as he left the field that day was .800. After games of 0-for- 4, 2-for-4, and 0-for-3, his batting average for the season stood at .375. That day was May 15. His batting average from that point on never fell out of the .300 range. For that special season, playing only occasionally, Campaneris just hit and hit and hit…
For those 1983 Yankees, Campaneris played second base in 32 games and third base in 24 others. The interesting thing about him playing second base is that in his long career, he had rarely played second base. Campaneris had been a shortstop, and a very good one at that.
Before he played second base for the Yankees, Bert Campaneris had appeared as a second baseman exactly three other times in his entire career and only once for the team that he most famously played for.
Bert Campaneris arrived in the Major Leagues in 1964 playing for the Kansas City A’s. He traveled with the team to Oakland and remained with the franchise through the 1976 season. As a member of the A’s, Bert Campaneris played in 1,795 games batting .262/70/529 providing excellent defense and speed (he stole 566 bases for the A’s) playing an integral part on a team that was a constant winner. Bert Campaneris was a six-time All-Star, he led the American League in steals in six seasons, and was a member of three World Championship A’s teams.
The only time that Bert Campaneris played second base for the A’s, in all those years, was in a unique game on 1965 when he became the first player to ever play in all nine positions in the same game.
After starring for the A’s, Campaneris then played for the Texas Rangers (1977-79) and California Angels (1979-81). His big league career seemed to come to an end after the 1981 season. That season he hit .256/1/10 in 55 games. Campaneris’ one homer came in a game against the Baltimore Orioles on August 30, 1981. Tippy Martinez surrendered the long fly to Campaneris.
The Angels granted Campaneris his free agency after the 1981 season, but he couldn’t find a job in the big leagues so he went to the Mexican League to play. He spent that entire 1982 season in Mexico before he arrived back in the bigs for his swan song with the Yankees in 1983.
It was an injury to Willie Randolph that earned Campaneris his shot – one that he grabbed hold of and never let go throughout that entire season.
The last hit of Bert Campaneris’ career came in a game in Fenway Park against the Red Sox. John Tutor gave up the hit. It was 2,249th hit of his long career.