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Card-by-Yankees Card: The 1977 Topps Set, Card #76, Tim Foli (Article 16)



When I was a kid, and this is pure nine-year-old humor (if it is even humor, maybe it was just a kid growing up trying to make sense of the English language), I used to call Tim Foli “Tin Foil.” When I heard Tim Foli’s name I was reminded of Tin Foil. It seemed back then that we used Tin Foil for everything. Everything was wrapped in Tin Foil. Tin Foil and this baseball player named Tim Foli. (It was a challenging time to grow up. The world made no sense.)

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 1980’s, 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. The list goes on.

Tim Foli played 1,696 games in the Major Leagues.

His career began in 1970 with the New York Mets. After a few seasons, he went to the Montreal Expos, San Francisco Giants, back to the Mets (briefly), 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.

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.

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