Card-by-Yankees Card: The 1977 Topps Set, Cards #490, Mickey Klutts (Article 94)
by Paul Semendinger
(Continuing a series…)
I remember being a kid with a “different” last name of my own and feeling bad for Mickey Klutts. It’s a tough name to live with, I’m sure, if one wants to be a professional athlete. (I know all about having a different last name.)
Mickey Klutts’ career with the Yankees didn’t last long, but he was able to hang around the Major Leagues for eight seasons, or at least parts of eight seasons. That’s not nothing.
Klutts was drafted by the Yankees in the 1972 Amateur Draft and rose through the system steadily enough to make his big league debut in 1976. That year he played in two games at shortstop and had all of three at bats going 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
During that 1976 season in Triple-A (International League), Mickey Klutts was a co-co-MVP after batting .308 for the Syracuse Chiefs. The other co-co-MVPs were Rich Dauer and Joe Lis.
In 1977, Klutts appeared in five games for the Yankees going 4-for-15. He hit his first big league homer that year. The homer came in Game 162. He hit it at Yankee Stadium in the bottom of the sixth inning. That homer gave the Yankees a 4-3 lead in a game they would win 8-7 over the Tigers. On base when the homer was hit was Gene Locklear…
Locklear was playing in his last big league game. It was his only game played at the big league level in 1977. In that game he went 3-for-5 with one run scored and two runs batted in. He was 27-years-old, had a .274 lifetime batting average in 292 games (but only 14 with the Yankees between 1976 and 1977) over five seasons and then… that was that. In 1978, Locklear played in Japan (.240/8/38) to close out his professional baseball career.
In 1978, Mickey Klutts played in only one game with the Yankees. He went 1-for-3 with a double. On June 15, 1978, he was traded to the Oakland A’s for outfielder Gary Thomasson.
Klutts was a back-up infielder for the A’s for four seasons. In 1980, he played in 75 games and hit .269. But, in 1982, in 55 games games, he hit just .178. He was released and played for Toronto in 1983.
What’s in a name?
It has been said that Mickey Mantle had the perfect name for a baseball player. I’m quite certain that Mickey Klutts didn’t. Yet, he put together a representative enough career.
Another Yankee infielder of that same era was Brian Doyle who had a magical post season in 1978. Doyle also went from the Yankees to the A’s. He’s a much better known “name,” but his overall career wasn’t as good as Mickey Klutts’. I’d suspect that if I asked most fans of the Yankees from the late 1970s who had the longer and more productive big league career, they would pick Brian Doyle. It was actually Mickey Klutts:
Klutts: 199 games, .241/14/59
Doyle: 110 games, .161/1/13
Ok, I had to find out – Brian Doyle’s lone homer came in 1980 against the Cleveland Indians. The pitcher he homered off was Len Barker. Jim Spencer and Joe Lefebvre also homered off Len Barker that day.