Friday, April 11, 2014

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #120 ROBERTO KELLY

ROBERTO HAD AN IDENTITY CRISIS IN '93.



FLAP-LESS BATTING HELMETS ROCK.


DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • Scenery and Christian name changes initially breathed new life into Roberto Kelly's career, but in the end, his 14 years in the majors were mostly underwhelming. Kelly was a top Yankee prospect in the late 1980s before winning the center field job in '89. After failing to fulfill their expectations, the Yankees traded him to the Reds, where he changed his name to Bobby. In his first at-bat, he tripled and reeled off a 14-game hitting streak. The name stuck until he changed back to Roberto in November after an injury-plagued '93 season. Kelly hit 124 homers, stole 235 bases and had a slash line of .290/.337/.430.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • With the Mariners facing elimination in Game 3 of the AL Division Series on Oct. 4, 1997, Kelly helped extend their season against the Orioles. His double in the top of the third gave them a 1-0 lead, and Seattle would go on to win 4-2.

DEFINING SEASON

  • Kelly hit 20 homers and stole 32 bases in '91, the only time in his career that he attained the 20/20 level that many in the Yankee organization thought would become the norm.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. Kelly was successful on 74 percent of his stolen-base attempts.
  2. Trading him to the Reds for #170 Paul O'Neill proved to be a masterstroke for the Yankees; O'Neill would be a centerpiece on the club's four World Series titles in five years.
  3. Kelly, meanwhile, separated his shoulder in June '93 and was lost for the season, and the Reds traded him in May '94 for #141 Deion Sanders.
  4. Kelly was traded three more times and was mostly a fourth outfielder the remainder of his career.
  5. An ability to hit lefties made him valuable off the bench; Kelly hit .344 off them from '95-'00.

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