Friday, October 10, 2014
NAMES OF THE GAME: SHOOTY BABITT
For a rookie second baseman who played sketchy defense, Mack Babitt had a catchy nickname.
At 5-foot-8, "Shorty'' would've fit, but ''Shooty'' was a hit.
Shake, shake, shake ... shake, shake, shake ... Shooty Babitt.
A four-syllable gem, it's more jingle than name, rolling off the tongue like drool from a Lab. If he didn't exist, Hollywood would've had to create him. Shooty hit .256 in 156 at-bats in 1981 for his hometown A's and was fifth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
Shucks, it sucks he didn't stick around.
After those 54 games, Babitt, 22, never played in the majors again. Moody manager Billy Martin, a sure-handed second baseman in his day, cursed Shooty's shoddy glove. Babitt committed six errors in 215 chances.
"If you ever see Shooty Babitt play second base for me again, I want you to shooty me,'' Martin snorted at one point, never shy about taking a giant doody on a player before backing the team bus over him.
Sure enough, Babitt was left off the '81 postseason roster, and next spring, the A's acquired 37-year-old four-time All-Star Davey Lopes. Babitt was back in the minors.
This marvelous '82 is his only Topps card. A shame, but it shines.
The A's traded Shooty to the Expos later that year, but he was destined never to get out of the minors and retired in '84. Since, he's worked as a scout and is part of the Athletics broadcast team.
Good to know a great baseball name like Shooty Babitt is still associated with the game.