James, whose brother Craig was a running back for the New England Patriots, was a promising young hitter with great speed before he missed most of the 1986 season with a broken ankle. He rebounded in 1987 to hit .293 with 17 homers while playing only part-time in the crowded Phillies outfield. As a starter in 1988, he tried to hit home runs, and his average fell 50 points.
James played third base when Mike Schmidt went on the DL for rotator cuff surgery and was announced as Schmidt’s successor when the Hall of Famer retired in 1989, but he was traded to San Diego within a month. His next season, spent as the Indians’ DH, was his last as a productive regular, but James managed to find big-league work for another five years as a reserve outfielder on a number of middling teams.