Don Slaught

One of the game’s class acts, Slaught was well-liked by teammates throughout his career and never complained about his role. On the diamond, Slaught’s line-drive swing produced hits to all fields but very little power; virtually all of his extra-base hits were doubles to the gap.

Slaught attended UCLA, where his teammates included Dave Schmidt, Mike Gallego, and Matt Young. After setting a school record with a .428 batting average, Slaught was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in June 1980. He hit as high as .335 at Double-A and debuted in July 1982. He singled in his first two big-league at-bats off John Tudor, and batted .312 in 1983, his first season as a regular.

In January 1985, Slaught was shipped to the Texas Rangers in a four-team trade that included Danny Darwin and Tim Leary. As the everyday catcher, Slaught continued to hit well, but struggled defensively. He committed twenty passed balls, seventeen with knuckleballer Charlie Hough on the mound. Slaught broke his nose and cheekbone on May 17, 1986, when he was beaned by an Oil Can Boyd curveball. He was dealt to the New York Yankees in November 1987.

Slaught spent 1990 to 1995 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, platooning with Mike LaValliere. He was never able to land the full-time job despite hitting better than .285 every season, including a career-high .345 in 1992. Slaught’s career-high in at-bats was just 409, remarkable for someone with his hitting prowess and solid defensive reputation.