Mel Hall

After hitting 17 homers in his first full season in 1983 for the Cubs, Hall was traded in mid-1984 in the deal that brought Rick Sutcliffe and a division title to Chicago. He was hitting a career-high .318 in 1985 when he broke his collarbone running into an outfield wall, but rebounded to hit 18 homers in both 1986 and 1987. He dropped off to six homers in 1988.

The Yankees traded Joel Skinner for Hall shortly after Dave Winfield’s back problem became known in spring training of 1989, but Hall slumped and then fell victim to injury. He found himself in part-time duty as a DH and left fielder on his return to the lineup, the Yankees having acquired Jesse Barfield in the interim.

Meanwhile, Hall’s showy habits in the Big Apple were earning him a reputation as one of the game’s most flamboyant characters. He rented an upper-level apartment in Trump Tower and would often sally across town with two pet cougars in tow. He dated a 16-year-old, drove her to school in flashy cars and even attended her prom. All of this made quite an impression his teammates, especially the young two-sport star Deion Sanders, who later asked Hall to be the godfather of one of his children.

The cougars were confiscated by the City of New York in 1990, and Hall was slapped with a $10,000 fine. To add to his woes, Hall’s RBI total fell to 46, a five-year low. But over the next two seasons, he proved himself one of the Yankees’ most productive hitters, topping the club with 80 RBIs in 1991 and besting that total in 1992.

Hall was dissatisfied with the club’s lackadaisical attitude towards a new contract extension, however, and demanded a trade in August 1992. “I’m one of their most popular players,” he grumbled, “and I’m the one getting the least respect.” The trade request was not granted.

Major-league rules prevented Hall from testing the free-agent market, so he left the majors and spent three years in Japan. Hindered by increasingly sore knees, he returned to the States in 1996 as a left-handed pinch-hitter for the Giants, but was unhappy with his limited role. “Pinch-hitting is a vital role, but I will never accept it,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle in late April. He was released less than a month later.