All-Time Indians: Chris Chambliss

Name: Carroll Christopher Chambliss Position: First Base
Tribe Time: 1971-1974   Number: 14
Accolades: 1971 Rookie of the Year DOB: 12/26/1948
Stats G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SB CS OBP SLG AVG OPS
Best Season (1973) 155 572 70 156 30 2 11 53 58 4 8 .342 .390 .273 .732
Career 404 1520 178 428 81 8 26 152 129 9 13 .339 .397 .282 .736

The Indians have had their fare share of home grown super stars, but somehow, only four of them have ever won a Rookie of the Year award and the second one to do so was Chris Chambliss. Like two of the other three Indians winners (Herb Score and Joe Charboneau), Chambliss then went on to disappoint for the rest of his short time with the Tribe. Chambliss was taken out of UCLA with the first overall pick of the 1970 January draft by the Indians and made his debut the following season, at the end of May in 1971. He immediately was thrust into the starters role at the age of 22, supplanting Ken Harrelson who was struggling in the final season of his career.

Chambliss caught on quickly, batting .305 over the rest of the first half with 11 doubles and 28 RBI. In the end, he was one of the Indians top four hitters (along with Ray Fosse, Graig Nettles and Roy Foster) as he ended with a .749 OPS in his rookie campaign. Chambliss garnered 11 of the 24 votes for the AL Rookie of the Year despite fantastic seasons by Milwaukee's Bill Parsons and the Royals Paul Splittorff. It certainly looked as if this was just the start of something great for the Indians first baseman.

In the following two seasons, Chambliss was unable to match his initial seasons' rate stats and put up similar numbers in RBI, home runs and doubles despite increases in at bats every year. The Indians had already seen enough to give up on him, a policy that helped lead to another 20 years of futility. He would end up playing 17 total seasons and knocking in almost 1,000 career runs, but it wouldn't be with the Indians. Mid-season in 1974, Chambliss was traded along with Dick Tidrow to the Yankees for Fred Beene, Tom Buskey, Steve Kline and Fritz Peterson. None of those players ever had the production for the Indians that Chambliss would have for the Yankees. In New York, he hit 79 home runs and batted .284 while winning two World Series and playing in a third. After that, he moved on to Atlanta where he hit another 80 long balls seven seasons to end his career. He did attempt a short comeback in 1988 with the Yankees again, but only received one at bat and struck out.

While he is no Hall of Famer, Chambliss was a superb defensive first baseman, winning the Gold Glove in 1978 and received MVP votes in three different years. He only went to one All-Star game, but two World Series trophies and a Rookie of the Year should be enough to provide a fulfilling career to any person who made his career playing baseball. After his playing career, Chambliss became a hitting coach for the Cardinals (1993-1995) first, then the Yankees where he won another four World Series from 1996 through 2000. He coached for the Mets and Reds as well, before attempting to become a manager. After a stint with the AAA Charlotte Knights as manager, he was made hitting coach again, this time under Eric Wedge in Seattle from 2011 until he retired after 2012. 

Joseph Coblitz

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians.

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