Pete LaCock – 1980 Topps
July 13, 2011
He’ll Take Paul Lynde To Block…
As you know, LaCock’s dad was Peter Marshall, the ringleader of the Hollywood Squares for years.
You may have been following the shenanigans up in Zion, IL. Deadspin has the basics and the other links, but besides being a total clusterflop involving the Los Dos Cansecos, Todd Rundgren’s son, Tim “Vietnam Vet Wanna Be” Johnson and Kevin Costner, it also involved Pete LaCock in a major way, and LaCock comes off like one of the good guys in it.
It seemed like a good time to get a LaCock post up here.
Now, he wasn’t just up in the bigs because of his name or his connections. Leave that for Pete Rose, Jr. or Greg Booker or Marc Sullivan. LaCock had some cred – he was a first round pick in the January 1970 draft. He hit .306 in Midland in 1972 at age 22, .297 at Wichita in AAA at age 23 and was the American Association MVP in 1974 after he hit .327 with 23 homers and a .974 OPS.
After that season, he never played a minor league game again, but he probably should have.
He had cups of coffee in ’72 and ’73 and a full audition in ’74 after Wichita’s season was over. He struggled at the bat and in the field. Up full-time for the Cubs in 1975 and 1976 he showed flashes of potential amongst mind-numbing mediocrity on offense and defense. He wasn’t a good outfielder nor a good first baseman, and didn’t hit with enough power to justify playing either corner outfield spot much less first base. He had a good eye, so there was hope. But he was -2.5 WAR for the Cubs so it was off to KC after the ’76 season in a three-team trade involving the Mets where the Cubs got the criminally underrated Jim Dwyer (who the Cubs ignored, of course – Earl Weavers still says his thanks) and the Mets received the fast yet inept Sheldon Mallory.
LaCock, though, was somewhat of a surprise for the Royals for three seasons, amassing a 2.3 WAR as a platoon player. He had a great ALCS in 1978 for the Royals and thus probably played too much in 1979. But he wasn’t a ‘joke’ – he was a real player.
Then he collapsed in 1980, with an OPS+ of 52 and not even slugging .300. That was the end of that. He later went to Japan for a year where he drew the ire of all of the Japanese players and media. Quietly he’s been in the game for most of the rest of his life, but until this past year he’s avoided the spotlight.
He was a AAAA player, but not a joke. What happened this past week in Zion, though…that’s the joke!