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Dan Driessen

Dan Driessen
First baseman
Born: (1951-07-29) July 29, 1951 (age 64)
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
June 9, 1973 for the Cincinnati Reds
Last MLB appearance
October 3, 1987 for the St. Louis Cardinals
Career statistics
Batting average .267
Home runs 153
Runs batted in 763
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Career highlights and awards

Daniel Driessen (born July 29, 1951 in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina) is a former Major League Baseball infielder who played for five teams in his 15-year big-league career. He is best known as a member of the Cincinnati Reds "Big Red Machine" of the 1970s.

Early life

Driessen was one of eight children, all raised by their mother, who was a maid, after his father died when Dan was six years old.[1][2] He attended Michael C. Riley High School (which did not have a baseball team) until his senior year. He then went to Hardeeville High School in Hardeeville, South Carolina, which also did not have a team, but he made a name for himself as a catcher with the town team, the Hardeeville Boll Weevils. His coach, Hal Young, wrote to Major League teams touting Driessen, and the Atlanta Braves and Reds showed interest. The Braves passed on him, but the Reds offered him a contract.[3]

Major League career

Driessen was signed by the Reds as an amateur free agent in 1969.[4] He made his major-league debut at age 21 on June 9, 1973 in an 8-4 Reds win over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Starting at third base and batting sixth, he had one hit and one walk in five at-bats. His first career hit was a ninth-inning double off Jack Aker.[5]

He had a productive rookie season, hitting .301 with four home runs and 47 runs batted in. Driessen received the nickname "The Cobra" during his rookie season because of the quick, lethal way his bat struck.[6] He became Cincinnati's starting third baseman in 1974, but was soon replaced at that position by Pete Rose.

In 1976, Driessen became the National League's first-ever designated hitter in a World Series. Although he went 0-4 in the series opener against the New York Yankees, overall he made the most of his opportunity by hitting .357 with five hits (including two doubles and a home run) and two walks in 16 plate appearances as the Reds swept the series for their second consecutive World Series crown.[7] He was part of the Reds' 1975 World Series-winning team, going hitless in two at-bats in the Reds' seven-game win over the Boston Red Sox.[8]

He was the Reds' starting first baseman from 1977-1981 after the trade of Tony Pérez. His most productive year was in 1977 as he hit .300 with 17 home runs and a career-high 91 runs batted in along with a career-high 31 stolen bases. Driessen led all National League first basemen in fielding three times. He also led the NL in walks with 93 in 1980.

He was traded in the middle of the 1984 season to the Montreal Expos. He saw significant playing time that season as well as in 1985 for the Expos and then, following another mid-season trade, to the San Francisco Giants. In 1986, his playing time fell significantly as, for the third consecutive season, he played for two teams, the Giants, who released him on May 1, and the Houston Astros, who signed him on June 2. He was released after the season and signed with the St. Louis Cardinals on June 9, 1987.

Filling in at first base for the 1987 National League champion Cardinals, in his third World Series he hit .231 in 14 plate appearances as the Cardinals fell in seven games to the Minnesota Twins. It was Driessen's final major-league season.[9]

Personal life

Driessen married his wife, Bonnie, in 1976 and they raised three daughters. In the early 1990s the family moved from Cincinnati to Hilton Head, where Driessen owns and operates Driessen Excavating Services and helps coach the Hilton Head High School baseball team.[10]

He was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Baseball Hall of Fame on June 23, 2012.[11] He is the uncle of former major-leaguer Gerald Perry.[12]

See also