Born: Aug 8, 1952
Mike Ivie looked like a golden boy with his bulging muscles and his mane of long blond hair. If he'd had a sunny disposition to match his locks, he might have been a warmly remembered power hitter; instead, he was just another troubled young man unable to live up to his potential.
Taken by the Padres in the first round of the 1970 amateur draft, he hit 79 homers in four minor league seasons, and although he was hurt in 1975, he still won a place on the Topps All-Rookie team. The next year he led San Diego in batting average and RBIs but didn't show the home run power the team had expected.
Ivie came up as a catcher but he developed a mental problem throwing the ball back to the pitcher. It didn't derail his career for long as he was moved to first base. In 1977, he complained about sharing first base with Gene Tenace. The Padres moved Ivie to third. He sulked, then left the team for several days.
Dealt to the Giants because of his carping, he had a terrific season off the bench in 1978. He batted .387 as a pinch hitter with 20 RBIs in just 31 at-bats for San Francisco. Ivie slugged four pinch-hit homers in 1978, including two grand slams to tie the season record set by Davey Johnson. Given more playing time, in 1979 he responded with 27 homers, 89 RBIs - his best season ever.
Given that success, he might have gone on to stardom, but during the off-season he accidentally cut a tendon in his hand with a hunting knife. The Sporting News Guide said, "The sensitive first baseman couldn't cope with the long rehabilitation process, and the injury also affected his brittle confidence." He retired in midseason, changed his mind, and returned.
Dealt to Houston, and then Detroit in 1981, he later hit 14 home runs as a part-time player with the Tigers. In 1983 after playing just 12 games, he retired.