I always liked Rex Hudler, despite the fact that he never turned into the all star big league player the Yankee front office promised fans he would when he was selected as the team’s first round draft choice in 1978. Bronx Bomber fans are used to first round picks not fulfilling their potential. Remember Steve Chilcott; Dave Cheadle; Doug Heinhold; Dennis Sherrill; Jim McDonald; Steve Taylor; Todd Demeter; Steve Madden; Tim Birtsas; Jeffrey Pries; Rick Balabon; Brien Taylor; Matt Drews;Brian Buchanan; Shea Morenz; Scott Bradley; Tyler Godwin; Andy Brown, Dave Walling; Dave Parrish; Jon Skaggs; Bronson Sardinha; Eric Duncan; Jon Peterson; should I keep going? These are the names of Yankee number 1 draft picks most of you have never heard of. Though he never made it big as a Yankee, at least today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant ended up playing in the big leagues for over a decade.
“Wonderdog” was a great high school athlete in Fresno, California who turned down Division 1 football scholarship offers to play baseball for the Yankees. It became pretty clear, pretty quick that Hudler was not superstar material when he struggled to hit the pitching he faced at the lowest minor league levels. But the guy never quit. He gave 150% on every play he was involved in and just kept battling his way up New York’s alphabet ladder of farm teams until he got his first chance to play in pinstripes during September of the 1984 season. He struck out in his first big league at bat but doubled off of Boston’s Al Nipper in his second.
He got into a total of nine Yankee games during that 1984 season and 24 more the following year, never getting his big league average above .157. That December, he was traded to the Orioles. For the next ten seasons he was employed by five different big league teams playing every position except pitcher and catcher. He also spent a year (1993) playing in Japan.
When he hung up his spikes for good after the 1998 season he went into broadcasting as a color commentator for the Angels. He now announces for the Royals. Rex Hudler was a great teammate. He was always upbeat and also sort of crazy. Once, while sitting in the Cardinal dugout, Hudler captured a june bug that had landed his cap. When his St. Louis teammates dared him to eat it he started bidding up the challenge. By the time he popped the big ugly flying insect in his mouth and swallowed it, he had earned $800.
Hudler and his wife are the parents of a child with Down Syndrome and have both worked tirelessly on efforts to raise funding, awareness, and support for Down Syndrome children and their families.
|STL (3 yrs)||251||558||522||68||132||25||4||11||42||32||24||83||.253||.288||.379||.667|
|CAL (3 yrs)||232||694||649||107||190||44||3||30||87||29||25||130||.293||.325||.508||.834|
|MON (3 yrs)||173||395||374||60||98||21||2||10||27||44||16||58||.262||.293||.409||.702|
|PHI (2 yrs)||75||175||163||19||32||5||0||5||12||1||10||40||.196||.247||.319||.566|
|NYY (2 yrs)||29||66||58||6||9||1||1||0||1||0||2||14||.155||.197||.207||.404|
|BAL (1 yr)||14||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|