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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Today's Birthdays

John D'Acquisto CAL b. 1951, played 1981. A first-round pick by the Giants in the 1970 draft, he found his best moments of success out of the bullpen once he wasn't able to handle the rotation. Spending his 1980 split in middling effectiveness out of the bullpen for the Padres and Expos, the Angels signed him to a rich four-year, $1.3M deal. He was one of $15 million in expensive free agents the Angels had acquired; that year's haul included pitcher Geoff Zahn, fourth outfielder Juan Beniquez, as well as Fred Lynn, who, as with Rod Carew (c.f.), found himself traded prior to becoming a free agent.

But why did the Angels acquire D'Acquisto in the first place? The short answer is also painful: only one day before, the Angels had moved promising young third baseman (and Top 100 Angel) Carney Lansford, starting centerfielder Rick Miller, and erratic-but-effective Top 100 Angel Mark Clear to the Red Sox, for shortstop Rick Burleson and third baseman Butch Hobson.

The Burleson-Hobson combination almost immediately turned into an expensive disaster for the Angels. Hobson went into free-fall, and Burleson separated his shoulder days into the 1982 season, and was never the same player afterwards. Meanwhile, Clear and Lansford continued to be effective, while the free agents the Angels signed weren't. That included D'Acquisto, who agreed to be demoted to AAA after he got shelled in a May 23, 1981 15-4 rout at the hands of the Chisox. He never played for the Angels again, and for many years was held up by fans and media alike as a prime example of the Angels' failures in signing free agent pitchers.

D'Acquisto played for the A's and Braves the next year, but was out of baseball after 1982. In 1996, he was indicted for defrauding investors of $7 million and 39 counts of wire fraud and money laundering, and convicted of trying to pass off a forged certificate of deposit, for which he was imprisoned. In 1999, he pled guilty to the $7M fraud, $1.3M of which he used to buy luxury cars, property, and a part interest in a Mexican baseball team. He was released in 2003; currently, he seems to be associated with Wild Pitch Productions, a music recording and production company.

Jack Graham BRO b. 1916, played 1946, d. 1998-12-30

George Jeffcoat BRO b. 1913, played 1936-1937, 1939, d. 1978-10-13

Keith Luuloa ANA b. 1974, played 2000

Nice stuff there on Johnny D'!

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