Darryl Maurice Brinkley
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 189 lb.
- School Sacred Heart University
- High School Stamford High School
From 1981-2006, only one Winter League Player of the Year did not make it to the major leagues and then only missed due to a national tragedy. That was Darryl Brinkley, who had not even played in the affiliated minors until he got a shot after one fine winter. Brinkley was undrafted out of college (where he hit .529 as a senior) and went to play in Hoofdklasse for two years (winning the MVP Award his second year, 1992), followed by a season in Italy's Serie A1. In Italy, he hit .462/.545/.708 and stole 16 bases in 18 tries in 18 games. He scored 18 runs and drove home 16.
In 1994, Darryl joined the Winnipeg Goldeyes and hit .293, slugging .456, and stealing 32 bases, second-best in the Northern League. In '95, Brinley hit .336 and slugged .458 for Winnipeg, batted .200 in a brief spell with the Saskatoon Riot and spent most of the year with the Campeche Pirates, hitting .338/~.401/.511 with 79 runs and 55 steals in 78 tries in 106 games. He led the Mexican League in stolen bases that season.
That winter, Brinkley hit .342, second to Dmitri Young in the Mexican Pacific League. He led the LMP in steals (29, five more than runner-up Mike Cameron), hits (76) and runs (46) as the sparkplug for the first-place Hermosillo Orange Growers. Hermosillo fell in the playoffs and Brinkley joined the Culiacan Tomato Growers for the 1996 Caribbean Series and helped them to the title by hitting .350, scoring five and driving in six. He was named the Caribbean Series MVP and named to the Baseball America Winter League All-Star team, as well as winning Winter League Player of the Year honors.
That earned Darryl a signing with the San Diego Padres, starting his US pro career at age 27. The European, South American and Canadian veteran hit .363/~.415/.591 for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and .296/~.364/.473 with the Memphis Chicks. He scored 88 runs, stole 31 bases and homered 18 times.
Brinkley had another good winter campaign in 1996-97, hitting .369 with 23 steals for the Águilas de Mexicali and leading the LMP in average and hits (90). He again made the Baseball America Winter League All-Star team, joining Richard Hidalgo and Bubba Trammell in the outfield. Brinkley hit .307/~.382/.451 for the '97 Mobile BayBears and .340/~.400/.540 with the Mexico City Red Devils. He was only 14 for 25 in steals that season.
Darryl slipped in winter play in 1997-98, hitting .284 for Mexicali, but leading the LMP in runs (46). He tied Matt Stark and Brad Seitzer for the most hits (67), homered 11 times, one fewer than leader Bubba Smith and stole 13. He hit .375 for the Mazatlan Deer as an added player in the 1998 Caribbean Series and was the only Mexican player on the All-Tournament team, joining Luis Polonia and Magglio Ordonez in the outfield.
In '98, Brinkley made his USA AAA debut with the Nashville Sounds. Now a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system, the veteran hit .355/~.398/.505 but did not get a call to the majors. He was second to Jeremy Giambi in the Pacific Coast League in batting average. Back in Nashville at age 30, he had a .323/~.375/.540 line at the plate.
Hitting .301/.375/.416 in 38 games for Nashville in 2000, Darryl left to join the Hyundai Unicorns. In the Korea Baseball Organization, he struggled at .209/.250/.319, but had now played professional baseball in six countries. Returning stateside, he joined the Baltimore Orioles chain and hit .358/.402/.417 in 31 games with the Rochester Red Wings but was not called up.
In '01, Brinkley hit .293 for Campeche and the Yucatan Lions in Mexico and .306/.308/.556 in 9 games with Rochester. The Orioles called Brinkley to have him join the club but he was out of town and did not get the message in time to make travel arrangements before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. When baseball resumed, Baltimore no longer had need for Darryl's services. He returned to Rochester again and the 34-year-old had a .285/.317/.405 line. Showing a surprising return to speed, he stole 19 in 24 tries.
Darryl hit .323/?/.544 in winter ball with Mexicali in 2002-03 then spent most of 2003 with Yucatan, batting .340/?/.472 and stealing 22 bases. By this time, many Mexican Leaguers would join independent leagues late in the year after the LMB season ended. Brinkley hit .405 for the New Jersey Jackals.
In 2003-04, Brinkley batted .266/?/.376 for Mexicali, then in '04, he hit .248/.360/.424 with the Toros de Tijuana and .383/.431/.454 for the Tuneros de San Luis for a composite .320 average with 23 steals in 30 tries. He returned to Winnipeg for an extended time and hit .316/?/.485 for the Goldeyes with 21 more swipes for 44 at age 35.
In 2005, the old-timer hit .376/.447/.574 for San Luis Potosi. He was caught in 16 of 39 steal attempts but was third in the Mexican League in batting average. He also went 4 for 9 for New Jersey. In '06, Brinkley returned to San Luis to bat .355/.420/.480 with 24 steals. He joined the Calgary Vipers as a late-season addition after the LMB campaign came to a close.
Brinkley hit .400 and slugged .590 for Calgary in 2007. He became the first .400 hitter in the modern Northern League, thanks in part to a 9-for-13 finish. He stole 18 bases and led the Northern League in OBP, runs (88) and hits. He was named Northern League MVP and Baseball America Independent League Player of the Year. He also played for the Pastora de los Llanos of the Venezuelan Winter League that year as well.
In 2008, he hit .293 in 14 games with the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League and .351 in 82 games with the Calgary Vipers of the Golden Baseball League. He hit a combined eight home runs and stole 32 bases.
Brinkley was voted into the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018 in a class with Jaime Orozco and Cornelio Garcia (he led the voting with 16 of 19 ballots). He had hit .331 in five Caribbean Series; he was only the 6th player from the US to win entry and the first in 12 years.
Brinkley was a coach for the Tigres de Quintana Roo in 2012, Ogden Raptors in 2015, DSL Rojos in 2016, Louisville Bats in 2017, Greeneville Reds in 2018, Billings Mustangs in 2019, and Daytona Tortugas in 2021.
Sources include 1995-2008 Baseball Almanacs, The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics by Pedro Treto Cisneros, "Brinkley a global journeyman" by Lisa Winston in USA Today 7/17/2002, Minorleaguebaseball.com, 2004-2005 Baseball Guides, 2007 KBO Official Encyclopedia, Italian Baseball and Softball Federation, Meridiano
Year-By-Year Managerial Record
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