Len Randle

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Leonard Shenoff Randle

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Biographical Information[edit]

Infielder-outfielder Lenny Randle had a very up-and-down career during a dozen seasons in the big leagues.

Originally selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the tenth round of the 1967 amateur draft, Randle instead chose to attend Arizona State University, where he played both baseball and football and majored in political science. He was on Team USA when they won Silver in the 1969 Amateur World Series. He was then chosen by the Washington Senators in the 1970 amateur draft.

After playing for the Denver Bears of the American Association for about a season, Randle was called up by the Senators and made his major league debut in June 1971. The Senators became the Texas Rangers in 1972, and he split the next two summers between Triple A and Texas. He became the regular third baseman for the Rangers in 1974, under manager Billy Martin, and hit .302 for the club. After being moved to second base the next summer, his average dropped to .224. The following spring, in 1976, he lost his starting job to Bump Wills and is remembered by many for punching his manager, Frank Lucchesi, during spring training 1977. He claimed Lucchesi had insulted him by calling him a "punk"; the fight was very uncharacteristic for Randle, who was well-regarded as a highly-intelligent player who had never had behavioral problems.

After being suspended by the Rangers, Randle was traded to the New York Mets early in the 1977 season. He hit .304 as the team's third baseman in his first summer in New York, but his average again dropped dramatically to .233 in 1978, and he was released the following spring. After spending time in the San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates organizations, he ended the 1979 season as a member of the New York Yankees. After spending 1980 as a starter at third for the Chicago Cubs, he ended his career with two seasons with the Seattle Mariners. While with the M's, he once tried unsuccessfully to blow a ball into foul territory on May 27, 1981. The rule has since been re-written to make it a fair ball if a fielder alters the path of the ball even without touching it.

After retiring from the major leagues, Randle played in the Italian Serie-A1, leading the league in batting in 1983 with a .502 average for Nettuno; he was the first of many ex-major leaguers to play in Italy. He was later a Waterloo Indians coach in 1987. In 1989, he played for the St. Petersburg Pelicans of the Senior Professional Baseball Association, where he hit .349 and stole 16 bases. Randle featured prominently in Peter Golenbock's The Forever Boys, a chronicle of that SPBA season through the eyes of the Pelicans. The next year, he was with the Sun City Rays, batting .242 in 23 games until the league folded. Randle suited up with the California Angels during the replacement player spring of 1995, but was unable to crack any of the Halos rosters in his comeback attempt.

During the 1981 strike-shortened season, Randle laid some tracks on wax. Fronting Lenny Randle & The Ballplayers, he released (in 1982) the funky single "Kingdome" to benefit a young fan with cerebral palsy, using the proceeds from the song's sales to buy a vocal synthesizer for the fan. A full-length album, Just A Chance, was released in 1983 with help from Thad Bosley.

In October 2014, he was named manager of his old Nettuno club. His life was chronicled in the 2015 MLB Network special "Lenny Randle: The Most Interesting Man In Baseball".

Randle was inducted into the Arizona State Athletic Hall of Fame as both a football and a baseball player.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Charlie Grassl: "Lenny Randle", in Steve West and Bill Nowlin, eds.: The Team That Couldn't Hit: The 1972 Texas Rangers, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2019, pp. 202-205. ISBN 978-1-943816-93-4

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