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Aaron Pointer

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Aaron Elton Pointer (Hawk)

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[edit] Introduction

"I started out very fast, hitting over .500 the first month of the season and just continued that way through the whole season, tapering off at the end. It really didn’t register with me, since all through my amateur career I hit with those numbers, so it didn’t seem like a big deal after all." - Aaron Pointer, commenting on how he hadn't realized it was anything special to be the last .400 hitter in professional ball in the U.S.

Some see him as one of the least famous members of his family, as his sisters Anita, June, Ruth and Bonnie formed the band The Pointer Sisters. However, Aaron Pointer had a very interesting career in his own right - not only for his three years in the major leagues, and his many years as NFL head linesman, but also as the last professional ballplayer to hit over .400 in a full season U. S.-based minor league.

On September 27, 1963, he was part of an all-rookie lineup that was the youngest lineup in MLB history, with an average age of 19. Joe Morgan, Rusty Staub and Jim Wynn all went on to great careers from that peach-fuzz group.

Pointer later was an NFL head linesman for years.

[edit] Early days

Pointer went to McClymonds High School, where he was not only a top basketball player but was also student body president. McClymonds - "Big Mack" - was famous for its tremendous athletes, such as baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and basketball Hall of Famer Bill Russell. It is said that the "Pointer Brothers" were famous long before the Pointer Sisters, as Aaron Pointer's brother Fritz Pointer was also athletically gifted.

Pointer's father was a minister at the West Oakland Church of God, and the Pointer kids were all required to sing in the choir.

Pointer received a basketball scholarship to the University of San Francisco. Although he was also a pitcher on the baseball team, he came down with a sore arm and thus was used as a position player when he turned professional.

[edit] Career

Houston gave him a signing bonus of $30,000. His first year as a pro, the 1961 season, with the Salisbury Braves in the South Atlantic League turned out to be legendary, as he became the last professional ballplayer to hit over .400 over a full summer in the U.S. (Gary Redus would hit .462 for the Billings Mustangs in the Rookie Pioneer League in 1978 and numerous players have topped .400 in the AAA Mexican League). Pointer hit .402 that year; it's even more impressive as unlike the Mexican League or Pioneer League, the Western Carolinas League was not high-offense. Pointer beat out Ron Henson for the batting title by 56 points. In a late call-up to the Houston Buffs, he hit .375. He never hit .300 in any other season during the 11 years he would continue to play professional baseball.

In 1962, Pointer faded rapidly, managing only a .269 mark for the Durham Bulls and .219 for the Oklahoma City 89ers. The next year, Aaron hit .264 for the San Antonio Bullets with 18 homers and 85 RBI, earning him his first call-up to the majors and his appearance in the youngest MLB lineup ever. Pointer was one of the first players to hit a home run in the Astrodome.

1964 marked another decline as he hit just .232 with 7 circuit clouts for San Antonio. In '65, Pointer hit .255 with 18 HR for the Amarillo Sonics. He batted .277 with 10 homers for Oklahoma City in 1966 and got his second crack at the majors, hitting .345 in 26 at-bats.

Getting his longest look at major league pitching with the 1967 Astros, Pointer only hit .157/.291/.257 though his career OPS+ in MLB was 90, as he played in a pitchers' park in a pitchers' era. He batted .267/~.354/.396 for the '67 89ers.

In 1968, Aaron was traded in May for Byron Browne of the Chicago Cubs. Splitting the year between Oklahoma City and the Tacoma Cubs, the 26-year-old flyhawk hit .263 with eight homers. In '69, he completed his USA career by hitting .265/~.341/.371 and led the Pacific Coast League with 14 sacrifice flies. After the wild inconsistency of the early part of his career, he had been very consistent in his four years in AAA.

Pointer then went to the Nishitetsu Lions for three years in Japan. In 1970, he batted .230/.318/.437 but did crack 22 homers. He slipped from there, hitting only .186/.255/.355 in '71 and .209/.264/.385 in '72 to complete his NPB career at .230/.290/.405. Pointer hit home runs in two consecutive pinch-hit appearances in 1972; it would be 35 years before another Lions hitter (Hisashi Takayama) duplicated the feat.

From 1978 to 2003, he was employed by the National Football League. He has officiated not only in the USA, but also has done pre-season games in Germany and in Japan.

He also was involved with the Pierce County, WA parks and recreation program for 29 years, and currently the Aaron Pointer Sportsmanship of the Year Award is given by Pierce County to a top athlete each year.

[edit] Miscellany

He once officiated an NFL game at which The Pointer Sisters sang the National Anthem.

"I tell kids this all the time. At some point in someone's life, even yours, there's going to be an opportunity. You've got to be prepared." - Aaron Pointer

  • His brother Fritz Pointer is a college English professor and author who has written a biography about the South African writer Alex La Guma.

Sources include 1968 and 1970 Baseball Guides, Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland, Pat Doyle's Professional Baseball Player Database

[edit] Related Sites

[Aaron Pointer is a Man for All Seasons]

[Aaron Pointer Sportsmanship Award]

[Aaron Pointer, the Last .400 Hitter]

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