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Tony Barron

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1997 Collector's Choice Tony Barron

Anthony Dirk Barron

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[edit] Biographical Information

Tony Barron seemed to be another career minor league player who would never make it to the major leagues in spite of good hitting statistics, until his career took a few unexpected twists in the late 1990s. As it stands, he only had a truncated chance to show what he could do against major league pitching. His journey in professional baseball began when he was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 7th round of the 1987 amateur draft out of Willamette University. His long stay in the Dodgers' organization got him nowhere until the Dodgers released him early in the 1995 season and the Montreal Expos picked him up to strengthen their AA affiliate, the Harrisburg Senators of the Eastern League. Barron changed the Expos' plans by immediately going on a tear for his new team, hitting 5 doubles and 10 home runs in 103 at bats, for a .631 slugging percentage. He was promoted to the AAA Ottawa Lynx of the International League after 29 games, leaving no choice for his Manager Pete Mackanin but to play him even if he hit only .245, as he slugged 10 doubles and 10 home runs in 147 at bats. The Lynx went on to win a completely unexpected Governors' Cup that fall, with Barron one of the main contributors.

Tony Barron started the 1996 season at Ottawa and kept hitting so well that he couldn't be ignored. He hit .320 in 105 games for the Lynx, with 29 doubles and 14 home runs, for a .510 slugging percentage in a tough park for hitters. On May 30, his lifelong dream finally came true as the Expos purchased his contract to fill out their major league roster; Barron was teary-eyed as he was interviewed upon joining his new team, explaining that he had almost given up on baseball a few months earlier. Unfortunately, his stay in the Show was short-lived. On June 2 (Boxscore), he was brought into a game to pinch hit against Mark Leiter of the San Francisco Giants and promptly struck out in his first major league appearance. Manager Felipe Alou did not use him again until he was sent down to Ottawa on June 10. Barron was a very frustrated man when he went back to AAA, and it is not surprising that he left the Expos' organization as soon as he got the opportunity in the fall, signing a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Barron returned to the International League in 1997 to terrorize its pitchers. In 92 games with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, he hit .328 with 21 doubles and 18 home runs to earn a place on the league's all-star team and to force the last-place Phillies to give him a more serious chance to show what he could do. He hit fairly well against National League pitching, with a .286 batting average in 57 games with 12 doubles and 4 home runs. However, he failed to earn a spot with the team in 1998 and returned to Scranton, where he hit .278 with power. He found his way to the Mexico City Red Devils of the Mexican League in 1999 and then to Monterrey in 2000, where he just kept on hitting, posting averages of .341 and .356 those two seasons, then a combined .301 for Cancun and Campeche in 2001, but he fell to .281 for Veracruz and Puebla in 2002, by which time he had turned 36 years old and called it a career. His time in the Major Leagues may have been brief, but there is no doubt that Tony Barron could hit.

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