Robert Anthony Chance
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 191 lb.
The son of Bob Chance, Tony Chance spent 20 years as a professional baseball player, including 11 in AAA, but (unlike his father) never made the major leagues. Tony broke in with the 1983 GCL Pirates and hit .293/~.370/.366 but struggled with them the next year, hitting .218/~.283/.236 and fielded just .862 in the outfield. He also appeared for the 1984 Watertown Pirates, batting .148/~.274/.243 in 41 games. The Pirates did not give up on him, though.
In 1985, Tony was 10 for 30 for the GCL Pirates and spent most of the year with the Gastonia Jets and Macon Pirates in the South Atlantic League, producing at a .242/~.297/.342 clip. The 1986 season saw Chance develop power at Macon, homering 17 times in 366 AB while stealing 18 bases and batting .232/~.304/.421. With the Prince William Pirates, he hit .233/~.270/.417 in 19 games.
Chance starred for the pennant-winning 1987 Salem Pirates, batting .318/~.377/.516, stealing 26 bases, driving in 96, scoring 99 and homering 23 times. He led the Carolina League in hits (167), total bases (271) and game-winning RBI (15), was fourth in average and 23 slugging points behind league leader Leo Gomez and one run behind leader Milt Harper. Chance was named to the league All-Star team and was picked as the #4 prospect in the league by Baseball America. He did not go more than three games without a hit.
The 1988 season was marked by significant decline as the 23-year-old outfielder only hit .219/~.298/.327 for the Harrisburg Senators and .213/~.256/.319 for Salem. Chance struggled in 1989 as well, hitting just .136/~.136/.409 in limited time with the Augusta Pirates and playing four games for the Senators. In a busy campaign, he also made his first trip to the Mexican League and hit .255/~.301/.436 with the Mexico City Red Devils before being traded on June 22 to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Mike Smith. He spent most of the year with the Hagerstown Suns; overall, he hit .262/~.299/.446 with Harrisburg and Hagerstown.
In 1990, Tony did well in his first full year at AAA, batting .269/~.331/.416 with 75 RBI for the Rochester Red Wings. He led the team in the Governors' Cup, hitting .389 with 7 RBI, guiding them to the title. In his 9th professional season but still only 26, Chance hit .251/~.328/.386 for Rochester in 1991.
The 1992 season found Chance in the Chicago Cubs system, playing for the Iowa Cubs. He put up a .270/~.323/.403 line for the Iowa club and had 13 outfield assists while fielding .990. He even pitched a scoreless inning in a 15-6 loss in one game. In '93, he remained with the team and produced at a .282/~.362/.524 rate with 16 homers in 294 AB, his highest home run total and average in six years. He did not get called up to Chicago.
Chance was 4 for 16 with a homer and 7 K's for the 1994 Charlotte Knights but spent most of the year with the Aguascalientes Rieleros and Torreon Cotton Dealers, hitting .348/.426/.506 and finishing third in the Mexican League in batting average, behind Adam Casillas and Johnny Monell Sr..
With the 1994-95 work stoppage, Chance became a replacement player with the Texas Rangers and hit .360 with 23 RBIs and four home runs in 75 spring at-bats. After the two sides came to terms, Chance was assigned to the Oklahoma City 89ers but struggled, hitting only .214/~.270/.306 in 63 games.
Chance spent part of 1996 with the Duluth-Superior Dukes, hitting .281 and slugging .510 but was in Mexico most of the year, playing for Aguascalientes and the Monclova Steelers and finishing fifth in average at .338/~.431/.499 with 70 walks and 84 runs scored. In '97, the 32-year-old was in his 15th professional season and hit .288/~.424/.531 with Monclova, cracking 23 homers (tying his career high of 10 years prior) and coaxing a career-high 89 walks. He tied for second in LMB in homers with Alex Cabrera, two behind leader Ty Gainey.
Chance hit .318/~.418/.554 for the 1998 Steelers but the majority of his season was spent with the Winnipeg Goldeyes, where he hit .325 and slugged .573, smashing 20 homers and making the Northern League All-Star team in the outfield. In '99, the veteran hit .347 in limited time with the St. Paul Saints and .249/~.361/.446 for Monclova and the Tabasco Banana Dealers. The 2000 season was spent entirely with one team for the first time in three years. He hit .309/~.417/.501 for the Yucatan Lions with 18 homers, 76 walks and 83 runs. He hit .301/~.402/.494 overall in parts of seven years in the Mexican League.
In 2001, the 36-year-old was back in St. Paul and hit .260, slugging .442 and leading the team in homers. In his final year in '02, he hit .258 for the Joliet Jackhammers, slugging .400. He also was a player-hitting coach that year and had served a similar role in 1998.
Entering his final season, Tony had hit .278 (1,952-for-7,010) with an OBP around .357 and a slugging percentage of .454 with 1,147 runs, 1,156 RBI and 267 homers in 1,986 games.
Sources: 1984-1985, 1989, 1991 and 1995 Baseball Guides, 1986-1987 Baseball America Statistics Reports, 1988-2003 Baseball Almanacs, The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics by Pedro Treto Cisneros, Pat Doyle's Professional Baseball Player Database, 1988 Pittsburgh Pirates Yearbook. 1995 spring training statistics from an Associated Press article partially reprinted on rec.sport.baseball, Joliet JackHammers website