Bernardo Antonio Tatis
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 160 lb.
Bernie Tatis played for 17 seasons, including 10 at AAA, but never made the majors. He stole over 700 bases in professional baseball, not counting his time in the winter leagues. He led his circuit in stolen bases four times. He set the Taiwanese league record for steals in a season. He later became a pennant-winning manager.
Blue Jays chain
Tatis debuted in 1981 with the Medicine Hat Blue Jays, hitting just .194/.256/.259 with 5 steals in 5 tries in 31 games. He fielded only .874 at shortstop, with 18 errors in his 31 contests. In '82, Bernie improved significantly, batting .260/.399/.333 for the Florence Blue Jays. He drew 86 walks, stole 83 bases in 101 attempts and scored 75 runs. Moving to second base, he fielded .937. He led the South Atlantic League in both steals (6 ahead of Lenny Dykstra) and times gunned down.
The Dominican speedster batted .265/.355/.340 for the 1983 Kinston Blue Jays and stole 43 bases in 59 attempts. He only tied for 8th in the Carolina League in swipes, 62 behind Dykstra. While his fielding percentage at second base continued to improve (.950), he was starting to be used in the outfield, which would become his main position.
In 1984, Tatis played mostly outfield (65 games) for Kinston but also saw time at third base (25 games), second base (14 games) and shortstop (2 games). He hit .253/.333/.327 with just 24 swipes in 36 attempts and 7 triples. Bernie was a full-time flyhawk for the 1985 Knoxville Blue Jays, hitting .286/~.367/.387 with 25 stolen bases in his AA debut.
Tatis was the Knoxville DH in 1986, also backing up Nelson Liriano at second base. He batted .251/~.332/.408 to top a .400 slugging percentage for the first time. He stole 25 bases and hit 9 home runs - the home run total was only 8th on the club but was more than double his prior high. He had now topped 200 career steals as well, while still being only 24 years old.
In his third season with Knoxville, Bernie hit .279/~.375/.420 with 80 walks, 8 triples, 55 stolen bases and 101 runs. He led the Southern League in steals and runs scored. No one was close in steals - Greg Briley and Lance Blankenship were co-runners-up with 34.
Pirates system, Mexican League debut
The Pittsburgh Pirates signed Tatis as a free agent. They gave him a starting job in AAA with the Buffalo Bisons, joining Benny Distefano, Tommy Gregg and Tom Romano in the outfield. Tatis hit .234/.307/.350 with 27 stolen bases in 42 attempts. The lone positive was 17 assists, leading all outfielders in the American Association.
Tatis hit .286/~.351/.412 in 17 games for the 1989 Harrisburg Senators (pilfering seven bases) but spent most of the season in the Mexican League. He hit .327/.402/.513 for the Mexico City Red Devils with a career-high 20 home runs and 90 RBI. He scored 100 bases in 119 games and was 49-for-61 in steal attempts. He finished eight runs behind Mexican League co-leaders Willie Aikens and Mike Cole.
Cleveland and Texas farm chains
Bernie hit .247/~.360/.371 with 11 steals and 31 runs in 47 games in the 1989-1990 Dominican League; he was 2 runs behind league leader Marquis Grissom. In 1990, Tatis split time between the Oklahoma City 89ers (.189/.260/.286, 11 SB in 55 G) and Canton-Akron Indians (.272/.342/.423, 25 SB in 69 G) to complete a decade in professional baseball.
That winter, Tatis hit .287/~.386/.425 for the Águilas Cibaeñas with 15 swipes, 28 walks and 6 homers in 46 games. He was one walk behind Jose Offerman for the league lead and one homer behind leader Bernardo Brito in a rare power display.
Tatis got his last shot in the US minors during the 1991 campaign. He was 10 for 30 with 2 walks, 3 steals and 3 doubles in 8 games for Canton-Akron and 5 for 20 with 3 walks, a steal and 2 homers in 5 games for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. At age 29 and with a poor career line in AAA, his chance at the majors was gone. He still had a lot of baseball left, though.
Mexico and Taiwan
Tatis went back to Mexico in 1992, hitting .305/.420/.462 for the Red Devils with 53 stolen bases in 65 tries. He scored 123 runs and also drove in 82 in 131 games. While it was one of the top 20 seasons in Mexican League history in terms of number of steals, he was 27 behind leader Tommy Hinzo. He did lead the circuit in runs by 9 over Ty Gainey. He tied Darryl Motley for 8th-most runs in a Mexican League season; four of the higher figures had come in the explosive 1986 season. He drew 96 walks, 9 behind leader Roy Johnson and 3 behind runner-up Gainey. He had now topped 400 career stolen bases.
In the winter of 1992-1993, Bernie hit .271 with 11 steals for the Aguilas. In the summer of '93, he was back on the warpath with the Puebla Parrots, hitting .315/.429/.501 with 81 walks, 87 runs, 7 triples and 40 stolen bases while only being thrown out running six times.
In 1994, Tatis was back with Mexico City. He hit .300/.396/.356 with 18 steals in 24 tries over 75 games, forming an extremely fast outfield with all-time Mexican League run leader Daniel Fernández and fellow speedster Luis Arredondo. He was reunited with old Buffalo teammate Tommy Gregg, now the Red Devils first baseman. He left the pennant-bound club during the season to join the Chinese Professional Baseball League's Wei Chuan Dragons, hitting .194/.298/.268 with 4 steals in 41 games in an inauspicious introduction to Asia. He would do much better his next time in the Eastern Hemisphere.
The Villa Vázquez native was with the Red Devils for all of 1995, batting .303/.399/.398 with 17 stolen bases in 20 attempts to top 500 career swipes. He moved to the Yucatan Lions in 1996 and slumped to .269/.375/.349 with 27 stolen bases (in 38 attempts). He only scored 48 runs in 115 games, well below his rate from his first five Mexican League campaigns.
Tatis returned to Taiwan in 1997, again with the Dragons. Given a second crack, Bernie batted .313/.374/.426. He just missed the CPBL's top 10 in average. He stole 71 bases to shatter I-Tseng Lin's league record of 47. He stole at a 85.5% success rate. Through 2009, Tatis's records still hold.
He was now over 600 steals for his professional career, without even counting winter leagues.
Tatis continued to provide the Dragons with their speed in 1998, hitting .292/.378/.433 with 98 runs and 65 stolen bases. He again led the CPBL in swipes and also led in runs, 20 ahead of Triple Crown winenr Jay Kirkpatrick.
Bernie struggled in 22 games for the 1999 Dragons (.221/.302/.302, 7 SB) and was suspended 10 games for a fight. He then returned to Mexico and hit .249/.380/.320 in 91 games for the Lions, with 17 steals in 25 tries but only 33 runs in 91 games.
Tatis had hit .298/.402/.424 in 731 games in the Mexican League, with 221 stolen bases in 279 tries and 502 runs. He was 13th all-time in the league in steals through 2000 despite having played less than a decade there. In 256 games in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, he had batted .255/.338/.357 with 147 stolen bases.
Overall, Tatis had stolen 571 bases in the minor leagues; through 1993, only 10 players in minor league history had stolen 600 bases. Combined with 147 swipes in Taiwan, he had pilfered 718 bases in summer leagues. Through 1993, only 3 players in minor league history had topped 700 swipes - all three having played in the 19th Century when stolen base definitions were looser. Had the CPBL counted as a minor league, Tatis would have been the 20th Century minor league stolen base king.
Right after his playing career ended, Tatis became a manager. In 2000, he led the Mexico City Red Devils to a 9-2 start. He was then fired, unusual for a manager with a winning percentage over .800. The Red Devils had wanted Tim Johnson as their manager after his successful 1999 but he had left to become a Milwaukee Brewers scout. He did not last long with Milwaukee and quickly rejoined Mexico City, leading them to a second-place finish. Tatis became a roving instructor with the Pittsburgh Pirates when Johnson became the manager.
Tatis was skipper of the 2001 Monclova Steelers, guiding them to a 67-52-1 record and a trip to the semifinals, where they fell to Johnson's Mexico City club. In 2002, Bernie returned to guide Mexico City when Johnson resigned; he would take over the Saraperos de Saltillo in midseason. Tatis led the club to a 74-36 record in the regular season; they fell to 12-7 in the playoffs but still took home the title after back-to-back second-place finishes under Johnson.
Tatis took Mexico City to another title in 2003, with a 68-40 record in the regular season and 12-6 in the playoffs. In the finals, they topped the regular-season champion Angelopolis Tigers 4 games to 1. He began 2004 as the Red Devils skipper but was replaced by Roberto Kelly during the year.
Bernie split 2005 between Yucatan (the first of 3 managers) and the Monterrey Sultans (the last of 3 managers).
Tatis managed at Monterrey in 2006. 2007 found him as manager at Aguascalientes and then Veracruz. He managed at 'Tabasco' in 2008. And he was last noted as managing at Veracruz again in 2010.