Note: This page links to 1980s outfielder John Shelby. For his son, minor league infielder John Shelby, click here.
John T. Shelby Jr.
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 175 lb.
- School Columbia State Community College
- High School Henry Clay High School
- Debut September 15, 1981
- Final Game August 11, 1991
- Born February 23, 1958 in Lexington, KY USA
John Shelby was a center fielder with an 11-year career, playing on World Series winners for the Baltimore Orioles in 1983 and the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988. While he never won a Gold Glove, in the minors he led the league three times in outfielder assists.
Drafted by the Orioles in the 1st round (20th pick) of the January 1977 amateur draft, Shelby spent five seasons in the minors before reaching the big leagues as a September call-up in 1981. He played sparingly, appearing in 7 games and going hitless in 2 at-bats.
The next year, in 1982 he was called up by the O's again late in the season. On September 26th, he made his fourth start in center field, going 0 for 5 against the first-place Milwaukee Brewers, who the Orioles trailed by 3 games with 8 to play. In the bottom of the 8th with one run in, the Orioles winning 3-2, and runners on first (Robin Yount) and third (Bob Skube) with one out, Cecil Cooper hit a fly ball directly at Shelby. He backed up, then came running in to make the catch with momentum to throw home; Skube was out at the plate to end the inning and the threat. The Orioles won and closed to 2 games back; they eventually caught the Brewers on the next-to-last day of the season to set up the final day head-to-head meeting (which the Orioles lost).
Shelby began seeing regular playing time with the Orioles in 1983, hitting .258 and stealing 15 bases. In that year's World Series, he went 4 for 9 and had the game-winning RBI in Game 4, as the O's beat the Philadelphia Phillies in five games. Shelby struggled at the plate in 1984 (.209), bounced back a little in 1985 (.283 with 7 homers despite reduced playing time), and was once again a regular in 1986, hitting .228 with 11 home runs and 18 steals.
In 1987, Shelby began the year slowly with the Orioles, hitting .188 through the middle of May before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with Brad Havens for Tom Niedenfuer. The change of scenery proved beneficial, as he hit .277 with 21 home runs and 69 RBIs the rest of the way. Although he trailed off to .263 and 10 homers in 1988, he was a regular on the Dodgers club that defeated the Oakland Athletics in the World Series.
Shelby struggled in 1989, hitting just .183 with only 1 home run, and saw his playing time dwindle. His .157 average at the All-Star break is the all-time lowest for a player with 200+ AB; Adam Dunn nearly broke the mark in 2011 (.160). He was let go by the Dodgers in June and picked up by the Detroit Tigers. He hit .248 with them that year and just .154 in 1990 before being released by the team.
After retiring as a player, Shelby spent five seasons as a minor league manager, compiling a 265-286 record. He was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers coaching staff from 1998 to 2005, and in 2006, he followed manager Jim Tracy to the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he was the club's first base coach in 2006 and 2007. He returned to Baltimore to become the Orioles' first base coach on October 30, 2007, and spent the 2008 to 2010 seasons with the club. In 2011, he became a coach with the Milwaukee Brewers, staying through 2015. Shelby became hitting coach of the Albuquerque Isotopes in 2016. He is the Atlanta Braves' minor league outfield and baserunning coordinator for 2019.
Shelby's sons John and Jeremy Shelby were minor league players; a third son, JaVon Shelby was drafted in 2016. His nephew Josh Harrison played in the majors and nephew Vince Harrison played in the minors.
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1987)
- Won two World Series with the Baltimore Orioles (1983) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (1988)
Year-by-Year Managerial Record
|1993||Butte Copper Kings||Pioneer League||26-49||8th||Co-op|
|1994||Bakersfield Dodgers||California League||69-67||4th/3rd||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|1995||San Antonio Missions||Texas League||64-72||5th||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|1996||San Antonio Missions||Texas League||69-70||6th||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|1997||Savannah Sand Gnats||South Atlantic League||63-77||11th||Los Angeles Dodgers|