Stephen Charles Balboni
(The Balb, Bye-Bye)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 3", Weight 225 lb.
- School Eckerd College
- High School Memorial High School (Manchester)
- Debut April 22, 1981
- Final Game October 2, 1993
- Born January 16, 1957 in Brockton, MA USA
Steve Balboni had tremendous home run power and a tendency to strike out frequently. He was nicknamed "Bye Bye" because of the home runs he hit.
Balboni attended Memorial High School in Manchester, New Hampshire and Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was drafted by the New York Yankees in the fourth round of the 1978 amateur draft. They noted his tremendous power helped make the decision to draft him. He was named designated hitter on The Sporting News college All-America team in 1978.
He made it to the Yankees in 1981 and played in the big leagues through 1990 with a short comeback in 1993 on the Texas Rangers. He played for the Yankees from 1981 to 1983, when he was sent to the Kansas City Royals in a trade that was later protested by Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Part of the trade included the Royals sending reliever Mike Armstrong to the Yankees. Armstrong turned out to be injured - or so Steinbrenner claimed - and seldom pitched for the Yankees. The Commissioner never acted on the protest. He was the starting first baseman for the Kansas City Royals from 1984 to mid-1988, when they traded him to the Seattle Mariners, with him returning to the Yanks in 1989 and 1990.
1985 turned out to be Balboni's best season for many reasons. He set career highs in games played (160), at bats (600), hits (146), runs scored (74), doubles (28), triples (2), homers (36), runs batted in (88 - tied in 1989) and stolen bases (1). He also led the American League with 166 strikeouts. He set the Royals record with 36 homers in a season, a record which stood until 2017 when Mike Moustakas broke it. He led AL first basemen with 1,686 total chances and 1,573 putouts and was the starting first baseman in the World Series. Steve batted .320 with 3 RBI in the Series, which the Royals won over the St. Louis Cardinals, four games to three. He also demonstrated good glove work in the field, something he was not known for during his career.
In 1984, Balboni became the second big league position player to strike out in nine straight plate appearances. He followed Adolfo Phillips (1966); Eric Davis (1987), Reggie Jackson (1987) and Bo Jackson (1988) all followed suit within the next few years; Mark Reynolds was the next in 2007. In 1988, he experienced a post-All Star break surge. Before the break, he hit .197 with 7 home runs and 19 RBI. After the break, he hit .256 with 16 home runs and 47 RBI.
Overall, in parts of 11 major league seasons, Steve hit 181 home runs with 495 RBI. He also struck out 856 times and his slash line was .229/.293/.451 for a career 101 OPS+. He homered every 17.2 at bats and struck out every 3.6 at bats in the majors. Balboni also has the distinction of scoring the highest percentage of his runs via the long ball in major league history: 181 of his 351 runs were scored on home runs, or 51.6% of his runs.
Balboni might be the only player to win multiple Triple A home run titles before and after being a regular in the majors. Playing for the Columbus Clippers, he led the International League in long balls in 1981 and 1982. After peaking in the majors with 36 in 1985 (3rd in the league), The Balb won back-to-back home run crowns in the American Association in 1992 and 1993. He was remarkably consistent in those league-leading seasons, hitting between 30 and 36 homers each of the four years. Balboni won six home run titles in the minors overall - in addition to his four Triple A titles, he led the 1979 Florida State League with 26 and the 1980 Southern League with 34, meaning he led his league four years in a row from 1979 through 1982. Balboni hit 420 homers in his pro career. In 2011, his prowess was rewarded with election to the International League Hall of Fame.
Steve later coached in the Kansas City Royals organization, developing their younger hitters. He was coach of the Spokane Indians in 1998 and Wilmington Blue Rocks in 1999-2000. After three years with the Royals, he joined the Montreal Expos organization, where he ran their extended spring training program and managed the Vermont Expos in 2001. Moving to the St. Louis Cardinals' chain, he was coach of the New Haven Ravens in 2002 and Tennessee Smokies in 2003-2004. As of 2010, Balboni was a major league scout for the San Francisco Giants. He still coaches part time at the Steve Balboni Baseball School and resides in Berkeley Heights, NJ with his wife. He has three sons, all of whom play baseball. His youngest, Matt, was a member of New Jersey's best American Legion team in state history, the Flor-Mad Royals. Steve helped coach the team in his spare time, and much of the team's success was attributed to his help as hitting coach.
In an odd set of coincidences, Balboni and Art Whitney were both born in Brockton, MA, both were born on January 16th (Balboni was born 99 years after Whitney), both were infielders and both played for teams in New York. However, Whitney never played in the American League as it did not exist during his major league career.
- 1980 Player of the Year Southern League Nashville Sounds
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 5 (1984-1988)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1985)
- Won a World Series with the Kansas City Royals in 1985
Year-By-Year Minor League Managerial Record
|2001||Vermont Expos||New York-Penn League||28-47||12th||Montreal Expos|