Not quite comeback kids.

March 03, 1991|By Mark Hyman

Some baseball players who have staged serious and not-so-serious comebacks:

* Jim "Deacon" McGuire, 48, played one game for the Tigers of 1912, not by choice. When all Tigers players staged a strike to protest the suspension of Ty Cobb for attacking a rowdy fan, McGuire went briefly from Detroit coach to Detroit catcher. Pretty much retired as a player for six years, McGuire got a hit and scored a run. The Tigers filled the remainder of the roster with another coach, Joe Sudgen, 41, (who played first base) and 12 local amateur players. They were beaten by Philadelphia, 24-2.

* Sam "The Marvel" Thompson was 46 when the Detroit Tigers briefly called him out of an eight-year retirement in 1906. Thompson's big problem - hitting the spitball, then a legal pitch, but one that hadn't yet been invented during his earlier career.

* Bill Virdon was 37 and had been retired as a player for nearly three years in 1968 when the Pittsburgh Pirates asked him to fill a temporary roster gap. He had three at-bats, and hit a home run against noted submarine pitcher Ted Abernathy. Then he resumed his duties as a Pirates coach.

* Satchel Paige, 59, threw three scoreless innings for the Kansas City Athletics in 1965. Paige had plenty of rest between major-league pitches - 12 years.

* Minnie Minoso's career may not be over yet, which you can't say about many 68-year-olds. Minoso's playing days effectively ended in 1964. The Chicago White Sox activated him briefly in the 1970s and '80s and, until commissioner Fay Vincent frowned on the idea, planned another comeback for Minoso last season.

* Jim Bouton's career appeared over after the 1970 season. He was 31 and had pitched nine seasons, seven with the Yankees. He returned to the minor leagues in 1977 and pitched for the Atlanta Braves in 1978, winning one of five starts.

* Jerry Grote retired in 1978 at age 35 after 15 seasons with the Mets and Houston Astros. Boredom and a messy divorce persuaded him to give it another try. He returned with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Kansas City Royals in 1981, playing in 24 games.

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