One of these things is unlike the others.
Tigers fans are probably cringing right now. Matt Nokes has got to be one of those names that just makes any Detroit fan shake his head. I may have been just a little whippersnapper in 1987, but I remember a pretty good AL Rookie of the Year race. Of course it would eventually go to my hometown hero, Mark McGwire, on the strength of 49 homers and 118 RBI. And first runner up may have gone to Kevin Seitzer of the Royals, but the guy I remember challenging McGwire for the trophy was Tigers’ catcher, Matt Nokes. Nokes was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 20th round of the 1981 draft. He spent a few years in the minors, made his big league debut in 85, went 11 for 53 and was dealt the following offseason to Detroit in a multiplayer deal that was essentially the swapping of poo poo platters between the Giants and Tigers. Nokes made just 24 plate appearance for Detroit in 1986, but then he broke out in 87. While batting .289, the Tigers new star player jacked 32 home runs and drove in 87 RBI, which earned him an All-Star berth, a Silver Slugger award, and third place in the AL ROY voting. He even got some clown to give him an MVP vote. The future looked bright for Nokes….. but it wasn’t. He never topped any of those numbers, and despite a slight resurgence in New York with the Yankees in 91-92, he never really made any noise. Those were terrible Yankee teams, so the numbers didn’t mean much. To be honest, I probably haven’t even thought of Matt Nokes in years. I was contemplating a feature on Glenallen Hill or Milt Thompson, and somehow I stumbled upon Nokes. Here’s to you Tiger fans!
While Dee Brown may be long forgotten these days, with the exception of an annual memory or two around the All-Star break, back in the mid-90s, he was the man. Brown is mostly remembered for one thing: his arm over the eyes dunk in the 1991 NBA dunk contest. Those with superior memories might also remember the sight of him bending over to pump up his Reeboks before a dunk attempt in that same contest. As a former short guy, I was a big fan of Dee Brown. I even remembered today for the first time in at least a decade, that I used to have one of those t-shirt jerseys with #7 and Brown across the back. I’m pretty sure my affinity for him lasted about as long as his time in the limelight. While his performance in the dunk contest was memorable, not much else was.
He was drafted #19 by the Celtics in the 1990 Draft. He played seven and a half seasons in Boston before being traded to Toronto along with Chauncey Billups, Roy Rogers, and John Thomas for Kenny Anderson, Zan Tabak, and Popeye Jones. He then played two and half seasons in Toronto, where somehow, in 98-99, he led the NBA in both 3pt FG made and attempted. What makes it even crazier is that he did it in just 49 games. He jacked up over 7 three point attempts per game that year, converting on 2.8 of them. I’d be surprised if anyone knew that fact off the top of their head. Dee spent his final two seasons in Orlando, where he played a total of 14 games those two years.
Somewhere in the late 80s I took a liking to the Seattle Mariners. I know what you’re thinking…. Oh, I bet it was 1989 when Ken Griffey Jr. joined the team. Not so fast, though, random forgotten baseball fan. My Mariners fandom came to be somewhere around 1987 or 1988. But I’m a lifelong A’s fan, how could I root for a division rival? Well, it’s simple see… I’m a fan of underdogs. In those rare cases where my team is actually good, (see 1988-1990 A’s, 1994 49ers, and 2000-2002 Kings) I’ll sometimes start rooting for a less competitive team. I won’t stop rooting for my own team, it’s just something else to root for to stay grounded, if you will. Well, the 1987-1988 Mariners were that team for me in those days. I believe it started with my admiration for Harold Reynolds, who could’ve had a solid career as an RFP if it weren’t for his later endeavor into the TV world at ESPN. Nonetheless, he was one of the best “average” second basemen of the times, and being a middle infielder myself, those were the players I looked up to. Naturally, I rooted for Reynolds’ double play partner as well. That guy was none other than Rey Quiñones.
Quiñones was acquired by the Mariners from the Red Sox for Dave Henderson, among others, and was really only the starting SS for those two seasons in Seattle. His power numbers were basically identical (12 HRs and 56 and 52 RBI, respectively), but his average dipped from .276 to .248 in ’88. After playing just 7 games and going 2 for 19, the Mariners traded him to Pittsburgh, where he would finish his last season in the major leagues with a lowly .209 batting average.
Quiñones compiled a lifetime average of .243 with 29 HR and 159 RBI in 1,668 plate appearances over his 4 year career.
Dennis Scott may not be the most random or forgotten player there is. He spent his first seven seasons with the Orlando Magic, who in the later stages of his run, went to the NBA Finals with Shaquille O’Neal. Scott is somewhat responsible for changing the game in my opinion. With Shaq garnering extra attention in the paint, Scott began roaming the three point line waiting for outlet passes to jack up threes. Today, too many players play by the same strategy. Even my game in the West Sacramento men’s league has been inspired by Scott. In 95-96, he set a then NBA record for 3-pointers in a season. He also broke the single game record at the time in April of that year with 11. After stops in the twilight of his career in Dallas, Phoenix, New York, Minnesota, and Vancouver, Scott finished with a career average of 12.9 points per game. He also made 1,214 three pointers on just under 40% shooting from beyond the arc.
What made me a fan of Dennis Scott was his personality on the court. While so many players were all business on the court during the early 90s, Dennis was always hamming it up. I already gave him credit once for “changing the game” so I won’t do that here, but you get the idea. I also was a huge fan of Georgia Tech hoops in his day, when he played in the same backcourt with Kenny Anderson. Dennis Scott was the 4th overall pick in the 1990 Draft, which is heralded by many as the greatest RFP Draft class in NBA history. The list includes such phenomenal RFPs as Kendall Gill, Felton Spencer, Willie Burton, Rumeal Robinson, Alec Kessler, Travis Mays, Loy Vaught, and Duane Causwell. That’s only from the first 18 picks too. Honestly, you should check it out. So anyway, here’s to Dennis Scott, the Doin Work RFP of the Day.