For someone who spent a mere three years with the Giants, Brett Butler certainly left his mark on San Francisco and its fans. From 1988 to 1990, Butler sat atop the lineups of those great Clark-Thompson-Mitchell teams. His presence on the basepaths gave the Giants the speedy leadoff hitter they had lacked for years. In each of his three years, he scored over 100 runs (leading the league in ’88), hit over .280 and even received multiple MVP votes. He led the league in hits in 1990 as well.
We still remember Butler’s crouched, open stance, his drag bunts and his daring leads off first. In short, he was the prototype leadoff hitter.
Unfortunately, after establishing himself as a premier leadoff hitter with the Giants, Butler moved on to his best years with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1991-95). Interestingly enough, he became one of the few (only?) players to make that move without being completely vilified here.
In 1996, Butler discovered he had tonsil cancer. After surgery to remove the tumor and other treatment, he surprisingly–and triumphantly–returned to the Dodgers’ lineup that same year and again for one more go-round in 1997.
Since retiring after the ’97 season, Butler found himself in coaching. He was a coach on the 2005 Arizona Diamondbacks and then became the manager for a D-Backs minor league club, the Mobile BayBears.
On July 29th, Butler was hospitalized for a stroke. He’ll probably miss the rest of the year, but held a press conference earlier this week and said he’ll be undergoing therapy three times a week. Our best wishes to him. Here’s hoping for a quick and full recovery.
Brett Butler [Wikipedia]