Jeff Blauser’s professional baseball career began when he was taken by the Atlanta Braves with the fifth overall pick of the 1984 secondary draft. Blauser had originally been selected in the January draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, which would have been totally fitting, wouldn’t it?
Blauser was mostly trash in the minors, mustering an OPS over .700 only once in his first four years. Nevertheless, in 1987 Andres Thomas, the Braves’ starting shortstop, was worse. So Blauser got the call. He made his Major League debut on July 5, 1987, against the team that almost gave him a home. The Cardinals came to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium to face off against Doyle Alexander. Remember in the pre-Maddux-Smoltz-Glavine era when the Braves were really bad? These were those times. Good times. Unless you were a Braves fan. In which case, YEE-HAW! THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN!
Being the Cubs fan you are, you’ll also recall some times when the Cubs were bad. Such as 1987. August 18, 1987, to be exact. That’s when Blauser made his debut against the Cubs in Atlanta. Les Lancaster started, Ed Lynch pitched, and Greg Maddux threw an inning of relief. You remember Greg Maddux. He eventually became a Brave when he got good. Blauser became a Cub when he got bad. SUCH IS THE WAY OF THE WORLD. Lynch must have been impressed by what he saw in Blauser, because READ ON.
As if they were taking a glimpse into a bleak, horrible future, fans that day saw Blauser go 2-3 with a double and an RBI. In his first at-bat, Blauser had an RBI single to drive in Ken Griffey Sr. and give the Braves a 4-run lead. They would actually relinquish it, as the Cubs exploded for four runs in the third. Thanks, Manny Trillo! Blauser was also along for the ride in the bottom of the 8th inning when Dion James hit a three-run bomb off Maddux. The Braves went on to win 9-5, and Blauser’s Cub killery was afoot!
Blauser played ten seasons against the Cubs before he joined them in 1998 and worked on destroying them from the inside. In 299 plate appearances against the Northsiders, Blauser compiled a .351/.413/.611 slash line. His 15 home runs off Cub pitching are more than he has against any other team, and his 48 RBIs against the Cubs are behind only his totals against the Reds (53) and Phillies (54), and he did it in fewer games.
The worst part about Blauser’s Cub ruination was the fact that Ed Lynch only saw Good Jeff Blauser. So, when Blauser hit the free agent market after the 1997 season, Lynch snapped him up. Oops. He played two of his worst, injury-ridden years in Chicago (he SLUGGED .299 in 1998!) before retiring after the 1999 season.
Why You Should Hate Him: July 12, 1992. Bobby Cox’s Cubs came to Chicago to take on Jim Lefebvre’s Cubs. Former Cub Mike Bielecki took the mound for the Braves against Frank Castillo (or, as the more hilarious Cub bloggers might call him, FRANCISCO CASTLE!!!). Blauser hit a solo homer in the second to give the Braves a 3-1 lead. He hit another one in the sixth to give them a 4-1 lead. The Cubs rallied behind three Rick Wilkins RBIs, and the two teams headed into the tenth inning locked at 4-4. Paul Assenmacher got two outs, but put two runners on for Blauser. Blauser responded with a three-run homer, and the Braves walked away with a 7-4 win. Blauser finished the day with a walk, three home runs, and five RBIs. Nice job, Cousin Larry!
Did You Know? Blauser actually has a managerial record! In 2006, Blauser managed the AA Mississippi Braves. They finished 58-80, but he managed eventual Cub Jose Ascanio! That’s cool, no?