Today we say Happy Baseball Birthday to former big leaguer John Vander Wal.
John Henry Vander Wal was born on April 29, 1966, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
John attended Hudsonville High School in Hudsonville, MI., then went on to play college baseball at Western Michigan University.
John chose to play college baseball for the Broncos even though he had been selected by the Houston Astros in the 8th round of the 1984 amateur draft.
At Western Vander Wal was a two time All-Mid American Conference selection, in 1986-87, and in his three years in Kalamazoo Vander Wal hit 23 home runs with 125 RBI.
In 1987 John was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 3rd round of the amatuer draft.
John played here in Jacksonville, then known as the Jacksonville Expos, as the clubs Double-A franchise in the Southern League.
John's best year in Jacksonville was 1990, when he collected 84 base hits, batting .303, with 8 HR, 25 doubles, 3 triples, and 45 runs scored in 277 at bats.
I love these old Jaxpos ball caps.
John made his big league debut with the parent club Montreal Expos on September 6, 1991, at the age of 25.
John played in 14 big league baseball seasons, for the Expos, Rockies, Padres, Pirates, Giants, Yankees, Brewers, and Reds.
In 1,372 games John collected 717 base hits, 170 doubles, 18 triples, 97 home runs, with 430 RBI, scoring 374 runs in 3,166 plate appearances.
A superb pinch hitter, John is 7th on the All-Time career pinch hit list, with 129 base hits off the bench, and in 1995 John set the modern big league record with 28 pinch hits in a season, with the Colorado Rockies.
John's last big league game came with the Reds on September 27, 2004, at the age of 38.
In 2003 John was inducted into the Western Michigan Hall of Fame.
John has spent part of his post playing career as a big league scout.
Happy Baseball Birthday! John Vander Wal!