Obscure Spotlight: Robert Person

robertpersonPitcher Robert Person had a MONSTER game at the plate once. On June 2, 2002, playing for the Phillies, he had a 2-home run, 7 RBI game, including a grand slam. Amazingly, he would have hit two grand slams that day, and collected 11 RBI if the wind at Veterans Stadium had been  a little different. Person’s improbable outing came in his first start after missing a month with an elbow injury.

Despite his home run-hitting prowess, Person was an average MLB pitcher, who could have been excellent if not for a series of nagging injuries. He was born in Lowell, MA, and drafted out of the University of Arkansas by the Indians in 1989. He was picked by the Marlins in the 1992 Expansion Draft, but didn’t make his debut until 1995 for the Mets.

As a Met, Person only played parts of two seasons, before New York traded him to the Blue Jays in the John Olerud deal. In 1997 Person pitched his way to a 5-10 record with a 5.61 ERA in 23 starts before being relegated to the bullpen in 1998. The 1998 season was a complete disaster for Person, as he stumbled to a 7.04 ERA and a 1.748 WHIP. He gave up 45 hits in just 38 innings pitched.

His 1999 season started much like 1998, and the Blue Jays had enough. On May 5, they traded Person to the Phillies, where he turned his career around. The Phils converted Person back to a starting pitcher, and he responded well. He started 22 games, going 10-5 with a 4.27 ERA for Piladelphia.

Person’s greatest success came during his time in Philly, where he became a fan favorite. The “Person’s People” fan group was a staple at the Vet for parts of four seasons, during which he pitched to a 4.23 ERA and a 38-24 record, mostly as a starter. But injuries continued to plague Person, and he was able to pitch 200 innings just once, in 2001. He moved on to Boston in 2003, but was unable to stay in the Majors for the whole season. He signed with the White Sox the following year, but was unable to stay healthy enough to make the roster.

A career that could have been great, lasted just 9 years for Person, who was one of the coolest pitchers I remember. He had some great at-bats, and I wish he could have been a Red Sock for just a little longer, maybe a “Person’s People” Fenway Edition could have taken root.

 

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