Legends On Deck

Dave Bergman – An Appreciation

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Dave Bergman passed away Monday at the age of 61 after battling cancer for several years. A first baseman/outfielder in the major leagues for 17 seasons, he batted .258 playing in 1,349 games.

Drafted by the New York Yankees in the second round of the 1974 June draft out of Illinois State University, Bergman was recalled from Class AAA Syracuse in 1975 along with outfielder Kerry Dineen and pitcher Ron Guidry to add some youth to a struggling veteran Yankees ballclub.

After another brief appearance with New York in 1977, Bergman was sent to the Houston Astros in a trade for catcher Cliff Johnson. Bergman played three full seasons in Houston and was a member of the Astros 1980 Western Division champion squad.

An in-season trade to the Giants for Mike Ivie in 1981 sent Bergman to the west coast where he served mostly as a pinch hitter and a backup outfielder his last two seasons in San Francisco.

During spring training of 1984 however, Bergman became part of the greatest trade in Detroit Tigers history as general manager Jim Campbell pulled the trigger on a deal involving his Tigers and the Phillies on March 27th.

Bergman was actually traded twice that week. On March 24th, the first deal sent him from the Giants to Philadelphia for Alejandro Sanchez.10966757_949407601738040_81188137_n

In the second transaction, outfielder Glenn Wilson and catcher John Wockenfuss were shipped to the Phillies for Bergman and relief pitcher Willie Hernandez.

Hernandez was immediately placed in the role of closer and became the 1984 American League Cy Young Award winner and  league MVP.
Bergman played a solid first base backing up Darrell Evans and fooled several baserunners with a hidden ball trick he perfected. On June 4th against Toronto Bergman had what Tigers manager Sparky Anderson called the greatest at bat he’d seen in his life, hitting a 10th inning game winning home run off Roy Lee Jackson after fouling off seven pitches with a full count.

The 1984 Tigers jumped off to a 35-5 start and led the American League East wire to wire, defeating the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship and the San Diego Padres to win that year’s world series. Dave Bergman cherished his time in Detroit and was loved by the Tigers fans the entire nine years he played there. Rest in peace, Bergie.

Brian Mullen

Brian is a Boston native and art school student who took a summer job with a baseball team and never left. He has been employed by the Boston Red Sox in one capacity or another since 1982. He also follows and blogs college basketball. Follow him on Twitter @BostonBrian2015