Sunday, March 4, 2018

Blast From the Past: The Legend of Randy Elliott

It was the spring of 1977.  Back in those days, even the most ardent fans were lucky to know the name of the first overall draft pick in the amateur draft.  Aside from the weekly Giantics article in the Sporting News along with a list of the top BA's and ERA's in each organization, you just had no idea who might be a good prospect.  Randy Elliott was a former first round draft pick of the San Diego Padres.  In fact,  he was their first ever first round pick in 1969 according to a SFGate article from 2003.  He made his MLB debut in 1972 but hurt his shoulder which became a chronic injury with recurrent dislocations.  Nowadays, there would probably be a surgery to correct that.  It might take a full year or two to fully recover, but Elliott might have had a much different career with modern medical care and rehabilitation.  Instead, he had a trick shoulder that tended to pop out at inopportune times.

Elliott signed a minor league contract with the Giants after the 1976 season and attended Fall Instructional League where Giants minor league instructor Hank Sauer thought he had more than a chance to turn into a hidden gem.  He was invited to spring training.  The shoulder was healthy and Elliott started hitting and hitting and hitting some more.  Giants beat writer Bob Stevens started writing breathless articles in the Chronicle.  Elliott finished the spring 29 for 53(.547) with 18 XBH's.  He was supposed to form a LF platoon with Darrell Evans but was hit by a pitch in the bad shoulder in his first AB of the season in Game 2.  The shoulder popped out later in the game and he hit under .200 for April.  He actually went on to have the best season of his MLB career hitting .240 with 7 HR in 167 AB's, but the Giants released him after the season.  He tried to make a comeback with the Oakland A's in 1980, but the shoulder was never right again and that was the end of the road.

Where is he now?  Elliott ran a daycare center with his wife in Ogden, Utah for several years.  He eventually moved back to his hometown of Camarillo, CA where he gives private baseball lessons, at least as of the SFGate article in 2003.

So, that is the Legend of Randy Elliott, the quintessential spring phenom.  Ever since, whenever the Giants have an unknown or a retread tear it up in spring training, the name Randy Elliott inevitably is brought up.  He's the poster boy for why spring training performance might be the single worst criteria for choosing a MLB roster.


  1. I remember the weekly Minor's Roundup in the Chron. And all you'd get for the baseball draft was a list of who was picked. And that went for the 49ers and Raiders as well. And nobody actually covered the minors besides publishing the weekly stats.

    So if you didn't read The Sporting News (which I did) you'd have no idea at all besides some numbers which were really hard to put into context. But even with The Sporting News, it was difficult.

  2. Kyle Jensen, at 29 yo, is having the opposite ST from another Giant, Jarrett Parker.
    Like Parker (and Randy Elliott?) he tantalizes with potential but it never pans out.
    Unlike Parker, unless Jensen has an opt out, he belongs to the Giants and can demonstrate in Sacramento if his time has come at, perhaps, his last chance.
    Unless Belt has a relapse, Jensen isn't going to be at 1B, but these numbers should give him a look-see at a corner OF -- he's played a LOT of OF in his career.
    Looking at Duggar, Jensen, Williamson, Shaw, Blanco, Slater, along with Cutch, who would think that outfield was a problem for the Giants!
    Randy Elliott is the answer, but Hope Springs Eternal in baseball as in the breast of man!

  3. Thanks for posting this Doc. I remember watching Elliot play for my favorite AAA team The Hawaii Islanders, during my youth. They were tied to the Padres at the time. It was interesting following his and the Giants team progress listening to weekend Giants broadcasts on the radio. Didn't know about his shoulder issues which derailed his career. I never would have thought that he would still be talked about today, which is pretty cool!


    1. Yes, thank you!!! And thanks for all the details! First spring training phenom who eventually broke my heart, first of many Giants prospects...

      I would be interest to hear about your first fave prospect player to make it in the majors. For example, my first crush was Dave Kingman, who hit for average, power, and had speed as well, when he first came up. I remember him getting appendicitis and going to my mom complaining about the pain I was feeling in my right side... :^D