Oakland Athletics Throwback: Captain Carney Lansford


Despite playing with plenty of big-name stars, Carney Lansford was the Captain for the Oakland Athletics.

On a team that included future Hall of Famers Rickey Henderson and Dennis Eckersley, the Bash Brothers of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, four-time 20-game winner Dave Stewart and 1990 Cy Young Award winner Bob Welch – plus Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa – was Carney Lansford. Lansford, despite all of the big names on the A’s roster, was named “The Captain” of Oakland Athletics teams that saw three AL Pennants and a World Series Championship.

In 1981 and 1982, Lansford was the starting third sacker for the Red Sox, and he won the batting title in the strike-shortened 1981 season, hitting .336. With the emergence of an up-and-coming Triple-A Pawtucket third baseman who was rumored to be a good hitter at the time (someone by the name of Wade Boggs), the Red Sox felt the 25-year-old Lansford was dispensable. They dealt him to the Athletics at the end of the 1982 season for the A’s power-hitting outfielder, Tony Armas.

A natural hitter and outstanding fielder, Lansford continued his .300 hitting over the next couple of seasons with a sub-.500 team of no-names on the Athletics. It wasn’t until the 1988 season when he became an All-Star, and the A’s broke out of their shell to become a force in the American League.

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As the Athletics established their dynasty, Lansford, at age 31, was dubbed captain of the team that ran off four AL West tiles in five seasons from 1988-1992. Lansford was a consistent number 2 hitter, typically batting behind Rickey Henderson. A solid batter with speed, Lansford came to play day after day, averaging more than 150 games per year during their reigning years.

Regardless of having the best fielding percentage for third baseman in 1987, 1988, and 1990, the Gold Glove Award went to Gary Gaetti of the Twins in 1987 and 1988 and Kelly Gruber of the Blue Jays in 1990. leaving Captain Carney with nothing more than a dirty jersey from his diving plays and laser throws to McGwire.

During the 1989 World Series, Lansford hit .438, going 7-for-16 in a four-game sweep of the Giants. Lansford also excelled during his ALCS play, hitting .297 in 1988 in four games vs. the Red Sox, .455 against the Blue Jays in 1989, and .438 against the Red Sox again in 1990.

The year the Athletics didn’t make the playoffs during the streak, 1991, Lansford was visibly absent from the lineup and missed nearly the entire season due to an off-season New Year’s Eve snow mobile accident in which he injured his knee, threatening his baseball career.

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Lansford returned for the 1992 season, helping the Athletics to claim another AL West crown. At the end of the season, at age 34 and after 10 seasons with the A’s, Lansford retired from baseball. His career totals include a .290 BA, 151 homeruns, 874 RBIs and 224 stolen bases in 1862 games.