Steve Boros (AP Photo)
DETROIT (AP) — Former big league manager and infielder Steve Boros, who later played a key behind-the-scenes role in one of baseball's most thrilling World Series moments, has died. He was 74.
Boros died Wednesday night in Deland, Fla., where he had spent his recent years, the Detroit Tigers said Thursday. The team said it didn't have any other details on his death.
Boros hit .245 with 26 home runs and 149 RBIs in parts of seven seasons with Detroit, the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati. He managed the Oakland Athletics in 1983 and part of 1984, and guided the San Diego Padres in 1986.
Born in Michigan, Boros made his major league debut with Detroit in 1957 and mostly played third base. He hit three homers in a game in 1962 — no other Tigers player accomplished the feat until Bill Freehan in 1971.
But it was his work as an advance scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988 that really showed off his baseball smarts.
Boros was part of a scout team that filled out reports that fall on the Athletics, the Dodgers' opponent in the World Series. Among the traits that Boros and his co-workers noticed: Oakland relief ace Dennis Eckersley tended to throw a backdoor slider on 3-2 counts to left-handed hitters.
That was exactly the pitch that pinch-hitter Kirk Gibson launched off Eck for a two-out, bottom-of-the-ninth homer to win Game 1. The Dodgers went on to upset the mighty A's in five games.
Boros worked for more than four decades in baseball, and coached for Kansas City, Montreal, the Dodgers and Baltimore. He spent the last nine years of his career in the Tigers' organization as their minor league field coordinator (1996-2002), director of player development (2003) and special assistant to the general manager (2004).
Boros' son followed him into the game and worked as a scout.
"The Detroit Tigers were saddened to hear of the passing of Steve Boros," team president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said in a statement. "Steve was a lifelong baseball man, who we respected for his years of experience as a player, manager and teacher of the game."
Boros signed with the Tigers in June 1957 out of the University of Michigan and did well as a rookie, hitting .270 with five homers and 62 RBIs. He missed more than a month in midseason after breaking his collarbone in a collision with Tigers pitcher Frank Lary on a bunt. Boros hit 16 homers in 1962, including his big game at Cleveland, but did not match that total again.
Boros was known as one of the most genial people in baseball. In fact, that was often the knock on him as a manager, that he was too nice. Boros liked to read books on various subjects, too, and some critics a quarter-century ago said that didn't fit in with the game's hard-nosed nature.
The Athletics went 74-88 during Boros' first year as a manager, and he was let go during the next season.
Boros took over the Padres in spring training in 1986 after Dick Williams resigned. San Diego also went 74-88 under Boros and aging star Graig Nettles needled the manager, calling him "Mr. Moves" for all his tinkering.
Boros, however, always kept his eye on the ball.
In the middle of the 1986 season, Boros was ejected before the first pitch of a game at Atlanta. He had gone to home plate for the exchange of lineup cards and tried to hand a videotape to umpire Charlie Williams, who had made a call the previous night that resulted in a triple play against the Padres. Williams was sure he'd gotten the play correct and quickly tossed Boros.
Replays showed Boros was right.
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