Michael Tucker (baseball)

Michael Tucker (baseball)
Michael Tucker
Southern Maryland Blue Crabs — No. --
1st Base
Born: June 25, 1971 (1971-06-25) (age 40)
South Boston, Virginia
Batted: Left Threw: Right 
MLB debut
April 26, 1995 for the Kansas City Royals
Last MLB appearance
October 1, 2006 for the New York Mets
Career statistics
Batting average     .256
Home runs     125
Runs batted in     528

Michael Anthony Tucker (born June 25, 1971 in South Boston, Virginia) is a 1st Baseman for the independent Southern Maryland Blue Crabs organization. Tucker played with the Kansas City Royals (1995-1996, 2002-2003), Atlanta Braves (1997-1998), Cincinnati Reds (1999-2001), Chicago Cubs (2001), San Francisco Giants (2004-2005), Philadelphia Phillies (2005), and New York Mets (2006). He batted left-handed and threw right-handed.

He attended the then Longwood College (at the time a NCAA Division II school) from 1989 through 1992. In November 2005, Tucker was among the selection of Longwood's first Hall of Fame class, including basketball player Jerome Kersey and LPGA golfer Tina Barrett.

After college, Tucker begin his pro baseball career in the minors in 1993. Tucker spent most of the 1993 season with the Single-A Carolina League Wilmington Blue Rocks. Before making the move up to Double-A and spending time with the Memphis Chicks (now West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx) of the Southern League. In 1994, Tucker played in Triple-A with the Omaha Royals of the American Association before joining Major League Baseball and the Kansas City Royals.

During a game on June 24, 2004 a day after Tucker almost came to blows with Dodger pitcher Jeff Weaver after a collision along the base line, Tucker was once again center stage. It started when Gagne threw a high fastball that sent Tucker tumbling to the ground. Though the pitch appeared to be well over the plate, Tucker stepped toward the mound and pointed at Gagne, a former hockey player who welcomed the invitation and dropped his glove. Teammates intervened, however, and no punches were thrown.

Gagne turned even more violent when he learned of his ejection, attempting to charge the umpires gathered at the mound. He flipped the ball over his shoulder toward the mound while leaving the field, then tipped his cap to the Giants fans jeering him above the dugout. Manager Jim Tracy and other Dodgers defended Gagne, saying it was ridiculous to think that he was throwing at Tucker. But in a radio interview, Gagne said he was trying to "send a message, and I guess [Tucker] didn't like it." You know the game enough to know what was going on," Gagne told Fred Roggin. "What [Tucker] did was not respectful to Jeff Weaver... [My teammates] are my family, they're the people I'm with more than my real family, so you have to respect my players." When asked if he expected punishment, Gagne had this to say: "They better not. That's totally stupid. It was just a fastball inside; I didn't know it was going to be that big of a deal, but people complain. The game has changed. There's no crying in baseball."

As for Tucker, apparently it wasn't the pitch that angered him so much as the smile on Gagne's face. "Don't throw 97-98 up and in and then smile at me," Tucker said. "You see the replay, you see the ball and then he walks down toward me, smiling like, 'OK, get up.' That's what got it going."

"If Gagne's got a problem, it's a short walk from where his bullpen is to right field," Tucker said the next day, refusing to let it go. "If Tracy's got a problem with me, it's a short walk from where his dugout is to home plate. I'm not that far away. I'm not that hard to find."

In August 2005, San Francisco traded Tucker to the Philadelphia Phillies for minor leaguer Kelvin Pichardo. Tucker, whose playing time has been limited that season after starting for most of 2004, joined a Phillies team in the heart of the playoff chase.

On January 9, 2006, Tucker agreed to a one-year contract with the Washington Nationals. On August 9, Tucker's contract was purchased by the New York Mets from the Triple-A Norfolk Tides after Cliff Floyd was placed on the 15-Day DL. On May 17, 2007, Tucker signed a minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox, but was released on July 7 of the same year.[1]

Tucker was basically a streaky line drive hitter with gap power whose struggles against left-handed pitching made him a platoon player throughout his career. Although his 108 stolen bases career total doesn't show it, he was an aggressive and smart base runner. In the field, Tucker had the ability to play all outfield positions well, particularly in right field. He had good range and a strong and secure arm.

Tucker enjoyed his most productive season in 1997 with the Braves, when he posted career highs in batting average (.283), runs (80) and hits (141) in 138 games. In 2004, for the Giants, he played 106 games in right field and 25 in center. He ended the year with a .256 average, 13 home runs, 62 RBI, 77 runs, and a significant .340 on base percentage. In nine of his ten seasons, he collected 11 or more home runs, with a career-high 15 in 2000.

Tucker hit the very first home run in a regular season game at Turner Field. His shot came off Kevin Foster in the third inning of the Braves' 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on April 4, 1997.[2]

Tucker currently plays for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, an independent Atlantic League team located in Waldorf, Maryland.

Return to Pro Baseball in the Minor Leagues

In 2009, Tucker came back to baseball by signing with the Newark Bears of the Atlantic League. He was inactivated after playing just 12 games hitting .231 and considered retirement in May 2009. But Tucker signed with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs on July 15, 2009 and rediscovered his swing. In 57 games, he hit .332 as the Blue Crabs reached the Atlantic League Championship series.


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