Baseball Digest Birthdays: Otis Nixon

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock are the greatest of all time in stolen bases for baseball history, but there is another tier of base stealers. Quietly playing long careers, disrupting the focus of the opposing pitchers and moving into scoring position. Otis Nixon represents this group, and he spent his entire career doing just that. He may not rank among the top ten in stolen bases, or hold sole possession of any franchise lead for stolen bases, but Otis Nixon’s impact on the game is impressive and undeniable.

Drafted third overall in the first round of the 1979 amateur draft and a leader in stolen bases throughout his climb through the minor league ststem, Otis Nixon wasted no time living up the hype of his speed in the minor leagues. He stole home on September 30th 1983, for his first career stolen base at the major league level. Before hanging up the cleats two decades later, Nixon would steal 620 bases, ranking him 16th all time. The speedy center fielder was born on January 9th, 1959 in Evergreen, North Carolina.

Over the course of 17 seasons, Otis Nixon played with nine different teams. Despite the well traveled career, Nixon still ranks among the top 10 in stolen bases with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Washington Nationals. In the case of the Nationals, Nixon played with the team when they were the Montreal Expos. He’s also had top 10 franchise seasons for stolen bases with the Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox.

Like Otis Nixon, Lou Brock was legendary in his base stealing abilities. George Stone wrote about the mental aspect in an issue of Baseball Digest from September 1990! Click here to check it out!

In addition to his legendary speed on the basepaths, Nixon provided the same skill in the postseason and added a .321 postseason batting average to go along with eleven stolen bases in 24 games. He may be best remembered for a few postseason at bats, most notably the series ending bunt in the 1992 World Series against the Toronto Blue Jays. Just one at bat prior, he had knocked in the tying run to push the game into extra innings. Seven years later, Nixon returned to the Braves in the final season of his career. He again disrupted the rhythm of opposition throughout 1999, swiping 26 bases during the regular season and three more in the postseason.

Otis Nixon battled substance abuse throughout his career, including a drug bust in 1987 and a suspension during the 1991 season with the Cleveland Indians that caused him to miss the World Series. Since his retirement, he has focused on his organization, On-Track Promotions and Ministries, which has a focus on promoting baseball and preaching to schools, churches and prisons in the community.

Also celebrating a birthday today:

Stan Javier, born on January 9th in 1964, spent 17 seasons in the major leagues and played with eight different teams. He is best remembered for his time with the Oakland Athletics, which he was a member of the 1989 World Series Championship squad. Since retirement, he has served as the general manager of the Dominican baseball team for the 2006 and 2009 series.

Ivan de Jesus, Born in 1953, played in 15 big league seasons, but may be best remembered for being involved in the historically lopsided trade that sent Larry Bowa and Ryne Sandberg from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Chicago Cubs for the light hitting shortstop.

Ralph Terry, an All-Star born in 1936, played on the 1961 and 1962 World Series Champion New York Yankees. However, he is best remembered as the pitcher who served up the series winning home run to Bill Mazeroski in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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