The University of Alabama has a long, rich history in baseball, and I am starting a series to look back at some of the former great players, fan favorites, and my personal favorite players.
The first is the most decorated player (by the NCAA) in ‘Bama history, David Magadan, Mr. .525. Magadan is in the College Baseball Hall of Game, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, and his .525 average is the name of a premium seating area at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
The lefty first baseman came to Tuscaloosa from Tampa, Florida in 1981 and made an immediate impact for the Tide. Magadan hit .389 in his freshman campaign, collecting 77 hits, including 20 doubles. His sophomore year brought more of the same, 77 hits again, and a .395 average. Everyone knew he was a special talent, but what he did his junior year in 1983 is a thing of lore.
Magadan played in 56 games in 1983, with 217 at bats, 114 hits (school single season record), 67 runs, 31 doubles (school single season record), four triples, nine home runs, 95 RBI (single season school record), an amazing .525 batting average (single season school record, fifth all time in the NCAA), with 34 walks and only 18 strikeouts.
For his outstanding season, Magadan was named a consensus All-American. He won the Baseball America Player of the Year awad, and won the Golden Spikes Award as the nation’s outstanding player. The team finished second in the nation, losing to the Texas Longhorns in the finals of the College World Series, 4-3. (That Texas team was led by pitchers Roger Clemens and Calvin Scharldi, two that became Major League Baseball stars.)
Magadan still holds several records for the Tide: career average of .439, single season average of .525, 31 doubles in a season, 114 hits in a season, and 95 RBI in a season. Following his junior year he was selected by the New York Mets with the 32nd pick of the June MLB draft, and made his Major League debut in 1986, when he doubled as a pinch hitter in his first at bat.
In his first start he went 3-4 with two RBI, including the game winner for the Mets.
Playing mostly first base, but also third, Magadan played 16 years in the big leagues, and forged a career batting average of .288 in 1582 games with seven teams. The final numbers are not overwhelming, but well above average. A lot of players would take his long career, and 1197 hits and 218 doubles. As he did in college, he continued to make contact, being one of the few players to finish with more career walks than strikeouts, 718 to 546.
After Magadan’s playing career ended, the San Diego Padres hired him as a roving instructor, a job he held for two years before becoming the teams hitting coach from 2003-2006. From there he had a five year sting as the Red Sox hitting coach, collecting a World Series ring in 2007. The Texas Rangers was is next stop from 2013-2015, followed by a stint with the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2016-2018. Currently Magadan is about to begin his second year as the hitting coach for the Colorado Rockies.
Magadan has had quite a career, managing to stay in the game at the highest level for over 34 years. He is well thought of as a hitting instructor, and there have been times when his name has popped up for open managerial jobs. For many in the state of Alabama, that magical season of 1983 will always be what they think of when they think of Magadan. A great player, and so fun to watch!
Roll Tide, Bama Baseball Fever, Catch it.
***If there are any players you would like featured, leave their name in the comment section. I am going to try to do one or so of these a week as we approach opening day on February 14th.