Michael Anthony Easler (born November 29, 1950), nicknamed “The Hit Man“, is an American former professional baseball outfielder, designated hitter, and coach, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Houston Astros, California Angels, Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Philadelphia Phillies, from 1973 to 1987.
Easler was selected in the 14th round (314th overall) of the 1969 MLB draft by the Houston Astros out of Benedictine High School (Ohio) in Cleveland, Ohio. He played in the Astros' minor league system from 1969 through 1975, both before and after his major league debut. He played for the rookie league Covington Astros (1969), Single-A Cocoa Astros (1970–1971), Double-A Columbus Astros (1972–1973), Triple-A Denver Bears (1973–1974), and Triple-A Iowa Oaks (1975).
Easler made his major league debut on September 5, 1973, pinch hitting (and grounding out) in the 11th inning of an Astros 9–3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Easler appeared in a total of six games with the Astros that season, going hitless in seven at bats. He appeared in 15 games in 1974 (batting 1-for-15), and 5 games in 1975 (batting 0-for-5). In June 1975, the Astros traded Easler to the St. Louis Cardinals; Easler had appeared in a total of 26 games for Houston, batting just 1-for-27 (.037).
Easler spent the remainder of the 1975 season and most of the 1976 season with the Cardinals' Triple-A farm team, the Tulsa Oilers; he did not appear in an MLB game with the Cardinals. In September 1976, the Cardinals traded Easler to the California Angels.
During the 1976 season, Easler played in 21 games for the Angels, all in September, batting 13-for-54 (.241). In April 1977, the Angels traded Easler to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Easler spent most of 1977 with the Pirates' Triple-A team, the Columbus Clippers. Late in the 1977 season, Easler played ten games with the Pirates, batting 8-for-18 (.444). After spending all of the 1978 season with the Clippers, Easler's contract was sold to the Boston Red Sox by the Pirates; however, in March 1979, Easler was traded back to the Pirates.
During the 1979 season, Easler appeared in 55 games for the Pirates, mostly as a pinch hitter, batting 15-for-54 (.278). He made one pinch hitting appearance in the 1979 NLCS (he flied out) and two pinch hitting appearances in the 1979 World Series (he walked once, and flied out), as the Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles in seven games.
Although he had earned a World Series ring, from 1973 through the end of the 1979 season, Easler had played a total of just 112 regular season MLB games, batting .242 with three home runs and 20 RBIs.
Easler's playing time changed significantly in 1980, when he played 132 games, mainly as the Pirates' regular left fielder. He batted .338 with 21 home runs and 74 RBIs. He hit for the cycle on June 12, 1980, in a 10–6 win over the Cincinnati Reds. In the strike shortened 1981 season, Easler played in 95 games, batting .286 with 7 home runs and 42 RBIs. Easler was selected to the 1981 All-Star Game; he entered the game in sixth inning, and had a walk and a run scored in two plate appearances, as the National League won, 5–4.
Easler continued as the Pirates' regular left fielder in 1982 (142 games, batting .276 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs) and 1983 (115 games, batting .307 with 10 home runs at 54 RBIs). After the 1983 season, the Pirates traded Easler to the Red Sox for pitcher John Tudor. In his six seasons with the Pirates, Easler appeared in 549 games, batting .302 with 56 home runs and 244 RBIs.
Boston Red Sox
Easler was Boston's primary designated hitter for two years. In 1984, he batted .313 with 27 home runs and 91 RBIs in 156 games. In 1985, he played in 155 games, batting .262 with 16 home runs and 74 RBIs. Before the start of the 1986 season, Boston traded Easler to the New York Yankees for Don Baylor.
New York Yankees
Easler spent all of 1986 and half of 1987 with the Yankees, as a designated hitter and corner outfielder. He appeared in a total of 211 games, batting .297 with 18 home runs and 99 RBIs. In June 1987, the Yankees traded Easler to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Easler finished the 1987 season with the Phillies, appearing in 33 games and batting .282 with one home run and ten RBIs.
In his 14 seasons in MLB, Easler played a total of 1151 regular season games, batting .293 with 118 home runs and 522 RBIs. He played 480 games in left field, 434 games as designated hitter, 81 games in right field, and 29 games at first base, along with 189 pinch hitting appearances.
Easler started the 1988 season with the Texas Rangers‘ Triple-A team, the Oklahoma City 89ers. He played just two games with the team, batting 5-for-7 (.714). Easler then spent the rest of the 1988 season, and the 1989 season, with the Nippon-Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball. He played a total of 142 games for the Fighters, batting .302 with 26 home runs and 90 RBIs.
After his retirement, Easler managed the unaffiliated Miami Miracle of the Florida State League in 1990. He was the hitting coach for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1992, the Boston Red Sox in 1993, and the St. Louis Cardinals from 1999 to 2001. He returned to the minor leagues in 2004, managing the Florence Freedom of the independent Frontier League for part of the season.
Easler was the hitting coach for the Double-A Jacksonville Suns in 2006, and the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s in 2007, both then-farm teams of the Los Angeles Dodgers. On January 22, 2008, Don Mattingly, who had been announced as Joe Torre‘s hitting coach for the Dodgers, chose not to take the position citing personal reasons; the team then named Easler as the new hitting coach on Torre's staff. Easler was dismissed as the Dodgers' hitting coach on July 9, when it was announced that Mattingly would be returning to his role after dealing with his personal situation. Easler worked as a minor league hitting instructor for the remainder of the season and then left the organization, confirmed by agent Burton Rocks.
Easler is an ordained Baptist minister.
Mike Easler the Hit Man We had a little of video issues but not much, the show is great. This was tapped as Mike was in a car on the way to the airport. Talking hitting with a great hitter and coach. The ABC's of hitting. See. Read. Explode. Bat path. Stay through the pitch, how? Catching up to today's pitching velocity. How to be a very good hitter with 2 strikes. Good hitters can avoid the shift. and more
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