Rattler Legend # 2: Hal McRae

Hal McRae, considered one of the greatest designated hitters in baseball history; was a standout athlete at Douglas High School in Sebring, Florida, lettering in football, basketball, and baseball. McRae was drafted by the San Francisco Giants following his stellar high school career, but instead chose to come to FAMU and play baseball.

McRae starred on both the football and baseball teams during his four years on “The Hill,” before being drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the fifth round of the 1965 draft. McRae made his way to the major leagues in 1968 with the Reds, sharing time with Bernie Carbo in the outfield.

McRae’s 1968 campaign was a good one but was almost his last. During that off-season, he broke his leg in four places in a car accident. McRae spent the next two years rehabilitating his leg trying to get back to the majors.

McRae did return to the diamond at the start of the 1970 season, but in a different uniform. Cincinnati had given up on McRae after his accident, trading him to the Kansas City Royals.

Kansas City was where McRae’s career began to take off; he spent the next three seasons as a platoon player in the outfield competing for playing time. When the American League instituted the designated hitter in 1973, McRae earned himself an everyday spot at that position.

McRae spent the rest of his successful career as a designated hitter. He finished second in the race for the 1976 batting title, and led the league in RBI’s with 133 in 1982. McRae’s team played in four World Series’ winning the 1985 title; McRae had a .400 lifetime average in World Series play.

McRae finished in 1989 with a career .290 batting average, 191 home runs, and 1,097 RBI’s. The year after his retirement, McRae was inducted into the Royals Hall of fame, a club that has only 16 members.

In 1991, McRae was hired as the manager of Royals and during his three year stint as manager his teams compiled a 286-277 record. McRae, however was fired by the Royals after the1994 strike shortened season. He went on to be an assistant for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

In 1998, he replaced Larry Rothschild as manager.

McRae was fired by the Devil Rays after the 2001 season, and now currently resides in Bradenton, Florida.

Teammate and baseball Hall of Fame inductee George Brett once said this about McRae.

” {He was} one of the best, most professional hitters I’ve ever been around, no doubt’