Remembering Harold Reynolds

Harold Reynolds was the 2nd baseman of the team I first fell in love with. He was cool, he was hip, he was relevant. He was the first All-Star I ever knew. When I see a “#4” jersey, no matter which baseball team, I think of Harold Reynolds.

Reynolds not only had his best professional seasons in the Pacific Northwest but he is also a native. He was born in Eugene, OR on November 26, 1960. He attended Corvallis High School in Corvallis, OR where he starred as a 3-sport athlete in football, basketball and baseball.

Reynolds was drafted in the 4th round of the amateur draft on June 5, 1979, by the San Diego Padres but did not sign and elected to attend San Diego State University. He only spent one semester at SDSU and transferred to Canada College (Redwood City, CA).

The following summer, on June 3, 1980, Reynolds was selected in the 1st round (2nd pick) of the amateur draft by the Seattle Mariners.

Reynolds made his MLB debut on 9/2/1983 as a pinch runner for Ken Phelps. He would make his starting debut on 9/5/1983 at Royals Stadium in Kansas City (Since July 2, 1993, known as Kauffman Stadium). How’d his first game go?

– 1st at-bat: Grounded out to the pitcher
– 2nd at-bat: Double to LF (scored on Phil Bradley sac fly)
– 3rd at-bat: Flyout to LF
– 4th at-bat: Triple to LF (scored on Spike Owen single)
– 5th at-bat: Flyout to LF
– Game: 2-5, 2B, 3B, 2 Runs

Wearing #24 (1984-1986)

After making his MLB debut, Harold’s next 3 seasons with Seattle were somewhat of a rollercoaster ride. 20 games in 1983, 10 games in 1984, and 67 games in 1985. Reynolds’ career path in 1985 had to make upper management a little perplexed. In 52 games at Triple-A Calgary he hit .363 (212 at-bats) but in 67 games with the Mariners, he hit .144 (104 at-bats). Reynolds was primarily used at the end of the season as a defensive replacement and pinch runner.

At the end of the season, Reynolds was a few months shy of turning 25 years old, was a former #2 overall pick and had yet to make a splash. Was Harold Reynolds a first round bust? For those who thought so, that would begin to change in 1986.

Reynolds appeared in 126 games with 445 at-bats during the ’86 campaign. He only hit .222 for the season but swiped 30 bags and showed flashes of brilliance playing 2nd base. 1987 is when Reynolds finally “arrived” as a complete ballplayer.

1987 season: 160 games, .275 AVG, 60 SB, 31 2B, 8 3B and became the first 2nd baseman in franchise history to be selected to the All-Star game (later followed by Joey Cora in 1997 and Bret Boone in 2001 & 2003). In the ’87 All-Star game, he did not start but was the backup 2B to Willie Randolph; Reynolds went 0-for-3 in the game. His 60 stolen bases still remains a single-season franchise record and he was the first Mariner to ever lead the league in an offensive category.

Fun Facts: Reynolds was the only player other than Rickey Henderson to lead the AL in stolen bases during any season in the 1980’s. Reynolds also set the club record with fewest strikeouts (34) in a season (minimum of 502 plate appearances).

An interesting stat comparison for Reynolds in 1987: 80 games at home (The Kingdome): .233 AVG / 80 games on the road: .315 AVG. The Kingdome was always known as a hitter’s ballpark, but Harold seemed to prove the opposite. However, in his defense, hitting for “power” was never his strong suit.

1988 season: 158 games, .283 AVG, 35 SB, 11 3B (tied for AL lead), reached 2nd All-Star game and won 1st Gold Glove. In the ’88 All-Star game, he did not start but was the backup 2B to Paul Molitor; Reynolds went 0-for-1 in the game.

Surprising 1988 statistics: Reynolds had 35 stolen bases, but was caught stealing a league-high 29 times. 35-for-64 = 54.6%.

1988 would be the last time Reynolds reached an All-Star game but it was the first of three straight seasons winning a Gold Glove. However, despite the All-Star “snub”, 1989 was Harold’s most complete season of his career. 1989: 153 games, .300 AVG, 184 hits, 87 runs, 9 3B, 25 SB

On display at Safeco Field - Seattle, WA

1990: 160 games, .252 AVG, 100 runs, 36 2B, 31 SB, 81 walks (previous high: 55) and a league-high 642 at-bats

1991: 161 games, .254 AVG, 95 runs, 34 2B, 28 SB
In 1991, Reynolds was a recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award. The Roberto Clemente Award is given annually to a Major League Baseball player selected for his character and charitable contributions to his community.

1992 (final season with Mariners): 140 games, .247 AVG, 15 SB

On October 26, 1992 Reynolds was granted free agency. He finished off his career playing for the Orioles in 1993 and only 74 games in 1994 with the Angels.

Harold Reynolds has had a successful post-baseball life. He was a lead studio analyst on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight from 1996–2006, joined MLB.com in 2007 and joined the MLB Network in 2009 as a studio analyst. He was also inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.

Harold Reynolds was an exciting player to watch in the late 1980’s. He peaked just as the Mariners were starting to put together some franchise cornerstones with the likes of Ken Griffey Jr. and Randy Johnson. However, this should not diminish his role (along with Alvin Davis) as baseball stars of the Emerald City in those losing seasons. Reynolds may be better known as an analyst today, but he left a great impact as a slick-fielding, leadoff speedster, All-Star.

Bret Boone had the “boom” to put him on many “best Mariners” lists for the second baseman position, but I’d put Reynolds on mine.

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