Monday, March 3, 2014

#1 DRAFT PICKS OF THE 1970's. A SPECIAL SUB-SET...BOB HORNER: ATLANTA BRAVES: 1978

Up next in my thread of #1 overall draft picks of the 1970's we come to 1978 and Bob Horner, picked #1 by the Atlanta Braves.
Take a look at my card design in my imagined sub-set:
 
 
An absolute monster coming out of Arizona State, Horner set College records with 58 career homers as well as 25 in a single-season, on his way to winning the very first "Golden Spikes" Award in 1978.
Horner made an immediate splash in the Major Leagues, skipping the Minors altogether and making his big league debut on June 16th, 1978 and hitting a homer off future Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In only 89 games that season, Horner lead all third basemen with 23 home runs, while hitting .263 and driving in 63 runs in 323 at-bats beating out another future Hall of Famer, Ozzie Smith, for National League Rookie of the Year honors.
Over the next eight years of so Horner became a solid homer-hitting third baseman for Atlanta, teaming up with Dale Murphy as one of the best one-two homer punches in the game.
But injuries in 1983 and 1984, where he broke, then re-broke the same wrist, would ultimately derail his career after only ten seasons, finishing up with a short 60-game stint with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1988 after coming back from Japan, where he played in 1987 after being one of the players colluded against by Major League owners.
Though definitely not a "flop", Horner's career did fall short of expectations somewhat, though hitting 218 homers and driving in 685 runs without ever playing in more than 141 games in any season is quite impressive. 
As a matter of fact, Horner only played 140+ games in a season twice: 140 in 1982 and 141 in 1986, a season which also saw him hit four home runs in a single game, at the time only the eleventh player ever to do so, and second in a losing cause (Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty being the other).
It's interesting to note some of the other players taken after Horner in the first round of 1978: Lloyd Moseby (2nd overall), Hubie Brooks (3rd), Mike Morgan (4th), Kirk Gibson (12th), and Tom Brunansky (14th).
Not a bad crop of young players that year going in the draft.

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