“Fuck you, George!”
Rick Cerone earned considerable respect from the baseball community when he cursed out George Steinbrenner during the 1980 playoffs, capping a career year that saw him finish 7th in the AL MVP race.
Five years later, he became a Brave. Back then you welcomed any trade, figuring if someone was good enough to play for another big league team he had to be an improvement over his Braves predecessor.
Cerone’s arrival coincided with Eddie Haas’ hiring and Bruce Sutter’s signing. Safe to say that year was a cursed one for the Braves, and the Jersey native produced accordingly.
Not that we should have expected much. Cerone had struggled through four injury-plagued seasons after his breakout performance in 1980, and the Steinbrenners had to be thrilled to turn him for pitching prospect Brian Fisher. who saved 14 with a 2.38 ERA and 1.078 WHIP as a rookie in New York.
Cerone got off to a promising start in Atlanta, rapping 14 hits in his first 32 AB, but it was all downhill from there. He batted .208 in May, .186 in July and .176 in September, hitting only one HR after April. Haas and his successor Bobby Wine kept him in the line-up because there were no real options; Bruce Benedict had forgotten how to hit and Larry Owen never learned.
Cerone, traded for Ted Simmons after the ’85 season, is the fifth catcher to make our list, though he may not be the last.