Former big league first baseman, outfielder and DH Dave Bergman passed away yesterday of bile duct cancer. He was 61.
Originally a second round draft pick by the New York Yankees in 1974, he played a handful of games with them in 1975 and 1977 before being traded to the Houston Astros. Bergman would remain in Houston until early in the 1981 season when he and Jeff Leonard were traded to the San Francisco Giants for Mike Ivie.
Prior to the 1984 season, the Giants would trade Bergman to the Phillies. But this was a paper move. The Phillies would trade Bergman along with Willie Hernandez to the Detroit Tigers for Glenn Wilson and John Wockenfuss. That was arguably the most crucial deal of that off-season. The 1984 Tigers would begin the season 35-5 and never look back. Hernandez, who had been a journeyman reliever, would win the AL Cy Young and MVP. Meanwhile, Bergman would have the best season of his career hitting .273 with 7 HR and 44 RBI in 120 games. The most memorable of those home runs was an extra inning, walk-off, three run HR off Roy Lee Jackson of the Toronto Blue Jays after fouling off 10 pitches. The Tigers would go on to win the World Series in five games against the San Diego Padres.
Bergman was also the master of the hidden ball trick fooling both the late Alan Wiggins of the Baltimore Orioles and future big league manager Ozzie Guillen. He would remain with the Tigers until his retirement following the 1992 season and remain in the area for the rest of his life. He wasn’t a spectacular player, but he was sure handed first baseman who had a little pop in his bat. Above all else, Bergman was a team player.
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