John Milton “Mickey” Rivers

John Milton “Mickey” Rivers (born October 30th, 1948 Miami, Florida) is an American baseball player best known as a speedy leadoff hitter and an excellent center fielder with a colorful personality. “Mick The Quick” had a solid 15-year career in the major leagues.

After attending Miami Dade College (where Bucky Dent was a teammate, Mickey was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1969 and made his pro debut that year with the Magic Valley Cowboys, hitting .307. At the end of the summer, he was traded to the California Angels. He split the next four years between the minors and the Angels, hitting well over .300 at every minor league stop. Mick stayed in the major league for good in 1974 as the Angels centerfielder.  In his first full big league season, he hit .285 with 30 stolen bases and led the AL with 11 triples despite playing in just 118 games. The following summer he hit .284 while leading the league with 13 triples and 70 steals (the most in the AL since Ty Cobb stole 96 in 1915).

The following season he was dealt to the Yankees along with Ed Figueroa for Bobby Bonds. Trade paid off immediately for the Yankees. Figueroa won 19 games and Mickey enjoyed a career year. He was named to the All-Star team, batted .312, stole 43 bases and posted then-career highs in home runs (8) and runs batted in (67). Mickey placed third in the Most Valuable Player voting behind teammate Thurman Munson and George Brett and was named an outfielder on The Sporting News AL All-Star team.

Mickey posted good numbers in his two other full seasons as a part of the “Bronx Zoo”, including a .326 batting average in 1977, but was traded in the middle of the 1979 season to Texas. There he set the single-season record for hits by a Ranger with 210 in 1980, a mark since eclipsed by Michael Young. He concluded his career in 1984 with a .295 lifetime average, 267 stolen bases, 1,660 hits.

While Mickey played for the Yankees, they won the World Series in 1977 and 1978, both times against the Los Angeles Dodgers. They also won the 1976 pennant, but lost in the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. Rivers posted a .308 average in his 29 postseason games. Bill James ranked Mickey Rivers as the 59th greatest center fielder of all time.

Mickey, who has been called the fastest Yankee of all time was honored with many of his fellow teammates from the 1977 World Series champion New York Yankees, in the Yankee Old Timers Game in 2007.  In The Bronx Is Burning, the ESPN miniseries based on the 1977 Yankees, he was portrayed by Leonard Robinson.

Since his playing career ended, Mickey has trained racehorses in his native Florida. His son, Mickey Rivers Jr. played minor league baseball in the Rangers organization.

Notable Achievements

  • 1970 MVP Texas League El Paso Sun Kings
  • AL All-Star (1976)
  • 2-time AL Triples Leader (1974 & 1975)
  • AL Stolen Bases Leader (1975)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (1980)
  • 50 Stolen Bases Seasons: 1 (1975)
  • Won two World Series with the New York Yankees (1977 & 1978)