Tim Salmon, former California Angels superstar, signing copies of Always An Angel
*4/15/10 7:00 PM at Borders Books – South Assiciated Road. Brea, CA.
*4/17/10 Noon at Costco – South Harbor Blvd. Fullerton, CA.
Timothy James Salmon (born August 24, 1968 in Long Beach, California) is a former Major League Baseball right fielder/designated hitter who played his entire career with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim franchise. Known affectionately among Angels fans as the King Fish, he is considered one of the greatest players in the Angels’ franchise
Salmon who had been selected in the third round of the Major League Baseball Draft in 1989 out of Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, made his major league debut in 1992, the same year that he won the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year Award.
In his first full season the next year, Salmon was named the American League’s Rookie of the Year for 1993 and quickly became a favorite of the Angels’ organization and a household name among the team’s fans. He maintained his status as one of the league’s elite power-hitting outfielders throughout the decade. He finished seventh in MVP voting totals for the first time in 1995, when he won a Silver Slugger Award, finished third in the league with a .330 batting average, and posted an OPS above 1.000. That year, he was the first major league player to get a hit off future closer for the New York Yankees, Mariano Rivera. He finished seventh again in 1997 when he had a career high 129 RBIs. After playing in fewer than 100 games in 1999, he tied a career high 34 home runs in 2000. From 1993 to 2000 he only had two OPS lines below .900 and he never finished below .860.
Before the 2001 season, Salmon, who was about to finish a four-year contract signed before the 1997 season, briefly considered signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but signed a four-year, $40 million extension with the Angels.
World Series and Comebacks
Salmon’s 2001 season was largely disappointing as he finished with career lows for full seasons in a number of categories. Nevertheless he followed it up with what may have been his most meaningful season. After a resurgent regular season for which he was named the AL Comeback Player of the Year, Salmon was a crucial part of the Angels’ playoff and World Series run in 2002, hitting two key home runs in Game 2 of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants and batting .346 with a 1.067 OPS in the series overall.
Following a solid 2003 season, Salmon appeared in only 60 games for the Angels in 2004. After being sidelined for the entire 2005 season to recover from left knee and right rotator cuff surgery, a return was doubtful. Deciding against ending his career on those terms, however, Salmon dedicated himself to becoming healthy enough to play one final season in 2006. On December 2, 2005, the Angels announced that they had agreed to terms on a minor league contract with Salmon, making him a non-roster invitee to the team’s 2006 spring training. Though he preferred to return to the Angels, Salmon was aware that he was considered unlikely to make the team’s roster, but he saw the opportunity to play with the team during the exhibition season as a chance to potentially audition for other teams.
However, Salmon turned in a surprisingly strong performance during Spring Training and secured a role for himself with the Angels. At the end of the exhibition, the team announced that Salmon had made their roster, meaning he would earn a $400,000 salary for the 2006 season. Salmon spent the season as a designated hitter and reserve outfielder. He indicated that making it through the season successfully would mean that he accomplished his goal of being able to end his career on his own terms. In any respect, Salmon’s 2006 season was a significant improvement over his meager 2004 campaign. He finished the season with an .811 OPS over 76 games, having passed 1000 career RBIs and boosted his career home run total to 299.
On September 27, 2006, Salmon announced he would retire at the end of the 2006 season. He played his final Major League game on October 1, 2006 against the Oakland Athletics. His name and jersey number were cut into the infield and outfield grass of the playing field at Angel Stadium.
As of the end of the 2006 season, Salmon is the Angels’ all-time leader in home runs (299), runs scored (983), walks (965) and slugging percentage (.499). He is second in franchise history with 1012 RBI, behind only Garret Anderson. He remains the franchise’s only player to have won the Rookie of the Year award.
Interestingly, despite his above average career numbers and impressive single season accomplishments, Salmon was never selected as an All-Star during his career. In fact, he has the greatest number of career home runs (299) for a player never selected to an all-star team among players whose entire career was played after the first All-Star Game in 1933. Rogers Hornsby hit 301 career home runs and also never played in an All-Star Game, but most of Hornsby’s career pre-dated the first All-Star Game.