Hayes a Top Rookie With Cleveland Before Long Tenure in Philadelphia
By Craig Gifford
In a career that was over much too soon due to a broken arm, Von Hayes was known best for being a sturdy run producer for the Philadelphia Phillies. Drafted by the Cleveland Indians, in the seventh round of the 1979 amateur draft, Hayes got his start with the Tribe.
The outfielder/first baseman spent parts of two seasons in a Cleveland uniform. Little over two years after being tabbed by the Indians, Hayes made his Major League debut on August 24, 1981. His first cup of coffee in the big leagues was somewhat forgettable as he hit one home run with 17 RBI in 43 games.
Hayes burst onto the baseball scene, however, in 1982. He hit 14 long balls and driving in 81 runs in 150 games. It seemed the Tribe had a player of the future locked up. However, that offseason, the Phillies knocked Cleveland’s socks off with a four-player trade package that included former All-Star Manny Trillo and future All-Star Julio Franco. The Tribe pulled the trigger on the deal. Neither team could be really disappointed as Franco became a solid shortstop the next six seasons in Cleveland, while Hayes continued to hit in Philadelphia.
Hayes’ first season in Philly was a disappointment as he belted just six round trippers. However, he rebounded in his second season in the City of Brotherly Love, knocking 16 homers with 67 RBI.
In 1986 Hayes was eighth in the voting for National League Most Valuable Player. That year marked Hayes’ lone season batting over .300, with a .305 mark. He led the league in both doubles (46) and runs scored (107). Hayes also hit 19 home runs and had a career high 98 RBI that year.
Three years later, the left-handed hitter enjoyed his lone All-Star appearance. Also, 1989 saw Hayes bash his career best 26 home runs. The next season would proved to be the last productive one for the then-31-year-old. He hit 16 homers with 73 RBI.
Along with the good hitting numbers, Hayes was also a threat on the bases. He swiped a career-best 48 bases in 1984. His rookie season saw him steal 32 bags. Five other times he hit the 20-plus mark. A threat to hit 20 bombs and steal 20 bags in any given season, Hayes’ career should have been a long one that went into his late 30s or early 40s.
Unfortunately, disaster struck in 1991. On June 14 and in the midst of a power outage with zero homers to that point, Hayes suffered a broken arm when he was struck by a pitch thrown by Cincinnati’s Tom Browning. He came back later that year, but was never the same.
Hayes was traded to the Angels after the ’91 campaign, but never got back into a groove at the plate. Following a dismal 1992 (4 HR, 29 RBI, .225 BA in 94 games) Hayes retired from the game at the young age of 34.
Hayes ended his career with 143 home runs, 253 steals and .263 batting average. The numbers are far from greatness, but for nine years Hayes was consistent run producer who could contribute to a team in multiple ways.
Thoughts of Hayes never leaving the Tribe and forming a outfield trio in the 1980s with Cory Snyder and Joe Carter could make one wish the Indians had never traded him after his ROY season. However, as good as Franco turned out to be, it’s hard to fault Cleveland for making the deal. It was one that actually turned out to be positive for all parties involved.