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Original Issue

The Perfect Substitutes

If SI were putting together a dream team of replacement players, here are the guys we would call first. It's a lineup of former major leaguers who need another shot in the majors to complete unfinished baseball business and players who would just be fun to have around again. (Each player is listed with his current age and the big league team he last played with.)

C: Dann Bilardello, 35, 1992 Padres. His strength was an ability to laugh at his many shortcomings—a lifetime .204 average; minimal power—a vital quality for replacement players. "I want my stats taken off my baseball card," he once said. "That's my goal."

1B: Bill Buckner, 45, 1990 Red Sox. Finished with more hits than Ted Williams but remembered for allowing a grounder to roll through his legs. He needs 285 hits to reach 3,000. Against replacement pitching, he would get that many in one year.

2B: Al Newman, 34, 1992 Rangers. Retired without hitting a home run in his last 1,971 at bats, including 1,893 straight in the American League. No player in AL history has gone 2,000 at bats without hitting a dinger. He might hit four home runs in the first month this season.

3B: Tom Lawless, 38, 1990 Blue Jays. Three times—in 1986, '87 and '90—he was the last player on an Opening Day major league roster to get a hit. This year he would probably contend for the batting title.

SS: Lenn Sakata, 40, 1987 Yankees. The last man other than Cal Ripken Jr. to start at shortstop for the Orioles (on June 30, 1982). Who better to start the next game that Ripken doesn't?

OF: Mickey Rivers, 46, 1984 Rangers. A sense of humor is needed in these desperate times, and there was no one funnier than Mick the Quick. After he spent a frigid, windy day playing leftfield in Milwaukee in 1983, he said, "Man, the wind was blowing 100 degrees today. I felt like the Lost Mohican out there."

OF: Herm Winningham, 33, 1992 Red Sox. In 2,069 major league plate appearances, he was never hit by a pitch. Now that's one streak that would end if Winningham, who signed as a replacement player with the Mets last week, ever faces replacement pitchers.

OF: Jeff Stone, 34, 1990 Red Sox. In a 1988 spring training game he accomplished a feat rarely seen in baseball: He was thrown out at every base, including home, in the same game. He would be a natural for a replacement player.

DH: Dave Kingman, 46, 1986 A's. Holds the major league record for most homers (35) in the season before his retirement. If he returned and hit 58 more homers, he would become the first player ever to hit 500 and not be elected to the Hall of Fame.

P: Mike Kinnunen, 36, 1987 Orioles. In 48 major league appearances he had no wins, no losses and no saves. It's as if he never played.

RP: Jon Perlman, 36, 1988 Indians. After going 1-2 in 26 appearances spread over three major league seasons, he went on to get a law degree at SMU. Lawyers are running the game now; why not have one warming up in the bullpen?



SI's replacement dream team would feature (from left) Buckner, Sakata, Kingman, Newman, Winningham and, just for laughs, Rivers.



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