John Shelby's 24-game hitting streak and then a key NLCS plate appearance contributes to Dodger's ultimate victory
John "T-Bone" Shelby had 24-game hitting streak from May 14 to June 9 (.360/.420/.562 and a BABIP of .435) but my favorite Shelby memory took place in Game 4 of the NLCS when he walked in the 9th inning and squeezed the final out in the bottom of the 12th inning.
How acquired: On May 22, 1987, Shelby was traded from the Baltimore Orioles to the Los Angeles Dodgers (with pitcher Brad Havens) for relief pitcher Tom Niedenfuer. Shelby thought he wasn't going to Los Angeles at first, per Sam McManis writes in the LA Times:
"I heard that it (the trade) was Jim Dwyer (another Oriole outfielder) and myself for Niedenfuer," Shelby said. "That's all I kept hearing. I heard they wanted a left-handed hitter, and Jim is that. I thought I'd go to Albuquerque or wherever their minor league team is."
Prior MLB experience: Shelby made his debut in 1981 for the Baltimore Orioles and played 512 games for the Orioles hitting .239/.273/.361 with 31 home runs. After the trade, for the rest of the 1987 season, Shelby hit .277/.317/.464 with 21 home runs and 16 stolen bases in 518 plate appearances.
1988 age: 30
1988 stats: Shelby continued his good hitting during the first half of the 1988 season but he had slumped in the second half ending the season at .263/.320/.395 with 10 home runs and 16 stolen bases.
Regular season game of the year: It's hard to pick out one game of his 24-game hitting streak (the Dodgers went 13-11 during the hitting streak) so I will go with Sept. 20, when Shelby hit a solo home run off Danny Darwin to provide the only run in Orel Hershiser's fourth consectutive shutout, a Dodger 1-0 win over the Houston Astros at the Astrodome.
NLCS performance: Shelby didn't have a great NLCS, striking out 12 times in 24 at bats and hitting just .167/.300/.167, but he did have one really good game against the most dominant pitcher in the game. Dwight Gooden may not have been at his peak but he was just completed his fifth season with an 18-9 record and struck out 175 batters. Shelby had some success against Gooden and had singled twice against him in Game 4, so when Shelby worked out a leadoff walk in the 9th inning, that wasn't altogether surprising. But what happened next was surprising, though that belongs in another profile. Shelby later caught the blooper for the final out of Game 4 and the Dodgers would win two of the final three games to win the 1988 pennant.
World Series performance: Shelby's best game was a 2-for-3 performance in the Game 3 loss to the Oakland Athletics. Overall, Shelby hit .222/.300/.278 in 5 games as one of the few regulars to survive the series unscathed.
Post-1988 playing career: Shelby's productivity declined after the 1988 season, he played in Los Angeles in 1989 but was released in June 1990. He was signed by Detroit and finished his career there, retiring after the 1991 season. Shelby hit .199/.244/.285 in 264 games and 786 plate appearances from 1989-1991.
Where he is now: Shelby returned to the Dodger organization, managing in the minor leagues in 1990s until being hired as a major league coach in 1998. He coached first base for the Dodgers from 1998-2005, then continued to coach first for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles. Shelby has been a coach for the Milwaukee Brewers since the 2011 season.