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1988 Dodgers player profile: Gilberto Reyes tasted the champagne

No 1988 Dodgers position player appeared in fewer games than Gilberto Reyes. But under somewhat unusual circumstances, he was in the clubhouse for the World Series celebration.

They are all thinking, "Thank you Gilberto Reyes."
They are all thinking, "Thank you Gilberto Reyes."
Getty Images

The rules of baseball in 1988 did not permit a World Series roster change due to an injury. But Mike Scioscia's hurt back suddenly brought Reyes roster status into play. Dodgers Executive Vice President Fred Claire recalled for the Los Angeles Times:

"I remember what happened to Gilberto Reyes. Scioscia injured his back [in Game 4 of the World Series] and we had gotten permission from [then-Commissioner] Peter Ueberroth to bring Reyes to Oakland. I had him fly in from the Dominican. He flies out--he got there the night of what proved to be the final game. He walks into the clubhouse about the time they started popping champagne bottles. The guy has flown in all the way from the Dominican Republic to get soaked in champagne."

How acquired: The Dodgers signed Reyes in early 1980, shortly after his sixteenth birthday, as a free agent in the Dominican Republic.

Prior MLB experience: Reyes was promoted after only appearing in 33 games for AA San Antonio in 1983 when an injury to Scioscia opened a backup backstop job on the Dodgers roster. At age 19 he was the youngest player in the majors that season. The strong-armed catcher was considered the backstop of the future at one time, but with Scioscia holding down the job, Reyes only had occasional "cups of coffee" with the major-league squad. By the end of 1987, he had played 30 games, come to the plate 40 times, hit .135/.200/.189, and thrown out seven of the 15 runners who tried to steal against him in the National League.

1988 age: 24

1988 stats: The catcher that Tommy Lasorda had nicknamed "Onion Head" for unknown reasons was again a September call up, caught in five games, and was one for nine at the plate.

Regular season game of the year: Reyes collected his only hit in his only start, scoring the first run of an ultimately futile comeback attempt in meaningless late season game against the Padres.

NLCS & World Series performance: Other than his possible inclusion for a World Series Game Six that never happened, Reyes was not on the post-season rosters.

Post-1988 playing career: As spring training closed in 1989, Reyes was traded to Montreal for minor-league hurler Jeff Fischer. Reyes was a half-time catcher for Les Expos in 1991, and while he threw out 43 of 82 would-be base stealers (52.4%) for Montreal, with Bill James naming him the best defensive player on the club in his 1992 Baseball Abstract, he batted only .217/.285/.261. After an alcohol-related suspension, Montreal released him in 1992. Reyes then spent one minor-league season in the Colorado organization, before playing in the Mexican League through the rest of the 1990s, then managing for several Mexican teams, as well as the Dominican Summer League Mets in 2006.

Where he is now: Near the end of 2007, in a scene that could have been from a slightly different version of "Breaking Bad", Reyes was driving a truck that he claimed he knew only to contain furniture when it slid off an icy Interstate 25 in New Mexico and crashed, revealing that the cargo also contained 420 pounds of marijuana. He was arrested for drug trafficking, but after a trial ended in a hung jury, the charges were dropped in 2009. But he wasn't out of the woods according to an Associated Press story published in the Albuquerque Journal:

So when a judge granted conditional release for Reyes on March 10, he was seized immediately by federal agents.

They took Reyes to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement processing center in El Paso, where he has been held without bond, facing his pending deportation to the Dominican Republic.

Ultimately either the deportation didn't occur or Reyes was allowed to reenter the U.S. because in late November 2011, in an interview for a podcast with "The Mix Talk Radio", he told the host that he had been working in Albuquerque as a Certified Nursing Assistant "for 28 months" and would like to get a job coaching baseball at the high school level.