Hostess Of The Week – 1979 Terry Whitfield: Jerseys, Japan, Johnson City

Terry Whitfield was an outfielder and pinch hitter who played for the Yankees, Giants and Dodgers, with a stint in the Japanese Pacific League sandwiched in the middle.
1979 Hostess Terry Whitfield

I’ll be honest, I’d mentioned Johnson City in the header mainly to keep the alliteration going… In 1971 Whitfield was a first-round draft pick (19th overall) of the Yankees, and started his professional career in Johnson City, where he was teammates with Louisiana Lightning himself, Ron Guidry.

Whitfield moved up through the Yankees farm system, but never established himself with the parent club after a couple of “cups of coffee” with the Yanks. He shares his 1975 rookie card with Fred Lynn, Ed Armbrister and Tom Poquette.

During spring training of 1977, Whitfield was traded to the Giants for Marty Perez (known on this blog as the Latin Davy Jones)…
1977 OPC Marty Perez
…and much to the dismay of the airbrush artist who did this card for the 1977 O-Pee-Chee set, Perez played in one game for the Yankees before being shipped off to Oakland as part of a package for pitcher Mike Torrez.

Terry Whitfield established himself as a regular outfielder with the Giants with good offensive stats, although maybe not what may have been expected of him.

Whitfield is notable in that he may have been the first American player to spend his peak years playing in Japan; his contract was sold by the Giants to the Seibu Lions for the 1981 season, when Whitfield was 28 years old.

He’d play three years in Japan, helping the Lions win Japan Series titles in 1982 and 1983 while hitting 88 homers over the 3 years.

After Japan, Whitfield was signed to a three-year contract by the Dodgers, who must’ve figured that they signed a guy who’d sorted out his hitting issues while overseas, but it didn’t work out that way. Whitfield ended up as more of a pinch hitter than a regular and would hit just 7 homers in three years with the Dodgers.

OK, I’ve covered Japan and Johnson City… what about the Jersey?

The jersey Whitfield is wearing is fine in and of itself, but I view it as a mistake along the lines of the New York Rangers’ uniform change of the 1970’s…
1977-78 Topps Walt Tkaczuk
You’ve already got a classic uniform, why would you change it?

…And the answer to that is, of course, it was the 1970’s.

5 thoughts on “Hostess Of The Week – 1979 Terry Whitfield: Jerseys, Japan, Johnson City

  1. “Whitfield is notable in that he may have been the first American player to spend his peak years playing in Japan; his contract was sold by the Giants to the Seibu Lions for the 1981 season, when Whitfield was 28 years old.”

    Just off the top of my head, I’d throw out there the Lee brothers as having done this before Whitfield. Leron went to Japan in 1977 at age 29 and spent the next 11 years playing for Lotte. Leon joined him in 1978 at age 25 and spent 10 years there.

    Greg Dunn

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