Outfielder’s Off-the-Wall Play Brings Him Fame : Baseball: Former University High and West L.A. player’s most notable moment came during triple-A game in May.
Rodney McCray made a play this season that has put him in the Hall of Fame.
The Chicago White Sox outfielder hasn’t been enshrined in Cooperstown, N.Y., but he was honored by television personality Bob Einstein, a Beverly Hills High graduate better known as Super Dave Osborne.
McCray, a former University High and West Los Angeles College standout, will enter Super Dave’s Hall of Fame in an episode of Showtime cable’s “Super Dave” series scheduled to air in early 1992.
Einstein’s Osborne character is a daredevil whose stunts seemingly always go awry. On May 27, McCray had a similar experience.
While playing right field for the Vancouver Canadiens of the triple-A Pacific Coast League, McCray crashed through a section of the right-field wall at Portland’s Civic Stadium while trying to catch a fly ball off the bat of Portland’s Chip Hale.
Hale ended up with a run-scoring triple that knocked in the tying run, and then scored the game’s winning run.
Television sportscasters made McCray’s collision one of 1991’s most replayed plays.
“The ball wasn’t carrying all night long,” McCray recalled before a recent White Sox-Angel game. “But this particular ball just started carrying. I was really concentrating on the ball. I really had no idea I was that close to the warning track or the fence. I was just concentrating on catching the ball so much, the next thing you know, there’s the fence.”
The impact left McCray with “a few scars” on his face and a bruised shoulder. He remained in the game for the rest of the inning before being replaced but was in the lineup for the Canadiens’ next game.
McCray considers the play the highlight of his eight-season professional career.
“It’s good for baseball, seeing I’m OK and didn’t get hurt,” the 1981 University High graduate said. “It’s something that will never be forgotten.”
McCray was selected by San Diego in the ninth round of the January, 1984, amateur draft, spending four seasons in the Padre organization before being chosen by the White Sox in the 1987 minor league draft.
McCray’s minor league highlights include leading the Class A California League with 65 stolen bases in 1987, being named to the 1989 Florida State League All-Star team in 1989 after leading outfielders with a .987 fielding percentage and ranking second with a career-high 81 steals in the South Atlantic League in 1989.
McCray, who turned 28 on Friday, began his major league career May 1, 1990, walking in his first at-bat. He was recalled two other times last season, appearing in 32 games, mainly as a pinch-runner. He was hitless in six at-bats, but stole six bases without being caught and scored eight runs.
“He stole some big bases for us during the pennant race last year,” White Sox Manager Jeff Torborg said. “There were times that everybody in the park would know that he’d be running, yet he’d still steal the base.”
This season, McCray hit .230 with Vancouver and was recalled Sept. 3, two days after the major league roster limit expanded to 40 players. Entering Wednesday’s play, McCray had struck out in his only at-bat, but scored twice as a pinch-runner.