In 1966, the Kansas City Athletics were known mostly for supplying talent to the American league powerhouses, especially the New York Yankees. In the years preceding, the A's had sent Roger Maris, Clete Boyer, Ralph Terry and Bobby Shantz to the Yankees in what was rumored to be payback for allowing the Athletics to move to Kansas City, whose rights were owned by the Yankees.
When Charlie Finley purchased the team in 1960, he burned a bus aimed at New York, to symbolize the severing of ties with the Yankees, then immediately continued the symbiotic relationship with the Bronx behemoths. The Athletics, by 1966, were a severely depleted team, lacking stars or for the most part, competent players. Fortunately, the one player that the Yankees didn't get became a cornerstone of a dynasty.
Dagoberto Campaneris, a native of Pueblo Nuevo Cuba, in his major league debut on July 23, 1964 hit the first pitch he saw from Twins pitcher, Jim Kaat for a solo home run, then hit another later in the game, added a stolen base, and went 3-4 with 3 RBIs in a 4-2 win for the last place Athletics. Much like today however, being an Athletic was like being in the Witness Protection program, and he didn't play an All-Star game until 1968.
On August 16, 1966, the Athletics were in seventh place, playing the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park. With Tommy John on the mound for the Hosers, Campaneris led off with an infield single to shortstop and future Athletics coach, Jerry Adair. Athletics right fielder, Mike Hershberger then sacrifice bunted Campaneris to second. Danny Cater then walked, and stole second, Campaneris scoring the game's first run on Adair's error. Athletics 1, Chisox 0.
In the top of the third inning, after starting pitcher Blue Moon Odom struck out, Campaneris pulled a triple down the left field line, and scored on the next pitch, a wild pitch to Hershberger. Athletics 2, Chisox 0.
In the top of the fifth, with two outs and bases empty, Campaneris singled to left fielder Tommy McCraw, who threw behind Campaneris attempting to catch him napping when rounding first. The throw eluded first baseman Bill Skowron, and Campy circled the bases, scoring on a three-base error. Athletics 3, Chisox 0.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the White Sox scored two runs on a two-out double by Chicago third baseman Don Buford. Athletics 3, Chisox 2.
In the top of the eighth inning, Campaneris led off with a single off Sox reliever Hoyt Wilhelm. He then stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball, then scored on a second passed ball. Final score: Athletics 4, Chisox 2
On the day, Campaneris went 4 for 4 with a triple and two stolen bases, and scored all four of the Athletics runs. No other Athletic had an RBI, only one run was Earned, and the rest of the Kansas City squad contributed 2 singles. Had Campaneris sat this one out, the A's lose 2-0 with two hits.
Campaneris went on to become a six-time All-Star in Kansas City and Oakland, and a three-time World Champion. He was one of the greatest leadoff hitters of all time, and (with a nod to Rickey) the second best leadoff hitter in Athletics history. He played 19 years, mostly with the Athletics, but also played three seasons with the Texas Rangers, three with the California Angels, and one with the New York Yankees.
He finished his career with more triples than home runs (86 to 79), and had 649 stolen bases. He was the cousin of journeyman outfielder Jose Cardenal. He led the league in hits in 1968, with 177, triples in 1965, with 12, and stolen bases in 1965, '66, '67, '68, '70 and '72. On September 8, 1965, he played all nine positions in one game, and pitched left-handed to right-handed hitters and right-handed to lefties.
Unfortunately, probably the moment he'll be remembered for occurred in the 1972 ALCS. In game 2, he was 3 for 3 with two runs scored, and hitting .429 against the Detroit Tigers. Manager Billy Martin ordered six-foot-six tall reliever Lerrin LaGrow to throw at Campaneris, who had been dominating the series so far. LaGrow hit Campaneris in the ankle, and Campy in a rage, threw his bat at LaGrow, who shrank from 6'6" to 3'6" in record time. Martin, who would manage Campaneris in Campy's last year in the majors, went after Campaneris, calling him a coward. Campaneris for his part said that he was just trying to scare LaGrow. "If I wanted to hit him, I'd have thrown the bat sidearm."
Campaneris, now 71 years old, lives in Scottsdale Arizona, still conducts baseball camps and plays in old-timers games. Had Rickey Henderson not come along, a single, stolen base and run scored on a sac fly might have been called a "Campy Rally".