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Retired baseball player, Graig Nettles, was born on August 20, 1944, in San Diego, California. Nettles was a third baseman and left-handed batter who played for the Minnesota Twins from 1967 to 1969, Cleveland Indians from 1970 to 1972, New York Yankees from 1973 to 1883, San Diego Padres from 1984 to 1986, Atlanta Braves in 1987 and Montreal Expos in 1988.
Graig Nettles was a home run-slugging third baseman with a good glove who played 22 years in the majors. Although thought by many to be a likely Hall of Famer partly because of the spectacular glovework he exhibited in some of the World Series games he appeared in, he got less than 10% of the vote in the years that the baseball writers voted on him.
Nettles broke in with the Minnesota Twins in 1967, and was part of the team that went from 7th in the American League in 1968 to first in the new AL Western Division in 1969. The 1969 team was managed by Billy Martin. Although Nettles showed promise at third base, he could not dislodge the Twins third baseman Harmon Killebrew, who hit 49 home runs that year.
Traded to the Cleveland Indians that winter in a major deal involving Dean Chance, Luis Tiant, and Stan Williams, Graig Nettles got a chance to play regularly from then on, and was rarely out of the lineup during the 1970s.
Nettles showed himself to be a home run hitter at a time when relatively few home runs were being hit. In 1971, his 28 home runs were good enough for 5th in the league, and in 1976 he led the league with 32 home runs. Although he hit over 30 home runs only twice in his career, he was among league leaders for home runs five times.
Moving to the New York Yankees in 1972 at the age of 28, he was to play with them for eleven years. He was a five-time All Star and two-time Gold Glove winner while playing with the Yanks. In 1977 and 1978, he finished 5th and then 6th in the MVP voting. He went to the World Series four times with them, winning twice. In the 1977 Series, he batted sixth or seventh in the lineup, while in the 1978 Series, he batted fifth or sixth in the lineup.
When he finally left the Yankees, Nettles moved to the first San Diego Padres team to go to the World Series, in 1984. He batted cleanup in the Series, behind Tony Gwynn and Steve Garvey.
Graig Nettles played three years with the Padres (named to the All-Star team in 1985), then closed out his career playing with the Atlanta Braves in 1987 at age 42, and with the Montreal Expos in 1988 at age 43.
It is no surprise that the most similar player to Nettles, using the similarity scores method, is Darrell Evans, another third baseman with a long career, a low batting average, copious home runs, and a good glove. Other third basemen that are seen as very similar to him by this method include Gary Gaetti, Ron Santo, Ron Cey, and Robin Ventura.
Graig Nettles was given the nickname of Puff by his teammates. "Puff" referred to the way Graig disappeared after playing a practical joke or starting trouble.
The brother of Jim Nettles, Graig Nettles managed and played alongside his brother for the St. Lucie Legends of the Senior Professional Baseball Association in 1989. He also played for the league's Bradenton Explorers. Nettles batted .301 and played in a total of 62 games; 10 for St. Lucie and 52 for Bradenton. His only experience of managing in the minor leagues was pretty disastrous however: he led the unaffiliated Bakersfield Blaze to a dreadful 39-101 record and last place in the 1996 California League. Nettles' son Jeff also played in the minors and currently plays for the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League.