Jerry Hairston Jr.
#15 / Right Field / Cincinnati Reds
May 29, 1976
- Jerry Wayne Hairston, Jr. was born in Naperville, IL (though Baseball Reference says he was born in Des Moines, IA). He is the son of Jerry Hairston, and grandson of Sam Hairston, both major leaguers. Grandfather Sam was the first African-American to play for the White Sox. Jerry, Jr. is the first third-generation African-American major leaguer.
- The Hairston family is the biggest baseball family ever. Jerry's uncle Johnny and his brother Scott also are major leaguers, making five Hairstons to play professionally at the highest level. The other three generation baseball familys - the Boones (Ray, Bob, Bret, and Aaron) and the Bells (Gus, Buddy, David, and Matt) - each had four members, as well as Reds connections. Sam Hairston played in the Negro Leagues, making Jerry and his brother Scott the last direct links to that era.
- Drafted in the 42nd round of the 1995 draft by the Baltimore Orioles, but did not sign.
- Hairston played for Southern Illinois University (most notable baseball alumnus: Steve Finley). He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 11th round of the 1997 draft. In that draft, the Reds selected Brandon Larson in the first round, two picks ahead of Lance Berkman.
- Jerry worked his way quickly through the Orioles system and was a September call-up in 1998. He got no hits and was mostly used as a pinch runner. In 1999 and 2000, he played the second half of both seasons as the starting second baseman, and 2001 he was the full-time second baseman.
- Hairston proved to be injury-prone which stymied his career. In 2003 he missed 95 games due to a right foot injury, and in 2004 he missed 28 games with a finger injury and 44 games due to a fractured left ankle. He would go on to miss time throughout his career with left elbow injuries, knee injuries, a pinched nerve, back pain, a fractured left thumb, and hamstring injuries.
- After his foot injury in 2003 opened the door to Brian Roberts to take over second base, Hairston was pushed into a DH role, and played every position in the outfield. It was the birth of his career as a utility man.
- Before the 2005 season, Hairston was traded by the Orioles to the Cubs along with Mike Fontenot and Dave Crouthers for Sammy Sosa.
- In Chicago, Hairston played for Dusty Baker and split time at 2B and CF with one-time Reds Todd Walker and Corey Patterson. He again struggled with injuries and his offense, which was never strong, seemed to vanish. After putting up a .207 avg and .253 OBP for the Cubs in the beginning of 2006, he was traded to the Rangers for Phil Nevin. In Texas, Hairston played mostly in the outfield, but also saw his first playing time at shortstop.
- After the 2007 season, the Rangers granted Hairston free agency, and he the Reds signed him and Corey Patterson to minor league contracts on the same day. The reaction on Red Reporter was... not good. Most of the bile was directed at Patterson with Hairston largely being dismissed. Most people didn't give him a chance to make the team.
- And he didn't. Hairston started the season at AAA Louisville, but was called up on April 21, 2008. By that time Patterson had begun to struggle as the leadoff hitter, so in his first start with Cincinnati, Hairston played CF and (naturally) batted leadoff. He ended up going 4-5 that night in a surprising start to a surprising season. It also happened on 80's Night, my favorite game thread from last year.
- Due to injuries to Alex Gonzalez, Jeff Keppinger, and Jolbert Cabrera (?), Hairston played nearly half of his games at shortstop. His biggest use was as a utility player, since he also saw time at second base, third base, right field, center field, and left field. He also did an excellent job in the 44 games he was the leadoff batter, hitting .362 with a .427 OBP (a .964 OPS). He hit five home runs, stole 9 bases (only getting caught once) and had an impressive 19 walks to 18 Ks in the first position.
- 2008 was far and away Hairston's best season. He hit six home runs (most since 2001), hit .326 with a .384 OBP, stole 15 bases while only getting caught 3 times. His OPS+ was 124, easily the highest of his career. He might have been the Reds most valuable player if he'd managed to play more than 80 games. The next season is a true question mark for Hairston. Where will he play? Will he stay healthy? Will he revert to career norms or were his numbers depressed because he tried to come back too early from injuries?
- Jerry Hairston, Jr. has one of the most popular but inscrutable nicknames on Red Reporter: Cherry Hudson, Jr. It comes to us courtesy of an illiterate little girl. It's also really fun to sing his name along to this ditty.
- Hairston has been linked to steroid use. He was named in the Mitchell Report and allegedly received Genotropin, human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) and Clomiphene Citrate in 2004. Hairston denied the allegations, saying, "Not one time have I taken steroids or anything like that. [ . . . ] I would never do anything like that to jeopardize my career or my family's name."
Drafted/Signed: Drafted in the 42nd round of the 1995 amateur draft by the Baltimore Orioles. Did not sign. Drafted in the 11th round of the 1997 amateur draft by the Baltimore Orioles.
Signed by Scout: Fred Petersen
Traded: With Mike Fontenot and Dave Crouthers to the Chicago Cubs for Sammy Sosa and cash, Feb. 2, 2005.
Traded: To the Texas Rangers for Phil Nevin and cash, May 31, 2006.
Signed as a Free Agent: With the Texas Rangers, Jan. 5, 2007.
Signed as a Free Agent: With the Cincinnati Reds, Mar. 3, 2008.
Signed as a Free Agent: With the Cincinnati Reds, Jan. 7, 2009.
GM When Acquired By Reds: Wayne Krivsky
MLB Service Time (as of Opening Day 2009): 8.138 years
Current contract status: 1 year, $2 million. Performance bonuses up to $2 million.
|Jerry Hairston, Jr.
(via the Baseball Cube)
RR Projected Wins Above Replacement: 0.76
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