Ron Gant Gets Cheated

Ron Gant found himself being cheated several times in his career. The most memorable took place in Game 1 of the 1991 World Series, when Minnesota’s Kent Hrbek physically shoved him off first base and tagged him out. In a close series that the Twins won in an extra-innings Game 7, the botched call on this play surely haunts Braves fans.

The next year a drunk bar patron kept bumping into Gant, cheating him out of a fun night out. That patron turned out to be the great grandson of Connie Mack, the longtime manager of the Philadelphia Athletics famous for wearing a full suit in the dugout for over 50 years (pictured below in his 1914 Cracker Jack card). Nobody likes a drunk, and the two found themselves fighting. Security at the venue separated the pair, with the baseball scion breaking his ankle during the process of being physically separated from Gant. Gant was sued but a jury found him not liable for any damages sought by Mack’s descendant.

Gant cheated himself in 1994, just after signing a record one-year contract that was set to pay him $5.5 million. In February he crashed a dirt bike and seriously injured his leg. The resulting compound fracture required the insertion of a steel rod and precluded him from playing any baseball that season. The Atlanta Braves exercised a clause in his contract that prohibited him from engaging in any activities that involve the substantial risk of personal injury. Ouch.

One more contentious issue arose for Gant to address in 2001. At this point he was nearing the end of his baseball career and was playing for the Moneyball-era Oakland Athletics. Miguel Tejada had become a flashpoint in the clubhouse after multiple players accused him of deliberately tipping pitches and misplaying balls in the field. The situation threatened to quickly spiral out of control. Manager Art Howe tried to address the team in Tejada’s defense but Jason Giambi and others spoke up in opposition. As tempers rose, it was the veteran Gant that reportedly stepped forward to ease the tension. He spoke to the room, essentially telling everyone to pull together as there was no proof of intentional misconduct while simultaneously warning Tejada to never give anyone even a hint of trouble. The team would go 45-11 through the remainder of the season.

There are fewer 30/30 seasons in baseball history than no-hitters. There are even fewer players with consecutive 30/30 seasons than there are pitchers with perfect games. When Ron Gant concluded his second season of 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in 1991 he was just the third to have done so. Only Barry Bonds and Willie Mays had done this before. Gant would go on to crack more than 300 home runs in his career.