Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wally World Is Open Again, and a Big Hit

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wally World Is Open Again, and a Big Hit

Article excerpt

The line is already forming at the new Wally World.

Ten years after creating a major buzz in the first few months of his rookie season, Wally Joyner is drawing raves again.

Back in 1986, all the excitement was over home runs and RBIs. Now, the noise that's so sweet to the San Diego Padres is the ball slapping into Joyner's mitt at first base.

Gold Glove third baseman Ken Caminiti, whose strong arm misfired often last year, anticipates fewer errors with Joyner at first. Jody Reed, one of the best second basemen around, likes Joyner's range.

In the 2 1/2 seasons since Fred McGriff was jettisoned, the Padres' paraded out the mostly anonymous cast of Guillermo Velasquez, Dave Staton, Tim Hyers, Eddie Williams and Scott Livingstone to first base.

The Padres are giving Joyner $6.25 million for the next two years to solidify the position. The club holds an option for $3.75 million in 1998, or a $1 million buyout.

"The enjoyment that I have is how excited they are to have me," said Joyner, 33, who joined the Padres Dec. 21 in a deal that sent Bip Roberts to the Kansas City Royals. "Regardless of how long you've played and what you've accomplished or what you haven't accomplished, it's always good to be wanted somewhere."

Joyner was one of baseball's biggest stories the first couple months of 1986, when as a rookie he replaced Hall of Famer Rod Carew at first base for the California Angels.

The left-hander was hitting .313 with 20 homers and 72 RBIs at the All-Star break. Anaheim Stadium, just a few miles from Disneyland, became known as "Wally World."

"It was very flattering and it was a lot of fun," said Joyner, who finished with 22 homers, 100 RBIs and a .290 average. He was runnerup to AL Rookie of the Year Jose Canseco.

The next year, he hit 34 homers and drove in 117 runs. But Wally World got quieter and quieter as his power numbers tailed off.

Joyner eventually left the Angels for Kansas City, where he played four productive seasons. He hit .311 in strike-interrupted 1994 and .310 last year, his best big-league averages. He had 12 homers and 83 RBIs last year.

Since his option year automatically kicked in at 500 plate appearances, the Royals were obligated to keep Joyner for 1996 at $5 million. …

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