Friday, February 29, 2008

By Eric Denton, Senior Writer


In 1986, the tenure of long-time All-Star first baseman Rod Carew came to an end and Angels fans finally had a home grown star to call their own.

Wallace Keith Joyner burst onto the scene and nearly won the 1986 Rookie of the Year Award. Joyner, with his free and easy left handed swing, put up some impressive numbers batting .290 with 22 home-runs and 100 RBI while the Angels as a team conquered the AL West for their third division title.

It wasn't only California Angels fans that embraced Joyner. Wally was just the second rookie ever voted in as a starter for an MLB All-Star Game (Vida Blue with the A's was the 1st), beating out the Yankees Don Mattingly, who'd driven in 145 runs and been named the American League MVP the year before. Joyner enjoyed the honor of batting third for the American League squad, which won the game, 3-2, at Houston's Astrodome.

Joyner also thrilled fans by tying New York Mets phenom Daryl Strawberry in the All-Star Home Run Derby.

Joyner followed up his rookie campaign with an even better season in 1987. His home run totals went up to 34 and he drove in 117 runs. Joyner continued to man first base for the Angels until the 1991 season, during which he had his last big year in the big leagues, hitting .301 with 21 homers and 96 RBI.

After the '91 season, Joyner left the Angels as a free agent for the Kansas City Royals. He also played for the San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves. But in 2001, Wally returned home to the then Anaheim Angels.

On June 14, 2001, Joyner played the final game of his career and retired from the game as an Angel. Joyner is now the batting coach for the San Diego Padres, but he will forever be one of ours in the hearts and minds of Angels fans.
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