Outfielder Steve Stroughter, the most consistent hitter during Spokane’s unremarkable Pacific Coast League affiliation with the Seattle Mariners, has died in Fresno, California. He was 65.
A sweet-swinging lefty, Stroughter spent 13 seasons in professional baseball and retired in 1983 with a .304 average and 155 home runs. The Visalia, California, native originally signed with San Francisco after starring at College of the Sequoias.
Stroughter, who wore glasses on the field, joined Spokane midway through the 1979 season, batted .300 and led 1980 Indians regulars with 75 RBIs and a .307 average. After the 1981 season, in which he hit .282, Seattle gave him his only major-league opportunity in 1982. Used primarily as a pinch-hitter, he hit .170 in 47 at-bats.
Stroughter finished that season with Salt Lake City, hitting .333 as the Mariners affiliate, which had switched cities with the California Angels, put up the PCL Southern Division’s best second-half record.
His play in left field did not match his batting. Indians manager Rene Lachemann, who later managed Seattle, referred to him as “Stevie Wonder.” “Every time they hit the ball to him,” Lachemann once said, “you wonder what’s going to happen.”
Stroughter, the first African-American student body president at Visalia’s Redwood High School, is survived by his wife, Isabelle, a son and three granddaughters.