|Born: September 7, 1946|
|April 11, 1967, for the Kansas City Athletics|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 3, 1982, for the Oakland Athletics|
|Runs batted in||810|
|Career highlights and awards|
Joseph Oden Rudi (born September 7, 1946) is an American former professional baseball player. He played in Major League Baseball as a left fielder between 1967 and 1982, most notably as an integral member of the Oakland Athletics dynasty that won three consecutive World Series championships between 1972 and 1974. A three-time All-Star, Rudi excelled as an offensive and as a defensive player, winning 3 Gold Glove Awards and was the 1972 American League leader in hits with 181. He also played for the California Angels and the Boston Red Sox.
Rudi was born in Modesto, California. He graduated from Thomas Downey High School in Modesto, California. He batted a career-high .309 in 1970 and led the American League a career-high 181 hits in 1972. That year, he helped the Athletics win the World Series and made a great game-saving catch in Game 2 that went on to become part of the highlight reel for many Major League Baseball films. With Tony Pérez on first and Oakland leading 2-0 in the ninth inning, Rudi raced to the left-field fence and made a leaping, backhanded catch of Denis Menke's smash to save a run. Earlier in the game, Rudi hit a solo home run. He also caught Pete Rose's fly ball for the final out of the Series.
In 1974 he had a career best 22 home runs and 99 runs batted in and hit a home run in Game 5 of the 1974 World Series off Mike Marshall that would turn out to be the game winner and Series clincher. Rudi's Athletics became the first team since the 1949–1953 New York Yankees to win 3 straight World Championships.
In 1975, he was elected by the fans as a starter in the All-Star Game as an outfielder, where he joined four other Oakland A's in the American League starting lineup. He also played some first base for the A's in 1975.
With baseball entering the free agency era, A's owner Charlie Finley attempted to sell Rudi and pitcher Rollie Fingers to the Boston Red Sox for $1 million each at the MLB trade deadline on June 15, 1976, rather than trading them (as he had done with Reggie Jackson and Ken Holtzman the year before) or risking losing them in free agency. Rudi actually reported to the Red Sox and was issued a uniform, but never was permitted to play, as baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn voided the transaction as not being in the best interests of baseball. Rudi later played for Boston in 1981.
Rudi, along with Don Baylor, ended up leaving the A's as a free agent and signed with the California Angels for the 1977 season. However, Rudi's tenure with the Angels was mostly injury-plagued, even though he posted respectable home run and RBI totals in his four seasons. His best year with the Angels was 1978, when he played in 133 games and hit .256 with 17 home runs and 79 RBI's. He missed the Angels' 1979 post-season run with injury. After the 1980 season, Rudi was traded by the Angels along with Frank Tanana to the Red Sox for Fred Lynn. After one injury-filled season, he closed his career back with the A's in 1982 and hit a home run in his last professional at-bat.
In a sixteen-year major league career, Rudi played in 1,547 games, compiling a .264 batting average (1,468-for-5,556) with 684 runs scored, 287 doubles, 39 triples, 179 home runs, 810 RBI and 369 walks. His on-base percentage was .311 and slugging percentage was .427. Strong defensively, he recorded a career .991 fielding percentage at all three outfield positions. In 38 post-season games, covering five American League Championship Series and three World Series from 1971-75, he handled 124 total chances (120 putouts, 4 assists) without an error.