This Ballplayer Played for Both Teams in One Game
There is only one baseball player named Dale Holman, an outfielder who played for several minor league seasons in the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays systems.
The boxscore for an Aug. 16, 1986 game between the Syracuse Chiefs and the Richmond Braves of the AAA International League shows that a Dale Holman played for both sides and got hits.
But there is still only one Dale Holman.
Thanks to a quirk of nature and the vagaries of baseball, Holman played for each side in that game nearly 34 years ago, even though it started in June and ended two months later.
“That game in June was the last game of a road trip,” said Holman. “I got a double to drive in two runs, and then the rains came in the fourth inning and the game was halted.”
About two weeks later, Holman, who’d been in the minors for seven seasons, learned from his manager Doug Alt that with two younger outfielders coming off the disabled list he was being released.
“I sat in my hotel room in Syracuse making phone calls trying to find a club that would take me,” said Holman. “The Braves called and said there was an opening at their AA club in Greenville, South Carolina. I didn’t want to go back to AA, but they said I’d get promoted soon.”
Holman traded, but had to finish what he started
Holman went to Greenville, and within two weeks was promoted to Richmond. He joined the club in Columbus, Ohio. The next day, the club returned to Richmond. The team’s first game was to complete the contest against Syracuse that had been postponed.
“I had completely forgotten about it,” said Holman. “but several of my Braves teammates remembered I had played for Syracuse and said, 'You gotta get in there!'”
While playing with Richmond, he had two hits against the Chiefs. Depending on how you look at it, he either went 3 for 3 for “the game” as a whole, or he went 1-1 for Syracuse and 2-2 for Richmond.
Syracuse went on to win the suspended game, 9-0. And because Holman had knocked in Syracuse’s first run, he was credited with the the game-winning hit, even though he finished the game playing for the losing squad.
It was an odd moment for Holman, who had played three seasons with Syracuse and had made many friends on the team, but was now playing against them.
“I didn’t know whose hand to shake,” he said when the game was resumed.
A native of Monroeville, La., Holman played baseball at Louisiana Tech University, and in 1978 was drafted in the sixth round by the Dodgers. In his second full season in the Dodgers’ system, he batted .344 for their AA club, finishing second in the league in hitting. But he then had surgery “and I kinda lost my power.”
Playing for both sides made Holman a sort of celebrity
By 1986 Holman said he was a “journeyman” and “fourth outfielder” for Syracuse and realized his dream of making the major leagues wasn’t going to happen.
When he stopped playing, he became a roving instructor and and also a coach in the Braves’ system, but after several seasons grew weary of the travel and retired. He now works in the insurance industry as a claims investigator.
The day the game “ended,” a staff person for the Richmond club called USA Today about Holman and the paper published a front-page story on its sports section.
A bat he used in the game (he’s not certain if he used it for Richamond or Syracuse, but is sure he used for one of the clubs) is in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. And the noteriety of playing for both sides in the same game kept coming up,
“One time I Googled myself to see where the story appeared,” he said several years ago, “and a paper in Ankara, Turkey had published it. Turkey was just starting a baseball league and they were explaining the rules and used my story. I’m big in Turkey.”