LEFT BEHIND NO. 8: Mike Lum

Mike Lum.jpgLefthanded Hitting, Lefthanded Throwing Outfielder/1B
Seasons with Braves: 1967-75, 1979-81
Career Stats with Braves: 250/.321/.371, 74 HR, 365 RBI, 355 RS

Michael Ken-Wai Lum simply HAS to be on the 44, if only as a nod to his longevity. I must mention that Mike is from Honolulu, Hawaii, since that fact has been mentioned in only every single media reference I ever saw about him for 15 years or more. Ah, the exotic tropics. Blue Hawaii. Luau at Mike’s, y’all!

Anyway, Mike was the Braves fourth outfielder/backup first baseman forEVER. He was basically tattooed “Property of the Atlanta Braves” on his behind. Back then, pre-free agency, you sort of knew what your core team was going to be like next year, and it was very comforting to know you would have Mike on the bench.

Mike was a very solid player who had the misfortune to spend most of his prime years watching Rico Carty, Felipe Alou, and some guy in right play the outfield. Thus, he spent most of his youth watching, pinch-hitting or giving somebody a day off. In only two years in his career did he log more than 370 ABs, and he produced in both. In ’71, he had 454 ABs and produced a .269 line with 14 HR and 55 RBI; in ‘73, he finally cracked 500 ABs, and responded with his best ever: .294 with 26 doubles, 16 HRs and 82 RBI. I think it’s pretty evident that he could play the game, and just needed a fulltime gig to really blossom. He mostly just wasn’t better than the guys in front of him, who had names like Aaron and Cepeda and Carty and Alou and, later, Murphy and Evans.

Mike’s loyal years with the Braves made him 17th among Atlanta Braves in RBI, 20th in hits, and tied for 22d in HRs. According to the Baseball Encyclopedia, he had 103 pinch hits, good enough for 15th all-time: that’s not for the Braves, but for all of major league baseball. Given that he spent 12 seasons of his 15 with us, I can’t imagine that he’s not the all-time leader in pinch-hits for the Braves, though I don’t have a real capability to check that particular stat. Mac? For example, in 1979, he had 17 pinch-hits, first in the league.

Slow and steady wins the race, and it’s unthinkable to exclude this faithful Brave. He made real contributions for many, many years.

He wasn’t included because he was an outfielder who hit like a second baseman. Career slugging percentage of .371 in the Launching Pad?

Mike Lum Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com

17 thoughts on “LEFT BEHIND NO. 8: Mike Lum”

  1. That 1973 team…everybody hit, even Lum.

    The only other thing I remember about Lum is that he was a magician. I think WTCG ran some kind of rain-delay segment on that.

  2. Couldn’t Lum play center field? Good stuff. He had a couple of good years but I’m not sure if he is one of the top 44. Thanks again for the write up. Nice trip down memory lane.

  3. Dan, that’s because he’s probably a meteor hitting the Cards’ clubhouse from seeing the field…

  4. Mike Lum was the real Mr October , check out his 69 numbers vs the mets in the NLCS, Reggie who ?

  5. I saw Lum play for the ’76 Big Red Machine. I know he played centerfield because I watched him trade barbs with the fans between innings of the second game of a late-season double-header. a game he started and got two hits.

    “Lum. you bum.” some fool yelled. Mike just smiled. Probably in anticipation of those playoff checks.

  6. Lum’s claim to fame is pinch-hitting for Henry Aaron during a Braves blow-out win over the Mets. Not a great player, but how many hitters can say that?

  7. @10

    Crazy — I’m pretty sure I was at the same doubleheader. I don’t remember anything about it, other than I got to watch two games against the greatest team of my childhood.

  8. For those keeping score, my second post on Japanese players who might come over to MLB this year is up on my new blog – today’s subject is Hiroki Kuroda, a free agent from the Hiroshima Carp. The Cubs are one team rumored to be interested in his services. He basically profiles as a control pitcher with an averagish strike out rate — think Paul Byrd or Brad Radke. If anyone here has ever seen him pitch or knows a link to YouTube video of him, please let me know in the comments. Thanks.

  9. I remember that Big Red Machine team. I was in college in Memphis in 1976 but was able to pick up the Braves broadcasts from Nashville. I remember coming in from a class one evening, turning on the radio and hearing, “Bottom of the fourth, now, Reds 23 Braves 5.” Not all that unusual given the disparity between the teams. In later years, I used to wonder how the Braves of the 90s would have done against the Big Red Machine–obviously, the Braves with much better pitching and the Reds with much better hitting.

  10. Not only did he pinch hit for the Hammer, but was the only person to ever do so. About 15 years ago my parents bought some used furniture from the Lums and I actually went over to their house to help load it in the truck. Their house was really dirty. I would have thought that Mike Lum would have hired a maid – I guess not.

  11. As a Braves fan in the 1970s, I hated playing the Reds. They’d regularly beat us 13 or 14 out of 18 games. They just hammered us.

    The 1975-76 Reds remain the best team I’ve ever seen, with the 1998-99 Yanks a tiny bit behind.

    Those teams had a few things in common: 1) They seemed to win every other game by 7-2, 2) If they got behind early, their middle relief kept them in the game long enough to come back, which they often did, 3) Off-the-charts confidence.

    Different eras for sure, but relative to their eras they were unreal.

  12. I’m Mike Lum’s son and would like to know were he is living now days. I bet know one knew he had a son.

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