How in the world did Dave LaPoint and Ryde Rodriguez end up together?
Recently, I posted a series of photos and a recap of the St. Louis Cardinals Legends Camp, held in Jupiter, Fla. two weeks ago. One of the 21 former Cardinals who came back together for fun with each other and with the fans who paid for the opportunity to take the field with them was LaPoint.
The now-52-year-old pitched for the Cards from 1981-1984 and again for a half-season in 1987. LaPoint first arrived from Milwaukee in the Ted Simmons deal and departed for San Francisco as part of the cost of acquiring Jack Clark, both mega-trades engineered by Whitey Herzog.
In between, at the age of 22, the left-hander threw 8 1/3 innings in the 1982 World Series, allowing just three runs. Overall, LaPoint went 35-23 with a 3.90 ERA in his five years with St. Louis and pitched a dozen seasons in the majors with nine different clubs.
Back in 2006-2007, Rodriguez, a mysterious Cuban, passed through Argentina, Nicaragua and then the Dominican Republic before signing with the Cardinals. His bonus of $460,000 was the highest paid by the organization for an international signing to that date and is still the fifth-largest in team history (link to subscriber-only article with details).
At 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds, the outfielder has the chiseled look of an athlete, but could not put it together on the diamond. Rodriguez advanced only as far as A-Advanced Palm Beach before his release last May. He played in 259 games over four seasons as a Cardinal with a line of .276/.317/.374/.691. His long awaited power never developed.
Last July, Rodriguez signed a contract and joined LaPoint, manager of the Rockland (County NY) Boulders of the independent CanAm League. The right-handed hitter, now 24 years of age, batted .267 in 56 games and slugged .393. Rodriguez is on the club’s 2012 roster as well.
LaPoint, a native of Glens Falls, NY, is entering his 11th season coaching or managing in independent ball. From 2002-2005, he served the pitching coach for the Long Island Ducks, and then went on to manage the Bridgeport Bluefish, both in the Atlantic League. LaPoint returned to Long Island in 2007 as manager and also served in that role in 2009-2010. In between, he was the club’s pitching coach in 2008.
Last season, LaPoint became the Boulders’ first manager, leading them to a 40-52 seventh-place finish in their inaugural campaign. The club recently announced he is coming back for 2012.
Here is hoping both LaPoint and Rodriguez find what they are looking for while in a place far from St. Louis and Cuba.