THE .400 YEAR OF THE “HIT CAT”

  How does a player have .405 batting average, 41 doubles, 31 home runs, and 90 RBI and get little recognition for one of the best single seasons in MWBL history. Although a few players in the MWBL have hit over .400 in the season, seldom remember that Reggie “Hit Cat” Jefferson ever played in the league, let alone put up the numbers as he did in 1997.

“He was a machine,” said Quest teammate Trevor Hoffman. “No matter what adjustments were made or how much video they watched, Jefferson simply was not an out that was going to be made. I’m not sure what happened the next season, but to this day I consider Jefferson the best hitter I have ever seen.”

The Quest were not a good team in 1997, but not a bad one either. They finished 83-79 on the season and actually had winning records the next three seasons.

Many fans of the old ballpark in Pasadena remember and still talk about Jefferson’s quite season in 1997. “The man collected 163 hits that year and only played in 117 games,” said one long time season ticket holder. The way Jefferson hit in the second half of the 97 season, many thought he was going to lead Pasadena to World Series the coming year. However after battling with management about his contract and his lackluster performance in the field, Jefferson, despite outcry from the fans, was traded in 1998 to Tacoma.

After the trade Jefferson was really never given another chance. He never again equaled or for that matter, came anywhere close to the numbers he posted in 1997. He finished his three year career in the MWBL with a career .341 average and 54 home runs.

On February 7, 2000, Reggie Jefferson decided to play baseball in the Pacific and become part of the Seibu Lions. He spent a long couple of months in Japan, where he was a first baseman for the Lions. “It was difficult,” says Jefferson, who hit .260 with 10 homers and 48 RBIs. “When I left for Japan, I thought of the things I would have to struggle with. The one thing I forgot was television — that there’d be nothing to watch.” Jefferson spent his non-baseball hours watching video after video after video. His wife, Kay, and three children came for half the season, and helped ease the strain of living far from home. “The adjustment was unbelievable,” he says. “The food, the lifestyle. I’m a 6-4 black man standing in a market. People look.”

The Quest have placed a plaque in their new stadium commemorating Jefferson’s 1997 season. As to why Jefferson never got another chance to start in MWBL, I guess that will never be known.

 

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