The Man of Two Teams
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 box score for an August 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 for both sides.
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 Ault 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.”
Dale Holman with The Crime Dog.
Holman went to Greenville, and within two weeks was promoted to AAA Richmond. He joined the club in Columbus, OH. The next day, the club returned home to Richmond where 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.
“I thought Dale was going to haunt us,” said Syracuse manager Doug Ault. “We just had too many outfielders then.”
“Turkey was just starting a baseball league and they were explaining the rules and used my story. I’m big in Turkey.”
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 in the opposition’s dugout.
“I didn’t know whose hand to shake,” he said when the game was resumed.
(Syracuse won the regularly scheduled game that day, 4-0, when two Chiefs pitchers combined for a seven-inning no-hitter. Holman also played in that game, but went 0-3.)
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, according to him, “I kinda lost my power.”
By 1986 Holman said he was a “journeyman” and “fourth outfielder” for Syracuse and realized his dream of making the major leagues wasn’t meant to be.
When he retired from playing, he became a roving instructor and also a coach in the Braves’ system, but after several seasons grew weary of the travel and retired from baseball altogether. He 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.
He donated a bat he used in the game (he’s not certain if he used it for Richmond or Syracuse, but is sure he used it with one of the clubs) to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. And the notoriety of playing for both sides in the same game has 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.”