Road Runner Ralph Garr was a swift, high average hitter during the 1970s. The left-handed hitter won the National League batting title in 1974 and copped two triples titles over the course of his career. Not your stereotypical speedy slap-hitter, Ralph posted a handful of double-digit homerun seasons and three times eclipsed the 200 hit plateau. A former All-Star with the Braves, Garr was a two-sport star at Grambling State who Atlanta lured off the football field in the 1967 draft.
The Braves took Garr in the third round of the ’67 draft and Ralph signed with the club, leaving the football field behind. Fasttracked to the Majors, Road Runner made his debut with the 1968 Braves but only appeared in eleven late season games. Atlanta would give Garr brief looks again in 1969 and 1970 before giving him the left field post in ’71. Garr had a terrific first full season at the highest level. He set personal highs in runs scored (101) and base hits (219) while finishing as the runner-up in the NL batting race with a .343 batting average. Despite being a batting champion threat, Garr was a team player who led the National League in sacrifices.
The Road Runner followed up his breakout season with another second place finish in batting. Ralph hit .325 in 1972 and clubbed a personal best 12 homeruns. In 1973, his batting average fell below .300 (he hit .299) but he nevertheless tallied 200 hits (2nd in the NL) and scored 94 runs. Ralph also pilfered 35 bags and set his personal high with 32 doubles. But his best season came in 1974. Named to the National League All-Star Team, Ralph won the batting title with a .353 average. He was also atop the leader board in hits (214) and triples (17). The swift left fielder smacked eleven homeruns as he was one of the few players to post double-digit totals in every extra base hits department that season.
In 1975 Ralph paced the National League in triples again but his batting average fell to an un-Garr like .278. He only stole 14 bases and since he was nearing his thirtieth birthday, about the time most speedsters start to slow up, the Braves traded him to the White Sox for Dick Ruthven and Ken Henderson. The Road Runner rebounded with the Pale Hose in 1976 and posted yet another .300 season his first year in the American League. He would hit an even .300 again in 1977 while finishing second in fielding percentage among left fielders. This was uncommon for Garr, who, although speedy, wasn’t noted for defensive prowess.
In 1978 Ralph failed to reach double-digits in stolen bases for the first time since he was named a starter. He hit .280 for the White Sox in 1979 but they sold his contract to the Angels at the end of the season. The Road Runner only played in 21 games for California in 1980–his last Major League action.
G 1,317/R 717/H 1,562/2B 212/3B 64/HR 75/RBI 408/SB 172/BB 246/SO 445/BA .306/OBP .339/SA .416