Franklin Pros to Remember: 1987
The 1987 MLB season was a year to remember for Franklin Pros Mike Schmidt and George Bell. The established Schmidt was nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career while chasing a legendary milestone and the up-and-coming Bell had something to prove entering his fifth year in Toronto.
Mike Schmidt was coming off his third N.L. MVP season in 1986, when he recorded a .290 batting average and a .547 slugging percentage while collecting 160 hits, 37 home runs and 119 RBIs in 160 games. Entering 1987, the 37-year-old Schmidt was a mere five home runs away from becoming the 14th member of the 500 home run club. It didn’t take long for Schmidt to reach the milestone, doing so in dramatic fashion.
On April 18, 1987, the Phillies trailed the Pirates 5 to 6 in the top of the ninth inning at Pittsburgh’s old Three River Stadium. Schmidt stepped into the batter’s box with two outs and two runners on base. The future Hall of Famer stared down Pirates closer Don Robinson before blasting his 500th home run over the left-field fence, giving the Phillies the lead and emphatically establishing himself in baseball’s history books. Schmidt was named to his 11th All-Star game in 1987, totaling 35 home runs and 113 RBIs in 147 games.
In 1987, George Bell was an up-and-comer for the Toronto Blue Jays. Winning back-to-back Silver Slugger awards in 1985 and 1986, Bell rounded out a dynamic outfield in Toronto and was destined for a breakout 1987 campaign.
The 27-year-old Dominican Republic native started the year off strong and was named to his first All-Star Game batting .298 and collecting 28 home runs and 73 RBIs through the team’s first 81 games. Bell continued his torrid start, finishing the season with a batting line of .308/.352/.605 and 188 hits, 47 home runs, 83 extra base hits and 134 RBIs in 156 games. The season earned him a third consecutive Silver Slugger award, plus A.L. MVP honors.
Not only did Mike Schmidt and George Bell impose fear in the eyes of opposing pitchers, they also shared a taste in batting gloves, wearing the 1987 Pro Classic in Pearl/Burgundy and Pearl/Royal, respectively. The 1987 Pro Classic design evolved into the current Franklin NEO CLASSIC® II batting glove, the preferred choice of the Indians’ shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and Angels’ power-hitter Mark Trumbo.
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