Catching a UFO without even looking at it. Or dumbfoundedly playing catch with a rosin bag. I really don't know.
Why we like him: For the better part of my adult life, and everyone else's I know, the Yankees have always been a perennial powerhouse of a ballclub, contending for a World Series championship year after year. Despite popular belief, they continuously have a good mix of home-grown talent (Jeter, Rivera, Posada, Bernie, etc.) coupled with marquee free agent signings that only they could afford (A-Rod, Mussina, Teixeira, etc.). However, when I was a kid, the Yankees were anything but a contender.
During the better part of the late 80s and early 90s, the Yankees were a struggling mess. After the Bronx Zoo era of the late 70s and early 80s, the Yankees were hampered mainly by just bad luck. Their marquee hitters, Dave Winfield and the home-grown Don Mattingly, possibly my favorite player ever, were both extremely injury prone and not-so-proud owners of bad backs. The prospect line still seemed, on the surface, to be somewhate productive, churning out semi-promising youngsters Kevin Maas (who will definitely be on this blog at some point), Deion Sanders, Hensley Meulens, and Pat Kelly. And of course there was also Roberto Kelly.
In all honesty, Kelly was probably the most promising outfield prospect the Yanks had in their system during that era until Bernie Williams showed up. He played four full, pretty productive seasons in the Bronx until being traded at the end of the 1992 season to the Reds for Paul O'Neill, another one of my favorite players ever. After he left the Big Apple, he bounced around all over the league with stops in Cincinnati, Atlanta, Montreal, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Seattle, and Texas before winding up right back where he started with the Yankees in 2000. After failing to win a solid roster spot during the season, he was granted free agency after the 2000 season. He was then picked up by Colorado, but he retired before ever playing another game.
Kelly's final statline: 14 seasons, 8 teams, a semi-surprising .290 average, 124 homers, 585 RBI, 235 steals, and 2 All Star appearances ('92 and '93). Supposedly a guy who was destined to be a part of the Yankees' championship puzzle, he never really blossomed into the player scouts or fans thought he was going to be, and he never earned the opportunity to contribute for the World Series-winning Yankees teams of the late 1990s we all remember so well. Unless you count him being traded for Paul O'Neill, then he totally helped.
Ladies and gentlemen, Roberto Kelly, Ballplayer.