Back in the mid-1980’s I saw a short clip about an outfielder in the Royals system who scouts were getting excited about. This was most likely just a puff piece and perhaps time filler but I didn’t know that at the time. If not for one comment, though, I probably wouldn’t have given the story a second thought. Someone I’d never heard of and whose name I can’t remember claimed Van Snider was the next Von Hayes, and I really liked Von Hayes. There were no blogs, twitter or Keith Law to tell me that this was a ridiculous claim.
Like Hayes, Snider was a left-handed hitter with pop and speed. In 1983, as a 19 year old for the Class A Charleston Royals, he hit .291/.355/.484 with 20 home runs, 26 stolen bases and 94 RBIs. He struggled in Double A the next two seasons but the third time was the charm in 1986 when he smacked 26 home runs while hitting .270/.337/.504 for the Memphis Chicks (this was likely the year the above mentioned puff piece aired). The warning signs were clearly there though as he only drew 48 walks and struck out a whopping 140 times. But no matter, someone claimed he was the next Von Hayes so that’s what I believed and I lived my life secure in the knowledge that the next Von Hayes was in the Royals system.
And then one day, he wasn’t.
On February 15, 1988* the Royals traded Snider to the Cincinnati Reds for a relief pitcher who had posted a 6.52 ERA the year before. The Reds GM at the time, Murray Clark, said this relief pitcher had no chance at making the club and there were younger pitchers they wanted to give shots to in Triple A. I was not happy Snider was traded for a guy whose former team simply had no use for. Fortunately for the Royals they didn’t need my approval when they acquired Jeff Montgomery. It worked out pretty well for them as Monty went on to accumulate 304 saves while making three All Star games (thanks in large part to the bust known as Mark Davis).
It worked out less well for Cincinnati. Snider only received 36 plate appearances as a Red and put up a paltry .200/.194/.314 line. His lone career home run came on September 21, 1998. It was a 3 run shot that helped deny Rick Reuschel his 20th win of the year. Though he continued to play pro ball through the 1995 season he was never given another shot in the big leagues. He still won at life though. According to his Wikipedia page, Snider has enjoyed a successful career as a police officer in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. Let’s see Von Hayes do that.
The Reds and Royals have been frequent trade partners over the years with Kansas City coming out on top the majority of the time. Besides Montgomery, they’ve also robbed the Reds of Hal McRae and Charlie Leibrandt. Most recently they received actual talent in exchange for Johnny Drama. I guess I’m just surprised Cincinnati hasn’t put Kansas City on any sort of call block.
*Editor’s note: Baseball Reference lists the trade as being a 2/15/88 deal. It’s also been reported as a 2/13/88 deal in some places. We’re comfortable sticking with B-R’s information.