1978 began with Rod Gilbreath as the starting third baseman sharing duties with 6 other players. That same year Arizona State second baseman Bob Horner was selected as the College baseball player of the year and was an all american for the second time. That season Horner hit 25 home runs for the Sun Devils giving him 56 lifetime, setting a school record. .
The Braves made Horner their number one pick in the 1978 free agent draft on June 8th and moved him over to third base. Only 8 days later Bob made his MLB debut and hit his first career home run off Pirates pitcher Bert Blyleven. In only 89 games the 20 year old Horner hit .266 with 17 doubles, 1 triple, 23 home runs, 63 RBI and scores 50 runs earning him the NL rookie of the year award.
In 1979 Horner battled ankle problems but still had a great year at the plate. In 121 games Bob hit .314 with 15 doubles, 1 triple, 33 home runs, 98 RBI and scored 66 runs. His .314 batting average was the fifth best in the National League. 1980 was very similar to 1979 for Horner. Injuries limited him to only 124 games but he was still able to hit .268 with 14 doubles, 1 triple, 35 home runs, 89 RBI and while scoring 81 times. Bob's 35 home runs ranked second in the National League behind Mike Schimdt of the Phillies who hit 48.
The 1981 season was cut short due to the player strike and Bob only played in 79 games hitting .277 with 10 doubles, 15 home runs, 42 RBI and scoring 42 runs.
In 1982 Joe Torre took over as the Braves manager and quickly named Bob team captain. That year Horner played in the most games of his career with 140. Hitting .261 with 24 doubles, 32 home runs, 97 RBI and scoring 85 runs Bob was selected to to the NL all star team and helped lead the Braves to the NL West championship. The Braves took on the Cardinals in the NLCS. In the series Horner struggled hitting only .091 with 1 hit with no RBI or runs scored. The Braves lost the series three games to none.
In 1983 Bob Horner was on his way to a career year. He was hitting .303 with 25 doubles, 1 triple, 20 home runs, 68 RBI and had scored 75 run in only 104 games. But On August 15th 1983 Bob broke his wrist and would miss the rest of the season. The Braves lineup suffers and the Dodgers edge the Braves by 3 games to win the division.
After only 32 games into the 1984 season Horner once again breaks his wrist and will miss the rest of the season. In those 32 games Horner had 8 doubles, 3 home runs, 19 RBI and scored 15 runs while hitting .274.
1985 began with a new manager for the Braves. Former Milwaukee Brave Eddie Haas took over for the fired Joe Torre. Horner decided a change was in order for him aswell switching his uniform number from 5 to 11 hoping to change his luck. Bob went on to play in 130 games, which was the second most of his career. Horner moved to first base after Ken Oberkfell took over third base duties. Oberkfell was aquired in 1984 to fill in for the then injured Horner only to suffer a similar wrist injury. The Braves struggled causing Haas to be fired and be temporarily replaced by Bobby Wine. Horner hit .267 with 25 doubles, 3 triples 27 home runs, 89 RBI and scoring 61 times.
1986 would be a personal best for Bob Horner when it came to games played, playing in a new career high 141. In those games Bob hit .273 with 22 doubles, 27 home runs, 87 RBI and scored 70 runs. The Braves under the command of new manager Chuck Tanner finished dead last in the division 23 and 1/2 games behind Houston.
At the end of the 1986 season Horner's contract with the Braves was through and while the Braves were interested in bringing him back Horner decided to move on. When no other MLB team offered him a contract to his liking Horner signed with the Yakult Swallows of the Japanese league. Horner would spend the entire 1987 season in Japan, but word was he clashed with Yakult's management because didn't enjoy the daily calisthenics.
In 1988 Bob signed a one year deal with the Cardinals where he hit .257 with 9 doubles, 1 triple, 3 home runs, 33 RBI and scored 15 runs. But after only 60 games Bob hurt his shoulder and would miss the rest of the season. The 1989 season rolled around and Horner still couldn't play due to his shoulder problems and on March 9th he announced his retirement at the age of 31.
In baseball there are a lot of "what ifs?" And one has to wonder What if Bob Horner hadn't had so many injuries? What kind of numbers could he have put up? I think he would have had a great shot at the 500 home run club. But as with the other "what ifs?" we will never know.
Bob Horner career Braves hitting stats ------------------------------------------- Games: 960 At Bats: 3,571 Hits: 994 Doubles: 160 Triples: 7 Home Runs: 215 RBI: 652 SB: 14 Runs: 545 Average: .278 Awards with Braves: ------------------------ 1978 NL Rookie of the year 1982 NL all star Bob Horner Career hitting stats: ------------------------------------ Games: 1020 At bats: 3777 Hits: 1047 Doubles: 169 Triples: 8 Home Runs: 218 RBI: 685 SB: 14 Runs: 560 Average: .277