Leap Day major-leaguer played in Midwest League

Today being Leap Day prompted me to check how many major-leaguers were born on February 29. According to the invaluable Baseball-Reference.com, a dozen players fit the bill. (See the list here.) Further checking revealed that only one of the 12 Leap Day major-leaguers played in the Midwest League.

Al Autry, a right-handed pitcher who made only one major-league appearance (more on that later), made three starts for the Waterloo Royals in 1970, and three more starts for Waterloo in 1971. Although those are small sample sizes when viewed through the lens of an entire season, I’m only concerned with Autry’s Midwest League statistics here, and note that the two sets of three starts yielded very different results.

In his 1970 starts, Autry earned a win and struck out 15 batters in 11 innings, but posted a 4.91 ERA and walked 10. His 1971 starts yielded better results, although he was hung with two losses to go along with another Midwest League win. Autry posted a more-impressive 0.90 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 12 walks in 20 innings.

Autry spent 10 seasons in the minor leagues, including six in Triple-A. His cup of coffee in the majors came on Sept. 14, 1976, making the start for the Atlanta Braves in the second game of a doubleheader. He got the win despite giving up three earned runs on four hits and three walks in five innings. He struck out three batters and went 0-for-2 at the plate.

Autry’s battery mate was Dale Murphy, who went on to become a Gold Glove-winning outfielder (and two-time National League MVP winner) for the Braves. Murphy reached the majors as a backstop and made his MLB debut the day before catching Autry’s lone MLB game. He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in the Autry game.

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