A baseball player in the 1980s and 1990s, Vince Coleman was the only person ever to steal 100 bases in each of his first three seasons, the only player to blame a grass field for keeping him out of the Hall of Fame, the only player ever to throw a firecracker at fans, and the only player to ever be attacked by a tarp.

In short, he was a talented idiot.

Coleman came up with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985, which for him was the perfect situation. The Cards were a small-ball team, preferring to score runs on singles, stolen bases and sacrifice flies, not three-run home runs.

Coleman immediately went to the top of the lineup and was a terror on the basepaths. He stole 110 bases in his rookie season while only being caught 25 times, an excellent ratio, and won the National League Rookie of the Year award. Coleman followed that year with 107 steals in 1986 and 109 steals in 1987, but those totals could have been even higher had he gotten on base more often. Coleman never batted .300 in his career, and he never walked more than 70 times in a season. As a result, he only had two 100-run seasons in his career, which is quite low for someone as fast as Coleman.

The "tarp incident" came during his first season. During the 1985 NLCS, he was stretching in the field before a game when the automatic tarp-roller started going onto the field. Coleman didn't see it, and his leg got trapped for about 30 seconds, forcing him to miss the rest of the postseason. The Cardinals lost the World Series in seven games to the Kansas City Royals.

After the 1990 season, Coleman signed a free-agent deal with the New York Mets, and his three-year stay in the Big Apple was the low point of his career. He was constantly hurt (and blamed the poor Shea Stadium field for keeping him out of Cooperstown, a rather rash bit of hubris) and the high-priced team absolutely stunk, never finishing with a .500 or better record. Coleman also got into arguments with the team's coaches, accidentally injured pitcher Dwight Gooden while working on his golf swing in the clubhouse, and in the last straw for the Mets, inexplicably threw an M-80 at a group of fans at Dodger Stadium in 1993, injuring two children and one woman. He was sentenced to 200 hours of community service.

Coleman bounced around from team to team after his exile from New York, playing for the Royals, the Seattle Mariners, the Cincinnati Reds and the Detroit Tigers. He retired in 1997.

Coleman became eligible for the Hall of Fame for the 2003 voting cycle, and on January 7, 2003 it was announced that he received three votes out of a possible 496. He was thusly dropped from the ballot and is ineligible to be inducted by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

So, it seems Coleman was right about one thing ... he ain't going to the Hall of Fame.

Sources/additional information:
http://www.baseball-reference.com/c/colemvi01.shtml — Baseball-reference.com statistics.
http://ultimatemets.com/profile.php?PlayerCode=0450 — UltimateMets.com profile; some funny comments from angry New Yorkers.
http://www.pubdim.net/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/C/Coleman_Vince.stm — BaseballLibrary recap of Coleman's career.

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