Michael Lewis Vail (born November 10, 1951, in San Francisco, California) is a former Major League Baseball outfielder. He played from 1975-1984.
Vail was original drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1970 amateur draft, but did not sign. A year later, he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. On December 11, 1974, he was traded with Jack Heidemann to the New York Mets for Ted Martinez.
His first season in the Mets' organization, Vail won the 1975 International League Player of the Year award. He was called up to the majors by the New York Mets in August 1975 and got a hit in his first at bat against the Houston Astros. From there, he proceeded to set a modern Major League rookie record 23 game hit streak, which at the time was also the longest hitting streak in Mets' franchise history (both records have since been broken).
In the off-season, Vail was anointed the Mets' "player of the future," which prompted the Mets to trade star right fielder Rusty Staub to the Detroit Tigers to make room for Vail in their outfield.
Unfortunately, Vail dislocated his foot playing basketball in the off-season, and hit only .217 for the 1976 season. Though his average rose to .262 the following season, he was selected off waivers by the Cleveland Indians during 1978 Spring training. Staub, meanwhile, had three seasons hitting over 100 RBIs for Detroit.
Though he never lived up to his expectations, Vail still managed a respectable ten-year career that saw him hit .279 in 665 games, with batting averages of .335 and .333 during two of his seasons with the Cubs, and .298 during a third year with that team.
By Dean Hanley
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