Nathan Colbert Jr. (born April 9, 1946 in St. Louis, Missouri), is a former American Major League Baseball player who was a first baseman with the Houston Astros (1966, 1968), San Diego Padres (1969–74), Detroit Tigers (1975), Montreal Expos (1975–76) and Oakland Athletics (1976).
Signed by his hometown St. Louis Cardinals as an amateur free agent in 1964, Colbert saw some action with the Houston Astros in 1966 and 1968 before being selected by the Padres in the December 1968 expansion draft. In 1969, the Padres' inaugural season, and his first full season in the big leagues, Colbert hit 24 homers, which led the club in home runs, and drove in 66 runs while batting .255. He was a National League All-Star from 1971 to 1973. Colbert's best day in the majors was August 1, 1972, when he slammed 5 home runs - one of two players to have done so, Stan Musial being the other in 1954 - and drove in 13 runs in a doubleheader, breaking Stan Musial's record of 11 runs batted in. Coincidentally, a young Nate had attended the game where Stan originally set the record. This helped the Padres sweep the Atlanta Braves, 9-0 and 11-7.
Colbert's .508 slugging percentage, 87 runs, 286 total bases, 38 home runs, 111 RBIs, 70 walks, 67 extra-base hits, 14 intentional walks and 14.8 at bats per home run helped him finish eighth in voting for the NL MVP in 1972. He finished second only to the Cincinnati Reds' Johnny Bench (40) in home runs that year. His 111 RBIs also set a record that still stands for driving in the highest percentage of his team's runs. Throughout his career with the Padres from 1969 to 1974, he often was the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal San Diego lineup. After hitting .207 in 1974, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers in a three-way deal. Colbert also played for the Montreal Expos in parts of 1975 and 1976, but spent much of 1976 in the minor leagues before resurfacing very briefly with the Oakland Athletics at the end of the season. He attended spring training with the expansion Toronto Blue Jays in 1977, but back problems forced his retirement at 30.
Colbert played on nine consecutive last-place teams, from 1968–1976. Only the teams at the very start and end of Colbert's career escaped the cellar: Colbert went 0-for-7 for the 1966 Houston Astros (who finished 8th in a 10-team league), and 0-for-5 for the 1976 Oakland A's (who finished second in their division.) In 1975, Colbert played for two last place teams: Detroit and Montreal.
Colbert was the first real star for the Padres, and remains the San Diego Padres all-time home run leader with 163. He was inducted as part of the inaugural class of the San Diego Padres Hall of Fame in 1999.
- ^ "Padres Hall of Fame". padres.mlb.com. Archived from the original on September 6, 2014.
By Dean Hanley
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