Dale Long is known mostly for two things in the game of baseball.
He homered in eight consecutive games for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1956 - a record that stood until Don Mattingly tied it in 1987 and Ken Griffey Jr. followed suit in 1993; and he played two games behind the dish as a left-handed throwing catcher - a rarity in the big leagues (here's a list of the 28 players who have done so).
But there's more to the story for the 1953 Pacific Coast League MVP who led the league in home runs (35) and RBIs (116) that season while playing for the league champion Hollywood Stars.
The 6-4, 210-pound left-handed hitter had three successive twenty home run seasons from 1956-'58. He was a 1956 NL All-Star while playing for the Pirates, clubbing 27 home runs for the Bucs that season. The year before that, he tied Willie Mays for the league lead in triples with 13.
Long, who mostly played first base, played more than 1,000 career major league games with the Pirates, St. Louis Browns, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees and Washington Senators between 1951-'63, hitting .267./341/464 with 132 home runs and 467 runs batted in. He also logged more than 1,000 games in the minor leagues.
According to this blog, Long's grandson says Casey Stengel, who was the manager of the Yankees in 1960 when Long played for them, told Long he had three jobs with the Yankees - substitute at first base, be used an a pinch-hitter and accompany Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford when they went out at night to keep them out of trouble.
In another blog post, Bob Kholos (who passed away in 2010) recalled his days frequenting Gilmore Field to watch his beloved Hollywood Stars: "Dale Long, Lee Walls, Bill Mazeroski, R.C. Stevens, were my hero's [sic], and I could watch them close-up. Dale Long later broke Lou Gehrig's record of consecutive game home runs for the Pirates ..."
After Long's playing career, he went on to become a minor league umpire for five seasons as well as a field representative for the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (the governing body of MiLB).
Long died in 1991 at the age of 64 after a long bout with cancer.
Did you grow up watching Long play? If so, I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments.