Historic Cougs: Ron Cey

After one season at WSU spent 17 years in MLB

BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor

Chuck Brayton coached WSU baseball for a great deal of time, and one of the players he coached he dubbed “The Penguin.” Ron Cey, the man deserving of the black-and-white nickname, spent just two years at WSU, but played great in Pullman and had a long professional career. 

A 1982 WSU Hall of Fame inductee, Cey played for the Cougs varsity team in 1968, being the team’s leading batter in a 29-9 season. While playing in Pullman, the Evergreen reported that he turned down $40,000 to play out of high school, although saying that he would be worth more than that one day. 

“[He] may cost the moguls of baseball a heckuva lot more than that one of these days,” the Evergreen reporter said.

 Brayton said in 1968 that at the collegiate level, he is much better than the average third-baseman and is poised to make an impact, especially when pulling the ball. 

“[Pulling to left field], it’s a good bet it will be out of our park,” he said

Cey indeed did make an impact at the MLB level, but first had a great one-season tenure in the crimson and gray. Hitting to the tune of a .362 with eight home runs and 33 RBI. He was named to the All-Pac-8 second team. 

After his successful varsity season, the Los Angeles Dodgers selected him in the third round in the second phase of the 1968 MLB June Draft, thus beginning his professional career. After three seasons in the minors, he became the 13,165th player in MLB history to make his debut. 

In the first two seasons of being called up, he played in just 13 total games before getting a real shot in 1973 and given 152 games to make a statement, he tried to do just that. Hitting .245 with 15 HR and 80 RBIs, he finished sixth in that year’s Rookie of the Year voting. 

Next up was the best stretch of his career, six straight years being named to the All-Star team and receiving MVP votes in four straight seasons. During the stretch of 1974–79, he slashed a .269 average/.370 on-base percentage/ .454 slugging, which accounted for a 130 OPS+, meaning he was 30% better than the average hitter. 

His counting stats looked good, too, as he had 873 hits, 147 HR, 553 RBIs and 141 doubles during that stretch. 

While that was his most successful personal stretch, the biggest triumph of his time in Dodger blue was the 1981 season. After falling short of their Championship aspirations several times before, the team figured it out to win it all in that season. 

Not shying away from the moment, Cey was named one of the Co-MVPs of the series for his .350 batting average, one HR and six RBIs. 

After spending one more season with the Dodgers post-World Series, Cey moved on to play four years with the Chicago Cubs and one season with the Oakland Athletics before calling it a career. 

Finishing his career tallying up 53.8 WAR with 316 HR, 1139 RBIs, 1868 hits and a 121 OPS+, Cey did not make the MLB Hall of Fame, but rather the more theoretical Hall of Very Good.