I was genuinely happy when the Dodgers acquired Ken Landreaux in a trade with the Twins for Mickey Hatcher, who would return to play for the 88 team, and two minor leaguers. He was a solid defender who could steal some bags and hammer an occasional homer.
Ken would end up playing 7 years in Los Angeles. Landreaux was born in LA on December 22, 1954. Landreaux went to Dominguez high. When he graduated, he was selected by the Houston Astros in the 8th round of the 1973 draft.
He chose to go to Arizona State instead and played on the 75 and 76 teams which went to the college World Series. His teammates included future major leaguers, Floyd Bannister, Bob Horner and Chris Bando. Landreaux was chosen by the Angels in the first round of the 1976 draft.
He played 21 games at AA El Paso of the Texas League and hit .220. In 77, he started the year at El Paso and put up a .354/16/59 line in 62 games. Promoted to AAA Salt Lake, in 62 games he was .359/11/57 for an overall minor league total of .357/27/116.
That earned him a September promotion to the Angels. In his first start on September 11th, he had three outfield assists against the White Sox. In 23 games he hit .250.
In 1978, he was in 93 games hitting .223 with 5 homers and 23 runs driven in. That winter he was part of a blockbuster trade with the Twins that sent him, Dave Engel, Paul Hartzell and Brad Havens to the Twins for Rod Carew.
In 1979, he had a 31 game hitting streak, the longest in the AL since Dom DiMaggio’s 34 game streak in 1949. He still holds the record for the longest streak in Twins history. He hit .305 with 15 homers and 83 RBI’s.
He tailed off some in 1980. Hitting .281 with 7 homers and 62 driven in. He only played in 129 games as compared to 151 the prior year.
On March 30th, 1981, he was traded to the Dodgers for Mickey Hatcher, Kelly Snider and Matt Reeves. Ken would play in 99 of the Dodgers games that strike shortened season. He hit .251 with 7 homers and 41 RBI’s. Although he did not hit well in the playoffs, he played in 15 games. He only managed 6 hits, 3 of which were doubles.
He improved to .284/7/50 in 82. But the Dodgers fell short of making a playoff berth. His BA fell to .281 in 83, but his power numbers improved significantly to 17 homers and 55 driven in. He stole 30 bases, marking the second year of 30 or more. He played in 141 games. LA made the playoffs, but were beaten in the NLCS by the Phillies in four games. Landreaux again did not hit well.
He and most of the Dodgers had a down year in 84. The Dodgers were under .500 and fell to fourth place. Landreaux dropped to a .251 average and had 11 homers and 47 driven in.
He and the Dodgers fared much better in 1985. Ken would rebound to hit .268/12/50. The Dodgers won the West, but then fell to the Cardinals in five games in the NLCS. Landreaux hit well in the series going 7-18 with three doubles and a pair driven in. But Jack Clark ended their pennant aspirations with his mammoth homer at Dodger Stadium.
Over the next two seasons, Landreaux was basically a fourth outfielder for the Dodgers. He played 103 games in 86, and 115 in 87. He hit 10 total homers those last two years. After a .203/6/23 showing in 87, the Dodgers granted him free agency.
He caught on with the Orioles AAA team and hit .272. In 1989, he was with the Dodgers AAA team in Albuquerque, he hit .243 in 56 games and was released. He then went to Mexico for the rest of 89 and then retired at the age of 34.
After his playing days were over, He had substance abuse problems. After he got sober, he was a counselor at Bellwood Health Center in Bellflower.
He and Darrell Jackson, a former teammate, formed the Athletic Connection Team to help athletes with substance abuse problems.
Landreaux now spends time teaching young players at the Urban Youth Academy in Compton. He returned to Arizona State in 2012 and earned his Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree in 2014.
I saw Ken play several times while he was in LA. I met him by the batting cage behind the bullpen in left field in 1981. We had a nice conversation for about 5 minutes. He signed my ball for me the night I sang the Anthem. Nice guy, very good ball player.