Paul Dade, right, congratulates Gary Alexander, whose homer had just won the game for the Indians, May 20, 1979
When the Indians obtained Charlie Spikes in a trade with the New York Yankees prior to the 1973 season, they figured they were getting a man who could hold down an outfield position for years to come. And initially the young Spikes did not disappoint. In 1973, his first full season in the majors, the 22-year-old Spikes hit a modest .237, but he led the team that year with with 23 home runs. In 1974, he once again led the team in homers with 22, and raised his batting average to .271.
But Spikes had a very disappointing season in 1975, as his batting average plummeted to .229. He hit 11 home runs and had only 33 RBI in 378 plate appearances. He was even worse in 1976, hitting only three homers and driving in 31 runs in 365 plate appearances.
After the 1976 season, convinced that Spikes would never again amount to much, Tribe general manager Phil Segui began to look for another big bat to take Spikes’s place in the lineup. Segui had his sights on Paul Dade, who had played for the California Angels in parts of 1975 and 1976, but who spent most of 1976 in the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .363 and stole 26 bases. Segui finally got his man in February of 1977, signing Dade to a two-year guaranteed contract.
Dade, who was capable of playing all three outfield positions, became the Tribe’s usual right fielder in 1977. He also got considerable playing time in left field and in center, as well as at third base when Buddy Bell needed some rest. He hit .291 with three homers for the Indians that year. Despite his reputation as a speedster on the basepaths, he stole only 16 bases while being caught stealing eight times. Nonetheless, Dade’s versatility made him a valuable member of the team.
In 1978, Dade regressed. As a right fielder in 1977, Dade committed no errors; in 1978, he had seven of them at the position. His batting average dropped to .254, and he again hit only three homers, while driving in only 20. Tribe manager Jeff Torborg began to leave Dade’s name off the lineup card more and more frequently, and when Dade did play, perhaps the team would have been better off if he hadn’t. Case in point: on June 21, in his 53rd game of the season, Dade had an RBI, his 17th of the season. He didn’t get another one until his 82nd game, on August 13. That’s one heck of a drought.
The Indians began the 1979 season with a new right fielder, Bobby Bonds (you may have heard of his son Barry). Dade thus saw limited playing time. On June 15, 1979, after clearing waivers, Dade was traded to the San Diego Padres for Mike Hargrove, who played for the Indians through the 1985 season, and managed the club from 1991 through 1999. Dade played for the Padres through the 1980 season and was released by the organization that December. Dade went on to play baseball in Japan for a year before moving back to the United States and briefly playing minor league ball.
The last decade has not been kind to Dade. A May 10, 2005 story by Dan Raley for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer revealed that Dade had been working on the assembly line of a box-making company, and living in a mobile home in Tacoma, Washington. The story also mentioned that Dade had recently had a cancerous kidney removed. An item in the Tacoma Daily Index of April 30, 2013 showed that Dade and his wife had recently filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in federal court. One hopes that Dade’s fortune will change for the better.