Mike Derrick was born on September 19, 1943 in Columbia, SC. A first baseman, third baseman, and outfielder in the minor leagues, his first 14 appearances in the big leagues were as a pinch-hitter for the Boston Red Sox.
Young Mike attended the Brookland Grammar School, and in 1961 graduated from Brookland-Cayce High School in West Columbia, lettering in baseball, basketball, football, and track. He was a high school All-American selection in football and All-State in basketball. On top of that, he was president of the senior class. He also helped lead his Legion baseball team to two South Carolina state titles. In football, he played in both the Shrine Bowl and the North-South all-star game.
After high school, he was awarded a football scholarship and enrolled at the University of South Carolina. He had already talked to 10 or 12 major-league baseball scouts, but had his mind set on going to college. The offers were lucrative, though, and in August 1961, he was signed to his first professional baseball contract by the Pittsburgh Pirates. After his workout at Forbes Field, he decided to play with the Pirates, and put in his fall semester at the university, reporting the following spring.
He was assigned to the 1962 Grand Forks Chiefs in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in the Class-C Northern League. He played first base, and was named to the league all-star team. In Class A in 1963, he played for the Kinston Eagles (Carolina League). His 1964 season was split between the Asheville Tourists (Double-A Southern League) and the Reno Silver Sox (Class-A California League), but he lost several weeks of playing time due to a broken ankle.
Derrick was named an All-Star again in 1965 with Kinston, getting off to a torrid start with 12 homers by May 18th. He led the league in both homers and RBIs. For the next two seasons, he played in Triple A with the Columbus Jets, unexpectedly making the team out of spring training in 1966. In June, however, in pregame fielding drills, he re-fractured the same ankle he had broken in 1964.
His 1967 season was very much an off-year, and in November 1967, the Pirates traded him to the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers placed him with Toledo and he had two solid seasons for the Mudhens. He placed second in league MVP voting. In 1969.
The Tigers, though, chose not to protect him and he was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the Rule 5 draft in December 1969. He made the big-league Red Sox team out of spring training as the utility player. His first 14 appearances were all in pinch-hitting roles. There weren’t a lot of opportunities, however, with an outfield of Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Smith, and Tony Conigliaro, with George Scott at first base and Billy Conigliaro as the fourth outfielder. The Sox decided to replace him with another utility man, John Kennedy, and optioned him back to Louisville in June. His major-league record stands at a .212 batting average, with the five RBIs.
Mike played two more years in baseball, appearing in 105 games for Louisville in 1971. In January 1972, the Minnesota Twins organization acquired him in a trade and he played for Tacoma (Pacific Coast League). His last big game in pro ball was on August.
In October 1972, he was hired by Integon Life Insurance Corp. As a representative based in Columbia, he began what looked to be the next stage of his career. Rather soon afterwards, however, he started his own company, Cayce Welding and Ornamental Iron.
In 1978, missing the game, he began as head coach of an American Legion baseball team in the Columbia area. That first season, his Congaree team won the state championship and they repeated in 1980.
Mike Derick died of cancer on January 14, 2009, at age 65, in Lexington, SC.