Last week, the 2010 inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame was announced. With no disrespect to Andre Dawson, Johngy's Beat is unveiling the much more anticipated 2010 Backup Catcher Hall of Fame class.
Chuck E. Gekas and I have discussed backup catchers for years. We are fascinated by them. On one of our many baseball road trips, we started to develop the idea for a Backup Catcher Hall of Fame.
First, we had to decide on the qualifications. We settled on the following:
-Candidate must have played in the 1970's or later.
-Candidate must have played the catcher position as his primary position.
-Candidates pre-1980 must have played 8 years and 10 years for post 1980.
-Candidate must not have been a starter.
---A one year or so exception is allowed as an injury replacement for starter.
---A one year or so exception is allowed for really bad teams (as in expansion teams)
-Candidate must never have gotten more than 300 AB's in a single season (see exceptions above).
-Any deviation from these guidelines is allowed as per the sole discretion of Chuck and me.
With that being outlined, we trudged through rosters and stats. We had long (and often mindless) debates on the merits of various candidates. Finally, last summer, we agreed on the first four inductees into the BCHOF. Therefore, without further adieu, I present the 2010 BCHOF class.
Donald "Duffy" Dyer had a solid 14 year career as a backup catcher. Dyer was drafted in the first round in 1966 by the New York Mets, for whom he played for the first 7 years of his career. Dyer also played 4 years with the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2 years with the Detroit Tigers and 1 year with the Montreal Expos.
Dyer had 441 career hits for a crispy .221 batting average. He had 30 home runs, 173 rbi's, 151 runs scored and 10 stolen bases.
Dyer spent most of his time in NY as a backup to Jerry Grote and then became a backup to Manny Sanguillen in Pittsburgh, where he caught a
no-hitter by John Candelaria. Dyer went 0-1 with a walk in 2 playoff games.
Dyer's 1972 and 1977 seasons were a bit lofty by BCHOF standards, but the body of work over his entire career solidified his place in the BCHOF.
Bob Montgomery is the quintessential backup catcher. After spending 9 seasons in the Boston Red Sox system, Montgomery had a solid career throughout the 70's as Carlton Fisk's backup. Montgomery's .258 batting average is a bit gaudy for the BCHOF, but not enough to exclude him. During his career, he belted 18 homers, drove in 156 runs, scored 125 runs and had 6 stolen bases.
Montgomery filled in admirably in 1974 when Fisk suffered a horrible knee injury. He also performed well while Fisk recovered from a broken thumb in 1975. Montgomery went 0-1 in his only playoff appearance.
As further testament to Montgomery's grittiness, he was the last player to not wear a batting helmet. That is just the type of intangible which helped earn Montgomery's place in the BCHOF.
Bill Plummer is best known as the long-time backup to Johnny Bench with the Cincinnati Reds, but he broke into the majors with a brief 2 game stint with the Chicago Cubs in 1968. Plummer was traded to the Reds and a year later started his 8 year run as Bench's backup. Plummer finished his career with a 1 season stay with the Seattle Mariners, whom he later managed.
Plummer's .188 career average came from 168 hits. He had 14 homers, 82 rbi's, 72 runs scored and 4 stolen bases in his career (or roughly a bit less than Bench's average season).
Former Reds Coach Alex Grammas once stated that "Bill could start for a lot of teams, but with us he sits behind the best catcher in the world." At least Bench did play a fair amount of games at other positions, which allowed Plummer to gain more playing time. Fortunately, Plummer still stayed under the basic BCHOF standards.
Jeff Torborg played his 10 year career in California, 7 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers and 3 with the California Angels. Technically, he finished his career in the St. Louis Cardinals organization after being traded from the Angels, although he retired without playing for the Cardinals.
Torborg batted .214 with 8 homers, 101 rbi's, 78 runs scored and 3 stolen bases. Torborg's best season might have been his last season. He had career highs in several categories. He even helped mentor a young Rick Stelmaszek.
Torborg caught Sandy Koufax's perfect game. He also caught Bill Singer's no-hitter and Nolan Ryan's first no-hitter.
After his playing career, Torborg went on to manage 5 teams. His son Dale played minor league ball, wrestled as 'The Demon' and currently is a coach.
There you have it. We are so proud and pleased. Still, we don't have too much time to celebrate. It is almost time to start the process of deciding who gets inducted in 2011. Feel free to send us any of your ideas.