Wednesday, February 8, 2012

#328 - Skip Jutze

For the first three years of the Seventies, Houston catching was handled by Johnny Edwards backed up by Larry Howard. But in '73 almost the day after the Astros traded Howard, Edwards got hurt and Houston was pretty much without a catcher. Even Bob Watson had to start a game behind the plate. So Skip here pretty much saved the day. Acquired at the end of '72 he was once a pretty hot prospect. Things didn't really work out that way up top and '73 was the most action he ever got at that level, but for that year he filled an awfully big gap. Here he gets photographed at Candlestick with a teammate in the background who is perhaps signing autographs. If I am correct in that the partial number on that guy is an eight then it is probably Cesar Cedeno. For anyone interested, by the way, Skip pronounced his surname JUTZ-ee. I had always thought it was a long u, like the rugs.

Skip Jutze was born in Bayside - which means Queens - New York. That was before the Mets came along so most baseball fans in that part of the city rooted for the Giants. He then went to Clarke High School in Westbury, NY, where he was a big multi-sport guy, quarterbacking his team to an undefeated season as a sophomore. When he graduated in '64 he went to Central Connecticut State where by his sophomore season he was again starting QB and was all-conference. He also played some baseball and was drafted in '66 by the Red Sox and in '67 by the Tigers but both times passed to stay in school. He graduated in '68 with a degree in education and was drafted by the Cards, this time signing. After a couple games that summer in Rookie ball he hit pretty well in A ball. At that level in '69 he got less than 200 at bats which back then tended to mean injury or military duty. '70 and '71 were spent in Double A and in '72 he ramped things up considerably at Triple A before his September call-up. He did OK offensively that month but his most impressive stat was nailing 12 of 18 would-be base-stealers. After the season he was sent to Houston with shortstop Milt Ramirez for infielders Ray Busse and Bobby Fenwick.

In '74 Houston got a couple new catchers in Milt May and Cliff Johnson so Skip, deficient to both offensively, returned to Triple A where he hit .321 in 100 games. He then spent '75 and '76 as the third catcher in Houston getting under 100 at bats each season. His defense was pretty good but he never put up the lofty pick-off totals of his time in St. Louis. After the '76 season he was basically sold to the Seattle Mariners where in '77 he backed up Bob Stinson, hitting .220. He was released during '78 spring training finishing with a .215 average. In the minor leagues he hit .286.

Skip gets some props for his defense in his star bullets. His cartoon is particularly relevant since it gives a good window on his life after playing. He was already teaching at a middle school on Long Island in his off-seasons (when he wasn't playing ball in PR), and after he finished playing would resume that role. Within a decade after his last game he was coaching at the high school level, particularly in Colorado. As recently as 2010 he was coaching at Regis University in Colorado and he is also on the coaching staff of a St. Louis-based group called the Sandlot Baseball and Softball Academy with quite a few other former major leaguers.

Tom and Skip had relatively brief careers up top so this may be a long one:

1. Jutze and Milt May '74 to '75 Astros;
2. May and Mickey Stanley '76 to '77 Tigers;
3. Stanley and Tom Timmermann '69 to '73 Tigers.

Or not.

No comments:

Post a Comment