Wednesday, October 23, 2013

#603 - 1974 Rookie Catchers

At the other side of the battery we get four catchers, one of whom had a solid career, one of whom had a couple good seasons, and two who get represented just on rookie cards, and that right here.

Barry Foote played all over the infield and outfield in high school in Smithfield, NC. A first round pick by the Expos in the ’70 draft, the team immediately turned him into a catcher and in Rookie ball that summer he hit .266 with some power and a .379 OBA. While mastering his position he would put up some high error totals but he was very aggressive and normally led his league in assists and double plays. In A ball in ’71 his average fell to .230 as his strikeouts ratcheted up but he continued to impress behind the plate and in ’72 in Double A he turned on the power with a .253/16/75 line. ’73 was all Triple A where he put up a .262/19/65 season prior to his September debut during which he hit .667 in his few at bats. In ’74 he would take over as starting catcher and his .262/11/60 season would get him on the Topps Rookie team. Unfortunately it would also be his best year. While his freshman season was good enough to keep Gary Carter in the outfield most of the next couple seasons, Barry's sophomore jinx year was pretty terrible as his stat line fell to .194/7/30 on just a few less at bats. He rebounded a bit to hit .234 in ’76 but by the end of the year Carter had claimed the starting role and he would retain it to start the ’77 season. After getting only a few at bats, Barry would get traded to the Phillies at the '77 deadline with pitcher Dan Warthen for catcher Tim Blackwell and pitcher Wayne Twitchell. Through ’78 he would be the third-string guy behind Bob Boone and Tim McCarver and get very little plate time. Prior to the ’79 season he would join Ted Sizemore, Jerry Martin, and a couple minor leaguers in a trade to the Cubs for Greg Gross, Dave Rader, and Manny Trillo. That trade got him back into a starting role and he responded with his best numbers since his rookie year with a .254/16/56 season. But Barry then began experiencing some extreme lower back pain and the next year he lost his starting role, ironically to Blackwell, and hit .238 in just over 200 at bats. In ’81 young Jody Davis supplanted Blackwell, Barry slid to third on the depth chart, and another mid-season trade had him on the move, this time to the Yankees, where he had more activity the second half but hit only .208. In ’82 his injury and the depth chart kept his time minimal and he did a few games in Triple A in his final season. He hit .230 for his career, with 57 homers and 230 RBI’s. In the post-season he hit .333 in five games. Defensively he led the NL in assists once and double plays twice and picked off 38% of runners that ran on hm, a pretty good premium to the league average. He remained in the NY system as a coach in the minors before managing in the team’s chain from ’84 to ’86, winning his league championship one year. From ’87 to ’89 he managed in the Toronto chain, again winning a championship. He then coached up top for the White Sox (’90-’91) and the Mets (’92-’93). During that time he also started up Tri-State Homes, a construction company that built homes in North Carolina. He then stayed busy locally, helping to establish the Carolina Mudcats, build an oil and gas exploration company that was a player in Alaska, and do cell spectrum work for the National Wireless Network. Since the mid-2000’s he has been running his two companies: Streamer Video, which teaches lay people how to watch baseball games; and F2 Technologies, a wirelss communications company.

Tom Lundstedt played the big three sports in high school outside Chicago in Illinois. In all three sports one of his teammates was Dave Kingman. Tom was selected in a late round by the Dodgers in ’67 but instead went to the University of Michigan on a basketball scholarship. He averaged over 20 points a game for his freshman team and then played his sophomore year with Dan Fife and Rudy Tomjonavich. After that year he switched his scholarship to baseball which he’d also been playing all along. He was then taken by the Cubs in the first round of the ’70 draft and though he fielded well that summer in A and Double A, he hit terribly and spent the ’71 season in A ball where he hit considerably better, with a .266 average and a .410 OBA. In ’72 he returned to Double A where he hit .255 and the next year moved up to Triple A where he maxed out with a .295/11/57 stat line in 322 at bats with a .402 OBA. He made his MLB debut that September and then remained in Chicago in ’74 where he was behind George Mitterwald and Steve Swisher and only got into a few games before knee surgery ended his season in June. Prior to the ’75 season he was traded to the Twins for Mike Adams. That year he moved back and forth between Minnesota and Triple A where he hit .264 but considerably lower up top. It was his final season and he finished with a .092 average in 65 MLB at bats and .256 with 30 homers in the minors. After playing he finished his business degree at the University of Minnesota and then fell into commercial real estate in the Twin Cities area. He then started doing seminars on real estate investing which he continues to do from his own shop.

Charlie Moore was drafted by the Brewers upon graduating high school in Birmingham, Alabama in ’71. He hit .297 that summer in A ball and .259 the next at the same level. In ’73 he combined for a .269 season with 15 homers and 70 RBI’s between Double A and Triple A – he hit better at the higher level – before making his September debut. He then spent the next three seasons backing up Darrell Porter behind the plate and initially doing some DH work. In ’75 Charlie hit well to open the season – he would hit .290 on the year – so the team also had him play in the outfield to keep his bat in the line-up. But Charlie had a tough time out there and in ’76 his average fell 100 points, partly in response. In ’77 Porter was traded to Kansas City and Charlie got the starting catcher role, upped his average nearly 60 points, but had a bad defensive season – he led the AL in errors and passed balls – as his skills seemed to have left him while he was in the outfield. In ’78 Buck Rodgers began to work with Charlie on restoring his defense and while that year he would lose his starting status to Buck Martinez, his catching improved markedly as did his offense, as he hit .269, .300, and .291 the next three years. He also recaptured the starting role in ’79 and ’80. Prior to the ’81 season the Brewers picked up Ted Simmons in a huge trade and though Charlie hit .301 he played behind Simmons and also did some outfield work. He was far more successful in that role than earlier and for the next three seasons he would play primarily in right where he shone defensively, once leading the AL in double plays, and once in putouts. He hit .254 in ’82 and .284 the following year and in between had an excellent post-season in the Series run. He missed time in ’84 to a knee injury and in ’85 returned to the starting role behind the plate. He split time in that role in ’86 and then finished out his career with Toronto in ’87 doing his dual thing. Charlie hit .261 for his career with 43 triples, 36 homers, and 408 RBI’s. In the post-season he hit .354 in 16 games. Following his playing career he returned to the Birmingham area where he has since been a salesman in various industries.

This is technically not the rookie card of Sergio Robles as he had another one in the ’73 set. Sergio was a pretty little guy and a big deal catcher in his native Mexico. Signed by the Dodgers after being scouted playing for state teams below the border in ’68 he spent the next three seasons in A ball where he hit a combined .264 and was an excellent fielder. In ’71 he moved up to Triple A where he hit .265 before being traded to Baltimore as part of the package that moved Frank Robinson to LA. He hit .266 in ’72 before making his MLB debut that August but fell to .207 in ’73, the year he saw his most action in Baltimore. He then spent ’74 playing in Mexico City before being sold to St. Louis prior to the ’75 season. After hitting .217 in Triple A that year he spent ’76 in both the St. Louis and LA organization, and put in his final MLB time that year for the Dodgers. He then returned to Mexico where he would continue to play ball year-round for the next ten years. He finished in The States with a .095 MLB average and hit .251 in the minors. He has managed and coached in Mexico for much of the time since. He has s SABR bio.

We get 21 MLB seasons out of this group and that parenthetical name of Sergio’s looks familiar but I do not believe he and Fernando are related. Lundstedt was certainly tall for a catcher.

Let’s see how we do for the hook-up. From the last card we start with the ’74 Twins:

1. Rod Carew was on the ’74 Twins;
2. Carew and Jose Morales or Bombo Rivera ’78 Twins;
3. Rivera and Morales and Barry Foote ’74 to ’76 Expos.

Each of Lundstedt and Robles only got tiny MLB at bats but we make them count:

1. Barry Foote and Andre Thornton (coming up) ’76 Expos;
2. Thornton and Tom Lundstedt ’74 Cubs;
3. Lundstedt and Larry Hisle ’75 Twins;
4. Hisle and Charlie Moore ’78 to ’82 Brewers;
5. Moore and Bill Travers ’73 to ’80 Brewers;
6. Travers and Bobby Grich ’81 and ’83 Angels;
7. Grich and Sergio Robles ’72 to ’73 Orioles.

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