Tuesday, May 21, 2013

#543 - Danny Cater

Poor Danny Cater follows an action shot with one of the more moribund photos in the set. Everything behind him looks washed out and because of his pose he has almost no identifying parts or colors on his uniform. But things were sort of rolling that way for Danny by then. ’73 was actually not all a bad season for him as he bounced his average a ton but on way less at bats. He’d been brought over from the Yankees prior to the ’72 season as a replacement at first for George Scott. Until then Danny was a pretty consistent hitter and though he didn’t have Boomer’s power, he wasn’t expected to crater into a fit of strikeouts the way Scott had a couple times in the past. But in ’72 that was pretty much exactly what happened as Danny's average fell a bunch, his K totals ratcheted up, and by the season-end division race – the Sox lost out to Detroit by half a game – he was sitting on the bench and Carl Yastrzemski had taken over first. The biggest blow, though, was that he was acquired for Sparky Lyle who in ’72 would set a saves record with the Yankees. That’s pretty tough and Danny was supposed to be a nice guy so big bummer. So in ’73 he split time at first with Yaz and Cecil Cooper, and hit that .313 but his time as a permanent starter was done and so would be his career in a couple seasons.

Danny Cater hailed from Texas where he was mainly a shortstop while hitting over .500 while playing ball in his Austin high school. He was signed by the Phillies during his senior year and had a big summer in D ball, hitting .345 with 14 homers and 68 RBI’s in only 261 at bats in ’58. In ’59 he put up a .308/11/99 season in C ball and also started expanding his position repertoire while playing half his games at second. In ’60 things slowed down a bit in A ball, where he played strictly first, with a .266/12/69 season. He got back to the big averages in ’61 at that level by hitting .343 with 16 homers and 80 RBI’s, now playing third. So Danny covered significant time at every infield spot in his four seasons. So of course in ’62, his first in Triple A, he put in half his games in the outfield (and half at third) in a .288/12/67 season. He upped his ’63 numbers at the same positions to .291/14/58 on fewer at bats. In ’64 Danny finally made the Show, getting promoted to the team that was in contention all season until the famous fade. He put in most of his time in left with occasional starts at the corner infield spots nd was hitting over .300 through late July when he went down with a broken wrist suffered in a collision at first base with Joe Torre and missed about six weeks. He still finished with a nice average and after the season was sent to the White Sox with Lee Elia for Ray Herbert and Jeoff Long.

In his first AL season Cater assumed a regular role, playing mostly left field. He did pretty well offensively for the team, finishing third in average and homers, and second in runs. Once again he narrowly missed post-season action as the Sox lost out to the Twins for the AL pennant. In ’66 a slow start and the ChiSox need for infield help prompted a trade to Kansas City for Wayne Causey in May. With the A’s Danny became more of an infielder, getting a bunch of starts at both corner positions. He finished the year with a nice average and then in ’67 and ’68 led the team in hitting, the latter year finishing second for the AL lead to Carl Yastrzemski. That year he also began concentrating on first as Sal Bando was establishing himself at third. Now based in Oakland, the A’s were trudging toward their future Series winners with their young sets of pitchers and sluggers. In ’69 Danny put up his only season of double-figure homers and topped off in RBI’s. After that year the Yankees were looking for a replacement at first for Joe Pepitone and so they picked up Danny for catcher Frank Fernandez and pitcher Al Downing. Danny didn’t disappoint, that first year putting up perhaps his best offensive season despite an early injury from a bat splintering in his hand that caused his average to flutter a few weeks. In ’71 a couple leg injuries sapped his average the first half of the season – he was hitting under .250 in June – but he rallied almost 30 points the rest of the year until a broken hand in early September robbed him of the rest of the season. He then went to Boston with Mario Guerrero for Lyle.

The Red Sox wanted Cater because he always hit well at Fenway but after the disappointment of ’72 and the relegation to back-up in ’73 he was now a utility guy. In ’74 his at bats shrunk again as he hit .246 but with a bit more power with five homers and 20 RBI’s in 126 at bats. Prior to the ’75 season he was sent back to the NL and St. Louis for a minor leaguer. With the Cards he did some work at first and pinch hit in his final season. Danny finished with a .275 average with 66 homers and 519 RBI’s.
After playing Cater took a gig working with the Comptroller’s office of the State of Texas where he was an accounts examiner through the early 2000’s when he then retired.

Danny gets some minor league props in his star bullets but Topps certainly could have pulled up some more recent stuff. His residence in Williamsport was related to the cartoon as that was where the Little League headquarters was located. I guess that was where he got the skills for the comptroller office job; I did not see that he went to school after he was drafted.

Two former Yankees get linked by a long-time one:

1. Cater and Roy White ’70 to ’71 Yankees;
2. White and Goose Gossage ’78 to ’79 Yankees.

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