Friday, August 12, 2022

Vassallo: Greatest MLB Catchers by Franchise

Ole Miss dual athlete Jake Gibbs played football and baseball for the Rebels but chose to move to New York and catch for the Yankees.
Photo courtesy Ole Miss Athletics

This past week I received a call from brother George who was commenting on an article he had seen recently which summarized the greatest 20 catchers of all time.

Five of these were Yankees which is safe to say had the greatest combined catching corps of any franchise. This got my memory bank in gear reflecting back on the greatest catchers by franchise. Here’s my list, which is open for debate:

NY Yankees: Yogi Berra, a 3 time MVP, received MVP votes 15 years in a row! Yogi was on 10 World Series champions in 16 years and led the Yankees in Rbi’s every season between 1949 and 1955. Probably the greatest catcher ever!

Cincinnati Reds: Who could argue against Johnny Bench? A 2 time MVP. Also Ernie Lombardi.

Detroit Tigers: Bill Freehan. Five Gold Gloves and an 11-time Allstar. His .993 care fielding average was one of the highest ever by a catcher!

Pittsburgh Pirates: George (Mooney) Gibson. Between 1905-16 he caught an average of 14 games per season and helped the Pirates win the World Championship in 1909.

Boston Red Sox: Carlton Fisk. In 24 seasons, he caught 2,226 games while hitting 376 home runs and being named to ten Allstar teams.

Chicago Cubs: Gabby Hartnett. His MVP season in 1935 tallied a .344 BA, 13 home runs and 91 Rbi’s. He hit 297 lifetime homers.

Baltimore Orioles: Gus Triandos. Only 30 home run season by an Oriole Catcher.

Philadelphia Phillies: Darren Daulton. Played in one of the great Phillie eras.

Minnesota Twins: Joe Mauer. Won batting titles in his first 6 years in the league.

Montreal Expos: Gary Carter. Probably the best all round Catcher of the 1980’s.

Cleveland Indians: Jim Hegan. In 14 seasons he threw out 46% of base stealers.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Mike Piazza. A 12-time Allstar with 427 home runs!

Washington Senators: Rick Ferrell. Started 1806 games at Catcher.

San Diego Padres: Benito Santiago. 1978 games with a .987 fielding average.

Oakland A’s: Terry Steinbach. An Allstar three times. In 1996 hit 35 home runs, driving in 100.

St. Louis Cardinals: Ted Simmons. An 8 time Allstar selection hitting 248 homers in the process.

Kansas City Royals: Darrell Porter. Only 4 seasons, but in those walked 318 times while striking out 260.

Brooklyn Dodgers: Roy Campanella. In 1953 hit 41 home runs and 142 Rbi’s.

Toronto Blue Jays: Ernie Whitt. In 12 seasons caught 1159 games with only 56 errors!

Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves: Joe Torre. In 18 seasons selected 9 times an Allstar. In his 1971 MVP season had 230 hits!

Texas Rangers: Ivan Rodriguez. Pudge at age 27 in 1999 was voted AL MVP. Hitting .332 with 35 home runs and 113 Rbi’s, his 25 stolen bases and a Gold Glove made the native of Puerto Rico an easy choice.

New York Mets: Jerry Grote. Twelve years with Mets with a slugging percentage of .329. Member of 1969 “Miracle Mets.”

Tampa Bay Rays: Dioner Navarro.

Philadelphia Athletics: Mickey Cochrane. A two-time MVP.

New York Giants: Buck Ewing. A .303 career BA and in 7 different seasons stole more than 30 bases. In 1888 he stole 53!

San Francisco Giants: Buster Posey. Current Giant Catcher who is turning heads!

It would be remiss not to mention Yankee greats Bill Dickey and Elston Howard. Dickey had a .313 career BA, and Elston was the very first African-American to make the Yankees being elected an Allstar in 12 of 13 seasons. Other great Yankee catchers were Johnny Blanchard, Jake Gibbs, Thurman Munson and Jorge Posada.


Steve Vassallo is a contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at or call him at (985) 852-7745.

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