Sunday, February 13, 2005
22-year-old World Series catchersPosted by Matthew Namee
This weekend, Ken Rosenthal wrote a column in which he discussed the fact that St. Louis will be starting 22-year-old Yadier Molina at catcher. Rosenthal quoted an AL GM as asking, "How many teams have ever won a World Series with a 22-year-old catcher?" The question is clearly rhetorical, implying that it's pretty difficult for a team with a young backstop to win it all.
The actual answer to the question is two, and one of those young catchers was a Cardinal. In 1964, Tim McCarver had a nice .288/.343/.400 year as a 22-year-old, and followed it up with a phenomenal .478/.552/.739 World Series line to help the Cardinals beat the Yankees in the Fall Classic. The other 22-year-old catcher on a World Champion was the Dodgers' Mike Scioscia, in the strike-shortened 1981 season. Scioscia appeared in 93 of the team's 110 games that year, and hit a respectable .276/.353/.331 (followed by an unimpressive 5-for-32 postseason).
As far as I could tell in my 5 minutes of searching, those guys are the only 22-or-under starting catchers for World Champs. It's also worth noting that in 1970, 22-year-old Johnny Bench led the Reds to the NL Pennant with a 45-homer, 148-RBI, MVP-winning performance.
Matthew Namee cofounded The Hardball Times in 2004, when he was working as the assistant to baseball author and Red Sox executive Bill James. Matthew still lives in Kansas, where he is currently pursuing a law degree. He can be reached at mfnamee [at] gmail [dot] com.