Nick Stavinoha and the Cameo Cardinal Catchers

by on April 14, 2010 · 0 comments

Sounds like a pretty cool name for a band, right?

Actually, with his appearance catching in the late innings of Sunday night’s game, Nick Stavinoha joined a short list of Cardinal players that have made a one-game cameo playing catcher (when catcher is not their natural position).

Today’s roster move to put Jason LaRue on the disabled list and promote Bryan Anderson from Memphis means that Stavi stays on that list for now.

David Freese joined the club last season, appearing behind the plate during extra innings of the last game of the regular season after all three of the catchers were used up, also against the Brewers.

The premise of an emergency third catcher is something every team must be prepared for, but most seldom use, save for necessity based upon injury.

The Cardinals are no different throughout their history, as I count only three others who made only one appearance at catcher and out-of-position since 1901.

Gary Kolb appeared at catcher during the ninth inning of the second half of a doubleheader in St. Louis in 1963.  Kolb was a journeyman outfielder with the Cards, and wound up adding more catching appearances to his resume during stints with the Brewers in 1964 and the Pirates in 1968 and 1969.

Jose Oquendo was nicknamed “The Secret Weapon” for a reason.  He played every position on the field during his time with the Cardinals, including a couple of appearances as a pitcher.  His one career inning as a catcher came in September of 1988 against the New York Mets, and was the last position he needed to play that year to have played every position not only in his career, but just in that season alone!  As is the case with several of these appearances, the game was well out of hand by the time Jose put on the gear.

Tim Jones came on in the bottom of the eighth and caught a 1-2-3 inning for the Cardinals against the Cubs at Wrigley Field in June of 1989.  Jones was a utility infielder by trade but got his name on the list with his one inning as a member of the battery in a blowout loss to the Cubs.

Those are the guys with only one appearance out-of-position at catcher, but several others apparently made enough of an impression to get repeat performances (or maybe were a catcher at some point in their career, I’m not up to snuff on my knowledge with some of the old-timers):

Mike Ryba caught in 4 games in 1936 and 3 games in 1937.

Clint Hurdle appeared at catcher in 5 games in 1986, after catching in 17 games for the Mets in 1985.

Rod Murray caught in 7 games for the Cards in 1906, then waited 11 years until his next appearance behind the plate for the New York Giants in 1917.

Wattie Holm made 9 appearances at catcher in 1924.

Finally, our beloved “Moonman”, current Cardinals radio announcer Mike Shannon caught in 4 games in 1965 and 1 in 1966.

As mentioned, it’s likely (hopefully, even) that Anderson’s call-up means Stavinoha and/or Freese won’t add any more catching experience to their stat sheet any time soon.  That’s probably a good thing for Stavi, else he might have to get his own gear instead of wearing the chest protector with “YADI 4” on it again…

Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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