Monday, March 11, 2013


Earl Battey is a bit of a lost player in history. He was a solid hitter and incredible fielder. His career fielding percentage for a catcher was .990. He won three Gold Glove's, three times finished in the top ten in voting for the MVP award and was a 4 time All Star. I'm not sure if most collectors even acknowledge Battey as something other than just another common when they price his cards.

Battey started his career as an understudy to Sherm Lollar on the Chicago White Sox. Veeck traded him along with MANY other players for immediate veteran help to bolster the slugging power lacking which was lacking in the lineup of the '59 Pennant winning White Sox. The Sox remained a competitive team into the '60's but their investment didn't really pay off well because they remained a solid fielding and pitching unit and not much else.

This wasn't the case where Battey ended up. He played the last year of the Washington Senators and was a charter member of the Minnesota Twins in '61. Being traded was a blessing for Battey because the Senators didn't hesitate to make him a starter where he showed himself to be a solid hitter and fielder in 1960. His numbers improved along with the record of the team after they moved to Minnesota. His career peaked along with the team in 1965 which won the pennant and took the Dodgers to the full seven games before ultimately losing. Battey did play in all seven games but failed to achieve much at the plate. He again reflected the team which struggled mightedly at the plate against Koufax, Drysdale and Osteen. The '65 Series was the Twins last appearance in the fall classic for more than 20 years.

Battey turned 31 in 1966 and that started his rapid descent due to injuries. He made the All Star team that year but he played 20 few games than in '65 and his numbers at the plate began to drop. 1967 marked the end of his career. He saw limited action and that was all he would see in any level of professional baseball again.

Battey went on to earn a college degree and devote his time to serving the community. He made it to the Twins Hall of Fame in 2010 A fitting tribute to a man whose career grew with the fortunes of a young and hungry Minnesota Twins team. The Twins had winning records from '62 to '67. 1968, the first year after Battey's retirement, the Twins record dropped to 79-83. Their worst record since 1961.

About the card, it features Battey clearly in preseason and I argue that this picture was taken shortly after pitchers and catchers reported to spring training ahead of the rest of the team because of Battey's jacekt. That may not prove much to most but it says something to me. I also remember thinking this card was strange as a kid because how often do you see a catcher in a jacket? It happens even today with MLB pitchers on the base path (that also looked weird to me too.)

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