Monday, October 16, 2006

October 16th, 1941

Tim McCarver Born

Well, for the moment let's leave aside Tim's broadcasting prowess--or lack thereof--and look at him strictly as a player. I had always pictured McCarver as a totally brutal hitter, a Joe Girardi type who stayed in the line-up wholly on account of his glove. As it turns out, I was pretty wrong. McCarver wasn't Mike Piazza or Mickey Cochrane or anything but he could hit. As a twenty-five year old in 1967 McCarver was arguably the second-best hitter on the Cards, albeit miles behind Orlando Cepeda.

In fact, McCarver was a pretty damn good all-around player. He was quick enough to hit as many as thirteen triples in a season, had nearly a hundred home runs in his career and finished with a career 102 OPS+. Of course, my image of McCarver was at least partially true, as he was a fine defensive catcher. McCarver ended his career as Steve Carlton's personal catcher in Philly, prompting jokes that they would someday be buried sixty feet, six inches apart.

McCarver hung on with the Phillies through the 1980 season which leads us to an interesting piece of trivia. McCarver played in four decades, debuting as a rookie for St. Louis in 1959 up through his time in the City of Brotherly Love. That's something of a testament to McCarver's staying power and something of an element of trivia, of course. I imagine that most players who can claim to have seen time in four decades (or more) did so on account of debuting in the final year(s) of one decade and retiring in the first year(s) of another. It's a neat trick nonetheless, and one that merits some notice.

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