Happy Birthday Benny- A Brief Look at Padres Catching History

Credit: AP Photo

A man who would go on to play 10 seasons for the Friars was also on the 1969 team. That man would be Fred Kendall. Kendall was never really fantastic for the Friars but he was on the team for a while. Kendall’s best season came in 1973, hitting .282 with 10 home runs. He is also the father of former Pirates catcher, Jason Kendall.

From the first year of the franchise, to the last year the Padres made the World Series, we now take a look at the 1998 catching crew. The 98′ crew was quite an interesting one, as three of the five men behind the plate went on to broadcasting after their career came to an end.

Ben Davis is part of the Phillies’ broadcasting team. Former Yankees World Series hero, Jim Leyritz, did radio for MLB Radio, and more recently, for Angels’ Radio. And of course, Carlos Hernandez has been the color analyst for Padres’ games en Espanol for a few years now.

We now transition from the broadcasting booth to the dugout. It’s quite a known fact that many catchers go on to become managers, and the Padres had quite a few backstops who have become MLB managers. Some notables include Pat Corrales, Bob Geren, current Tigers’ skipper Brad Ausmus, and of course future MLB Hall Of Famer, Bruce Bochy.

When Boch makes the Hall Of Fame a few years down the road, he won’t be the only Hall Of Famer to wear the mask for the Friars. At the age of 37, in 2006, Mike Piazza had an all-star campaign for the Friars, but would not make the MLB All-Star Game that year. Piazza would hit 22 bombs and record a batting average of .283 with a SLG of .501 for the Padres. Apart from having a great season, Mike would have a legendary moment at Shea Stadium.

The Sultan of Shea would get a video tribute and a nice standing ovation from Mets’ fans on game one. Then came game two. The Padres were down four to nothing. Hall Of Famer Pedro Martinez was on the mound. The fourth inning came and what would the Mets legend do?

He hit a home run off the Red Sox legend, of course. Then came the top of the sixth, and again Piazza went yard off Pedro. Mets fans were filled with joy, as they were thrilled to see their former hero go yard twice in his return to Shea. This was a legendary moment in the career of Mike Piazza, and it is quite hard to believe it came while wearing a Padres’ uniform. The Padres would fall short in that game, losing four to three, but the moment was still special. Piazza would not start in the last game of the series, leaving that legendary moment as his last at Shea Stadium. Take a look at it for yourself.

Now we are in the present era, and the Padres have had some decent backstops. Nick Hundley and Yasmani Grandal were an interesting pair as they were complete opposites. Nick Hundley is the epitome of humility, and, well, Yasmani Grandal was not. Another interesting catcher was, of course, Rene Rivera, who like Hundley was very humble, and he was a great receiver with the Pads. The pitching staff always enjoyed throwing to him.

Perhaps one of the best in the major leagues now is Austin Hedges. It may be too early to deem him as an all-star catcher, but he has grown offensively in the last few seasons. His defense is already widely regarded as above average. The 2017 season will be his chance to showcase his skill, as he will be given every opportunity to play for the team. Derek Norris is now gone and the position is Hedges’ and his alone.

Christian Bethancourt might get a start or two in 2017, but the team has bigger hopes for the hybrid player. Bethancourt has the opportunity to pitch in relief this year on top of being a backup catcher. That will be an interesting story that the whole nation will be keeping an eye on. The Padres’ history at the position is growing and this new chapter is being laid out in front of us.

Benito Santiago still goes down as the best catcher in team history, but there is an opportunity for Austin Hedges to possibly make a run at that title.

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James Clark
James was born and raised in America's Finest City. He is a lifelong Padres and (Ex)Chargers fan, patiently awaiting a Championship. It will come one day....Editor-In-Chief of EastVillageTimes.com. Always striving to bring you the highest quality in San Diego Sports News. Original content, with original ideas, that's our motto. Enjoy.

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