|A Tale of Two Catchers|
Written by Jim Amato (Contact & Archive) on August 26, 2008
Johnny Roseboro is from my adopted hometown of Ashland, Ohio. He was the man who was behind the plate for years catching the great Dodger tandem of Koufax and Drysdale.
Roseboro broke in with the Dodgers in 1957 and in 1958 became a starter. He answered with a solid year offensively. He hit 14 home runs and batted .271. He also swiped 11 bases. He was an excellent defensive catcher who was highly respected for the way he handled the Dodger pitching staff. In the early and mid 1960's the combination of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale was one of the best pitching duos in history.
Roseboro was also effective with the bat. In 1961 he launched 18 homers. In 1964 he hit at a respectable .287 clip. He also batted over .270 in 1966 and 1967. He was involved in the famous incident in which the Giants Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal attacked him with a baseball bat. Roseboro suffered some deep wounds on his head and Marichal drew a stiff suspension and a heavy fine.
After eleven seasons with the Dodgers Roseboro was dealt to the Minnesota Twins to replace Earl Battey. He stayed there for two seasons and then went to the Washington Senators in 1970 where he finished his career. Roseboro ended his tenure in the Major Leagues with 104 HRs and 548 RBI's. In 1,476 games behind the plate, he had a .989 fielding average.
Earl Battey broke into the Majors with the White Sox in 1955. He had minimal playing time during the Go Go Sox American League pennant winning season of 1959. In 1960 he went to the Washington Senators and became their starter.
When the Senators moved to Minnesota in 1961, Earl went with them. There he began a five year stretch as one of the best hitting catchers in baseball. Earl had his best season at the plate in 1963 when he hit 26 round trippers. He drove in 84 runs and batted .285. From 1960 through 1965 Battey belted out 87 home runs and not once batted under .270. He was a major component of those fine Minnesota teams that eventually captured the American League pennant in 1965. Battey retired after the 1967 season with a lifetime .270 batting average. In over a thousand games at the catcher position he had an outstanding fielding average of .990.