Saturday, July 4, 2009

#127 -- Duffy Dyer

Duffy Dyer

Somehow I think Duffy disqualified himself from making the backup catcher Hall of Fame by starting over half his team's games in 1972 and 1977. However, he spent much of his career in the bullpen warming up guys like Tug McGraw, Grant Jackson and Dale Murray, and putting on the shin guards and mask to warm up a pitcher between innings when Jerry Grote, Ed Ott or Gary Carter had been on base at the end of an inning. What does a backup catcher do? One thing they don't do is grab headlines.

Duffy, however, would be one of the more famous backup catchers, partly because of his nickname and partly because of being a long-time Met. Duffy was a first round draft pick (secondary phase) out of baseball factory Arizona State in 1966 as the 9th pick. The 2nd overall pick in the regular phase was teammate Reggie Jackson.

Duffy didn't have quite the career that Reggie did. He was a rookie on the 1969 Amazin' Mets, but was at best a 3rd string catcher behind Jerry Grote and J.C. Martin. He did get one at bat in the Series without getting a hit. In 1972 he had his career highs in games, at bats, hits home runs (8), RBI and strikeouts. He didn't play as much in 1973 and didn't play in the post-season at all.

Duffy had some occasional pop in his bat, but too often he didn't make contact. Then again, the backup catcher rarely has time to get his full batting practice in, as he's busy catching guys that need to get some work in on the side. Certainly in Spring Training the backup catcher's role is purely catching and has nothing to do with hitting. He got traded to the Pirates and spent 4 years there as a backup, getting to appear in the 1975 long enough to draw a bases loaded walk off Rawly Eastwick in the bottom of the 9th to tie up Game 3. The Reds promptly scored twice in the 10th to close out the sweep. He then bounced on to Montreal and Detroit to close his career.

He's been involved in baseball all his life. He's now the catching coordinator for the Padres, but he's been a minor league manager at several different levels. One thing that's bugging him now is that he's lost his 1969 World Series ring. He had to be in the Dominican last summer and thinks someone stole it out of his locker. If anybody sees it at a show or on ebay, give Duffy a call.

I love this card because it shows a young Duffy in the classic catching pose. This looks like a spring training shot with somebody else's catching mitt lying behind him and the cool (yeah, right) windbreaker sleeves on.
1972 Feature
July 4, 1972 had a full slate of games. Many were low scoring, with 7 runs by the Expos over the Dodgers being the biggest offensive barrage. A lot of these games were well-pitched. Lynn McGlothen of the Red Sox threw a 3-hit shutout for his first big league win. Pat Dobson gave up a Dick Allen homer in the first, but coasted to a 3-hitter in a 2-1 victory over the White Sox. Dick Tidrow of the Indians and Roger Nelson of the Royals each threw 4-hit shutouts. In the National League, Larry Dierker had to scatter 8 hits to shut out the Pirates.

The Game of the Day is Tom Seaver and the Mets against the Padres in the first game of a doubleheader. Clay Kirby only lasted 2 2/3 innings for the Padres. He only gave up 2 runs and 3 hits, but he walked 4 in the 3rd, forcing in 2 runs. When you hit as poorly as the Padres and you're facing Tom Seaver you can't afford to walk guys with the bases loaded. The Mets didn't get anything else the rest of the day.
But with Tom Terrific pitching you don't usually need much. Seaver struck out 11, walked 4 and gave up only a single to Leron Lee with 1 out in the 9th. That was a problem because Big Nate Colbert represented the tying run on deck. He also represented the end of the game because he rolled into a 6-4-3 double play. Seaver threw a wonderful game here.

Also on this day was a game I remember watching on TV as an 8-year old. It was an afternoon game between the Reds and the Cardinals. Scipio Spinks was a sensation for the Cardinals that year and entered the game 5-4. He also had character, as he had a stuffed monkey he carried around for luck that he called Mighty Joe Young. I remember the Cardinals had a feature on the pre-game show about it. Joe let Scipio down that day as the Reds scored 5 off him in the bottom of the 2nd. In the 3rd, the Cardinals got a rally going and Scipio was on 1st with 1 out. Luis Melendez doubled and Scipio ran through a stop sign at 3rd and tried to score. He was safe, but on his slide into Johnny Bench, he tore ligaments in his knee and was never effective again. (The play-by-play on Retrosheet even mentions the torn ligaments.) He missed the rest of the year. I still remember the announcer (I can't remember if it was Jay Randolph or Mike Shannon) bemoaning the fact that he ran. It was something to the effect of, "When you're down by 5 in the 3rd, there's no reason for you to have your pitcher trying to score with 1 out." Makes sense to me. I guess Chien-Ming Wang wasn't the first pitcher to have his career severly interrupted by a baserunning effort.

(Oh, yes. I can also hear my wife in the background, "How can you remember that detail from a baseball game 37 years ago, but you can't remember to mail in the cable bill?" I hope I'm not the only one with that type of memory.)

1 comment:

  1. Met Scipio just a few weeks ago at an Az Fall league game. He is a scout now. Took a pic I got off the Internet of Scipio with Mighty Joe Young for him to sign. He got a big kick out of the pic and upon seeing it laughed and said "MIGHTY JOE YOUNG! Very nice and approachable man. Looks like he's in great shape. If you'd like to see the pic email me at Enjoyed reading your memories!~Judy