Thursday, May 12, 2011

#527 Jeff Torborg

#527 Jeff Torborg

I scheduled this card to post on Thursday, but it got lost in the ether during the Terrible Blogger Outage. Please excuse its lateness...I'm sure it's just an optical illusion, but the left side of Jeff Torborg's chest protector looks much wider than the right.

Fun facts about Jeff Torborg:

-Jeff was born in Plainfield, NJ and attended Rutgers University, then signed with the Dodgers in 1963. It's been reported that his signing bonus was a lofty $100,000.

-His .537 batting average and 1.032 slugging percentage in 1963 set Rutgers school records. They retired his #10 in 1992.

-He played only 64 minor league games before debuting with Los Angeles in May 1964. He saw action in only 28 games as a rookie third-string catcher behind Doug Camilli and starter Johnny Roseboro, and hit .233 with 4 RBI.

-He was best-known as a player for catching three no-hitters: Sandy Koufax's perfect game in 1965, Bill Singer's 10-strikeout gem in 1970, and Nolan Ryan's first career no-no in 1973. Only current Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek (with four) has caught more in major league history.

-Jeff drove in a career-high four runs on July 30, 1970, fueling a 7-3 win over the Expos. His three-run homer off of Dan McGinn was the only round-tripper the catcher hit that year, and he added a run-scoring single later in the game.

-He probably didn't mind riding the bench when Jim Kaat was pitching, having gone 0-for-12 against the 283-game winner.

-Torborg spent seven seasons as a part-timer in L.A., and another three years with the Angels. He batted only .214 for his ten-year career (1964-1973), never topping .240 in a season. He totaled 8 home runs and 101 RBI.

-He got into coaching, serving on the big league staffs of the Indians and Yankees. More recently, he was a TV analyst for MLB games on FOX and the Braves' regional broadcasts.

-Jeff got his first crack at managing when he was tapped to replace Frank Robinson as Indians skipper in 1977. He went 157-201 in parts of three seasons before being supplanted by Dave Garcia in July 1979. After spending a decade as a Yankee coach, he took the helm of the White Sox in 1989. A year later, he oversaw a huge turnaround from 69-92 to 94-68, finishing in second place behind the juggernaut Athletics. Jeff was named 1990's American League Manager of the Year. Chicago slipped to 87 wins in 1991, after which the Mets lured the manager to the N.L. He lasted little more than a year, as "The Worst Team Money Could Buy" lost 90 games in 1992 and dropped 25 of their first 38 the next season before the ax fell. He also posted losing records as the Expos' interim manager in 2001 (47-62) and in a brief tenure with the Marlins in 2002-2003 (79-83, 16-22). Overall his managerial record was 634-718, a .469 winning percentage.

-His son Dale has the most interesting resume in the family. He played first base at Northwestern University and for parts of two seasons (1994-1995) in the low minors with the Mets. He spent the rest of the decade as a professional wrestler with the encouragment of Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage, and was best known for a stint in the now-defunct WCW as the Kiss Demon. After suffering a knee injury, he returned to baseball as a trainer for his father's teams in Montreal and Florida, and has been the minor league conditioning coordinator for the White Sox since 2004.
#527 Jeff Torborg (back)


  1. No illusion, chest protectors often are narrower on the right side to make throwing easier. As the short fat kid, I did a lot of catching.

  2. Max - Thanks for clarifying! I was a catcher during my co-ed softball days, but my only tools of ignorance were a glove (outfielder's glove! That's how professional we were) and mask.

  3. I lost a post as well, Kevin. I also see that my comment on your last post (Henderson/Hiatt) was vaporized. Too bad, it was pure poetry. ;-)

  4. I think the amazing thing about Torborg is the 3 no hitters given his very limited playing time. I wonder if he was the catcher of choice of Koufax and Ryan. Almost as amazing is sticking around for 10 years with a .214 average and little power.

  5. Bob - It appears that the post and the comment were rescued. It truly was poetry. ;)

    Anon - It was a lot easier to stick around with a .214 average and little power in those offensively-weaker times.