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Andy Etchebarren

October 3, 2006

I’m not usually a conspiracy theorist, but I think major league baseball might have been up to something in its dealings with Andy Etchebarren.

Point 1:
Many catchers attempt to lessen the punishing toll of their grueling chores by learning to play another much less demanding position, usually first base or left field. The Cardboard God era provided ample evidence of this practice; for example, the all-star perennials of that time–Fisk, Munson, Carter, and Bench–all took occasional breaks from finger-fracturing foul tips and constant knee-ruining squats to feel the wind in their hair in the outfield or chat about their sailboat with baserunners about to take a lead off of first. By contrast, in his entire 15-year career, Andy Etchebarren was never once permitted to man a fielding position that did not require that his face be entirely covered by a mask.

Point 2: Though he showed signs of being ready earlier, Andy Etchebarren was only allowed to become a major league regular in 1966, the year after Don Mossi retired. Despite the unspoken quota system this restriction seems to imply, Etchebarren nonetheless came moments away from facing Mossi in the 9th inning of a late-season game during a brief call-up in 1965. At that time, Mossi, the Babe Ruth of ugly, was a left-handed specialist most often brought in to face left-handed batters, and Etchebarren was on the cusp of a long career in which he would generally be used as the right-handed-batting specialist in catching platoons. In other words, there seems to be no traditional reason for Etchebarren to have been lifted from the game for a pinch-hitter, but lifted he was, for a .231-hitting journeyman named Dick Brown, thus preventing a matchup that would have given children nightmares long after they had ceased to be children.

5 comments

  1. 1.  1 comment from old CG site:

    Ramblin’ Pete said…
    His ’74 Topps card was even scarier.

    As fan of the “Underdog” cartoon show as a child, Etchebarren always reminded me of a somewhat less-stocky Simon Bar Sinister.

    His card scared me.

    4:37 PM


  2. 2.  The baseball card I had the most duplicates of was Andy Etchebarren, probably 7 or 8, and I thought he was the ugliest ballplayer I had ever seen, and with one of the ugliest names. And nobody wanted to trade FOR an Andy Etchebarren card, much less 7 or 8 of them.


  3. 3.  Good God… ulgier than a bag of assholes. Still, a true Cardboard God legend. I used to look at his cards and question the idea of Man as God’s final word.


  4. Good lord, I’d forgotten about this card. Andy Etchebarren owned (or at least lent his name to) a liquor store in Hacienda Heights, CA near my house. I always dreamed of going in there to buy a pack of baseball cards (hey, I was 10) and having an actual big leaguer sell them to me. Never happened; I probably would have been a little scared anyways.


  5. Andy Etchebarren and Frank “Noodles” Zupo . Separated at birth



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