Archive for the ‘Andy Etchebarren’ Category

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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.

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