Quickly

  • Every baseball team has a backup catcher. Many players make their livings as backup catchers. So who is the Ultimate Backup Catcher?
By Gabriel Baumgaertner
March 01, 2018

All baseball fans have a favorite team. Those favorite teams have backup catchers. Unlike backup quarterbacks, backup catchers typically play only in day games after night games, on Sundays (they're often called "NFL players" because they play once a week), or are the preferred catchers of a team's top pitcher.   

On Thursday, the SI staff embarked on a quest to name as many backup catchers as we could. Now, we're turning it over to you, the readers. Tweet us at @SI_MLB with your favorite backup catcher who played anytime from 1990 to present day. After we finish collecting submissions by Midnight on Thursday, we will post a poll to determine who is the Ultimate Backup Catcher. 

The qualifications are easy: The player must have spent the majority of their career as a backup catcher. For instance, Mike Lieberthal was an excellent backup catcher late in his career, but he played more than 100 games over seven seasons. As a result, he would not be eligible. The most lovable backups are typically defensive experts with weak offensive stats and an average of 60–70 games per year. There's a reason we used Sal Fasano as our lead photo.  

Behold your initial nominees:

Bobby Estalella: Outside of playing 106 games for the Giants in 2000, Estalella never played more than 47 games in a season. He also played for the Phillies, Giants, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays and Yankees before retiring in 2004.

Pat Borders: Borders played in the Big Leagues from 1988–2005 and was once featured on this very unfortunate baseball card.

Charlie O'Brien: This guy had beautiful locks and even better facial hair. He also graced this 1994 SI cover.

​Henry Blanco: One of the true backup catching staples, Blanco played from 1997–2013 for 11 different teams.

Vance Wilson: Wilson somehow scored exactly 18 runs in each of the last three seasons of his career.

Todd Pratt: Pratt is remembered fondly by plenty of Mets fans for his home run that sent New York to the 1999 NLCS.

Jeff Reed: Reed played parts of 17 seasons with six different teams, but only logged over 100 games just three times in his career.

Ramon Castro: Castro played parts of 12 seasons with the Marlins, White Sox and Mets, but never logged more than 100 games despite being a first-round pick.

Yorvit Torrealba: Torrealba played 13 seasons with eight different teams. He is named Yorvit because his parents could not decide between Yorman and Victor.

Paul Bako: He was one of Greg Maddux's personal catchers. He should probably engrave that on his tombstone.

Eddie Perez: Another one of Maddux's personal catchers and one of the most revered defensive catchers of his era.

Tony Eusebio: He once logged a 24-game hitting streak over the span of 45 games and was nicknamed "The Astro Clipper" by his teammates. He also has a startling resemblance to actor Reginald VelJohnson.

Matt LeCroy: LeCroy was once lifted in the middle of a game because the Astros stole seven bases against him in six-plus innings. That moment created one of the more unusual (and emotional) press conferences in recent memory.

 

Kelly Stinnett: Remembered most for his time in Arizona, Stinnett played for nine teams over 14 seasons. He is one of the few players on this list to log double-digit home runs in multiple seasons.

Raul Casanova: In 2000, Casanova split time with two other classic backup catchers (Blanco and Tyler Houston) in Milwaukee and hit two grand slams. There is almost nothing else notable about his nine-year career.

Chris Widger: In his 10-year career, Widger played for six teams and never stuck with any team for too long after appearing in 249 games between the 1998-1999 seasons with the Expos. As a 34-year-old veteran he landed a roster spot with the eventual World Series champion White Sox in 2005, driving in a run during Game 3 despite never recording a postseason hit in his career. He walked with the bases loaded.

Ryan Hanigan: For this GIF.

Mike DiFelice: Managers must have loved DiFelice's defense by the end of his career: From 2004-2008, DiFelice logged a .181/.277/.244 slash line with zero home runs between stints with the Tigers, Cubs, Mets and Rays.

Matt Treanor: Married to Olympic gold medalist Misty May. That's far more interesting than anything that happened in his baseball career.

Corky Miller: Miller had the worst three-year stretch of any player in recent memory. From 2004-2006, Miller hit .018 (1-for-55) in between stints with the Reds, Twins and Red Sox. Most of that came from his abominable 2004, where Miller finished with a .026 (1-for-39) batting average.

Sal Fasano: He had incredible facial hair, an 11-year career and a career batting average of .221. It's hard to find a more qualified backup catcher than that. 

Josh Bard: Bard had such trouble catching Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield that Boston shipped him to San Diego to get Doug Mirabelli back. To get Mirabelli to the park in time for Wakefield's start, the Red Sox cleared airspace to Boston for Mirabelli and brought him to the park by police escort.

Kirt Manwaring: One of the most revered defensive catchers of the era, Manwaring won a Gold Glove in 1993 and spent most of his 13-year career with the Giants.

Josh Paul: Angels fans will probably cringe once they remember that Paul was behind the controversial "dropped third strike" involving A.J. Pierzynski in the 2005 ALCS.

Jorge Fabregas: Fabregas played for eight teams in nine years including two stints with the Angels. Even by backup catcher standards, he was an ultimate journeyman.

​David Ross: Probably the most famous of them all. The ex-Cubs backup and Dancing With the Stars participant provided arguably the greatest backup catcher moment of all-time when he homered in Game 7 of the World Series, the final game of his career.

Got other suggestions or personal favorites? Tweet us at @SI_MLB.

You May Like

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)