Wednesday, March 31, 2010
The Greatest Catcher EVER!!!
Greetings and welcome to the Nitty Gritty Card of the Day! My apologies for the sensationalistic title, but in addition to the card of the day, there is a poll added to this blog. It is for the Best Catcher Ever. Since catchers are the epitome of nitty gritty, it seemed fitting to have that poll up here. This poll will remain for 7 days and during that time the Card of the Day will focus on; yep you guessed it, catchers. Seven days of backstops from the 50s, 60s and 70s. During this time I beg of you, my dear readers, to vote for the top catcher and to also visit my 2 other blogs to vote for the BEST SHORTSTOP and also the BEST SECOND BASEMAN. Okay, with that out of the way, here is today’s Card of the Day: From the 1968 Topps set it is card #89 of New York Yankees catcher Jake Gibbs. Gibbs was a superstar college athlete who chose baseball over football thanks to a whole lot of bonus $$$ from the Yankees. Gibbs was an All American quarterback on the University of Mississippi football team. He led Ole Miss to a 10-0-1 record in 1960 as a senior and the Rebels were voted DuS/NWAA National Champs. He was drafted by both the Houston Oilers and Cleveland Browns, but opted for a bigger contract in New York to play baseball. He jumped directly to AAA ball and spent the next 5 seasons splitting time between the AAA Richmond squad and backing up Elston Howard in New York. He spent the entire ’66 season with the Yankees and when Howard was traded to Boston in 1967 he took over as the Yankees full-time catcher. He was a .230 hitter without much power, but his arm was amazing and he owned a career .986 fielding percentage behind the plate. In 1968 he had 55 assists and threw out 30 would be base stealers. His role as the Yankees starting catcher lasted less than 3 seasons. Thurman Munson arrived, won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1970 and took the job. Gibbs retired from playing after the 1971 season at the age of 32. He played in 459 games behind the plate and threw out 108 potential thieves at a rate of 44%. During his pro baseball career Gibbs was an assistant football coach at Ole Miss in the offseason and in 1995 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Immediately after retiring as a player Gibbs took over as Ole Miss’ baseball coach and held that post for 19 seasons. He served as a coach for the Yankees in 1993 and also managed the Tampa Yankees (A-FSL) in 1994 and 1995. He also used a very large mitt. Thanks for reading and thanks for voicing your opinion in the Best Ever polls! 42 years later.