March 14th, 2013

March 14 – Happy Birthday Butch Wynegar

wynegar.jpgIf former Yankee catching phee-nom, Jesus Montero had become the next great Yankee catcher, today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant would have had a lot to do with his success. That’s because Butch Wynegar served as Montero’s hitting and catching coach at Scranton/Wilkes Barre in 2010. Montero didn’t need much help at the plate but Wynegar’s task that season was to try and make the kid a better player behind it. At one time, Wynegar himself was being proclaimed as baseball’s next superstar catcher when he was drafted by the Twins in 1974. Two years later, when he was just 20-years-old, he was Minnesota’s starting catcher, made the AL All Star team and finished second behind Mark “The Bird” Fidrych in that season’s Rookie of the Year balloting. Wynegar was a switch hitter who like Montero, felt naturally comfortable hitting but uncomfortable catching. Ironically, Butch turned himself into one of baseball’s better defensive catchers but he never became the offensive force pundits had predicted he would be at the big league level.

Wynegar played for Minnesota from 1976 until May of 1982, when the Twins traded him to New York. The Yankees had given up hope that Rick Cerone was ever going to be the next Thurman Munson and their thinking was that Wynegar, who was only 26 at the time of the trade, still had his best years ahead of him. It looked like the Yankee brass had made the right decision after Butch hit .296 in 1983, his first full year in pinstripes and caught Dave Righetti’s unforgettable fourth-of-July no-hitter against Boston. But that turned out to be the best year he would have in New York. I remember he did do a great job handling a very unstable Yankee pitching staff during his tenure with the team but his bat never made much noise. By 1986, the Yankees decided they’s seen enough of Wynegar and shipped him to the Angels for next to nothing in return.

Wynegar shares his March 14th birthday with this former bad-tempered Yankee pitcher.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1982 NYY 63 242 191 27 56 8 1 3 20 0 40 21 .293 .413 .393 .805
1983 NYY 94 357 301 40 89 18 2 6 42 1 52 29 .296 .399 .429 .827
1984 NYY 129 512 442 48 118 13 1 6 45 1 65 35 .267 .360 .342 .702
1985 NYY 102 375 309 27 69 15 0 5 32 0 64 43 .223 .356 .320 .676
1986 NYY 61 226 194 19 40 4 1 7 29 0 30 21 .206 .310 .345 .655
13 Yrs 1301 5067 4330 498 1102 176 15 65 506 10 626 428 .255 .348 .347 .695
MIN (7 yrs) 794 3188 2746 325 697 112 9 37 325 8 358 259 .254 .340 .342 .682
NYY (5 yrs) 449 1712 1437 161 372 58 5 27 168 2 251 149 .259 .368 .363 .730
CAL (2 yrs) 58 167 147 12 33 6 1 1 13 0 17 20 .224 .301 .299 .601
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/7/2014.